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Can Crested Geckos Eat Mealworms? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ


May 12, 2023
crested gecko eating mealworm


crested gecko eating mealworm
Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Crested Geckos,Correlophus ciliatus, are omnivores and need to eat a diet balanced in both fruits and insects. Crested Geckos can eat mealworms but only as a part of their normal diet. In the wild it has been shown that they eat primarily crickets and locusts. A roughly 70% insect/small vertebrate based diet and 30% vegetarian.

Mealworms are usually high in protein and a nutritious addition to their diet. However, we recommend that the mealworms are gut-loaded (fed a nutritious diet) before they are fed to your Crested Gecko. It also helps to dust them with calcium powder before feeding them.

Furthermore, you can’t feed your Crested Gecko too many mealworms. They are high in fat and can cause obesity if geckos are overfed. However, when added to veggies and other foods, they can make a good part of a Crested Gecko’s normal diet.

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Nutritional Value of Mealworms for Crested Geckos

Mealworms are high in protein and contain all the amino acids your Crested Gecko needs to thrive. Your Crested Gecko utilizes mealworms for repairing muscles, skin, and bones. It’s a vital part of their diet, so mealworms can be healthy. Plus, mealworms are also pretty digestible.

However, they can have hard exoskeletons, making them harder to digest than other foods. Luckily, you can feed newly molted mealworms to help keep this from happening.

Mealworms also contain various other nutrients, like vitamins A and D3. Both of these are necessary for your Crested Gecko’s health. For instance, vitamin D3 is vital for the absorption and use of calcium, which is necessary for healthy bones.

These bugs also contain calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. These minerals are vital for maintaining healthy bones and other tissues. However, mealworms have much more phosphorus than calcium, so mealworms must be fed in moderation only. It also helps if you dust them with calcium powder, as this increases their calcium content.

crested gecko licking
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

How to Feed Mealworms to Crested Geckos

If you are new to keeping a Crested Gecko we recommend that you get to know of a knowledgeable exotics veterinarian in your area. They can provide advice on husbandry and healthcare for your new gecko friend.

Feeding your Crested Gecko mealworms isn’t difficult, but you do need to keep several pointers in mind:

1. Choose healthy mealworms

You don’t want to feed your Crested Gecko mealworms that aren’t healthy. Therefore, you must purchase them from a reputable source and check them for signs of illness. Don’t feed your Crested Gecko any mealworms that seem “off” or unhealthy. The mealworms should be active and shedding normally.

2. Prepare the mealworms

You can feed your Crested Gecko both live and pre-killed mealworms. If you feed live mealworms, keep them in a separate container with some food to gut-load them. You don’t want the mealworms crawling around your crested gecko’s cage, so be sure they cannot climb out of their container.

Many people feed their Crested Geckos out of the container. This works, as well, but be sure to take measures to keep your Crested Gecko safe if you go this route.

Image Credit: katerinavulcova, Pixabay

3. Choose an appropriate feeding method

There are many ways you can feed your crested gecko. Depending on your situation and preferences, you’ll probably use one of these methods eventually.

Firstly, you can feed the mealworms by hand. Usually, this involves using tongs or your fingers to put the mealworm directly in front of your gecko. Then, the gecko should eat out of your hand (assuming they’re used to this feeding method).

Of course, this involves touching the mealworms and directly involves you in feeding time. Therefore, it isn’t always best for those with time constraints (or for every feeding session).

Secondly, you can place the mealworms into a shallow dish and feed them that way. Ensure the dish doesn’t allow the mealworms to get out (as they will escape and live in your gecko’s substrate before emerging later as beetles).

Either way, dust the worms in calcium powder to ensure they’re nutritional for your gecko.

4. Feed in moderation

Mealworms can be a part of a balanced and complete diet for your Crested Gecko. However, they can’t be the whole diet. They’re a suitable option for Crested Geckos a few times a week, but be sure to feed them other things too.

Younger lizards often need more protein because they are growing. These lizards may need more mealworms as they grow. However, once they mature, it often makes sense to feed them fewer mealworms to ensure they don’t become obese.

bearded dragon eating
Image Credit: Adele.h.cz-Shutterstock

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Other Insects to Feed Crested Geckos

Crested Geckos can also be fed several other types of insects. However, most of these are also “in moderation” foods. Providing your gecko with a varied diet is often the best option.

  • Dubia roaches: These are popular feeder insects because they are high in protein and have a balanced calcium/phosphorus ratio. They’re quite easy to digest and are usually gut loaded to increase their nutritional value.
  • Crickets: Most pet stores sell readily available feeder crickets. However, they don’t contain enough calcium, so they must be dusted before feeding to most lizards. Otherwise, they’re a good source of protein.
  • Black soldier fly larvae: While these may not be as common as other feeder insects, they’re very nutritious and protein-rich. Plus, they’re pretty high in calcium, so we recommend grabbing some whenever you find them.
  • Waxworms: You’ll find waxworms pretty readily, as well. They’re high in fat compared to other worms, though. Therefore, they’re an occasional treat but shouldn’t be a huge part of their diet. Otherwise, your gecko may become obese or develop other health problems. They’re particularly good for growing or breeding geckos.
  • Silkworms: These soft-bodied feeders are easier to digest than other insects. Therefore, they may be a good option for geckos that have a harder time digesting other insects. They’re high in protein and pretty low in fat, so they can make up a good portion of their diet. However, they tend to be more expensive than other options.

You should preferably feed your Crested Gecko a variety of different insects. Each one has a unique nutritional profile. Most of the time, feeding just one or two varieties can cause nutritional problems. However, if you provide a variety, your Crested Gecko has a much higher chance of getting all the necessary nutrients.

crested gecko hidding in cave
Image Credit: TomOld, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Crested Geckos can consume mealworms as a nutritious part of their regular diet. They’re a good source of protein and contain several other ingredients, as well. However, they shouldn’t be fed solely. Moderation is key here. Otherwise, your gecko may develop nutritional deficiencies. It is important that they also receive some fruits.

You can also feed your Crested Gecko various other feeder insects, like roaches and waxworms. However, most of these should be fed in moderation, as well. You want to provide various feeder insects to ensure your gecko gets all the nutrients they need. You’ll probably notice that your Crested Gecko has different preferences and feeding habits and you’ll likely need to adjust their diet to account for this. Their preferences may change over time, too.

It’s important to monitor your gecko’s weight and adjust their diet to ensure that they get all the necessary nutrients for optimal health and well-being.

Featured Image Credit: MattiaATH, Shutterstock

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