Crested geckos are popular pets that can feed on a variety of insects, plants, and vegetables. And while some owners offer their crested geckos a diet of mealworms, it’s important to know that this is not necessarily the best choice. You will probably be surprised to learn that while mealworms are a staple in the captive diets of many bearded dragons, leopard geckos, and other insect-eating reptiles, they are not the best choice for your crested gecko.
Can crested geckos eat mealworms?
Yes, they can eat them as long as they are not so large or hard. However, you should use mealworms as treats and not as a staple diet.
Below is what you need to know about feeding mealworms to your crested geckos:
Are Mealworms Bad for Crested Geckos?
You will always find conflicting information on whether it’s safe to feed mealworms to crested geckos. Some people will tell you that mealworms are unsafe because they can eat your gecko from the inside. This myth has instilled fear in crested gecko keepers, which is why they tend to avoid them.
From my experience with crested geckos and mealworms, this is not true at all. Why? Well, cresties will always chew their food before swallowing. This means that the mealworm will be already dead by the time it reaches the stomach.
In fact, there are some compelling reasons why mealworms aren’t suitable as the primary dietary component for many species of lizards.
For starters, they are high in fat and low in calcium. Crested geckos already have problems with calcium absorption and maintaining blood calcium levels. A diet of mealworms could make these issues even worse.
The other problem with mealworms is that they are extremely high in protein. It’s one thing for a bearded dragon to need a high protein diet or even an insectivore lizard-like leopard gecko, but it’s something entirely different for a crested gecko. Crested geckos should be getting only a small amount of protein from their food in order to digest their chitin exoskeleton and calcium phosphate bone matrix.
Mealworms will pose a risk to your crested gecko if you feed too many of them. For your information, mealworms tend to have an exoskeleton. Feeding too many mealworms might cause impaction in your crestie.
You should also avoid feeding mealworms when they hatch into adult beetles. They tend to have tough shells with lots of chitin when they hatch into beetles.
How Many Mealworms Do You Feed A Crested Gecko?
Mealworms should be given as a treat to your crested gecko. I am saying this because they tend to carry a lot of fats, and they aren’t that healthy. You should limit the number of worms you give to your crestie or you will end up with an obese crested gecko.
Because mealworms are so high in protein and low in calcium, a single mealworm can devolve into a sugar mess when your crested gecko tries to digest it. In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice reported that they actually grow bigger during digestion. So to avoid fat buildup in your gecko’s digestive tract, especially around the liver and pancreas, feed your pet only one mealworm per week or two at most.
Keep in mind the size of mealworms should differ depending on the age of your crested gecko. Juvies should be fed small mealworms while adults should be fed larger mealworms. You can limit the number of worms to 3 or 4 worms per month.
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Can Crested Geckos Eat Dried Mealworms?
As you probably know, most geckos including cresties and leos will happily eat mealworms. Unfortunately, they tend to be picky on which mealworms and insects to eat. You might have noticed that these beauties love hunting, and they prefer to eat moving insects and worms.
Some crested geckos might eat freeze-dried mealworms while others might decline. In case yours is not a fan of dried mealworms, then I suggest you stick to live ones.
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Can Crested Geckos Eat Mealworm Beetles?
As much as it’s okay for crested geckos to eat mealworms, you should not give them mealworm beetles. Unlike worms, beetles tend to have a hard exoskeleton, meaning they can be hard to chew and digest.
Always provide your crested gecko with either mealworm larvae or pupae. Some geckos might chew the adult beetles comfortably, but it is not safe.
Mealworm Nutritional Data
This pie chart shows the nutritional data of mealworms. As you can see, these worms are packed with a lot of fats and that can cause obesity in crested geckos. As much as they have other nutrients, mealworms should only be used as treats.
Alternatives For Mealworms
Your crested gecko diet should consist of primarily veggies and greens like collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion leaves, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, and dark leafy greens. Other foods that are acceptable as a part of your gecko’s diet include fruit such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. It is also okay to feed your pet crested gecko pineapple in moderation.
Your crested gecko can also benefit from the occasional meal of waxworms or silkworms. However, you should not feed your pet gecko mealworms on a regular basis, even if you are trying to save money by buying in bulk.
There you have it guys! Mealworms are completely safe for your crested gecko as long as they are given in the right proportions. Always offer a varied diet, especially with young and small geckos. A diet that is varied will lead to a healthy happy crested gecko. Dried Mealworms and other insects can be used as treats however they should not be too high in the diet. A good daily vitamin for your pet is a multivitamin and mineral supplement and a water change of around 2/3 to 1/3 at a time