Step-by-Step Guide to Gut Load Mealworms for a Nutritious Meal

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

Mealworms make a good meal for many species of pets, including birds, primates, mammals, and reptiles. When you buy your mealworms from your local pet shop, you should feed them before feeding them to your leopard gecko or other pets. This is because the mealworms may not have been fed during transportation, or they might have been refrigerated at the pet store. Thus, they do not feed.

Feeding and giving your mealworms important supplements and a diet full of nutrients before you feed them to your leopard gecko is called gut loading. Apart from mealworms, you can gut load different feeder meals like crickets, dubia roaches, wax worms, superworms, etc.

In this article, I’ll show you how I gut-load my mealworms before feeding my leopard gecko. This ensures my Leo feeds a nutritious meal every time, particularly rich in calcium. Without further ado, let’s get into the details. We also have an informative guide on feeding your leopard gecko.

What You’ll Need

You’ll need a quality supply of mealworms from a trusted source free of pesticides and other chemicals. You can get some from your local pet shop or online sellers like Amazon and many other pet shops.

Gut Loading Mealworms and other Feeder Insects Setup

Gut Loading Mealworms and other Feeder Insects Setup

Apart from the mealworms, you’ll need different foods in the mixes to gut load your mealworms. Usually, I use muesli for the vitamins, milk for calcium, and vegetables for more vitamins. You can use different vegetables and fruit with high nutritional value, such as carrots, collard greens, turnip greens, apples, and anything with good nutritional value.

How to Gut Load Mealworms

Why Gut Loading is Important

Mealworms from a pet store are sometimes refrigerated before being sold. When refrigerated, they do not eat; thus, when you receive them, it is very important to feed them. This ensures your pet has a nutritious meal when they feed on the mealworm.

Gut Loading Mealworms in A Plastic Cup

Gut Loading Mealworms in A Plastic Cup

Although mealworms are a nutritious source of protein (18.7%) and other nutrients such as fiber, they are low in vitamins and minerals such as calcium. Gut-loading the mealworms with sources high in these minerals 24 hours before you feed your leopard gecko results in a highly nutritious meal.

A common disease associated with pets that are not gut loaded is a metabolic bone disease. A gut-loaded meal includes calcium supplements, which help keep your leopard geckos, lizard, or any other reptile’s bones strong. The bones can be bowed, soft, and even broken without gut loading. According to this research, gut loading improves the calcium content of the insects; thus, you avoid diseases such as metabolic bone disease.

What to Avoid When Gut-Loading Mealworms

While gut loading is focused on improving the nutrition and mineral content of mealworms and other feeder insects, there are some products you should refrain from using to gut load or feed mealworms. This food or fruit can be dangerous to your leopard gecko or lizards.

Avoid using citrus fruits, pineapples, kiwis, avocados, rhubarb, broccoli, and kale. These foods contain too much citric acid, while some, such as broccoli and kale, can interfere with how your leopard gecko absorbs calcium from its diet.

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.