With wax worms being one of the most popular treat food options for many types of pet reptiles and birds we often see people reaching out with various questions about what they should be doing with their wax worms.
Ever since we published our article going over our mealworms vs wax worms comparison article, we have seen people asking about gut loading wax worms so we have decided to publish this article going over the topic.
You can gut load wax worms if you wish as it can increase the nutritional profile of the wax worms for your pet bird or reptile when used as a food but this is not essential.
Not only are wax worms difficult to gut load due to their diet but they should only be used as a treat food and make up a small amount of your pet’s diet so the nutritional content of the other food in their diet should be the bulk of their vitamin and mineral intake.
In addition to that, some wax worm providers will ship the wax worms with food in the container so they are able to feed while being shipped out to you.
This can remove the need to gut load them and the food that the wax worms are shipped with will often last them around a week after you get them so you are able to leave the wax worms to feed on it until your pet bird or reptile is ready to eat them.
Can You Gut Load Wax Worms?
You can gut load wax worms if you like but it can be expensive as wax worms get their name due to predominantly eating bees wax in the wild as they are a hive parasite.
Sourcing suitable bees wax to gut load wax worms can drastically increase your costs and make the process pointless considering they should only be a small part of your pet reptile or birds diet and there being plenty of other food sources with plenty of vitamins and minerals available for the rest of their diet.
In some situations, wax worms will also eat cereal grain, bran, and honey allowing you to gut load your wax worms for cheap but their digestive system is not optimized for it so using this method to gut load the wax worms has diminishing returns.
This is why a large number of people who do keep reptiles or birds and use wax worms as a treat food for them will not go through the bother of even trying to gut load their wax worms.
Although they can be difficult to source, you can sometimes find freeze dried wax worms and these can be an excellent option if you do want your wax worms to offer a high nutritional content for your pet.
This is due to the nutritional value of the wax worm being at its highest when they are freeze dried and the wax worm no longer using the nutrients during digestion allowing them to retain a larger amount of their nutritional value for longer.
What Is Gut Loading Wax Worms?
Gut loading wax worms is the process of feeding your wax worms once you receive them to top up their nutritional profile prior to feeding them to your pet bird or reptile.
In some situations with other types of insect, this can be an excellent way to increase the vitamin and mineral content of the insect before feeding it to your pet but the process is less common with wax worms.
This is partly due to the other options such as crickets being much easier to gut load while also having a much lower cost for their food but also due to wax worms only forming a small part of your pet’s diet when compared to a standard staple food such as crickets.
People new to using wax worms as a food source for their pets will often start off really keen to gut load their wax worms to offer their pets the highest possible nutritional content in their foods but then give up on the process after a number of weeks due to realizing just how much time, effort, and money it can take.
If you can find a wax worm provider who ships their wax worms to you with some food in the packaging then this can make the gut loading process much easier though.
There is no additional time, effort or costs involved as the bees wax or other suitable food is in the container with your wax worms when you take delivery of them allowing you to leave them in the container to maintain their nutritional levels for as long as the food source lasts.
How Do You Gut Load Wax Worms?
The easiest way to gut load wax worms is to provide the wax worms with a suitable food source such as bees wax or honey to keep their nutritional values as high as possible prior to feeding them to your pet.
Other food sources that can work but are less effective include grain and bran but some wax worms will not eat these and will often only eat products direct from a bee hive.
Although some people do suggest you use a sugar water mix on some tissue to gut load wax worms on social media, there is little evidence that this process actually works and increases the nutritional profile of the wax worms.
In our opinion, the sugar water method is nothing more than a waste of time and other experienced reptile keepers tend to agree that it does little to nothing for your wax worms.
If you are wanting to offer your pet the maximum amount of nutrition possible by gut loading its good then something like crickets or maggots are a much better option.
They tend to work out as a better food source for the majority of commonly kept pets that eat insects too allowing you to use them as a larger portion of their diet helping to keep your costs down overall too.
That brings our article going over gut loading wax worms to an end. Although you can gut load your wax worm stash if you really want, the majority of people who keep pets who will eat wax worms such as reptiles, birds or in some cases fish will choose to not gut load them due to the various hassles covered above in our article. The benefit for the time, effort, and money that you put in is simply not there.