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 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Wild Caught Insects

There are several factors that limit the longevity of Anoles in the wild. Weather conditions, predators, parasites, and diet make it difficult for an Anole to survive much past its second year. In captivity, they have a climate-controlled environment, no predators, and external parasites are eliminated. Why, then, does a wild, natural diet limit an Anole’s longevity?

The answer is two-fold and relatively simple. Anoles are non-discriminatory, opportunistic feeders. They will try to eat anything that crawls or flies by that they think they can overpower and swallow. As a result, they sometimes make poor choices and try to eat high-risk prey. They are sometimes injured, poisoned, and even die because of what they perceive as their next meal. Contrary to legend, they are not immune to wasp, bee, or spider venoms and can die from the toxins produced by these “snacks”.

In addition, they will often eat insects that carry either disease organisms or internal parasites. Fortunately, the list of insect vectors is relatively small when compared to the vast number of species and easy to avoid.

With a bit of preparation and knowledge, we can provide our Green Anoles with a diverse, nutritious, and safe menu.

Why “wild caught” food? There are several reasons:

1) It is abundant. There are literally millions of species of insects. There are billions of individual specimens of each species.

2) It is free. You can collect as much as you want and never have to buy another cricket again.

3) It provides a diverse, nutritious menu. Most of the foods that captive Anoles eat are lacking in one mineral, vitamin, or nutrient. A broad spectrum of species will provide the widest range of nutrients.

4) Catching active prey items is good exercise. Anoles tend to get a bit lazy when fed on crickets or mealworms. Put a flying insect, like a moth, in the enclosure for some real action!

Equipment - In most of the United States, suitable insect prey is available for nine months or more each year. In fact, an experienced collector can find insects even in the dead of winter. You can’t just run around picking up Anole food with your fingers. Well, you can but a bit of equipment makes it much easier. For less than $20, you can be set up to collect an almost infinite supply of food.

1) A sweep net. A sweep insect net is more substantial than an aerial net and the bag is generally made of muslin. It is used to sweep through grassy or weedy areas and catch whatever is hiding there. You can buy a decent one for about $10.

2) A general insect/arthropod reference book. If you aren’t familiar with or adept at identifying insects or other arthropods, this is a necessity. It doesn’t have to be too technical and anything that has pictures of most of the common insects will do. You can find one for $5-$10.

3) Assorted storage containers. Empty yogurt containers are excellent for short-term storage. Just make sure that they have air holes poked through the top. You can make larger containers out of plastic shoe or sweater storage container by hot-gluing screen to a cut out portion of the lid.

Collection Techniques - We have everything that we need to get started. Now, where do we go to get this endless supply of food? There are basically two ways to amass a supply. You can go and get it or have the insects come to you.

1) Sweeping. This is the “go and get it” approach. Find a grassy or weedy area and sweep through the grass with your net. In 10 or 15 minutes, you will have a couple weeks’ supply of “goodies” for your Anole. Minimum effort and excellent results! All that is left is to sort through what you have caught.

2) Traps and Lures. Trapping and catching insects can be as easy as simply turning on the porch light. Insects are attracted strongly to both light and various odorous substances.

If you are going to use light as an attractant, an easy way to enhance its effectiveness is to shine a spotlight on a white sheet or light colored wall and capture whatever shows up. Of course, “black light” is very effective. Usually the best results are on dark moonless nights when the light source stands out better.

There are other simple traps. A coffee can buried level with the ground makes an excellent pitfall trap. It can either be unbaited or baited with a small piece of bread or bacon fat. Leave it overnight and check it early the next morning for visitors.

You can take a half loaf of unsliced bread, cut it lengthwise and put a hole in the end extending to the middle. Secure the two halves with rubber bands and put it in a grassy area. Check it in a day or two and you will find a supply of crickets and other creatures that are unwilling to leave this enormous food supply.

For sweet loving insects (moths, etc.), take the leftover stale beer from your last party and mix it with enough brown sugar to make a thin paste. Paint it on the trunks of trees, fence posts, and other objects. You will be surprised at the number of moths and other flying insects that appear. You can check it at night for moths and during the day for various flies and other insects. The natural equivalent is a tree (preferably an oak) with a wound that is running sap. They are absolute “gold mines” of activity.

Guidelines- You now hopefully have a supply of various insects. Remember, we are trying to provide your Anole with a “safe” menu, so, you can’t just throw any old bug in the enclosure and hope for the best. There are some broad guidelines that we can use to eliminate potential problems.

1) Don’t feed you Anole non-insects. Spiders, ticks, centipedes, and scorpions are hazardous. All spiders are venomous and an inopportune bite could cause some serious damage. The same holds true for centipedes and scorpions. If it has more than six legs, don’t use it as food for your Anole.

2) Insects use warning coloration very extensively as a defense mechanism. If an insect is brightly colored or conspicuous, it is usually toxic or unpalatable. It is best to be safe.

3) Don’t feed your Anole insects (or ticks) that are disease or parasite vectors. It is not likely that your pet Anole would be affected by West Nile Virus but it will probably pass through its digestive tract unscathed and then be present in his feces. Not a good situation. The same applies to internal parasites.

4) If an insect is feeding on a plant with milky sap, don’t use it as a food item. Most plants with milky latex-like sap are toxic. Insects have the amazing facility of not being bothered by the toxins but they also frequently concentrate them in their tissues. Thus, they can be even more toxic that the plant itself.

5) Don’t collect insects from areas treated with pesticides (no surprise) or from roadsides where the exhaust from motor vehicles will be a problem because of heavy metal concentrations.

Green Anole Food - This will not be a complete listing of all of the insect Orders but will focus on the larger and more frequently encountered ones. The first seven are those that have an incomplete metamorphosis. That is, the nymphs generally look like miniature adults.

Orthoptera – Crickets, Grasshoppers, Roaches, etc. This is a large and nutritious Order. Almost all of the members are suitable as Anole food. There are a few exceptions, however. Stay away from household roaches (American cockroach and German cockroach) since they are prone to carry diseases. Mole crickets and mantids are also inappropriate choices. Any other suitably sized specimen will do. If you choose to breed and raise some of these species, here are a couple of websites to visit for excellent instructions of food, housing, etc.
http://australianbeardies.com/cricketfood/insects.htm
http://insected.arizona.edu/grasshopperrear.htm

Dermaptera – Earwigs. Contrary to various “old wife’s tales”, earwigs don’t crawl into people’s ears and they are not dangerous. The pincer-like appendages at the end of the abdomen are completely harmless. Anoles will eat them.

Ephemeroptera – Mayflies, Lake flies, etc. These insects don’t feed while in the adult stage and usually only live a day or two. There are periodic massive hatches with millions and millions of individuals. They are only available for a few days and then they disappear until the next year. They are weak fliers and Anoles will pursue them with reckless abandon.

Odonata – Dragonflies and Damsel flies. Dragonflies are generally too big for Anoles to handle and so are the majority of Damsel flies but they will eat some of the smaller species.

Isoptera – Termites. Anoles will readily eat both workers and winged termites. Although not particularly nutritious, they are a source of protein.

Homoptera – Cicadas, Aphids, Leafhoppers, etc. Cicadas are obviously too large for Anoles to eat. Aphids are an excellent food source for hatchlings (they pop like grapes) and small Anoles. Leafhoppers and froghoppers (spittlebugs) are generally less than ½” in size and are frequent prey for wild Anoles. They will voraciously eat Planthoppers and Leafhoppers (which make an excellent food for hatchlings).

Note: Leafhoppers are the exception to the “colorful is suspect” doctrine. They are frequently brightly colored and neither toxic nor unpalatable.





Acanalonia conica on the left and Metcalfa pruinosa on the right - both planthoppers


Hemiptera – True Bugs. This Order includes some real “rogues”. Stink bugs, Squash bugs, Assassin bugs and others bite severely or have chemical defenses (noxious odors) or both. Their bites are truly excruciating. They are best left alone. They also include some toxic species like Box Elder Bugs.

Coleoptera- Beetles. Although this is the largest insect Order, beetles are a poor choice for a food item. In the wild, they comprise as much as 30% of an Anoles food. They are not poisonous by default but they have a thick, chitinous exoskeleton that is almost indigestible.

In addition, Blister beetles, Rose Chafers, and Fireflies are toxic. Several others either secrete or even project caustic chemicals (i.e., Bombardier beetles). Some will also bite savagely. Despite their numbers, they are best left alone unless you can make a positive identification and know what you are doing. They do, however, make up about 30% of a wild Anole’s diet.

Neuroptera – Lacewings and Ant Lions. The adults make good food items but they are generally small and of limited nutritional value. They are beneficial insects.

Lepodoptera – Butterflies and Moths. Moths are excellent prey items for your Anole. If possible, they should be a daily menu item during the warmer months. They have good nutritional value and Anoles can’t seem to resist chasing them. A good way to get a reluctant Anole to eat is to put a moth in the enclosure. The Anole will go through gyrations rivaling a world-class gymnast trying to catch a moth. The exercise is good for them! Moths are easy to catch at both light and scent traps and are very abundant throughout the warmer months.

Butterflies, on the other hand, are relatively poor choices. Most of them are just too big. The smaller ones will be taken but their small body size makes them lacking in nutrition. Some, (Monarchs, for example) are even toxic. The exception is Skippers which Anoles will take eagerly and have a relatively large body size. Common Dusky Roadside Skippers are a favorite.

Caterpillars are a good menu item. They are high in fat content and are good for fattening up a skinny Anole. They should be used as a treat rather than a staple food item. Just make sure you avoid any caterpillars with spines or are very hairy. The spines and hairs usually contain a chemical irritant.

Hymenoptera – Wasps, Bees, and Ants. This entire group should be avoided. All of them bite and most of them sting. They can cause serious injury or even kill an Anole with their stings. If you have ever been “nailed” by a hornet, you get the point!

The exception is the larvae. The larvae of paper wasps and hornets are very much like caterpillars. They are high in fat and an excellent treat. All you have to do is raid the nest and not get stung. It may not be worth the pain and effort!

Diptera – Flies and Mosquitoes. The ones to stay away from are the biting flies (Horse flies, Stable flies, etc.), Houseflies, Blue Bottles, Green Bottles (they carry multiple diseases and parasites), Botflies (an external parasite of Anoles), and Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes probably spread more diseases and parasites throughout the world than any other insect. A number of them affect humans and can be transmitted either by direct bite or by passing through your Anole’s digestive tract and into his feces. Salmonella is the least of your worries!

Bee flies and Hover flies make excellent food as do Crane flies. The first two are strictly nectar feeders and they will add a bit of sugar to your Anoles diet. They are active fliers and will give your Anole a workout. Anoles seem to be really enthusiastic about eating them. Crane flies look like giant mosquitoes but they are quite harmless. They are lumbering fliers and fairly easy for the Anoles to catch. They might look too big for an Anole to eat but they can get them down with a bit of patience. It looks almost like a sword-swallowing exhibition!

Of course, a piece of fruit left outside in the summer will soon attract a hoard of Fruit flies. They are a mainstay food for hatchling Anoles and very small juveniles.

Identification Note: A number of flies mimic bees and wasps and gain a good measure of protection this way. They can be easily confused with them. Close examination will allow you to separate them. Bees and Wasps have two pairs of wings and flies only have a single pair.

We have made our way through the larger insect Orders in a quick, brief study. The best way to become familiar with what constitutes safe food for you Anole is to sit down with a reference guide before you ever collect the first insect. It isn’t too difficult to provide a varied, nutritious menu using wild caught insects. I’m sure that your Anole will appreciate it as mine have for the past 40+ years.

Raising Feeder Insects

Going down to the local Pet Store every week or so to buy a supply of feeder insects for your Anoles can get to be both tiresome and expensive. Even after you buy a dozen or so of them, you still have to find some place to keep them and provide food and water for them to survive. Why not cut overall costs by raising you own feeder insects? It is easy and cheaper in the long run. Consider that if you use a dozen crickets per week, you will have spent about $50 for a year’s supply. For that, you can easily set up a breeding program for several different species. Besides. You will have feeders of the correct size whenever you need them.

CRICKETS (Acheta domestica) and ROACHES (Nauphoeta cinerea)

Difficulty: 1

I’m going to treat these two together since the requirements are the same with some minor variations.

Enclosure

The best enclosure to raise crickets/roaches in is one of the Sterlite (or similar) plastic storage bins. The 66 quart size works well but you can get a larger size if you wish. The 66-quart size will accommodate several thousand of either species. You will need to cut out a section in the middle of the top for ventilation and cover it with metal screen. Both species can chew through fiberglass screen. Using a hot glue gun, glue the screen to the top from the inside.

The insects will need somewhere to hide. Get some of the cardboard egg flats – the ones that hold two-dozen eggs. Cut them in half and hot glue them together and stand them on end in the enclosure. By standing them on end, the feces will drop through to the bottom of the enclosure and, by raising one end; they will all end up at the other end of the enclosure for easy cleaning.

Notice that I did not mention any sort of substrate. It is unnecessary and makes cleaning a lot more difficult.

Feeding

Both crickets and roaches are omnivores. They will eat almost anything. It isn’t too difficult to find something for them to eat but you want to provide them with a healthy diet so that the reptiles you feed them to will also be healthy.

It is best to avoid animal protein and stick to vegetable protein. With that in mind, you can feed them most any vegetable peel or fruit (potato, squash, etc,), or cereal grain or pet food pellet. Flaked baby food works fine but my favorite is mouse/rat pellets. It is over 20% protein and both crickets and roaches eat it voraciously. I run mine through a blender to reduce it to a powder. Keep the food available constantly and your feeders will multiply beyond your wildest dreams. You can also treat them to some juicy fruit from time to time but it isn’t really necessary.

Of course, they will need a source of water. Crickets are especially stupid and will drown in an open container of water. I suggest the gelatin-like Cricket Drink products. However, if you have a thriving colony, keeping them supplied with it becomes VERY expensive. The alternative is to make your own. The only ingredient in these products (besides a couple of drops of food coloring) is Polyacrylamide. This substance is commonly used as an agricultural soil amendment to hold water (brand names Agrisoke, Moistsoil, etc). If you buy it at Walmart, Lowes, or somewhere else, it will run about $10/ LB. A search of the Internet revealed a better source. Go to the Watersorb website. They have it for about $15 for two pounds postpaid. Since one teaspoon will hydrate 2 cups of water, you will have a supply that will last a long, long time. If you wish, you can add some food coloring and you will have exactly what they sell in the stores. Oh yes, use filtered or distilled water for the maximum hydration. Also, order the 2mm to 4mm size crystals (that denotes the size of the hydrated product). Incidentally, the dry crystals have a shelf life of 5 to 6 years if kept in a container away from moisture. So, two teaspoons of the dry granules will make one of the 32 oz jars of Cricket Drink.

Put the food and the water source in a small deli dish or the top of a yogurt container and keep them well supplied with both.

Security

Hatchling crickets and some species of roaches are very adept at climbing. So much so, that they can climb glass and plastic with impunity. Even though you have the top of the container covered, you will have to provide a barrier to keep them in bounds. Vaseline has been used with some success but it gets messy in the summer. There is an even better product on the market. Go to the Carnivorous Orchid. There you will find a product called Bug-Stop. Basically, it is a Teflon-based lubricant (an aqueous dispersion, actually) that you can simply paint around the top of the container in a 2-3” wide band with a sponge paint applier. There are full instructions on the website. By the way, two ounces of the stuff will last a long time. Just remember to replace it every six months or so.

Temperature

Both crickets and roaches are warm weather insects. In fact, they should both be kept at 85 degrees or more for maximum breeding efficiency. In reality, that is probably not possible for the entire year. I store mine outside in a storage building during the summer where the temperature reaches that level for a good portion of the time. I simply bring them indoors in the winter and they do quite nicely at room temperature although they breed much more slowly.

Crickets are particularly affected by temperature. At 85-90 degrees, they go from hatchling to mature adult in about three weeks. At 70 degrees, it takes them about six weeks. At lower temperatures, it takes even longer for them to mature.

Where to get your livestock

The most common roach to breed as a feeder is the Lobster Roach. There are others that you can use that are not able to climb - Blatta orientalis comes to mind. There are a number of online suppliers of various roach species. Remember, they will breed very rapidly. Don’t worry if they start off slow. Once you have a breeding pool of adults, it will be a geometric progression. Lobster roaches are glass climbers so use a barrier.

To get crickets, simply go to the pet store and buy two or three-dozen large crickets. Try to get a mixture of males and females. How do you tell them apart? Easy, the female has a long spear-like ovipositor (egg laying tube) protruding from the end of her abdomen. Males don’t. Both will have two cerci at an angle, one on each side. So, the female will have three protrusions from her abdomen and the male only two.

You will have to make one consolation for the crickets. Place a large deli dish with moist sand, vermiculite, or compost in the enclosure with your breeding pool. The female crickets will lay their eggs in it. Make sure you keep the medium moist and don’t let it dry out. Once the young start emerging, remove and discard the adults since they are also cannibalistic. Just continue to repeat the process for a continuous supply of feeders.

Feeding to your Anoles

Choose an appropriate sized cricket or roach nymph for your Anole and drop it in the enclosure. Make sure you remove any that aren’t eaten. If you want to confine them, put the crickets/roaches in a deli dish with some MINER-ALL in the bottom. Because it is ground so finely, it hinders their climbing ability substantially. Your Anoles will soon learn that the deli dish means FOOD!

Final Note

Cricket colonies have a definite odor about them that some people find offensive. Most roach colonies are virtually odorless.

WAXWORMS (Galleria mellonella)

Difficulty: 2

Waxworms are the larvae of the Greater Wax Moth. In nature, they infest beehives and cause significant damage. They are a nutritious food source for Anoles but are high in fat content and best used as a treat rather than a staple diet. They are great for fattening up underweight Anoles, though.

Enclosure

I have been successful using one of the small “shoe box” sized plastic storage containers that you can pick up for a dollar or so at most discount stores. The only preparation is to cut out the center section of the top and hot glue some screen to cover the opening just like you did with the cricket/roach enclosure. Make sure that the top is tight fitting since the adult moths are skilled escape artists!

Food

There are many different formulae for waxworms. Some of the more exotic ones use glycerine, honey, and wheat bran. Rather than complicate things unduly, I’ll tell you what I use. It is sort of like mixing cement. Simply put, it is wheat bran and unfiltered honey from the local organic food store mixed together. Put the wheat bran in a bowl and mix in the honey until the mixture is moist but not sticky. Spread it on the bottom of the enclosure and let it sit for a day before putting the waxworms in the enclosure. Joe Burgess gets credit for this formula. This serves as a combination food source and substrate. All you have to do is add waxworms to start the colony. You will sometimes have a bit of a problem getting the first lot of them to eat you homemade mixture. If that is the case, put a piece of wax honeycomb on top of the food/substrate. The second generation will avidly attack the food/substrate.

Once you have added the waxworms, cover the substrate with a paper towel. Waxworms actually do best in warm, poorly ventilated spaces.

Where to get your breeding stock

Simply order a container of waxworms from one of the online vendors or buy them at a reptile show (much cheaper). Dump the waxworms (at least 25 or so) on the food/substrate and cover with a paper towel as previously mentioned.

Notes

Let the waxworms mature. They will form cocoons with a pupa inside. If you can, provide somewhere for them to spin or they will cover the top of the enclosure. At this point, you can add some crumpled pieces of wax paper. This will entice the female moths to lay their eggs there. Once the moths emerge, they will mate and lay eggs, either on the optional wax paper or on the food/substrate itself. After all of the moths have emerged and died, remove all of the bodies from the enclosure. The larvae will begin to emerge from the eggs that the females have produced. In time, the substrate/food will be held together by a series of webs. This is normal. They do fine at room temperature but warmer temperatures up to about 80 degrees will accelerate the life cycle.

HOUSE FLIES (Musca domestica)

Difficulty: 3

We really have a strange hobby. Most people try to keep crickets, roaches and flies out of the house but we invite them in and encourage them to breed.

Enclosure

A 5-gallon bucket with a lid is sufficient. Again, remove the center of the lid and cover it with metal window screen. As with the waxworms, the substrate and food source will be one in the same.

You will also need a second, smaller enclosure for the adult flies.

Food

Houseflies will eat almost any decaying organic material. There is, however, one formula that will be better than most. Credit goes to North Carolina State University for the formula. It is a mixture of wheat bran and a product called Calf Manna.

Start with 1.5 liters of water and pour in 500 ml of Calf Manna and let it soak for an hour. Add 2 liters of wheat bran and mix by hand until it is evenly moist.

This will serve for about 5000 maggots.

The adult flies are fed on a mixture of dry milk and sugar placed in a small deli dish or yogurt lid in their enclosure. Also place a small cup with a milk soaked tissue in it. Make sure that it stays moist. You can drop milk through the screen top if it gets dry.

Where to get Houseflies

You can get them at biological supply places like Carolina Biological. It is important to get them from a commercial fly breeder since you want to start with a disease-free breeding pool. If you want numbers, Oregon Feeder Insects sells them for $13.00 for two ounces (5000+ pupae). If that is more than you want, go to the Grubco website for a quantity of maggots. Their minimum order is 600 which is under $10 including shipping.

Notes

After about five days the adult flies will lay eggs on the milk-soaked tissue. After 4-6 hours, remove the tissue and wash the eggs from the tissue into a small glass and let them settle to the bottom. Remove the eggs with an eyedropper (about an inch of eggs in the eyedropper will be about 5000). Put the eggs on the medium and the maggots will emerge, subsequently pupate and the adults emerge. The best way to feed the Anoles is to put a dozen or so new pupae in the enclosure in a deli dish. They will emerge as adults in 3-4 days to provide both food and exercise for your Anoles.

The above directions also work for Phoenix worms which are the larvae (maggots) of the black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens).

FRUIT FLIES (Drosophila melanogaster or Drosophila hydei)

Difficulty: 1

Fruit flies are ideal for hatchling Anoles. There are two species available Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila hydei. The former is the smaller of the two and the latter is probably the best to get to start with. Make sure that you get the wingless variety.

Enclosure

Most colonies are sold with a culture medium included in a small to medium vial. That is usually sufficient to get started. If you want to breed your own, any small jar will do. Wide mouth quart canning jars are ideal. You can cover the top with a paper towel held in place with a rubber band. This will effectively cover the opening while providing adequate ventilation.

Food

There are several recipes for fruit fly culture media. Again this will be a combination food/substrate. Here is the first:

8 Bananas, ¼ cup of Sugar, ¼ cup of Oatmeal, 1 packet of Baker’s yeast.

Mix the sugar and bananas in a blender until liquefied. Add the oatmeal until is becomes firm but moist. Put the mixture in a wide mouth, quart canning jar and add a few granules of baker’s yeast. You can substitute other kinds of fruit like peaches, apples, etc. as well.

Recipe #2:

1 cup of banana, 1 cup of Apple Sauce, 1 tablespoon Vinegar, 2 cups of Oatmeal

Here is a third one:

1 cup Water, 1 tablespoon Cornmeal, 1 teaspoon Powdered Sugar, 1 teaspoon Agar, 1 tablespoon Molasses, 1 package Baker’s yeast

Mix all of the ingredients except the yeast to boiling and pour the mixture into clean culture jars. Let the mixture cool. When ready to use. Sprinkle a couple of granules of yeast on the top.

Where to get breeding stock

Most of the reptile food online vendors sell fruit flies since they are a staple for hatchling reptiles. Alternatively, you can get cultures at a biological supply house. Be sure to specify D. hydei since they are larger (1/8 inch) than the D. melanogaster (1/10 inch). Oh yes, you want the wingless variety.

However, if you don’t mind dealing with the winged variety, you can simply leave a bit of fruit outside in the summer and get all of the D. melanogaster adults that you want to start a culture.

GRASSHOPPERS (Locustidae spp.)

Difficulty: 4

Grasshoppers are a natural food source for Anoles. They will eat them avidly. They are relatively easy to breed but are a bit more labor intensive that the other feeders since the enclosure must be cleaned daily to remove uneaten food and feces.

Enclosure

Any one-gallon critter keeper-type enclosure will do. You should provide some additional heat and maintain the temperature at about 80 degrees.

Food

Grasshoppers can be fed a variety of greens. Lettuce, cabbage, and grass will suffice. Make sure that they have been thoroughly washed to remove and possible pesticide contamination. In addition, supply them with some wheat bran as dry food. Both can be placed in separate deli dishes or yogurt tops in the enclosure. Grasshoppers do not need any water. They get what they need from the greens.

Where to get breeding stock

In late summer, you can find mating pairs of grasshoppers in just about any weed lot. The females have a pointed abdomen and the males have a rounded one. After you have captured several pairs, put them in the enclosure and add a deli dish with moist sand, vermiculite, or compost just like you did for the crickets. The female will lay her eggs in the container. Keep the soil moist and warm and the nymphs will emerge.

Notes

There are basically two families of grasshoppers to deal with. One is the one we all recognize as grasshoppers. The other is a green insect with the female having a sword-like ovipositor. This species lays their eggs in slits cut in plant stems and are unsuitable for breeding.

MEALWORMS (Tenebrio molitor or Tenebrio obscurus)

Difficulty: 2

I reluctantly give instructions about breeding mealworms. They are not a good source of nutrition for Anoles. They have a hard, chitinous exoskeleton and can be difficult for Anoles to digest. Mealworms are the larvae of two species of grain beetles,

Enclosure

Almost any large enclosure will do. Something a bit smaller than what you used for the crickets/roaches will do just fine. So will one of the shoebox sized containers that you used for the waxworms.

Food

Fill the enclosure with several inches of wheat bran with a small amount of brewer’s yeast mixed in. You can also add ¼ -part of poultry laying mash. Make sure that you sprinkle the container with water daily to keep it damp. Maintain a temperature of about 80 degrees.

Where to get breeding stock

They are widely available from most online reptile food vendors and most pet stores.

Notes

When the larvae are almost mature, put some crumpled paper towels or burlap in the enclosure and let the adults emerge. Each female will lay about 275 eggs but the adults are cannibalistic and will sometimes eat the eggs so it is best to remove them after they mate and lay their eggs.

IMPORTED CABBAGE WORM (Pieris rapae)

Difficulty: 5

This insect is the larva of the Imported Cabbage Butterfly that is commonly seen fluttering around cabbage, broccoli, etc. during the spring and summer months. They are white in color with the females having two black spots on their wings and the male having a single spot. What we are trying to provide are the larvae. They make a nutritious prey item for Anoles.

Enclosure

Actually, you will need two--one for the adult females and one for the larvae (caterpillars). A large reptarium works well for the adults or you can buy a butterfly enclosure from one of the biological supply houses. Or, you can make your own with some cheesecloth and something to use for the top and bottom. . The enclosure for the larvae is simply a 5 gallon bucket with a screen top (or similar enclosure).

Food

The larvae are voracious feeders but are restricted in diet to members of the cabbage family. They can be raised on cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. but the best and cheapest are cabbage leaves. You can buy a head of cabbage at the grocery store and peel the leaves off one at a time and just lay them in the bottom of the bucket. Make sure you wash the leaves thoroughly to remove any pesticide residue that might be there. They mature rapidly and with ample food and warm temperatures, they will go from egg to mature larvae in just under two weeks. You don’t need to provide any water. They get what they need from the cabbage leaves.

Where to get breeding stock

Cabbage Butterflies are difficult to maintain and almost impossible to induce to breed in the restricted space of captivity. I have had excellent results by catching adult females as they flutter around broccoli plants or cabbage plants in my garden as they prepare to lay eggs. At this point, you know that they have mated and are ready to lay a batch of eggs. Place several captured females in a reptarium or other fairly large mesh enclosure with a potted broccoli or cabbage plant or two inside. The females will shortly lay eggs on the plant and you can collect the larvae in a few days and move them to the 5 gallon bucket. You might want to provide a sponge soaked in sugar water (1 part sugar to 4 parts water) to nourish the adults while they are in the egg laying process. They females will die shortly after laying 50 or so eggs. All that is left is to feed the larvae to your Anoles as they mature to the right size.

SILKWORMS (Bombyx mori)

Difficulty: 3

The Silkworm has been raised in captivity for 3,500 years. Although they are relatively easy to raise, they grow quickly and have a very specific diet. They will feed ONLY on Mulberry leaves and the limited diet can present a problem. If you don’t have a ready supply of fresh leaves, you can feed them on “Silkworm Chow” which is simply freeze-dried Mulberry leaves.

Enclosure

Any small plastic shoebox container will do. Once again, make sure that you cut out the middle and cover the opening with a fine-mesh screen. The best way to start is with eggs. Add food and watch them grow! They molt the first time at 6 days, again at 12 days, etc. and reach adulthood at 42 days. The caterpillars reach 3” so the latter instars are too big for most Anoles. When the larvae begin to mature, place some sheets of cardboard with ½” space between them and they will spin cocoons. Save several for the next generation. They do best at a temperature of 77 degrees.

Where to get eggs

There are many online companies that sell Silkworm eggs. Just do a search and you will find them. Most also sell the “Silkworm Chow” as well.

CONCLUSION

I have tried to cover most of the easily bred insect feeders for your Anole. The instructions given here have worked for me for a number of years. I’m sure that you might find a few shortcuts of your own and vary the techniques a bit. This is not meant to be anything more than a guide.

Although I have tried to mention sources for various foods and other supplies, there are two that I haven’t mentioned. Wheat bran is available at most health food stores and at farm supply outlets. Calf Manna is also available at farm supply outlets. If you are put off by the large quantity of Calf Manna (it is usually bagged in 25 or 50 pound bags) you can go to the Cedarview Farm Exotics (a Chinchilla breeding website) and you can buy it by the pound.

I hope this has helped those of you who want to breed their own feeder insects. These are techniques that I have used over the years and should be used as guidelines.

If you breed your own feeder insects, it is easy to keep you Anoles supplied with a varied and nutritious food supply at a very reasonable cost.

DISCLAIMER

The mention of any commercial product or website does not denote an endorsement. There are other equally good sources to be found on the Internet. These are just the ones that I have run across that offer the best pricing and service at the time that this was written.



10/03/10  03:46pm

 #2180638


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2178848


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



10/12/10  02:07pm

 #2181465


CorbinDCreptiles
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2180638


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

holy schnit thats alot of info....
LOL



10/16/10  12:35pm

 #2186347


Atrax27407
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  Message To: CorbinDCreptiles   In reference to Message Id: 2181465


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



11/08/10  01:53pm

 #2187317


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2186347


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



11/13/10  05:18pm

 #2189782


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2187317


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



11/28/10  02:58pm

 #2193300


Anoleowner
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2189782


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

WHY DO YOU KEEP SAYING BUMP??? I don’t get it!



12/19/10  06:44pm

 #2193365


Reltach
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  Message To: Anoleowner   In reference to Message Id: 2193300


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

He does it periodically so that his thread is easy to find for people new to Anoles. His care sheets are probably the most informative I have ever found and answers many questions and explains the answers. They should be stickied to the top in my opinion.



12/19/10  10:44pm

 #2193391


TwilightRealm
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  Message To: Reltach   In reference to Message Id: 2193365


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

B = Bump
U = Up
M = My
P = Post



12/20/10  02:02am

 #2194165


Atrax27407
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  Message To: TwilightRealm   In reference to Message Id: 2193391


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



12/24/10  10:45am

 #2196685


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2194165


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



01/06/11  08:31am

 #2198905


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2196685


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



01/17/11  09:08am

 #2215189


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2198905


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



04/19/11  11:21pm

 #2221963


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2215189


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



05/31/11  05:19pm

 #2222124


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2221963


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



06/01/11  04:50pm

 #2231500


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2222124


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



08/02/11  06:36pm

 #2232123


EleninMay
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2231500


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

What about slugs ?



08/07/11  08:35pm

 #2232129


EleninMay
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2231500


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Would all those insects also be appropriate for leopard geckos/ other reptiles ?



08/07/11  09:27pm

 #2232154


Atrax27407
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  Message To: EleninMay   In reference to Message Id: 2232129


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Anoles don’t eat slugs and yes the diet will work for other insectivorous reptiles. The only reptile that I know of that regularly eats slugs is DeKay’s Snake.



08/08/11  01:01am

 #2232252


Reptileruler1
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2232154


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

I was reading the part about the butterflies being too big and thought I’d point out that when I had my anole I would catch him food but a lot of the stuff was too big but there were plenty of buck eye butterflies around so I would just catch a few of them and snip off the wings made it perfect size for him to eat and it will work with other species too plus moths.



08/09/11  02:43am

 #2241380


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Reptileruler1   In reference to Message Id: 2232252


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



10/21/11  07:59am

 #2244257


Dino Dan
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2241380


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Thank you atrax your info is very useful!!!!!!!! :D



11/14/11  09:41pm

 #2244269


Atrax27407
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  Message To: Dino Dan   In reference to Message Id: 2244257


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Bump



11/14/11  10:47pm

 #2247996


Animals_always
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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2244269


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Please forgive me for my lack of insect species knowledge....
Can I feed my anoles inch worms? You know the little ones the inch along _/\_ like that :D? And can I feed them baby earthworms? Just trying to get them a little more variety then crickets and mealworms :P and seeing as everything here is kinda.... dead... I just want to know my alternatives :D
~Thanks



12/21/11  01:51pm

 #2286096


Roxy828
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  Message To: Animals_always   In reference to Message Id: 2247996


 Care Sheet - Part 2 - Feeder Insects

Thanks for this info! It has helped me so much!



11/22/12  06:51pm


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