Leopard geckos can eat most insects and live mealworms but should never be fed dried mealworms. Dead or otherwise dried mealworms do not have the essential nutrients leopard geckos need to achieve a balanced diet. Additionally, most geckos will not feed on a dead insect or worm because they prefer their prey alive and crawling.
A leopard gecko will also find it hard to swallow and digest dried mealworms because they lack sufficient moisture.
Can leopard geckos eat dried mealworms?
Leopard geckos eat a variety of insects and worms. However, they do not eat dried mealworms. These dried mealworms do not have the required nutrients and moisture content that leopard geckos need to grow effectively.
Dried mealworms constitute dead worms that have been dried.
Leopard geckos like to hunt for their food, thus prefer crawling insects e.g. crickets and live worms like butterworms and silkworms.
Leopard geckos, like most lizards, need vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and vitamin D3.
This need is amplified because they are domesticated and cannot scan their natural environments for food.
While live mealworms may be packed with essential vitamins and nutrients in general, dried mealworms have no nutritional value.
Like leopard geckos in the wild, domesticated leos need a balanced diet to stay active and healthy, thus avoiding non-nutritious dried mealworms.
A Typical Wild Leopard Gecko’s Diet
In their natural habitats, they spend most of their mealtimes primarily hunting invertebrates. Invertebrates are easy to chew down due to their lack of a backbone e.g. spiders.
You cannot pinpoint or write down everything a wild leopard gecko eats.
A leopard gecko’s full menu is not known because of its environment’s biodiversity.
Observations, however, indicate an estimation of a number of preferred prey animals leopard geckos likes to have.
These animals include:
- Live grasshoppers
- Different species of crickets
- Live crawling spiders
- Different species of beetles
- Live and crawling caterpillars
- Tiny baby scorpions
When they stumble upon their nests, wild leopard geckos occasionally and opportunistically feed on smaller-sized lizards, young non-poisonous snakes and newborn rodents.
Since your pet leopard gecko cannot access all these animals, it is up to you as the owner to look for live insects and worms to feed your leopard gecko.
Live worms and insects can be bought or even bred for an assured continuous supply.
READ ALSO: Can Leopard Geckos Eat Mealworm Beetles?
How many mealworms should I feed my leopard gecko?
Dried mealworms are forbidden, but you can add live mealworms into your leopard gecko’s diet moderately. Baby leopard geckos should be fed 5-7 mealworms every day until they attain about four inches. Adult leopard geckos can be fed 6-7 mealworms twice or thrice weekly.
Live mealworms are captivating to capture and eat. They are also highly nutritious, although you must regulate feeding.
Regulation is necessary because leopard geckos can get obese from the high-fat content in mealworms.
Mealworms are also high in phosphorous than calcium, which leopard geckos should take in low amounts to avoid metabolic bone diseases.
Baby Leopard Geckos
Baby leopard geckos must be fed daily unless they are stressed or sick.
Mealworms make up most of a baby leopard gecko’s diet. Unlike many other animals, the fact that leopard geckos are insectivorous allows them to feed primarily on mealworms.
Baby leopard geckos must be given between 5 to 7 mealworms in each meal, daily. You must do this until the baby geckos are four inches in size.
After that, larger food e.g. you can offer larger insects and mealworms due to the improved ability to swallow and the development of the digestive system.
Adult leopard geckos
It would be wrong to assume adult leopard geckos can eat anything as long as it’s moving.
First off, the mealworm exoskeleton is harder to digest compared to other insects and worms.
When the mealworms escape from a leopard geckos feeding dish, it’s possible to burrow and can be hard to retrieve.
Mealworms are not very active, and most adult leopard geckos consider them a less stimulating item to prey on.
However, since they love the taste of mealworms you can feed adult leopard geckos six to seven big-size mealworms twice or thrice a week.
You can add them directly to their feeding dish or mix them with other insects and worms.
In case your leopard gecko isn’t eating mealworms as expected, check for:
Nutritional Facts of Dried Mealworms
Although dried mealworms are not as nutritious as live ones, they still have an acceptable amount of nutrients.
Dried mealworms have:
- Crude Protein
- Crude Fat
- Crude Fiber
- Moisture content
Crude protein 50% minimum
Crude protein is an excellent source of amino acids. It is easier to digest than most other proteins e.g. those found in grains or fruits.
It is easy for leopard geckos to break down the crude proteins into individual amino acids.
Crude fat 25% minimum
Fat is a crucial nutrient for leopard geckos. When broken down and absorbed in the body, it provides your pet with energy, insulation, and cushioning.
However, it is necessary to monitor the amount offered in dried mealworms to prevent your leopard gecko from becoming obese.
Crude fiber 9% maximum
Fiber has been successfully used constantly in pet foods. Fiber helps with:
- Managing weight
- Preventing diabetes mellitus
- Preventing diarrhea
- Dealing with constipation.
Fiber that ferments slowly is heavy on the stomach and helps pets feel full and satisfied for an extended period of time.
Moisture content 6%
Moisture content is vital in helping your leopard gecko to stay hydrated. Hydration increases proper body functioning.
Adequate moisture content increases the chances of absorption of nutrients for your pet.
While dried mealworms contain some nutrients, you cannot compare them to the benefits derived from live mealworms.
It is, therefore, better to stick to live feeder insects and worms for your leopard gecko.
Precautions when using dried mealworms
Dried mealworms are less nutritious. They are also hard to swallow and digest for your leopard geckos. Therefore, they are not recommended. Although they are more readily available in stores, they cannot substitute live mealworms in any way.
However, if you choose to go the dried mealworm way, you must observe the following precautions:
- Ensure they are not moldy or haven’t gone bad. The best thing about live mealworms is that you are sure they are fresh.
- Ensure you do not feed baby leopard geckos dried mealworms because they may be too hard for them to swallow and digest.
- Dried mealworms are not good enough nutritionally. Ensure you dust them with supplements to increase the nutritional value of dried mealworms.
- Regulate the amount you feed to your leopard gecko.
Remember, whether dried or live, the phosphorous content is still high. High phosphorous content leads to bone diseases.
- Check for impaction and digestion issues in your leopard gecko.
The exoskeleton of mealworms can sometimes be too hard. This will cause problems in your leopard gecko’s digestive tract.
If your pet starts behaving unusually, visit the vet to be safe.
Dead or dried mealworms compared to live mealworms lack essential nutrients. These nutrients are needed by leopard geckos so that they can grow strong and healthy.
Although dried mealworms are readily available and sold in cans in stores, you can find live mealworm suppliers around you.
Then you can be certain that they are purely organic and good to feed to your leopard geckos.
Remember, leopard geckos love to chase their prey. They prefer their mealworms to be alive and moving.
Dried mealworms also contain less moisture content than required.
This inadequacy might lead to complications in swallowing and digestion. Leopard geckos, like many other lizards, are not frequent water drinkers.
It is advised that leopard gecko owners offer their pets live mealworms, for the thrill of capture and for nutritional benefits.
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