Endemic to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, and northwestern parts of India, the Leopard Geckos are a nocturnal species of lizards named after the leopard-like spots scattered all over their body. These lizards are known for being the first lizard species in the world to be domesticated. They’re insectivores and have a varied diet. But can these geckos eat all kinds of worms? What about earthworms?
Can Leopard Geckos eat earthworms? Yes, they can eat earthworms. However, earthworms are not an ideal addition to their daily diet due to their lack of nutritional richness and huge size. If you want to feed them earthworms, you can do so once in a while. But make sure that these worms have been bought from a reliable source and not simply collected from your backyard, for they can carry parasites that will make your pet sick.
The Leopard Geckos are generally docile and easily tameable, which makes them one of the most popular exotic pets. Moreover, they are easy to care for, live a long life compared to other lizards, and are rather affectionate once they grow accustomed to you.
Reading this article, you will learn everything about feeding earthworms to them: their health benefits and risks, how often they should eat it, and so on.
Are Leopard Geckos used to eating earthworms in the wild?
Being strict insectivores, the Leos have a habit of feeding on many types of insects in the wild, such as crickets, locusts, flies, beetles, spiders, grasshoppers, snails, cockroaches, silkworms, etc. However, their diet doesn’t generally include earthworms for two reasons.
The first reason is the earthworm’s size that doesn’t fit their requirement: these worms are too long and can block their intestines if they try to eat them whole. The second reason is the awful taste of the mucus-like substance earthworms release when they’re in distress.
This is why they won’t touch earthworms in the wild unless they are famished.
Are earthworms healthy for Leopard Geckos?
As we mentioned in the last section, Leos are usually not interested in eating earthworms. However, just in case your pet gecko seems to enjoy feeding on these worms, you must learn about their health benefits and risks (if any).
We’ve already told you that earthworms can only be fed to the Leopard Geckos as an occasional treat, and you are going to learn why here. Take a look at the nutritional value of these worms in the chart given below:
Did you notice how, other than moisture, they have very little to offer your pets? And while Leos need moisture, they need other nutrients even more, nutrients that these worms cannot provide them.
Before we discuss the size of earthworms, let’s take a look at the ideal size of insects best suited for Leopard Geckos at all stages of their life.
The Leo hatchlings can eat insects that are about 3/8 inches long, while the juveniles can feed on the ones that are 1/4 inches long. The fully-grown adults can feed on insects and worms that are about 2.5 inches long as well.
However, the average length of earthworms ranges between 9-14 inches, far surpassing the ideal length for your pet Gecko. If you want to feed them these, you are going to have to look for juvenile earthworms that are yet to reach their full length.
There’s a reason we recommend you not to pick your Leo’s food on your own. It is because the worms that you catch from your backyard might be contaminated with fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides.
While eating one or two contaminated will not affect your pet severely, if they keep eating them, their health will degrade over time.
This is why you should always get all their food from a trusted supplier or pet store. If you can’t find reliable sources in your neighborhood, you can also order them online.
Earthworms are known to carry parasites such as nematodes, platyhelminths, and protozoa, which can make your pets very sick.
How often can you feed earthworms to Leopard Geckos?
As we observed in the previous section, apart from moisture, there is little else that earthworms can add to your pet Leo’s diet. Therefore, if you keep feeding them too many of these worms, they might suffer from a deficiency of the nutrients that are essential for their health. We’d recommend you to feed them earthworms about once or twice every two weeks.
Is it okay for baby Leopard Geckos to eat earthworms?
No, you should not try to feed earthworms to the baby Leos at any cost. This is because they can only feed on insects with a length of about 1/4 inches and will not be able to digest these long worms. You should stick to small mealworms, crickets, and roaches for the diet of the new-borns and juveniles.
Other insects you can feed your Leopard Geckos
Like all the other insectivores, the Leopard Geckos also need to have a varied diet in order to stay healthy. Sticking to a single worm wouldn’t do them much good. So, what else can you add to their diet, and how often?
We’ll tell you. We’ve curated a list of other worms and insects along with their benefits for your pet’s health. Check it out:
Rich in fat, protein, carbohydrates, mineral, and water, the Dubia Roaches are another insect species that make a delicious and healthy snack for your Leo. They are not good at climbing and flying (the females don’t even have wings), are mostly silent, and can be easily chewed and digested by your pet gecko.
Waxworms are your Leo’s favorite; you’ll never find them saying no to these. However, you need to be strict about limiting their consumption of these worms, for they have the highest fat content among all worms.
Super Worms are easy to breed, can last quite long, and are rich in protein, making them just the perfect treat for your pet geckos. You just need to make sure you’re not over-feeding them these worms because of their high-fat content.
Phoenix worms have a low-fat content and high amount of protein and are, therefore, a great snack for Leos. More interestingly, these worms move a lot, which is an added bonus for your pets, since they enjoy lively food.
Silkworms are rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium, and phosphorus and have a moderate fat content. This is why these worms are safe and nutritious for your pet’s health.
With their easy availability and high nutrient content, the Horned Worms can easily be added to your pet’s daily diet.
Mealworms are affordable, easy to find, and can be kept alive for a long time, which makes them an ideal food for all reptiles, Leopard Geckos included. However, mealworms have a high-fat content, which is why too many of these can make your pet gecko gain excess weight. Moreover, they also have a high calcium-phosphorus ratio, which is not ideal for Leos.
Frequently asked questions
Can my Leo eat fruits? No, you shouldn’t try to feed your pet Leo fruits or vegetables. Leos are staunch insectivores and, thus, lack cecum, a small pouch-like organ that is responsible for breaking down the cellulose and digesting these. Therefore, you should stick to insects in their diet.
My Leo has turned pale. Should I be worried? No, you shouldn’t be worried. If your Leo has turned ghost-like, it is a sign that they’re soon about to shed their skin. This is a completely normal process for them, in which they don’t need your assistance. Make sure they’re comfortable and give them some privacy while they go through this phase.
Why is my Leo behaving aggressively? It is normal for Leos to behave aggressively towards you when they’re new to you. However, if that’s not the reason, it might be because of temperature issues inside their tank.
How long do Leopard Geckos live? In comparison to the other geckos and anoles of their size, the Leos have a surprisingly long lifespan of about 15-20 years. As pets, they are also known to live over 20 years when taken proper care of.
Conclusion: Can Leopard Geckos eat earthworms?
If you’re willing to bring home an exotic reptile pet, the Leopard Geckos should be on the top of your list. These lizards have a bright appearance, have very few requirements, and can thrive when you take care of them.
Leos can eat a variety of worms, some of them even regularly, but earthworms are not one of them. Being too large in size with relatively little nutritional value, these are not the worms that you’d want to add to their daily diet.
Moreover, due to the foul-smelling and tasting substance they release, your pet Leos wouldn’t find them appealing either.
While you can occasionally feed adult Leos earthworms, you shouldn’t feed them to the juveniles at all. Even for the adult geckos, you should stick to the store-bought ones in order to avoid any health risks or issues.