Housing and Feeding Invertebrate Prey
Garbage in, garbage in
©1995 Melissa Kaplan
is a quick overview on the feeding and keeping of invertebrate prey. Why
feed them, you ask? Most prey are not fed or watered properly during the
transition from prey breeder to your house. If you bought them at a pet
store, they may not have been fed nutritious food.
Your animals are what they eat. If you feed them starving prey, or prey that are malnourished, your reptiles and amphibians will end up malnourished as well. Feed your prey well and you increase your chance of raising healthy animals.
Tropical Fish Flakes
Ground monkey chow with calcium powder
High protein baby salad flakes mixed with reptile vitamins
Iguana salad: mix fresh vegetables (green beans, orange squash, parsnips), fruit (cantaloupe, apples, pears) and alfalfa pellets with reptile multivitamin and calcium supplements; let sit in refrigerator for at least 24 hours to break down pellets. This provides plant-based proteins and a hefty dose of calcium.)
Sponge soaked in water set in a jar lid
Slices of potato, fruit, vegetables
Shallow bowl of water with gravel or rocks in it so that the crickets can climb up on them to hop out so they don't drown
To transfer bulk-buy crickets from breeder's shipping box into housing: Slice the box open and put the whole thing in a large plastic garbage bag. Open the box, take out the egg crate layers and shake them free of crickets one at a time; remove each one when done. Shake the box free of crickets once the egg crate is out. Feed the opening of the bag into the opened trap door. Carefully slide the crickets forward to the neck of the bag, and begin shaking them into the tank. Once the bag is empty, remove it carefully to shake off any clinging crickets, and voila! All crickets transferred without escape!
Fresh bran mixed with high protein baby cereal, alfalfa flakes (or crushed alfalfa hay), chicken egg layer mash
Mix in reptile multivitamin and calcium supplements
To promote metamorphosis, you need to keep them at room temperature and house in a larger container. Buy a larger than usual batch of meal worms (you can get right from breeder at far less expense than buying from pet store), then, instead of refrigerating them, leave them out a room temperature. Put in a plastic or glass covered enclosure (like a small critter tank or Pet Pal), adding extra bran, some slices of fruit. Cover with a couple of layers of paper towel or cloth, and keep it moist (not wet). They will crowd under and go through their metamorphosis, from larva to pupae (which may also be eaten) to beetle within a matter of days. Leave some beetles in to breed to get more larvae.
King Worms (Zoophoba)
Alfalfa pellets mixed with chicken egg layer pellets, crumble or mash; bird seed cockatiel mix or similar) may be added in.
Slices of fruit or vegetables such as apples, potatoes
Sponge soaked in water placed on a shallow jar lid (keep moisture off the food as much as possible to prevent spoiling.
A Note On Feeding
Feeding several smaller prey items is more nutritious and healthier than feeding fewer larger prey items. Smaller prey are more efficiently digested and are more nutritious in that they contain proportionately less exoskeleton - that indigestible stuff that can clog up the gut. You may think you are getting a deal buying those large crickets, but you are actually getting less food value. There are also reports of transient paralysis and central nervous system damage when certain lizards, such as small bearded dragons, are fed worms or crickets that are too large.
Feed a variety of prey species - while a monodiet of rats or mice are fine for carnivores, insects aren't so well-rounded nutritionally speaking.
Always gut-load your prey before feeding them out. If you buy from the pet store or the breeder, feed with the proper nutrient loaded foods for at least 24 hour - longer is better - before offering them to your animals. This means you need to do a little planning ahead so you don't run out at the last minute.
If you leave worms or crickets in your herp's enclosure, you MUST leave appropriate food in there for them. If your herp is not hungry, it will not eat. It will also not fend of being eaten by a hungry or thirsty worm or cricket. Always place a small pile of cricket or worm food - the same stuff you've been feeding them for gut-loading, in one corner of the tank. Provide a way for them to get moisture, either by placing a piece of fruit or vegetable in there or a rock-filled dish or bowl of water that they can get in and out of. Also provide a place for them to congregate out of site.
Before you add more to the herp's enclosure, check the hiding place and get any hiding in there out and moving about.
CricketFood.com - information and prepared mixes
HerpNutrition.com - prepared mixes
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