Techniques used to keep feeders healthy?


New Member
I am having trouble replacing the fresh food in my cricket tank. Preventing dehydration of the fresh food is now an uphill battle.
I was using turnip greens, ice burg lettuce, carrots, and apple slices before switching to an all flukers diet. I am now using a calcium fortified high protein gut load and a calcium enriched jello like substance both produced by flukers.

I am supplementing with daily calcium shake and bake or the crude grab with tweezers and stuff individually into a cap full of calcium followed by them jumping their legs off while attempting to hold them in front of my chameleon...methods of um... supplementing the crickets?
( I really need help improving this method)
I do not have a method of enriching the fruit flies or worms.

Once a month I am using a multi vitamin with a decent d3 content and a daily non phosphate calcium supplement. These are both mass produced by exo-terra.

I am worried that the nutrients in this "premium gut load" and mineral supplements are indigestible by neither the crickets or my chameleon as they are artificial and produced in mass quantities. The lack of information about the inert ingredients on the labels is also making me uncomfortable.

Here are a couple pictures of their current environment and all supplements that make their way into my chameleon.

Pictures' illustrate a 10 gallon aquarium tank currently housing roughly 100 small-medium crickets, 20 pinheads are inside of the glass candy jar, god knows how many fruit flies in the dingy plastic tub and the label on the mealworms claim that the they are gut loaded and stored in additional nutrient rich food.
Of this I am skeptical...
No information was provided about the fruit flies which has an odor of old bread (possibly wheat germ?) and dirt.

Out of sight is a small 12V computer fan blowing into the tank for ventilation

The dead are removed and the entire tank is kept free of bulk debris as this environment is 3 feet from where I sleep. I currently have a UV light on top of the cage to promote minimal movement and prevent turf wars and murders although am quite certain this is a waste of the lamps uvb lifespan...

Any suggestions?


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Do a search here for gut loading. There are some very good blogs on how to make your own gut load. You can also buy better quality gut load such as Bug Burger. I keep dry gut load in with my crickets at all times as well as the water gel stuff. I add the fruits/veggies every couple of days.Both of my boys ( Veiled Rebel and Bearded Dragon Fire) love fruits and veggies so I make a batch and split it three ways. Hope this helps..:D

PS I would add more egg crate and/or paper rolls for the crickets to climb on. This will help with die off...
What kind of place could I buy egg cartons without having to pay for the eggs? I dont know why I never considered making my own dry gut load... I am going to pursue Sandra's Gutload recipe and see how it goes. I like having the ability to do this naturally :) Thank you for the advice!
Try going to a restaurant that serves breakfast and ask them if you can pick up theirs when they are finished with the eggs. I know you can order them on line too. Someone once suggested a farm supply store. I work at a very large school so I'm gonna hit up the cafeteria staff once school starts up again.:D I agree, it is very nice to be able to do this as naturally as possible. My rule of thumb is if I can and would feed it to my lizards then I will feed it to my feeders.
I appreciate your candor and questions. Here we go:

1) Your best source of feeder upkeep is the numerous blogs from member Sandrachameleon...her blogs can be accessed through the Community button above, go to members, and find her alphabetically. Her information is beyond complete, and can be overwhelming(she is smarter by far than me), but it is the best information on feeder insects, anywhere. I sense you will like the detail....:rolleyes:

2) If you don't make your own gut load after reading Sandra's blogs, order Cricket Crack from member Steve Simms (SSimsswiSS), best ingredients, always fresh. He also makes a super worm food called Super Chow. Flukers products, including the cubes are not close to the quality of these products, and even if they were, grain based products deteriorate rapidly so by the time you buy it, it will have lost weeks or months of effective life. Keep your gut loads in the refrigerator to keep them optimal.

3) Fruits and vegetables put into cricket, roach, and superworm containers will dry out quickly. The trick is to put small amounts in. If you are slicing zucchini, squash, and cucumbers (my 3 favorite vegetables), cut them really thin; the goal is that they eat most of what you put in before drying out. The same is true with apples, oranges, pear etc. I think we all over feed our feeders, creating a moldy mess. On greens, just enough to be mostly eaten before drying out. Another trick is to put the food in a plastic lid the insects can climb into (I use a 4 inch diameter lid with a 1/4 inch lip), and when you remove it with the dried food stuck to it, have a second lid with fresh food. Wash the dirty lid, and you are ready for the next feeding. This will limit bacteria and mold by using the same lid, and your food won't be all over the egg crates, toilet paper rolls, and floor.

4) When dusting use a tall cup(I use a 32 ounce insect cup) so the crickets don't jump out out as easily, put a SMALL amount of powder in the cup, and swirl them around; then take the cup and jiggle the feeder into the feeding cup in your enclosure, or onto the plants if you free range feed.

5) Crickets stink if you don't remove the dead ones every few days. Also a screen top will help, the more air flow the better. My cricket bin is also screened on the bottom and sits off the surface so I have complete flow through. Since you only have 1 Cham, I would suggest keeping 1 week or less supply, buy from Pet Smart/Petco/local pet store, and gut load for a couple of days before feeding the crickets to your cham. You shouldn't have any stink with that few crickets.

6) Superworms are better than mealworms due to the softer exoskeleton, and can be purchased in small quantities at the above stores. Buy a small quantity to see if the cham will eat them. Put them on the screen where the cham can see it climbing up, he should hammer it quickly. You can keep them in oats (I buy Quaker old fashioned oats) add some Super Chow from Steve (SSimsswiSS). Since you are using fruit flies, I assume your cham is a baby, so if you need to get small super worms, Great Lakes Hornworm sells them, they will last months and grow with your cham.

7) Water cubes can be made by you by buying the crystals, and are great for crickets, supers and roaches, they last several days, so if you miss a feeding and all your juicy foods are dry, the insects still have hydration. They have saved my colonies many times when life gets busy. I have some you can purchase, but Steve may be able to ship some to you with the gut loads, which will save in shipping costs. Or order them on line, 1 ounce makes 5 gallons....

8) The fruit flies do not need gut loading, just tap them into the cham enclosure. If your cham is small, another small food source is stick insects and hatching praying mantis ootheca(egg cases). The ootheca you can buy at most garden shops this time of the year. I have sticks in the small size, but you might find them locally through Craigs List.

9) You may want to try roaches, but as with any new feeder, try it before you set up a colony; if the cham won't eat it, don't waste the time and $.

10) My favorite gut load in the summer is DANDELIONS-My supers/crickets and dubias get it every week.

Bugs are part of the chameleon package, and the keeping of feeders is the key to healthy chams. The more variety you offer, the better, so some other options are Butter worms(Chameleons Northwest-), Silk worms(Coastal Silkworms), Blue Bottle Flies( Chameleons Northwest and Coastal Silkworms are linked in the sponsor links in the top right corner of the home page.

Good bugging to you my friend!

What part of the dandelion is the part that the feeders eat? The little yellow leaves on the top? Or the leaves that come out from the base of the plant?
Sorry stupid question, I'm still a noob
What part of the dandelion is the part that the feeders eat? The little yellow leaves on the top? Or the leaves that come out from the base of the plant?
The green leaves out the base, the Dandelion leaf. You can check in the produce section of places like whole foods or fresh market. I use them as a staple 'wet' gutload item.
sweet potato, apple, and carrots are my choice of gutloads to keep a large batch of crickets alive. those thread dont dry out too fast like leafy greens do.

hydration i rely on homemade water gels
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