Can Leopard Geckos Eat Hornworms? An Informative Guide

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

In the wild, leopard geckos feed on various live insects and invertebrates, like spiders. An occasional meal of other lizards, small mice, and snakes is also on the leopard gecko’s menu. In captivity, your leos diet should include various insects such as crickets, mealworms, super worms, locusts, waxworms, silkworms, and better worms. See this comprehensive article on feeding a leopard gecko.

However, can you feed your leopard gecko with hornworms? This article discusses what hornworms are, their nutritional value to your Leo, and how to feed them properly.

What are Hornworms?

The hornworms fed to a leopard gecko as tomato hornworms, which are bright green. These caterpillar larvae are usually in the garden as pests on tomatoes and other planks. Because outdoor hornworms eat plants and other toxic foliage, avoid feeding them to your leopard gecko.

If you want to feed tomato hornworms to your leopard gecko, always go for commercially cultured ones. Hornworms start very small and grow to over 3 inches or about seven centimeters. For your leopard gecko, go with the younger and smaller hornworms. These are best even for smaller leos to avoid choking them as they gulp down bigger tomato hornworms.

Store Bought Hornworms

Store Bought Hornworms

When you buy hornworms, they’ll usually come in containers with their food inside. Keep them at room temperature until you feed them to your leopard gecko. However, you can also store them in a cooler basement for a day or two so that they grow more slowly.

The horns of a hornworm may seem hard, but these are very soft. I’ve seen some leopard gecko owners remove the horns before feeding hornworms to their geckos. However, you don’t have to remove them because they will not hurt your leopard gecko or any other pet that feeds on them.

Nutritional Value of Hornworms

Hornworms are meaty and very nutritious feeders for your leopard gecko. According to timber fresh, the nutritional analysis of hornworms is as below:

As shown above, hornworms are very high in moisture content. Hornworms’ protein content is lower than other leopard gecko worms, like mealworms, super worms, and butter worms. However, they can be a good source of water content for a leopard gecko to keep it well hydrated. I’ve also fed my leopard gecko a hornworm to get it to start eating again.

How to Feed Hornworms To Your Leo

Hornworms are not staple feeders, like crickets, mealworms, or dubia roach, fed daily. Hornworms should be minimized and not substituted to become the staple feeder for your leopard gecko.

Generally, in a month, you can feed your leopard gecko up to four hornworms and no more.

Leopard Gecko and Hornworm

Leopard Gecko and Hornworm

Offer hornworms as a treat to your Leo once a week. To improve their nutritional value, commercially cultured hornworms have enough nutritional value that there’s no need to gut load them.

However, you can dust the hornworms with supplement powder. You can dust them with different nutrients from calcium or powdered multivitamins. To dust the hornworm with supplements, add some powder to a ziplock bag and shake lightly to coat it. Once done, serve the hornworm to your leopard gecko.

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.