Gut Load Superworms (How and why bother?)
Gut-loading insects is a well-known trick in Lizard keeping to provide a nutritional meal to your pet. But how do you actually do this and are there any things to avoid? Let me explain…
How do you Gut Load Superworms? Simple place some food (more details of this below) into a separate container along with a source of water (such as a carrot or piece of juicy fruit) and place the Superworms in the container. Give them approx 48 hours to consume enough food.
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Now you know how to do this at a high level, let’s delve deeper and understand what foods are ideal for them, what to avoid giving them, how many you can expect some lizards to consume and so much more. Keep reading…
What is a Superworm?
A Superworm is the larvae of a darkling beetle (Zophobas morio). This larvae is approximately 50 to 60 mm in length. They are relatively small and resemble mealworms at a glance.
The larvae of these Beatles have a few names as follows:
- Super Worms
- King worms
- Morio worms
- and also referred to as Zophobas
Why do you need to gut load super Worms?
Gut loading is a well-known and recommended practice. Effectively, you are feeding the super worms with nutritional value. In particular vitamins and minerals in the hope is that these vitamins and minerals will pass onto your lizard. Many insects are fed in this way with ingredients including vegetables, fruits, oats, etc,
It’s a similar concept to the saying “you are what you eat”. So if you feed the super worms well, your lizard will be fed well. And if you neglect to do that then it will affect their nutrition.
When it comes to crickets many pet stores will pre-feed or “gut load” them. This is because it has become quite mainstream and quite popular. Also, crickets are in high demand. Whenever they’re in stock in the pet shops, they sell out fast.
However, when it comes to super worms. There are a couple of things that you need to be careful of.
Pet Shops May Not Gut-load them
Firstly not all pet shops even bother to gut-load Superworms. So you can’t assume that they have been. Also, you can’t guarantee the food that has been fed to them contains high nutritional value.
May have Been Feed Low-quality Food
For example, you may find that some super worms have been feed potato feed. This really doesn’t have much nutritional value.
How to Gut Load Superworms
The actual process for gut loading is quite straightforward. First, you need the following items:
- A separate container
- Some food to give to them
- A water source
Firstly you have a separate container which has their food (I will explain their ideal food later) source at the bottom of the container. You also want to make sure that you have a source of water.
They do not drink water directly (more on this later), So, you need to make sure that you have got some food which they extract the water from.
For example, you could have some carrots or even some orange slices. The later is a good choice because it has vitamin C as well. This will add to the vitamins that your pass on to your lizard.
Give them Time To Eat
Once you have the food and water source in the container. Simply load the container with the super worms. Give them approximately 48 hours to consume as much food as they can. They may or may not consume all of it, but this will be enough time to do the job.
If you have done this correctly you should notice that they start to snack on the food right away. After this time period, you can simply pass them onto your lizard. In turn, your lizard will consume them without delay.
What food can you give to Superworms?
There are a number of different food sources that you can provide to them. Let me explain…
You can actually buy super worm premixed food. This can be purchased in pet shops or even online. It comes pre-packed with a nutritional and vitamin-rich mix. You can simply put it in there and leave them to eat for 48 hours.
Fruits and vegetables
You can provide almost any fruits or vegetables for Superworms. They are really not that picky. Another great benefit about fruits and vegetables is they provide additional vitamins and are very nutritional.
They also work very well as a water source. In fact, you should really be providing at least one form of fruit or veg even if you have opted for a pre-packed offering discussed in the last section, even if it’s just for the water source.
Dog food and cat food (dry)
If you have a dog or a cat as a pet already you can take advantage of this by offering them the same food.
However, you need to make sure that the food is dry and not the wet food that is also available, are you with me?
Fish food (pellets or flakes)
This food is ideal because it comes preloaded with a nutritional mix of vitamins and minerals and, in some cases, it has algae in it. This is beneficial for your Superworms.
Other things that you can consider
In fact, I will be honest, you will find that super worms are not very picky at all. You can get away with feeding them almost anything. Just be mindful, whilst they will eat anything, you do not want your lizard to be passed on just anything, are you with me?
Here are some suggestions that you can consider…
- Baby food
- Fruit juice (use a cotton bub and soak it, not direct)
You can also consider feeding them dusted supplementation such as Vitamin or calcium supplements. This will then indirectly be fed to your lizard.
What Foods should you avoid feeding Superworms?
As discussed earlier, Super worms are not very picky at all. Food wise you can pretty much give them anything. However, you should not give them water directly, for example, do not think about providing water directly into their feeder container. This will get you a negative effect.
Instead, you should be giving them juicy fruits that can provide moisture or alternatively vegetables. Such as carrots, tomatoes, etc..
Q: How many Superworms do lizards typically eat?
There are a number of different lizards that consume Superworms. For your benefit, I will list a few to give you an idea of the sort of consumption you can expect with some popular lizard species (click here for my list of popular beginner lizard choices).
Bearded dragons have quite a healthy appetite. Therefore you can expect him to consume anywhere from 3 to 5 super once a day. However, they will also eat other things such as fruits and vegetables to supplement their diet.
Chameleons will tend to consume anywhere from 5 to 6 Superworms in a week. So a bit less than the beardies. However, there were also mix their diet with other insects as well.
Q: How long does it take for Super worms to change into beetles?
Super worms take approximately 14 days to change to Beatles. During this period of time, you will expect them to curl up and pupate.
However, if you notice that some of them have gone straight and turned into a blackish color, then there is a good chance that they are dead. You probably need to discard these ones.
Once they pupate you need to monitor them until they actually turn to Beatles.
Q: Do super worms bite?
Yes, they do bite, unlike mealworms that do not do this. In addition to this, they also have a spike on their back. Similar to a scorpion. They also use this as a means of attack.
This is not really much of an issue for a human but if you are providing them to a smaller, say baby lizard, you need to take some caution.
Q: What is a “Herp”?
Herp is a shortening for herptile. This derives from the term “Herpetology”. This name is derived from a Greek word that means reptile or crawling animal, according to Wikipedia.