What Size Black Soldier Fly Is Right For My Reptiles?
Many people like to keep exotic pets and this often includes reptiles. Reptiles such as bearded dragons, geckos, chameleons, frogs, newts and salamanders often occupy a pride of place in many homes.
In fact, individuals at home eventually develop such fondness for these reptilian pets that they eventually see them as members of the family.
People go to great lengths to see to it that their reptilian pets get the full spectrum of human love and devotion that is possible. This involves housing them appropriately, nurturing them and especially feeding them.
Pet Reptiles are still predators and tend to fed on a host of living organisms below them in the food chain. Bugs, cockroaches, flies and other types of insects constitute the bulk of their food.
Black soldier flies and larvae; are commercially developed as feeder insects for exotic pets, and marketed as pet food. The harvested pupae and prepupae serve as the food of choice for pet reptiles.
Black soldier fly larvae are considered vital for meeting the protein needs of reptiles. Black soldier fly larvae are a viable alternative or replacement for crickets, Dubia roaches and super worms.
Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), are nurtured on a probiotic-treated grain and grass diet and contain high levels of calcium. Their balanced Calcium-Phosphorus ratio makes them the ideal staple diet for reptiles with no need for additional dusting.
Black soldier fly larvae are also known as phoenix worms, calciworms, reptiworms and nutrigrubs. They retain all their nutritional values and do not need to be fed as this would restart their digestives systems.
This would cause them to defaecate, led to the growth of bacteria and this would give off an offensive odour. It is best to keep them in a closed cup, store in a cool location (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit) and feed off to your pet reptiles as needed.
Another point you should take into consideration is that while it may be possible to keep the larvae for months when stored at the ideal temperature, you should only order the number of black soldier fly larvae that will be fed off within 3 weeks.
This is to ensure that your pet reptiles get a steady supply of fresh food. Black soldier fly larvae are highly nutritious, protein-filled, high in fiber and phosphorus. They are also extremely high in calcium and thiamine.
These grubs have a moisture content of 61%, a protein content of 18%, a fat content of 14%, a fiber content of 3% and ash content of 4%. There are compelling reasons why black soldier fly larvae are a very popular insect feeder brand.
It is because they are the only commercially produced insect that found to potentially have natural positive calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:5:1 based on the diet they are provided.
Black soldier fly larvae are deficient in fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E. One of the key benefits also of black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) is that they can replace a powdered calcium supplement without D3.
They are inexpensive and well stocked which means they are easy to find and easy to buy. Black solder fly larvae can be stored in the container they arrive in and do not need to be fed which makes it very easy to store and to keep.
What is even best of all is the fact that black soldier fly larvae can be fed to a wide range of reptiles at the larvae, pupae and adult stages. This makes it a very cost effective choice of insect feeder.
They tend to grow and pupate much faster than other insect feeder types, which is a major advantage. When it comes to feeding your pet reptiles, the rule of thumb is that they can eat anything as big as the space between their eyes.
In addition to that, any food that is less in length or equal in length to the length of the reptile from its snout to its tail (for larger adult reptiles) is safe to eat.
Food that is larger than the spacing between their eyes may be stuck in their digestive tract. There are two possible outcomes if this were to happen.
The best scenario is that it results in the impaction of faeces. This blockage can be released by defaecation, which gives the reptile relief.
The worst scenario on the other hand is that the pressure on the spine from the blockage may result in paralysis or death for your pet reptile.
This is why it is important to adhere to rules of safe feeding. Black soldier fly larvae generally are available in three sizes based on their length and their weight.
The three sizes of black soldier fly larvae are the Small, Medium and Large.
The Small Feeding Grade Black Soldier Fly Larvae
This category called the small feeding grade black soldier fly larvae is 0.25 inches in length and has a weight that varies from 0.02 to 0.03 grams.
The small feeding grade black soldier fly larvae are an excellent choice for hatchlings and very small reptiles like dart frogs.
Dart Frogs are quite small and their sizes range from 0.59 inches to 2.4 inches in length from their snout. Generally, dart frogs will not consume prey or food over a quarter of an inch, which is about 0.25 inches.
Geckos are an additional example of reptiles that also fall under this category. They sometimes grow to lengths of about 4 inches and their eye space sizes range from 0.25 inches to 0.34 inches.
Generally, research shows that geckos especially of the leopard variety, are able to digest intact black soldier fly larvae much better than other reptilian type species such as the mountain chicken frog.
The fact that the small feeding grade black soldier fly larvae is 0.25 inches in length as well makes it very easy for this class of reptiles to eat, chew and swallow the fly larvae.
There is no danger or risk of the black soldier fly larvae being stuck in the digestive tract of these small animals.
The Medium Feeding Grade Black Soldier Fly Larvae
This group called the medium feeding grade black soldier fly larvae is 0.5 inches long and weighs anything from 0.05 to 0.07 grams.
The medium feeding grade black soldier fly larvae are best suited for baby reptiles and very small-sized reptiles. Salamanders and the smaller species of frogs fit in nicely under this class.
Smaller variants of salamanders range in size from the pygmy salamander, which has snout to tail lengths of about 0.6 inches to other small types, which grow to about 1.1 inch on the average. Others are about 3 to 4 inches long.
The smaller varieties of frogs vary in length from 0.3 inches to 0.62 inches. Some types, which are slightly larger, are about 0.94 inches long.
These reptiles, which are smaller than their larger counterparts can comfortably feed on the medium feeding grade black soldier fly larvae, which is 0.5 inches long.
The Large Feeding Grade Black Soldier Fly Larvae
This class known as the large feeding grade black soldier fly larvae is 0.75 inches in length and weighs from 0.1 to 0.13 grams.
The large feeding grade black soldier fly larvae are generally most appropriate for adult reptiles. Some examples of such reptiles are adult bearded dragons and chameleons.
Bearded dragons vary in length all the way from about 4 inches to a maximum of about 24 inches on the average.
The protein needs of bearded dragons are best met by feeding them a steady diet of large feeding grade black soldier fly larvae. These insects have been “gut loaded” which means they have been fed lizard friendly vitamins and nutrients.
High protein formulas are best for juvenile bearded dragons while lower protein versions are best served to adult bearded dragon types.
The size and amount of food given to newly born bearded dragons is very important because they must never be fed food that is larger than their heads. This can cause serious injury or can even be fatal. This would cause you to lose your beloved pet.
Chameleons are next under this grouping. They are shy reticent creatures with an impressive array of anatomical capabilities. They vary in size and body structure from 0.59 inches for very small ones to 27 inches for larger bodied types.
Chameleons eat the grubs or larvae of black soldier flies, however, they love the flies even better. This is why you should pupate some of the black soldiers into flies; the chameleons prefer them and they are even more nutritious.
Sometimes if the chameleons do not chew the larvae properly, the meal does not digest thoroughly and may still come out whole when ejected as faeces.
Some pet owners have even found out that some chameleons do not even eat the larvae but just ignore them. They always go for the flies unfailingly and you will observe that their growth spurts noticeably.
The large feeding grade black soldier fly larvae which is 0.75 inches in length is just about ideal for adult bearded dragons and chameleons.
They can constitute about 30% of a chameleon’s diet.