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2 Unanswered Feeding Questions

Discussion in 'Tarantula Feeding and Feeder Insects' started by Tortoise Tom, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. Tortoise Tom

    Tortoise Tom Well-Known Member

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    Until now I've never been part of a forum for tarantulas and I don't personally know anyone else who is heavily into them. Many questions have come up over the years, and I'm left to guess and speculate based on experience with other species, or based on the opinions of other keepers who really don't "know" the answers either. I thought some of the people here might have insights into these questions, and thought it would be a fun and interesting discussion either way.

    Question #1: Do tarantulas, like most other animals require some variety in their diet? Many say "no" and point to examples of spiders raised entirely on crickets and nothing else. Others feed a wide variety of prey insects and feel their spiders benefit from the variety. I suppose the gut loading of the prey insects is a factor to consider too. I've always had a wide variety of prey insects to offer, so that's what I've done. At one time I had 18 species of cockroaches and there were lots of surplus males to feed out. Is it "better" that way? I don't know. My results have been good and my "slow" growing species seemed to put on size pretty quickly, but I wonder how people who feed a single species of feeder insect feel about it. If the single prey species is gut loaded with a wide variety of foods over time, does this make up for a lack of variety?

    I'd love to hear thoughts and insight on this matter.

    Question #2: What are your thoughts on feeding wild caught insects? Of course there is the risk of residual pesticides, but are their other risks? Toxicity? Parasites? I have a lot of tortoises and I grow my own food for them. It is a constant battle to fight off the local desert critters who all want to eat my tortoise's food. I get lots of grasshoppers, pincher bugs and caterpillars constantly. My area is very rural and we all have animals, so none of my neighbors use any poisons or pesticides either. I'm on 5 acres, so it is doubtful that a pincher bug found in the middle of my ranch came from a neighboring ranch. And even if a moth or butterfly has been exposed to chemical toxins, when they fly over and lay their eggs, the hatching caterpillars will have been hatched on my ranch and have had no exposure to any chemicals or pesticides. Are these soft bodied morsels toxic? I get these brownish ones and some light greens ones. We also get the ones with the black spiky fuzz. Can these be fed to our tarantulas? I know some of them are toxic to reptiles because of what they eat, but these ones are eating non-toxic foods that are grown with no chemicals or pesticides for my tortoises to eat. And the grasshoppers… Man I hate those things. I must kill 100 a year and they eat so much of my food! How fun would it be to watch a big mature OBT tear into one of those? I had a couple of squirrel monkeys and they would regularly catch and eat the grasshoppers that flew into their large outdoor cage, and both of them lived long happy lives, so I'm pretty sure this species isn't toxic.

    What say you? A good way to provide variety, or not worth the risk since I have other safer food sources available?
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  2. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    To the first, its just a matter of preference. I like to mix it up ocasionally but either dubia or lats are my staples. I think its good to throw something different in sometimes. For variety.

    As prey I would trust non flying insects in an area you control, or a large area that you know for a fact hasnt been sprayed. Local ground or tree dwellers. Its just safer using home grown colonies, and easier.
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  3. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    Question #1
    I do think that feeding a variety of prey would benefit any predator. If you look at the breakdowns of various feeder insects they do vary in the amounts of each nutritional element tested for, and the ratios of the minerals they contain.
    That said, feeding a wide variety of prey is not always practical, only my frogs and fish readily take a wide variety of prey, followed by my centipedes.
    There are often practical rather than nutritional reasons as to why one prey is better than another for various predatory "pets".
    Because of this I think giving the feeders a varied diet is important so that their nutritional needs are met and they themselves are not deficient in any vitamins or minerals making them as nutritious their species can possibly be.
    I do think that gutloading with different foods on different occasions makes up for a lack in variety in prey species and I practice this as much as possible but carrot and leafy greens such as spinach and chard are my staple gutloading foods, the caratone and thiamine are important for my lizards and fish and I assume the inverts might benefit from adding those nutrients as they would usually be present in the gut contents of their wild prey too.

    Question #2
    Firstly, I agree with what Mass has said on the matter, but I'll add my thoughts and experiences.
    I did used to feed wild caught insects to some of my animals, I had read that moths are a good source of iodine making them a good food for my aquatic tortoises, I would imagine I read it in TFH as I was a devout reader of the magazine and reread every copy I own over and over again.
    I also have collected slaters and worms from my yard to feed various animals as I know that chemicals have not been used in my garden and I'm on a large block of land. I stopped catching moths as feeders when outdoor flyspray dispensers became common. Before that I was pretty sure that moths hadn't been sprayed with insecticide but moths being attracted to a porch light where an outdoor dispenser is located is too likely imo and not worth the risk.
    Something similar to what you mentioned regarding caterpillars is that while I wouldn't feed wild caught flies because you don't know what they've been in contact with and what their gut might contain I have a "maggot farm" of sorts. I don't use it all the time but occasionally I put some food in it and collect maggots to hatch out so I can have clean flies for my frogs, I plan to do this for my tarantulas sometime, I think it will be great viewing for me and good environmental enrichment for them.
    I think some caterpillars may be toxic in themselves regardless of what they eat but I'm not sure. If you were to I.D. research the species and their food plants I would think that you could be sure of whether it's wise to use them as feeders or not. Grasshoppers and locusts can travel great distances as far as I'm aware so I would be wary of them but flightless nymphs couldn't have come from very far away so if you're on a large property I would think they'd be ok.
    The degree of risk of parasites and disease would be fairly dependant on whether tarantulas or similar spiders are present in the area you live in but I think there will always be some risk.

    I've made my answers fairly general as although I've kept a variety of animals all my life I'm only a few months into keeping tarantulas. I went from none to 30 in about a month though so I've got a lot of opportunities for observing and learning to come!
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  4. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    While not essential, I notice mine grow faster when fed a variety of food.

    The trouble with wild caught items is that creatures have their own natural defenses against predators and tarantulas may not have counter measures because they are not native to that area. Of course, pesticides and parasites are a concern as well. Why take the risk?

    Still, mayflies and some moths that mature into breeders and who are not capable of eating might not be too risky. Those mature, breed and die.
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  5. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I recently dug up a huge juicy grub while moving a tree. My big Lp seemed to enjoy it.
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  6. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I wish those were available as feeders from vendors in America like some are overseas.
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  7. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I should have taken a pic, this thing was FAT. In fact im going to go try to id it..
  8. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    Like this?
    grub 7.JPG grub 6.JPG
    This was about 4" long in its resting state, I had nothing big enough to feed it to
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  9. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    It depends on what the tree is growing in, any fertlilzers or other chemicals. I'm glad nothing bad happened but still....
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