Can I Feed My Leopard Gecko Exclusively On Mealworms?
A Healthy Leopard Gecko Diet
Leopard Geckos are commonly fed crickets, mealworms, superworms, waxworms, and feeder roaches. Along with having the proper staple insects, be sure that your Leo also has access to the proper vitamins and minerals needed to keep it healthy. Failure to do so can cause numerous vitamin deficiencies, some life threatening. Many vendors support and push an all cricket diet, or the use of crickets as a staple. Unfortunately, while crickets are a completely viable option, they do have a few downsides. The ease of care mealworms require compared to the work crickets need to keep them alive is enough to make anyone want to get off of crickets for good!
The Low-Down on Crickets
Crickets have been the staple insect for many years, and rightly so. Crickets are available at nearly every pet store, even small town shops. They are a very active feeder insect which helps to increase a feeding response in your animal. Crickets are easy to digest, and are even more nutritionally superior to mealworms. They are a great option for those who require the above, or don't mind dealing with the disadvantages of them.
One of the biggest complaints about crickets is the smell! Crickets, even in small quantities, have an awful odor that can't really be masked. Crickets are escapes artists, and as we all know, they can be quite loud with their chirping. Uneaten crickets will annoy, and can even cause harm to your gecko by nibbling on their toes or tails. Crickets are much more time-consuming and difficult to keep alive and healthy, especially if you buy in bulk. It is also believed that crickets are much more likely to harbor disease. Mealworms are a more "clean" feeder insect, and are less likely to carry potentially harmful bacteria or disease.
The advantages of feeding Mealworms are numerous as well. They aren't a very active species which is a plus since they can be easily fed, and are a great option for special needs geckos. They can merely be placed into a feeding dish, and your gecko may eat at their leisure. They are not worries of a Mealworm nibbling on your Leo, and you have no issue about Mealworms escaping. If purchased in bulk, Mealworms can simply be refrigerated and kept fresh for a few weeks. They will go inactive, and require no water or feed. They make no noise, and don't generally have any odor! Mealworms are an awesome feeder insect option for many people. They aren't without their disadvantages though.
As mentioned above, Mealworms are not as nutritionally complete as crickets. Their exoskeleton is also harder to digest. If mealworms escape from the feeding dish, they will burrow and can be hard to retrieve. Another downside is that because of they are not very active, they are a less stimulating prey item. This may be a problem for certain individual geckos.
Most Leopard Gecko fanciers will agree that the choice of insect you choose to feed your Leo is entirely up to you and your opinion. Crickets and Mealworms have their fair share of pros and cons. Crickets are be a viable option for many people, but for those who do not want to deal with the smell, noise, and other disadvantages of crickets, a mealworm exclusive diet may be the way to go! As a quick fact, the majority of Leopard geckos who hold longevity records have been fed nothing but Mealworms!
How to Feed Mealworms
Mealworms are quite easy to feed compared to most commonly used prey items. They can quite easily be placed into a shallow feeding dish (be sure they can't escape) to allow your Leo to free feed at its leisure. Your food dish can be anything from a specially made reptile food dish, to shallow crock or a plant saucer. Mealworms can be kept in a refrigerator until you are ready to feed your gecko. At least 24hrs prior to giving the Mealworms to you Leo, take them out of the fridge. Bringing them back to room temperature will cause them to become active, and you'll be ready to start gutloading. Provide carrots, apple slices or long-lasting types of vegetables for them to eat. You can even put a piece of carrot into the feeding dish with the Mealworms to keep them fed until your Leo eats them. Make sure you provide your Leopard gecko with the appropriate vitamin powder. Your powder should always be available to your Leo. You can also place your Mealworms into the vitamin dish so your Leo consumes some of the vitamins while eating the Mealworms.
After doing research and weighing your options, it comes down to you to chose what food item is best for your Leopard gecko. Mealworms and crickets both have their advantages and disadvantages. Both of these feeders have been tested and used without an issue over the many years geckos have been in captivity. If you can't decide which feeder is best for you, don't be afraid to mix things up. There is nothing wrong with diversity, and some believe it may be more beneficial than to feed the same prey item repeatedly.
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