I usually use the commercial gutload stuff to maintain a bunch of crickets at one time. I usually order 500 and keep them in one large container. Those ones get fed the commercial stuff. Then the night before, I put a couple in another tank and feed them greens and carrots. When I put them in the gutload tank, they usually eat all the veggies up because I guess it tastes better than the commercial stuff.
gosh titan, I never thought to taste my gutload...of course, I don't even taste my kids' medicines before I give it to them.
Does everyone do their gutloading like marc? I've been keeping the greens etc. in the cage with the crix the whole time. I don't usually have more than 250 crix in any container, though, and those are 1/8".
Well, the whole purpose of gutloading is to pass on the nutrients contained in the gutload to your cham by ensuring that those nutrients are still loaded in the gut of the insect when you feed it to your cham - hence the term 'gutloading'.
If the insect digests the gutload, it will metabolise what it can use from the gutload, and the rest will be excreted in the form of feces.
That's the reason the insects should be given their gutload to feed on shortly before you feed them to your cham. They will consume the gutload, but not have a chance to process and excrete it, so that when your cham eats the insect, all those nutrients still contained in the insects stomach will be passed on to your cham when he/she digests it.
So if what Marc means is that he removes the crickets from the commercial gutload, and only feeds the insects veggies the night before, then none of the nutrients from the commercial gutload are being passed onto the cham, since they will have been excreted by the crickets by the time they are fed off to the cham.
This is another reason why you shouldn't leave feeders in the cage with your cham for long periods of time without access to gutload - because by the time they are eaten, they've excreted all the gutload, and if there was no food for them in the cham's cage, then they haven't consumed any more nutrients to pass on to your cham.
But I think what Marc means is that he merely feeds them a constant supply of commercial gutload, and then adds in fresh veggies the night before feeding them off to his cham. That's fine, because on average the crickets will probably have a mix of commercial gutload and fresh veggies loaded in their gut when the cham eats them.
(One of the reasons Marc is finding the crickets so attracted to the veggies is not necessarily the poor taste of the commercial gutload, but possibly because the fresh fruits and veggies have a lot of moisture content, and crickets usually drink up before they feed on the dry stuff).
The only downside to that is that you'll go through a lot of gutload like that (if you're constantly supplying it to your crickets), and gutload is not cheap.
I have two different dry feeds that I feed my crickets/roaches: the 'good stuff' (which is my home-made gutload - you could use commercial gutload), and the 'cheaper stuff'. The cheaper stuff is simply a combination of rolled oats, rice cereal and powdered milk. Along with left-over fresh veggies/fruits and a supply of water (I usually use oranges/carrots/squash to provide water), that's all the crickets need to survive and grow (although from time to time I try to increase the protein content a little by adding in egg yolks, crushed nuts/legumes).
The reason the 'good stuff' is more expensive is because it contains all the other essential nutrients I want to pass onto my cham contained in things like kelp, brewer's yeast, spirulina, bee pollen, etc.
Every night I put a few insects for feeding into a separate container that contains the 'good stuff' (and some moisture containing fruits/veggies), and they gorge themselves on that before I feed them to my cham.
(I do this with most of my feeders, including mealworms, superworms, crickets and roaches - they all get access to the 'good stuff' before being fed off).
So the gutload itself lasts a lot longer than it would if that was all I feed my insects, and I ensure that those expensive ingredients are being passed onto the cham, not simply excreted in the cricket cage.
Oh, and by the way, as for tasting gutload: I eat my home-made cricket gutload quite often (I like to sprinkle a spoonful onto my cereal). All the ingredients I use come from health shops, so it is all safe for human consumption, and since it is mostly baby cereal, powdered milk and nuts, it's even quite tasty - plus it's packed full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals...
Just use the commercial stuff to maintain crickets for long periods of time. Then gut load the ones that are going to be fed off with veggies. I guess it doesn't really matter what brand the commercial stuff is as long as your gut loading with proper veggies.
My girlfriend is growing several different kind of lettuce so tonight I threw some of that and some carrot in there and they munched that stuff up in a hurry and left the commercial stuff to the side. Thanks again for answering all my stupid questions.
Lettuce and carrots are not the best choice to gutload crickets with. Lettuces have almost no nutritional value and cause diarrhea in the crickets that cause them to become dehydrated and lose virtually all of their nutrients that would have been passed to your cham. Carrots are debated about because of their beta carotene content. There are many good choices.. I will just list what I use (it is by far not a complete list of what can be used.. just what I have readily available to me) collard greens, mustard greens, squash, sweet potato, dandelion greens, and alfalfa. For the dry mix I use infant cereal. I also put a cooked egg yolk in occasionally. Search the forums for gutloading and you will get a plethora of info
Please explain what is wrong with the beta carotene in the carrots. Lately I keep hearing that carrots are not the best thing to feed insects. Isn't beta carotene simply what is converted to vitamin A and whatever is not needed to be converted into vitamin A passes out of the body...so what am I missing??
Personally kinyonga, I will have to admit that I really have no idea. This subject has been debated so much, with so many different opinions that I have just decided to err on the side of caution. Here is a thread in which Will Hayward recently posted an article that made me wonder about my vitamin A sources:
This article suggests that chameleons may not be able to convert beta carotene into vitamin A but then goes on to suggest using carrots in a gut-load. It also suggests spinach though, which I have always thought was a no no because of its calcium binding properties. So really, I am just as lost on the vitamin a debate as I was when i first started in this hobby years ago.
I have been giving my chams bi-weekly preformed vitamin A supplement for the past few months after posting this thread and reading the responses given.
I also talked to my vet that said that the vitamin A supplements, as long as I am VERY careful not to over do it, would be okay for my chameleons because although it is not known whether or not they can convert beta-carotene, they can definitely absorb the preformed kind. The biggest worry with this is of course, giving them too much vitamin A. I give mine a drop on a feeder by piercing the gelcap with a saftey pin and wiping on the feeder. It is a tiny amount.
I must say that I have noticed cleaner sheds. Other than that though, they have always been healthy and I haven't noticed any other symptoms. Hopefully soon something will shed some definite light on this topic.
Cherron said..."This article suggests that chameleons may not be able to convert beta carotene into vitamin A but then goes on to suggest using carrots in a gut-load"...I noticed that too. I wonder if it could be that the insects can convert it thus the insects contain vitamin A? I know that insects are supposed to not have much vitamin A in them....but the more I look it up, the more I wonder.
That is a great point. I suppose I never thought that the insects could convert beta carotene. Perhaps if carrots are used as part of the insect's maintenance diet to allow for time for them to convert it instead of feeding it with the actual gutload that is used shortly before feeding them?
Sigh. This is one of those things where I just hope that I am doing the right thing with my chameleons.