Alright! The basics:
Gut loading (filling feeders with nutrients that your animal requires):
First of all, let’s paint a picture here:
If you buy some crickets from your local feeder store (or online) come home, put them in a bin without food or water you’re basically starving your feeders.
When you take those feeders out of the bin and serve them to your animals, you’re basically feeding them an empty shell that is very high is phosphorus (bad) and very low in calcium (bad). You’re pretty much feeding your animals a filler food that isn’t going to give them anything beneficial besides the satisfaction of a full belly.
Gut loading, which is the process of feeding your feeders a nutritious diet composed of a variety of healthy food ( such as fruits and veggies) is very beneficial for not just feeding your feeders but in the long term; providing a more nutritious meal for your reptile. By feeding your crickets or other insects a healthy diet this prolongs their lives (yay you don’t have to run to the store every few days AND if you feed fruits and veggies you do not need to give crickets water, they will get enough from the food provided.) and adds several more vitamins and nutrients into their bland composure that is overall… pretty unhealthy.
For example, take an empty cup. Now drink what’s in the cup. Does this cup currently provide the vitamins and other nutrients that you require? —No.
Now, take the same cup and add a bunch of vitamins and nutrients into that cup. Take a drink. Isn’t that better? —Yes, much better.
In simple terms, that’s what gut loading is.
If you want a healthy reptile, you need healthy feeders.
(Above is a sheet I keep in my reptile binder)
Dusting or powdering:
This is when you take your feeder insect (a cricket for example) and you cover it with a vitamin dust just before you feed it to your animal. This is also extremely important because this dust also helps with providing the correct diet for your reptile, amphibian, etc.
Depending on what species is in question, you may only require one type of dust or several that will need to be rotated.
It’s very important that you do your research on the dietary requirements that your animal will need before you purchase the animal.
Picture source for above
Overall, both gut loading and dusting your feeders is extremely important and should be done. Providing these nutrients will not only prolong the health of your feeders and reptiles but raise their quality of life and help to fulfil their dietary requirements.
As always, please do full research before you ever purchase an animal.