Yes, Leopard geckos can eat waxworms are they LOVE eating them! So much so, in fact, that they can become so obsessed with waxworms that they will refuse to eat anything else you offer them.
What Are Waxworms?
Waxworms are the caterpillar larvae of the Greater Wax Moth, Galleria mellonella, and are a common live food source for reptiles. Waxworms are widely available and reptile owners like them because they can live for quite a while without food if kept at the right temperature. They are made even easier to take care of by the fact that they don’t consume food at the stage of their lives when they will be used as food.
They have relatively poor nutritional value compared to other staples of a Leopard Gecko diet such as crickets, mostly due to their high-fat content.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Like Waxworms?
Because they are full of fat and fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient. In nature, the name of the game is staying alive, and to do that you need calories.
Fat = calories and in evolutionary terms at least, calories = delicious.
Are Waxworms Good For Leopard Geckos?
Waxworms are good for Leopard Geckos that are underweight and need to rebuild their mass and fat stores.
They are also useful to get your gecko eating again if they have lost their appetite and you’re struggling to get them to eat anything. Waxworms are somewhat like candy to Leopard Geckos so if anything will get them in the mood to eat it’s this!
As they enjoy them so much, waxworms can be used as a treat for your gecko too and can help you make a bond with them or calm them down if they are feeling stressed.
Are Waxworms Bad For Leopard Geckos?
Waxworms are not bad for geckos by themselves but they lack nutrients, have an excess of fat, and geckos will quickly become spoiled on them.
If they are given them too often, geckos will only want to eat waxworms and will stop showing interest in anything else you try feeding them. This will lead to an unbalanced diet that can result in obesity from the excess fat and calories or other health issues due to the lack of essential nutrients, particularly calcium.
What Age Can Leopard Geckos Eat Waxworms?
Juvenile geckos (from around 5 months) can be given waxworms to eat. Hatchling Leopard Geckos should not be offered waxworms.
Make sure you only feed waxworms to juveniles occasionally. Food is important at this stage of development as your gecko is growing all the time but waxworms are highly addictive for geckos and there is a risk of overfeeding or impacting their health through poor nutrition.
How Many Waxworms Should A Leopard Gecko Eat A Day?
Ideally, you should only give waxworms to a Leopard Gecko every other week or weekly at most. Any more than this and there’s a real risk that they will become addicted to them and start refusing other food.
When you do offer them waxworms, stick to between 1 and 3 per sitting. This is enough to give them a hit of fatty goodness without overfeeding them or getting them hooked.
Should I Gut Load Waxworms?
No. Gut loading is important for the rest of your gecko’s diet but because waxworms should be an infrequent treat, there is no real benefit to gut loading them.
Additionally, waxworms raised in captivity as live food are normally fed a mixture of cereal grain, honey and bran so already come ‘pre-loaded’ to a degree. There’s no harm in some additional gut loading if you really want to but it’s probably just overkill.
What To Do If Your Gecko Will Only Eat Waxworms?
If your gecko will only eat waxworms then you need to get tough and stop offering waxworms entirely. As long as they are a healthy weight then the best thing you can do is take away the option and only give them a choice of healthier foods such as crickets or mealworms.
Waxworms are addictive and your gecko won’t thank you for it but it’s important to give them a healthy diet.
Try keeping a bowl of mealworms in the tank in case he changes his mind but don’t be surprised if your gecko refuses to eat for a few days and stages a kind of ‘hunger strike’ in the hope that waxworms will be back on the menu! This is very much a ‘cruel to be kind’ type of situation and they always come round in the end, some are just more stubborn than others.
Once he’s kicked the habit, switch back to a healthy diet with crickets as the focus and think about banning waxworms permanently – even an occasional treat can slowly become the norm…