Mealworms for Leopard Geckos
Leopard gecko keepers and breeders often use mealworms for leopard geckos as a staple part of their leopard gecko diet. These feeder insects work great for leopard geckos of all ages and offer several advantages including the following:
- Mealworms are readily accepted by leopard geckos as food
- Mealworms can be left in the cage for a constant food source
- Mealworms are relatively inexpensive and easy to get
- Mealworms can be purchased in bulk
- Mealworms are easy to keep and gut load
- Mealworms can be bred at home if you desire
We prefer mealworms to crickets because of all these advantages. Mealworms are also great for putting weight on young geckos and for maintaining adult geckos.
Occasionaly we have had a gecko that seems less intrested in mealworms than crickets. This can happen when adding a new gecko from a breeder that exclusively fed crickets. In these cases we have maintained a mealworm dish in the cage and supplement with crickets. Typically the geckos will move over to a staple mealworm diet by the time they get out of quarentine and are introduced to the collection.
What Are Mealworms
The scientific name for mealworms is Tenebrio Molitor and strictly speaking they are not even technically worms. Mealworms are the larva stage of the darkling beetle. In their larval state they look like a small tan worm that will reach full size around 1 inch.
Where to Buy Mealworms for Leopard Geckos
As we mentioned before, mealworms are relatively easy to get in most locations. There are four main sources for obtaining mealworms to feed your leopard geckos.
- Pet shops – This is the go to place that most people think of when buying feeder insects like crickets or mealworms. If you have a local pet shop that carries reptile supplies they will often keep a stock of mealworms. This is a good option for people who like the convenience of buying mealworms locally. Pet shops often sell the mealworms in smaller quantities than some of the other sources, this is good for a keeper that only has 1 or 2 leopard geckos.When buying mealworms at a pet shop in a quantity of 500 or less the unit cost will tend to be a little higher than buying them in bulk from another source. We have also found that some pet shops will special order bulk mealworm for customers on a recurring schedule, it never hurts to ask if this is your preferred place to buy mealworms.
- Online – Purchasing mealworms online is easy, convenient, and cheap. This is the most economical way to purchase mealworms in larger quantities and they will be delivered to your door. Typically shipping costs and times will be very reasonable. Ordering mealworms online, you can get them in quantities of 1,000 to 10,000+ Bulk Live Mealworms
- Reptile Expo – This is our favorite way to buy feeder insects because attending a reptile expo is a great time and a fun way to spend a Saturday. If you have a reptile show in your area, there will typically be a feeder insect dealer setup who will often have a variety of feeder insects for sale. Typically these are sold in bulk quantities of 1,000+ mealworms. Bulk mealworms pricing will be similar to ordering feeders online and you may be able to save yourself some shipping cost while attending a fun event as seeing a variety of reptiles for sale. Local reptile shows are typically held monthly or bi-monthly meaning you will need to plan for your mealworm needs and possibility supplement with one of the other sources.
- Breed Your Own – You can use any of the sources above to get your breeding colony going and to supply food for your geckos while you get production up.
How to Store Mealworms
When buying mealworms in bulk, excess mealworms can stored in a Tupperware style container or a plastic shoe box.
An excellent bedding fory our worms can be made from a combination of oats, bran, or wheat germ. There are also some good commercial products available if you wish to use on of those.
Keeping the mealworms cool will prevent them from pupating and will keep them at the ready for feeding your leopard gecko.
To accomplish this, many keepers put the excess worms in the refrigerator. Mealworms should be taken out and warmed up once a week, during this time they can be given food.
It is important to feed your mealworms before feeding your leopard geckos, this is called gut loading.
How to Gut Load Mealworms for Leopard Geckos
A variety of fruits ans vegetables can be fed to mealworms for gut loading. We like to use carrots, potatoes, and apples bexuase they work good and provide necessary moisture.
Wax Worms for Leopard Geckos
Often when discussing mealworms for leopard geckos, the topic of using wax worms will arise.
In general, wax worms are not a good food source for leopard geckos because they are fatty and lack some of the nutritional requirements.
Feom our experience, we have only used wax worms as an additional food item for adult female geckos that aren’t laying eggs. These can help to maintain weight of laying females.
Superworms for Leopard Geckos
Much like happens with wax worms, people will also discuss the use of superworms for Leopard Geckos.
Like wax worms,we think superworms do not make a good staple food item for leopard geckos as they are harder to digest than mealworms and not as nutritionally balanced as other food sources.
Superworms should be avoided for young or small geckos. Many people have claimed that superworms have injured their leopard geckos and this is a hotly debate since topic. In our experience we have only used them to supplement on large gravid females and we have never had an issue. If you think your gecko may not be able to handle these much larger worms, they may be best to avoid altogether.
Many leopard gecko keepers find mealworms be a staple part of the maintanance diets of their leopard geckos colonies. When properly supplemented and gut loaded they are an easy and economical food source for maintaining a single leopard gecko or a full breeding colony.
More information on leopard gecko care, check out our Leopard Gecko Care Sheet.