- Increases available diet variety.
- A natural source of fat and protein.
- No hard exoskeleton, easy to digest.
- A suitable treat for many insect-eating reptiles, birds, and mammals.
- May act as a “laxative” in reptiles or amphibians (possibly other animals as well) so do not feed frequently or in excessive amounts.
- Animals that prefer moving prey may not take easily to the pre-killed, cooked caterpillars
What It Is
Zoo Med’s “Can O’ Pillars” (see item here) is one of the many additions to the Can O’ Products line-up. Can O’pillars are soft-bodied caterpillars that have been cooked in the can (“retorted”) to lock in the flavor. The caterpillars in question are the well-known silkworms. The easy to digest, soft caterpillars are touted as a high-protein treat intended primarily for reptiles and amphibians, but can also be given to other insect-eating animals, such as sugar gliders, hedgehogs, birds, etc. that might also enjoy an occasional insect treat.
This product was tested on some eastern box turtles, wood turtles, bearded dragons, and an eastern screech owl. The bearded dragons after numerous tries showed no interest in the caterpillars due to lack of movement of the items (the dragons typically prefer live bugs). The testing with the screech owl was indeterminate at best. The owl is mostly blind and has a hard time finding small items such as the caterpillars or other bugs compared to larger food items such as mice. As with many other insect food items given to him, we have had a difficult time figuring out if he had actually eaten any of the caterpillars or simply scattered them about the enclosure. The box turtles and wood turtles on average would chow down on the caterpillar treats only if they were scattered on top of their salad mix as a garnish. One small box turtle, however, stood out from the others. This turtle is completely blind and relies on his ability to smell to find his food. When presented with the caterpillars within his small enclosure, separate from his food tray, he easily managed to track down the location of the caterpillars and ate them up like a kid with candy. While I could not detect any noticeable odor from the caterpillars, apparently the box turtle was able to sense something. I believe it was probably the oils the caterpillars are cooked in that he found enticing as even after the caterpillars had been eaten he repeatedly kept trying to eat the newsprint floor lining where the caterpillars had originally been dropped but where some oil residue remained.