You are what you eat, eats - Concerns about what feeders are rasied on

Treefolk

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Northern California
Just to give you a little background on myself before we start, my college study was in Sustainable/organic agriculture (the two don't necessarily mean the same thing). I have studied pest management, types of pesticides and what types of pesticides are often used on certain crops. One common misconception about organically certified crops is that pesticides are not used, this couldn't be more untrue as there are 24,000~ pesticides (last time I checked) that are approved by the Organic Material Revue Institute (OMRI). However, a lot of these pesticides are not nearly if at all harmful to the neurological reproductive development of vertebrates. Most if not all do not cause cancer.

As you already know, what we feed our lovely and valuable (whether that's fiscally or emotionally) animals are bugs.

Lets take a look at some of the common pesticides that are used on a few of the common feed materials for our bugs.

Oats:
Malathion: Neurotoxin, Hormone disruptor (suspected), carcinogen (suspected) (Malathion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) <- Kills tadpoles
Piperonyl butoxide: carcinogen (suspected), Hormone disruptor (suspected) (Piperonyl butoxide - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Metolachlor: carcinogen (suspected), Hormone disruptor (suspected) (Metolachlor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) <- Genotoxic effects on tadpoles
DDE p,p': carcinogen (known), developmental or reproductive Toxin, Hormone disruptor (suspected) (Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Propiconazole: carcinogen (known), developmental or reproductive Toxin, Hormone disruptor (suspected) (Propiconazole - Toxipedia)
Chlorpyrifos methyl: Neurotoxin (Chlorpyrifos - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Carrots:
Linuron: Hormone disruptor (suspected), carcinogen (suspected), developmental or reproductive Toxin
Trifluralin: Hormone disruptor (suspected)
DDE p,p': Repeat
o-Phenylphenol: carcinogen (known), developmental or reproductive Toxin, Hormone disruptor (suspected)
Diazinon: Neurotoxin, hormone distruptor (suspected), developmental or reproductive Toxin (Diazinon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

I could keep going, but we will see a lot of repeating pesticides and repeating effects. You will also see LD50 results for most of these herbicides and pesticides. If you don't know LD50 is the amount per kilogram of body weight that it takes to kill 50% of the population. Our little geckos or frogs or snakes or turtles weigh quite a bit less then we do. Something to consider is that you feeders have undigested to partially digested food in their stomachs (gutloading) and toxicities can build up over time within your pet.

Ok, now that we touched on food, lets touch a little on water crystals. Water crystals are usually made out of polyacrylamide, but other versions still contain acrylamide in them.

Concerns have been raised that polyacrylamide used in agriculture may contaminate food with the nerve toxin acrylamide. While polyacrylamide itself is relatively non-toxic, it is known that commercially available polyacrylamide contains minute residual amounts of acrylamide remaining from its production, usually less than 0.05% w/w. California requires (current as of 2010) products containing acrylamide as an ingredient to be labeled with a statement that it is "a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer." - Wikipedia (Polyacrylamide - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Some evidence suggests exposure to large doses can cause damage to the male reproductive glands. Direct exposure to pure acrylamide by inhalation, skin absorption, or eye contact irritates the exposed mucous membranes, e.g., the sinuses, and can also cause sweating, urinary incontinence, nausea, myalgia, speech disorders, numbness, paresthesia, and weakened legs and hands. In addition, the acrylamide monomer is a potent neurotoxin, causing the disassembly or rearrangement of intermediate filaments. Ingested acrylamide is metabolised to a chemically reactive epoxide, glycidamide. - Wikipedia (Acrylamide - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

So am I saying you need to use organic feed for your feeder insects? No, but I am saying that dangers DO exist and to do your research and make informed decisions. Whether your reptile/amphibian cost $10000 or $1 they are all valuable to use and bring joy to our lives. I think we have a moral responsibility to make sure that their health is safe.

Here are a couple of tips to give you if you are now interested in feeding foods that are safer but don't want to go lose your whole wallet at a place like Whole foods:

I raise my mealworms primarily on organic chicken starter. When I read Ron Tempers newest book he talked about chicken mash (starter) and it clicked for me. I already had 30 chickens are was familiar with the costs and ingredients and figured it would be perfect with a high protein, low carbohydrate and complete nutrient profile. A 50lb bag of organic chicken starter costs me $30 at my local feed supply store. Insects have a 1:1 feed conversion ratio, which basically means for every pound they each they gain that much. Think about how many meal worms 50lbs is! Its 1598591 mealworms for $30!!!!

We also have a 2 acre farm in the back of our property so veggies are "free" aside from the labor involved. Now our farm isn't certified organic, but it doesn't have any pesticides or herbicides sprayed on it. You may be able to find a similar farm in your area. Food is often much cheaper directly from the farmer and a lot of smaller farmers have a large variety in the produce they produce. Larger farms tend to do monoculture and only grow one or two varieties. I'm not saying you need acres of farmland to produce your veggies. In fact a small planter box in the back yard or on your balcony would probably fill your needs 100%. And if you have children is a valuable and fun activity for them to learn. Ok, so you can't even raise some veggies, then there is salvation. You can often go to your grocery store (Whole foods has worked best) and they will give you the veggies that they are going to throw out. You need to be careful about mold or rotten foods but most of the time it is in perfect condition.

I hope this helps and I hope you start thinking about what your pets food eats. If you have any comments or disputes with what I have said, please speak up and we can have an intelligent conversation about it.
 
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