Can You Feed Wild Caught Insects to Reptiles?

Most captive kept reptiles eat insects, which can be found almost anywhere. Therefore, some reptile keepers think they can save money by using wild-caught insects as feeders. Known in the hobby as clippings, there are serious concerns about this practice.

In this article, we look at what wild-caught insects are, what their advantages are and why it is not advisable to use wild-caught insects to feed a reptile.

What are Wild Caught Insects?

Very simply, we’re talking about any insect that has not been commercially bred to feed reptiles or birds. Therefore, this includes any insect that you’ve found inside the house, outside in your garden or a field.

It is important to note that any insect found, even if it is an insect that is not native to your area, should be considered wild-caught if it has not been bought. That is because many insects are capable of surviving and breeding outside of their native range. And if you don’t know the origin of the insect from the wild, then it could be a second, third or more generation. Therefore, it has to be assumed.

As part of this, we count any insect that has been found in a home roaming around, even if the insect could have been originally from an insect culture brought to feed a reptile. This could be because an insect has escaped (as crickets can do very easily) and then bred outside.

The name provided for these is called clippings.

Why Use Wild Caught Insects?

While we are not supporters of this practice. There are two arguments for using clippings for reptiles. One is that it is a cost-effective way to feed reptiles and with costs rising, it can be tempting.

Another is that it offers a variety of prey for reptiles and can help to stimulate them.

However, neither of these reasons can combat the reasons not to use wild clippings for feeding.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Wild Clippings To Feed Reptiles

There are numerous reasons why you shouldn’t use wild insects to feed reptiles. These include:

Poisons

The first thing to consider is that insects have numerous defence mechanisms. One of these defence mechanisms is poison. These poisons can be deadly to your non-native reptile, especially if they are unlikely to have developed a natural resistance.

One insect that would make your reptile ill is going to be a caterpillar, despite them seeming so peaceful.

Parasites

Insects can have so many parasites, these can cause significant issues with reptiles that can result in early death or severe illness. Parasites cannot be cured inside the insect quickly. Removing them from the wild and then quarantining them will not make a difference. It might make the situation worse as it takes only one to be affected for an entire batch of wild insects to become infected if kept in the wrong environment.

Harmful Substances

Catching insects from the wild means that the reptiles can come into contact with harmful substances such as insecticides, fertilisers, cleaning products and more. These chemicals can be a significant problem when catching insects near agricultural land.

What Should You Feed Reptiles

Reptiles should always be fed commercially bred and kept insects. If you’re looking to save money on the insects there are a few things that you can do which can extend the life of your feeder insects or create your own. These options include

  • Create breeding colonies of the live insects you want to feed.
  • Feed your live insects fresh vegetables and fruit.
  • Move live insects out of the containers you buy them in and move them into a larger container.
  • Ensure heat and humidity are controlled within the container.

You can read more about feeding leopard geckos here.

Final Word: Can You Feed Wild Caught Insects to Reptiles?

In short, no. Feeding your reptiles wild-caught insects is not just potentially risky, it is dangerous. The risk from poisons, chemicals and parasites is just too much to worry about. Getting insects isn’t too challenging. There are lots of places online where you can order insects at an affordable price or at your local pet shop.

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