Gut loading is the practice of nutrient-loading prey animals using food; with the goal of transmitting those nutrients to the predator for which the prey was bred. It is considered most significant if the animals get the primary source of nourishment from insects.
Commercially produced insects have minimal nutritional value. By supplying high-quality feed to the prey animals, they become a much more nutrition-rich food for your pet.
Gut loading can be achieved by the intake of fruit, vegetables, cereals, or any nutritionally balanced meal. Various commercial food products are also available on the market, developed specifically for insect gut loading.
Read on to learn how to gut load superworms!
What are Superworms?
Superworms are larvae of darkling beetles natively found in the tropical regions of Central and South America. Scientifically, they are called Zophobas morio. They are additionally called king worms, morio worms, or just Zophobas.
They are big, juicy, and harmless. What is more, they provide a good nutrient balance for your pets. Superworms look like mealworms, but they are much bigger. Moreover, they are super strong and long. Some super worms are white.
How Fast Do Superworms Grow?
Superworms are not particularly fast growers. They take between 3 and 4 months to grow to their full size of 1.5 – 2 inches.
During this larval stage, they molt anywhere between 9 to 20 times and their growth rate can be impacted by their surroundings and the environment in which they are kept.
What Eats Superworms?
Superworms are a staple food for various animals, including turtles, frogs, spiders, lizards, birds, koi, salamanders, and other insectivorous animals. They can be a good source of nutrition for fishes, such as pufferfish and Arowana.
Superworms need proper habitats and sufficient nutrition to survive. If there is insufficient food or habitat, they can start eating and killing each other. If your superworms are not loaded with nutrition, they won’t be a very good food source.
Is Gut Loading Superworms Necessary?
Yes, gut loading superworms is necessary. Commercially available superworms are extremely unlikely to have been adequately fed prior to being sold.
It’s important that you provide them with a nutritious diet yourself to ensure they’re healthy and nutritious when you feed them to your pet.
Superworms are a great source of protein and other nutrients for your pets, so it’s important that you take the time to properly gut load them before feeding them to your animals.
A good diet for gut loading superworms includes things like fresh vegetables, fruits, grain cereal, and dog or cat food.
How To Gut Load Superworms?
Gut loading superworms really is quite a simple task as is as straightforward as feeding them up.
What You Need
- Plastic Container
- Cardboard Egg Boxes
- Pine Shavings
- Fresh Veggies/ Gut loading Chow
- Nutrient Powder
Step 1 – Buy Superworms
First, you have to buy some superworms from your local pet store.
Note: Remember that they are unlikely to have been gut loaded by the store where you bought them.
Step 2 – Prepare Container
Cover the bottom of your container with pine shavings and add a couple of empty egg boxes. The shavings will alleviate the stench of the worms to an extent.
Moreover, it will also give them a substrate that they can burrow in, and the egg boxes will help keep them from crawling all over one another.
Step 3 – Add Food and Moisture
Depending on what you are planning to feed them; fresh veggies; gut loading chow etc. you will want to add the food.
If you are using gut loading chow, it will already be packed with all of the nutrients that you need and you can add this as it is.
If, however, you are using fresh veggies, they may need additional supplementation such as calcium so you will need to coat the fresh veggies in the calcium powder (amazon link – opens in a new tab) and add them to the container.
For moisture, you will want to add a slice of potato or just fill a plastic bottle lid with water and leave it in the corner.
Step 4 – Add Your Superworms
Now you can add your superworms to their new home where they will be able to feast until you are ready to feed them to your pet.
Just for You: How to Gut Load Mealworms
How Long Before Feeding Should You Gut Load Superworms?
According to the research, superworms should be gut loaded 24 to 72 hours before feeding them to your pet with 48 hours being the optimum time.
If you leave them gut-loaded for more than three days, gut loading will be useless, and it will be like feeding your pet with zero nutritional values. This is because all the nutrients will have been absorbed and subsequently excreted by the worms.
What Foods are Best to Gut Load Superworms?
The easiest thing to do is gut load superworms with commercially available gut loading chow that is full of nutrition (amazon link – opens in a new tab) but there are plenty of other things that you could use.
- A variety of fruits and vegetables (Some staples are carrots, bananas, apples, potatoes, kale, and most leafy greens)
- Dry cat or dog food (do not use wet or canned food)
- Premixed and prepackaged foods specifically for gut loading
- Fish foods such as pellets or flakes
- Cereal grains/ Bran cereal flakes
- Supplements of calcium and vitamins (used when fresh fruits and vegetables are not rich enough in what our pets need)
Do You Need Supplements for Gut Loading?
You are able to buy chow that is nutrient-rich and specifically designed for gut-loading insects that will be used as food. This food will not need any supplementation although if you are gut-loading using fresh foods, this may need additional nutrients added.
Most animals will need calcium in their diet, and this is often not found in high enough concentrations in vegetables. This means that for gut loading, it is a good idea to coat some of the fresh vegetables in calcium powder, so this is transferred to your pet.
What is the Difference Between Gut Loading and Dusting?
Gut loading is feeding the insects with a nutrition-rich diet before you feed them to your pet. Dusting is simply coating the exoskeleton of the live insect with a vitamin and mineral supplement before you feed it to your pet.
The idea behind gut loading is that if the insects are already full of good nutrients, then your pet will get more of what it needs from them when it eats them.
Similarly, the idea behind dusting is that if the insects are coated with a vitamin and mineral supplement, then your pet will get more of what it needs from them when it eats them.
In both cases, you’re trying to give your pet the best chance possible of getting all of the nutrients it needs from its diet.
Gut-loading your superworms is an important part of their care and will ensure that they are healthy and nutritious for your reptiles.
Now you know how to gut-load your superworms, you can provide them with a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables or gut-loading chow so you can be sure that your pet is getting the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Follow these tips to gut load your superworms and give your reptiles the best possible chance at a long, healthy life.
Reptile Wrestler Tips!
“Gut load your superworms for at least 24-48 hours before feeding them to your pet!”
“If you do not have access to fresh fruit and veggies, it is a good idea to purchase some gut-loading chow!”
“Add a slice of potato to provide some much-needed moisture to your container whilst the superworms are feasting!”
“Calcium is extremely important to almost all vertebrates so ensure you supplement your gut-loading veggies with calcium powder too!”
What do you feed superworms for gut loading?
Superworms can be gut loaded by feeding them a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also give them a diet of sprouted grains, which are high in nutrients. The superworms will eat fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as sprouted grains. This will help to make them a healthy food source for your pet.
Do you need to gut load store-bought superworms?
Yes, store-bought superworms will need to be gut-loaded in order to pass on their nutrient stores to your pet. This can be done by feeding them a diet of high-quality, nutrient-rich foods for a few days before using them. Some good options include fruits (especially bananas and apples), vegetables (especially broccoli and kale), and grains (especially oatmeal).
Can you gut-load superworms?
Yes, gut-loading superworms is expressly recommended. Gut loading generally means providing your feeder insects with a diet that is high in nutrients. This can be done by feeding them a variety of fruits and vegetables, or you can purchase gut-load food specifically made for feeder insects.
Can I gutload superworms with fruits and vegetables only?
Fruits and vegetables can be used to gutload superworms, but a variety of foods should be offered to provide a balanced diet.
Can I feed superworms to my reptile without gutloading them?
Superworms can be fed to reptiles without gutloading them, but it’s important to keep in mind that the reptile won’t get the necessary vitamins and minerals from the worms.
Can I gutload superworms with commercial cricket food?
No, superworms have different nutritional needs than crickets, so it’s not recommended to use commercial cricket food to gutload them.
Should I gutload superworms before refrigerating them?
No, it’s not necessary to gutload superworms before refrigerating them. They can be gutloaded before being offered as food.
Are there any potential dangers of gutloading superworms?
Overfeeding or providing the wrong type of food can cause health issues for your reptile. It’s important to research the specific dietary requirements of the species of reptile you have and not to feed the superworms things that the reptile cannot eat.
Hi, I’m Stuart and I’ve had reptiles for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I studied for a master’s in Herpetology. Over the years I have worked at several zoos before opening my very own reptile sanctuary. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their little beasties.