Gut-Loading: An Essential Part of Bearded Dragon Care

Mineral supplementation plays a vital part in keeping pet Bearded dragons healthy. One way to add these supplements to their diet is by gut-loading their food. In order to feed good quality feeder insects to your Bearded dragon, they also need to eat good quality food.

Feeder insect breeders very often choose a food that is fit for a large number of insects. Because price is a factor, these foods very often lack quality and nutritional value to Bearded dragons. It is also common to open a tub of crickets where the food is either finished or it went stale. This means the crickets in that container is probably undernourashed, dehydrated and will therefore serve as poor quality when fed to Bearded dragons. This is where gut-loading comes in.

Gut-loading literally translates to loading the intestines with a highly nutritious food. Higher Required amino acids, vitamins and minerals can also be added this way. Feeder insects such as cricketsmealworms, and Dubia roaches are easy to gut-load. Gut-loading is done by feeding insects a high quality, highly palatable and nutritious diet within a short period before feeding them to Bearded dragons. Insects are therefore the ‘transport medium’ for these nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

The gut-loading food itself can be dry or fresh. For example, the same greens which can be fed to Bearded dragons can also be fed to feeder insects. Dry gut-loading foods can be in the form of a commercial or self-made gut-loading mixtures (e.g. pellets or mesh).

What Is Gut Loading?

Gut loading has become a popular technique for bearded dragon owners to ensure their pets consume a more nutritious meal. It involves feeding the live food that you provide to your pet a meal before they get it– resulting in those prey items containing not just the insects themselves, but whatever they’ve just recently eaten as well. This includes crickets, mealworms, super worms, and other insects commonly used as food.

This means that you’ll be able to give your pet something much more nutrient-dense and full of vitamins and minerals than if you hadn’t gut loaded them first. Not only will your pet thank you for this improved nutritional boost, but so will their overall wellbeing!

Supplementation Through Gut Loading

Gut loading is an essential technique for providing bearded dragons with needed nutrients and minerals. Through this method, you can increase the calcium, protein, and moisture content of feeder insects prior to feeding them to your reptiles so that they get the nutrition they need.

Alternatively, you could give them feed already fortified or high in calcium such as egg-laying mash with added calcium or Fluker’s™ cricket food.

When it comes to moisture, avoid offering water directly as these creatures can easily drown in even shallow bowls of it. Instead offer pieces of raw potatoes and sweet potatoes or special gelled water products designed specifically for reptiles that are available at pet stores.

Live insects should be given to your reptile on a regular basis; frequency may vary depending on the species and age.

Why Is Gut Loading Important?

Gut loading is an important factor to consider when feeding reptiles and amphibians that primarily rely on insects for their nutrition. These creatures will not obtain the necessary nutrients from food sources unless they consume insects that are gut loaded beforehand.

If a proper gut load isn’t provided, then the reptile or amphibian may develop the metabolic bone disease as well as hypovitaminosis. Metabolic bone disease can cause weakened bones, muscle tremors, and even paralysis if left untreated.

Hypovitaminosis can lead to skin issues, lethargy, and a decrease in appetite. It’s vital for your pet’s health that its prey items are fed a nutritious gut load food so it will receive adequate vitamins and calcium.

So overall, gut loading is an essential step to ensure the best possible health of reptiles and amphibians!

The Benefits of Gut Loading

Gut loading is one of the best ways to ensure your reptile gets optimal nutrition. It involves giving your feeder insects a well-rounded diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. This will enable them to pass on their nutritional value to your pet when they are consumed.

Gut-loading with high-quality products can have numerous benefits for your reptile. Studies have shown that it can increase the calcium content of the feeder insect, important for healthy bones and muscles. Other nutrients like vitamins A, B, and E as well as Omega 3 fatty acids can also be improved with gut loading.

At The Big Shed, we understand the importance of feeding our Dubai roaches a nutrient-rich diet so they arrive at their destination healthy and full of nutrients. We encourage our customers to take gut loading into their own hands by adding quality products to the diets of their feeder insects once they reach home.

The standard diet for gut loading typically consists of dark, leafy greens; fruits; squash; and grain materials, as well as tropical fish flakes and cat food. You can also use prepared reptile foods and bee pollen for this purpose. It’s important that insects get to fully gorge themselves when gut-loading, so aim for a 24-72 hour window depending on your feeder insect availability.

Some immediate benefits from gut loading include promoted molting, improved colors on reptiles/amphibians, better digestion/metabolism for your pet, as well as an overall improvement in their health. Long term benefits include increased resistance to parasites and digestive issues; better organ system performance; faster molting rates; healthy nails/bones; improved immunity levels and even reduced stress in your pet!

What are the types of gut loading food?

Gut loading food comes in two main categories: dry and wet. Anything that has some moisture content is considered a wet gut load food, while those with no moisture are dry.

If you’re giving your reptile feeder insects, it’s important to make sure they’re properly hydrated before consumption – one way to do so would be through the use of water gels combined with fresh vegetables.

The type of food you choose will depend on the nutrition and hydration needs of your reptile – for example, if they need a lot of calcium, then offering high-calcium options such as acorn squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, collard greens, mustard greens, or kale is an excellent choice.

When it comes to gut loading, there are a variety of foods you can use to maximize nutrition in your reptile’s diet. You’ll want to avoid spinach, as the oxalate it contains binds calcium and prevents it from being synthesized by your pet. Providing a good, varied diet will help feeder insects stay healthy until they become prey.

You have a few options when it comes to gut loading: commercially available dry gut-load diets and dusting. These can provide your reptile with calcium and other important nutrients, but be sure to double check labels for accuracy, as some studies have shown that the amount of calcium on the label is inconsistent. Also, commercial diets often feature particles that are too large for insects— so make sure you feed the insect quickly before they expel any nutrients they can’t digest.

If you’re looking to learn more about gut loading your reptile’s food, don’t hesitate to contact Pet Center today!

Gut-loading crickets

Crickets are probably the most frequent insects fed to Bearded dragons. These insects are great eaters and can be fed a variety of foods. Crickets are naturally deficient in calcium. Being scavangers, cricket gut-loading is a simple process and is done by replacing their regular food with a high quality cricket gut-loading food, i.e. one that will supply additional levels of calcium. Crickets should be gut-loaded for at least two days prior to feeding them to Bearded dragons.

Gut-loading foods

Various commercial insect gut-load foods are available from most specialised reptile or exotic animal pet shops. They are usually in the form of pellets or mesh. The internet can also be valuable in finding gut-loaded foods for crickets and other feeder insects. If a commercial food is not available, high quaqlity commercial cat food and a mixture of fruit and vegetables are popularly used for a small emount of crickets. Popular vegetables include carrots and carrot tops.

Other ways to add minerals to your Bearded dragon’s food is by dusting powdered, or sprinkling liquid minerals directly on their food (usually their greens).

Why Are Dubia Roaches Ideal for Gut Loading?

Dubia roaches are an ideal feeder insect for gut loading because they have a high nutrient content and can be easily stored. Dubia roaches are also known for their ability to consume large amounts of food in a short period of time, making them perfect for gut loading. Additionally, Dubia roaches are easy to breed and maintain, which makes them a great choice for those looking to

Here are the reasons why Dubias are an ideal choice for gut loading:

Keeping your reptile healthy and happy is key, so giving them the best gut loading option is essential. Dubia roaches are an ideal choice for a few reasons – their digestive system can hold 2-3 times their body weight depending on when they last ate, meaning your pet will get full doses of beneficial nutrients.

Additionally, their food remains in their bellies for up to three days while breaking down and releasing accessible vitamins and minerals.

Finally, having specialized bacteria in their guts helps dubias digest plant matter that other feeder insects can’t. This further enhances your reptile’s nutrition intake by unlocking otherwise inaccessible nutrients.

What is dusting?

Dusting is a way to supplement the nutrition of feeder insects like crickets to ensure your pet reptile gets all of its nutritional needs met. It involves taking nutrient powder or nutritional flakes and literally coating the insects with them before feeding them to your pet.

This helps prevent any nutrient deficiency and allows you to customize the nutrition of your feeder insects. Having access to vet-approved gut loading materials is important as well since different species of feeder insects absorb different nutrients at different rates.

Commercial products are often high in calcium and should only be used for gut loading, not for the insect’s general diet. Nonetheless, they can prove convenient and save you time when compared to sourcing fresh produce for your feeder insects.

Ultimately, it’s all about ensuring your pet has everything they need to stay healthy – so check with your vet before considering dusting!

Gut Loading Vs. Dusting

Gut loading and dusting are two very different methods of providing reptiles or amphibians with beneficial supplements. Gut loading involves feeding the feeder insects a diet rich in certain nutrients in order to transfer them directly to your pet, while dusting involves sprinkling supplements right before mealtime.

Although some people assume that gut loading is a more efficient way of providing supplements to their pets than dusting, there is no scientific evidence to support this belief.

In fact, dusting allows you to keep a better eye on the exact amount of supplements that your pet is consuming – too much of some can actually be bad for them! So if you want to maximize the value of your reptile or amphibian’s diet, save your supplements for dusting and keep gut loading as just a myth.

Learning about dusting and gut-loading, including understanding why it may be necessary, potential risks, and avoiding pitfalls.

If you’re a reptile owner, breeder, or retailer, understanding the necessity and risks of dusting and gut-loading is essential. Dusting involves putting a mineral or vitamin supplement on your reptile’s diet while gut-loading is adding specific foods to feed the insects before they become part of your reptile’s meal.

While these practices can provide essential nutrients and minerals to reptiles, if not done right they can sometimes be more harmful than helpful.

One risk associated with dusting and gut-loading products is that they may not be reliable, as unfortunately there are some companies that make unsubstantiated claims about their products.

That’s why it is important to do research into the products you choose to use and ensure the nutrient levels are adequately measured using certified laboratory tests.

Another risk of dusting or gut-loading is that there could be too much of certain minerals or vitamins present in a food item – which may lead to toxicity for your reptile over time, even if the Commercial dusting or gut-load product you are using was originally safe for them.

The best solution for getting the proper nutrition for reptiles without any such risks is natural feeding by handpicking items from their natural habitat as freshly possible.

An inadequate diet for captive reptiles is one of the leading causes of poor health and even premature death. When reptiles are in nature, however, they are able to consume insects that have consumed a breadth of vitamins and minerals from the plants and other insects they have eaten.

Unfortunately, commercially bred insect diets do not provide enough nutrition, since their purpose is to only grow them quickly and happily enough to reproduce.

To ensure captive reptiles get their proper nutrition, hobbyists often look to dusting or gut-loading their feeder insects. While both dusting and gut-loading can be effective strategies for providing reptiles with essential nutrients if performed correctly, there are potential pitfalls when working with less experienced keepers.

Dusting involves literally coating a feeder insect in a calcium/multi-vitamin powder before offering it to your reptile as food, while gut-loading simply entails temporarily filling an insect’s gastrointestinal tract with beneficial mixtures rich in calcium and nutrients so that your reptile can take advantage of those after they’ve been fed.

Gut-loading Pitfalls:

For those looking to gut-load the feeder insects they will be feeding their reptile, there are a few pitfalls they should be aware of.

Research conducted several years ago suggested that commercially available dry and high moisture calcium gut-loads generally aren’t reliable, with nearly half of them not containing the nutrients listed on the label and/or being in a form/particle size too large for the insect to eat. So even if the right ingredients are present, it is virtually impossible to transfer them to the reptile.

Additionally, even if you opt for a higher quality product, various nutrients – including calcium – are unable to be absorbed or retained by feeder insects for long periods of time, making gut-loading an unreliable process.

Dusting Pitfalls:

Dusting with supplements is notoriously difficult – it’s impossible to know if you’re giving your reptile too much or not enough. Getting the right amount is essential, which means having a high-quality product in the first place.

Even then, the success of your dusting depends on how long it takes for the insect to groom off the supplement, as well as its size.

It’s up to reptile hobbyists and professional experts alike to cut through all the misinformation out there and bring reliable guidance to newcomers so that they have a better idea of what their pets actually need in terms of nutrition.

Without such knowledge, it’ll be harder for people entering the hobby to take proper care of their pets – and without consumer demand, we can’t let our industry grow.

Ultimately, delivering a nutritionally complete diet that closely mimics what reptiles get in nature is key – and fortunately, there are commercial products (like Vita-Bugs® and Calciworms) that do just that!

What is the process of gut loading prey?

Gut loading prey is a great way to ensure that your pet is getting the nutrition it needs. An effective gut load should include nutritious items such as fruits, fish flakes, vegetables, grains, or chicken starter feed. You can also purchase specialized gut load products to help your pet get the nutrition they need.

When feeding to your pet, it’s important to remember that you must do so within 24-72 hours of gut loading them in order for them to get the full benefits of the eaten food.

If you wait too long to feed them after gut loading them, then they won’t have sufficient nutrition and there might not be much of a difference compared to not gut loading at all.

Additionally, providing a variety of different prey items will help provide vitamins A and D if your pet doesn’t have access to UVB lighting because many insectivores require these vitamins in their diets.

Overall, by following these steps for properly gutloading prey you can ensure that your pet is getting all the essential nutrients needed for growth and health!


Gut loading is an important and effective way to supplement the diets of reptiles by providing a wide range of nutrients. By optimizing gut loading nutrition, you can ensure that your pet reptile is getting the essential vitamins and minerals it needs for optimal health and growth. Gut loading offers owners a route to provide their pets with valuable nutritional benefits as well as a better quality of life overall.