A leopard gecko lizard under a wooden branch

Can Leopard Geckos Eat Mealworm Beetles? An In-Depth Answer

If your supply of mealworms has transformed into darkling beetles and you’re wondering, “Can leopard geckos eat mealworm beetles?” The answer is yes. 

Leopard geckos can eat mealworm beetles occasionally, but not all of them will be able to do so. It depends on the individual pet lizard. While some geckos will find it easy to munch on these beetles, others may have difficulty consuming them.

This post will provide you with all you need to know about using mealworm beetles as a source of nutrition for leopard geckos.

Top view mealworm beetle on a rocky floor

Are Mealworm Beetles Good for Leopard Geckos?

Mealworm beetles have high calcium levels compared to regular mealworms.

This makes them better food for leopard geckos. Mealworm beetles also contain higher vitamins and minerals than regular mealworms.

Given that, they can be an excellent treat to supplement your leopard geckos’ regular diet of crickets and silkworms.

Are Mealworm Beetles Safe Food for Leopard Geckos?

Mealworm beetles aren’t exactly dangerous, but they may cause some health issues to leopard geckos if consumed regularly. 

This type of insect can harm geckos by eating through their stomach. In addition, if your leopard gecko bites the tail of these beetles, they might attack and hurt the gecko’s eyes as a reaction.

Moreover, you should never feed large beetles to your small geckos as this may cause choking. Large beetles can also cause major digestive issues due to their hard exoskeleton.

To minimize any potentially harmful effects of mealworm beetles on leopard geckos, you should cut them into small portions before serving.

Plus, you need to provide them to your pet gecko at intervals. 

Additionally, you should always choose darkling beetles that are smaller in size. That’s because their chitin content is considerably less than that of large ones. 

Similarly, try to pick the younger darkling beetles instead of older ones. This is to ensure that your gecko won’t experience any health issues when consuming them.

Why Do Some Leopard Geckos Find It Difficult to Eat Mealworm Beetles?

Mealworm beetles aren’t the best food source for leopard geckos. However, you can offer them to your adult leopard geckos from time to time.

There are thousands of mealworm beetle species with differences among them. In most species, the fully grown beetle can be too large for a small leopard gecko to consume. 

They’re also hard to eat for baby and sickly leopard geckos, as these insects can reach up to 1.5 inches in size.

They also contain high amounts of chitin, making them unappealing meals for leos. That’s because they’re hard to chew.

Further, these insects can have an unpleasant odor as they secrete foul-smelling substances as a defense mechanism to deter predators. As a result, they can effectively repel leopard geckos.

Do Mealworm Beetles Bite Leopard Geckos?

Yes, mealworm beetles possess well-developed jaws that they can use to bite any predator that approaches them. They also use these jaws to bite and chew their prey.

Close-up leopard gecko on a freshly cut grass

Given that fact, they’re likely to attempt to bite your pet leopard gecko. These insects can even bite pet owners, although their bites aren’t harmful.

What Are the Best Mealworm Beetles to Feed Your Leopard Geckos?

If you want to feed your leopard geckos mealworm beetles as a treat, you can find mealworm beetles easily in pet shops and the wild.

However, wild-caught mealworm beetles are highly likely to lack the essential nutrients for leopard geckos.

So, you need to obtain and breed them yourself for some time before feeding them to your geckos. This is to provide them with the required nutritious food to boost their nutritional profile. 

You might do the same for mealworm beetles from pet stores as well.

In addition, to maintain these beetles’ health, ensure they have the proper humidity level and temperature. 

The ideal humidity level for these insects ranges between 50% and 70%. The perfect temperature for them is from 70°F to 75°F.

Moreover, you should always gut-load darkling beetles before feeding them to leopard geckos.

The best way to do this is to provide them with a steady supply of nutritious vegetables like spinach, pieces of carrots, and sweet potatoes. Oats also are an excellent gut-loading option.

What Is the Best Type of Mealworm Beetle Available in Pet Shops?

There are various types of hormonal-bred and organic-bred mealworm beetles in pet shops.

Close-up of a mealworm beetle on a dead plant

Although hormonal-bred types are cheaper, they have considerably less nutritional value. That way, you should prioritize 100% organic-bred mealworms over hormonal-bred ones.

How to Delay the Transformation of Mealworms Into Beetles?

Are you keeping a mealworm colony at home to have an ample supply of food for your leopard geckos? 

If yes, you might think of a way to keep them in the larval stage and delay their transformation into pupae and then beetles.

To achieve this, you need to store the mealworms in the refrigerator at 45°F–50°F. That way, they go dormant and delay their transformation for up to 2 months.

However, feeding the mealworms well before storing them in the refrigerator is essential. If you don’t do this, they might die of starvation in the fridge. 

Can I Feed Mealworm Pupae to My Leopard Gecko?

Mealworms in the pupa stage make a perfect treat for leopard geckos. They can also be an excellent supplement to their nutritious diet

Mealworm pupae have a nutritional value similar to regular mealworms but contain considerably less chitin. This makes them a more nutritious option.

That’s because the high chitin content in regular mealworms can negatively impact vitamins and minerals in the gecko’s body.

These fatty insects are also an easily digestible source of protein. That way, you can feed them to your leopard geckos any time of the day.

Because of their appeal to leopard geckos, mealworm pupae can even be used to entice picky eaters to regain interest in their food again.

Moreover, these insects are easy to find. You can purchase them from pet stores in large buckets or small tubes.

The Bottom Line

Can leopard geckos eat mealworm beetles? 

Yes, leopard geckos can consume mealworm beetles as a treat. Nonetheless, not all geckos will find them appealing.

In addition, feeding large beetles to small or sick geckos isn’t recommended. That’s because they can lead to multiple health issues.

Moreover, you should feed these beetles to your leos only occasionally as they aren’t the best type of food for geckos.

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