These are The Best Worms to Feed Your Leopard Gecko

By Frank Miller •  Updated: 09/09/23 • 

When in the wild, a leopard gecko will thrive on almost any moving insect they catch that fits in its mouth. Leopard geckos have been known to eat spiders, hard-shelled beetles, beetle larvae, and many other insects. They are primarily insectivorous, so insects make up a major part of their diet.

For leopard geckos in captivity, crickets and different types of worms make up a large part of their diet. This is because these meals are readily available to most owners. There are different types of worms, and each has its own nutritional value. If you’re looking to feed worms to your leopard gecko, below are the best worms and the nutritional value they offer. You can also check out our article on feeding a leopard gecko for an informative and detailed guide on best practices.

1. Mealworms

Nutritional Profile: Moisture – 62.44%, Fat – 12.72%, Protein – 20.27%, Fiber – 1.73%, Ash – 1.57%, Calcium – 133ppm, Phosphorus – 3345ppm

Mealworms make a good meal for many animal species, including birds, mammals, primates, and reptiles. They are readily available feeder insects for leopard geckos and come in two kinds – regular mealworms and king mealworms.

Regular mealworms, Tenebrio molitor, are the most popular because they are easy to keep and culture. However, I would not advise culturing mealworms because it is labor-intensive and not worth it if you have one or two leopard geckos. Mealworms usually reach up to an inch in length before pupating and becoming adult beetles.

Because of its good nutritional value, mealworms are sometimes used as a staple feeder insect for leopard geckos. To set up your colony of mealworms, take a small container, and fill it with grains, fruits, and vegetables. This is also a great way of gut-loading them to improve their nutritional value before feeding them to your leopard gecko.

2. Superworms or King Mealworms

Nutritional Profile: Moisture – 59.37%, Fat – 17.89%, Protein – 17.41%, Fiber – 6.80%, Ash – 1.20%, Calcium – 124ppm, Phosphorus – 2320ppm

King mealworms are also known as superworms and are larger-sized, growing to be about 2.25 inches before transforming into adult beetles. Because of their size, superworms make for a hearty meal for your leopard gecko but should not be substituted to be the staple diet.

Unlike mealworms, superworms are better feed individually to your leopard gecko using forceps. When placed in a shallow feeder bowl, these can climb out, burrow into the substrate, and undergo pupation. Although adult beetles cannot harm your leopard gecko, their strong chemical smell makes a leopard gecko avoid eating them.

You can feed your leopard gecko up to four superworms per week. However, ensure your gut loads them and dust them with calcium powder to improve their nutritional value. Check out my guide on leopard geckos and superworms for more information.

3. Black Soldier Fly Larvae

Nutritional Profile: Moisture – 68.18%, Fat – 7.81%, Protein – 15.58%, Fiber – 3.46%, Ash – 1.40%, Calcium – 874ppm, Phosphorus – 2405ppm

Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) or Hermetia illucens are an existing feeder insect. The most common brand of BSFL is sold under the name Phoenix Worms, but there are others like Josh’s Frogs.

BSFLs are white grubs or worms that wiggle a lot but are great because they cannot climb up the sides of the feeder bowl. Their wiggling incites a feeding response in a leopard gecko and other types of lizard pets.

The main reason why BSFLs are a good feeder meal is because of their high nutritional content. They are particularly high in calcium, making supplementation unnecessary when feeding them to your leopard gecko. Although they can be used as a staple diet for your leopard gecko, it takes more to feed a hungry one.

Because of their short lifespan, stocking up on BSFL is very hard. However, you can keep them in cool temperatures of around 60°F (16°C) so that the grubs do not pupate. When stored in warmer temperatures, the grubs will pupate faster, and leopard geckos are not very good at catching flies.

4. Waxworms

Nutritional Profile: Moisture – 61.73%, Fat – 22.19%, Protein – 15.50%, Fiber – 7.69%, Ash – 1.02%, Calcium – 283ppm, Phosphorus – 2161ppm

Waxworms, also called Galleria mellonella, are small, soft, and white-to-cream-colored worms that are the larvae of wax moths. They can grow up to an inch in size and feed on beeswax, making it harder to gut-load them to improve their nutritional value.

Waxworms are high in fat, which makes them good for young leopard geckos to build up fat reserves or breed adult female geckos. However, their high fat content also makes them an occasional treat because they can cause your leopard gecko to become obese.

If you’re looking to feed your leopard gecko waxworms, buying them as needed is the best option for beginners. Waxworms are difficult to raise because of their shorter lifespan and feeding, which makes buying the best option.

Prior to feeding your leopard gecko waxworms, you can dust them with calcium power. Also, avoid placing them in small and shallow feeding dishes so they won’t escape. These can quickly burrow into the substrate and disappear.

5. Butterworms

Nutritional Profile: Moisture – 60.2%, Protein – 15.5%, Fat – 29.4%, Fiber – 1.4%, Ash – 0.8%, Calcium – 125ppm, Phosphorus – 2250ppm

Like mealworms and most worms in this list, butter worms are not actually worms. Butterworms are the larvae of the Chilean moth, Chilecomadia moorei, and are sold under the names Tebo worm or trevo worm.

Butterworms are bright yellow in appearance and can reach about 1.5 inches in length when fully developed. Their movement, appearance, color, and scent entice them to leopard geckos and other pet lizards.

Compared to other worms in the list, butterworts are a high source of fats, which makes them an occasional treat to your leopard gecko. Feeding butter worms as a staple diet can cause excessive weight gain and other diseases associated with obesity.

However, unlike waxworms, you can gut-load butter worms to improve their nutritional value. Butterworms come packaged in a container with wheat bran; you can add sweet potato slices and other food. Before feeding your leopard gecko, dust the butterworm to improve its calcium content.

6. Hornworms or Tomato Hornworms

Nutritional Profile: Moisture – 85%, Protein – 10%, Fat – 3%, Ash – N/A, Fiber – N/A, Calcium – 464ppm, Phosphorus – 1394ppm

Hornworms are usually bright green in appearance and can grow to be around 3 inches in length before turning. They are the larvae of the hawkmoth, Manduca quinquemaculata, a common tomato pest, or Manduca sexta, a common Tobacco pest.

Compared to other larger feeder worms, hornworms are lower in fats and higher in moisture content. This makes them better to keep your leopard gecko hydrated and full. They are also higher in calcium but can be gut loaded and dusted before feeding them to your leopard gecko to improve their nutritional value.

Because of their size, younger and smaller hornworms are great for smaller leopard geckos, while larger leopard geckos can easily consume the larger ones. They come in containers with their food, but you can supplement them with additional vegetables and fruits. Also, remember to keep them in cooler temperatures to grow more slowly.

One question I get a lot about feeding hornworms to pet lizards is about their horns and if they can inflict damage. Their horns are soft and cannot hurt your pet, so you don’t have to worry about that. Check out my post on hornworms and leopard geckos for an in-depth guide.

Frank Miller

Frank Miller is the Founder of Lizard Advisor and owns several pet lizards, from leopard geckos, bearded dragons, crested geckos, chameleons, and others. The mission of this website is to make owning a pet lizard very easy for everyone, but mostly beginners. And each year, he continues to help more people learn more about lizard care and much more.