The average leopard gecko diet is relatively straightforward, mainly because leopard geckos are insectivores.
Still, you have a variety of different insects to choose from, and at some point, you have probably considered waxworms for your gecko’s diet.
How often should your gecko eat waxworms?
Feed waxworms to your leopard gecko two to three at a time on a biweekly basis so they don’t become spoiled on them or gain too much weight. Waxworms are incredibly high in fat, so they should be a treat rather than a staple insect for your leopard gecko.
If you want to learn more about these plump tiny worms and their nutritional makeup, keep reading.
We’ll cover what waxworms are, what they’re made of, and how to properly integrate them into your lizard’s diet.
What Are Waxworms?
Interestingly, waxworms are technically caterpillars.
They are the larval stage of wax moths, and there are two main types of wax moths commonly bred as feeder insects in their larval stage: the lesser wax moth and the greater wax moth.
Both are very similar and have roughly the same nutritional value for your gecko as a feeder insect.
Waxworms are relatively small insects, measuring around 1″ to 2″ inches in length on average.
Their bodies have a translucent white color.
On the one hand, waxworms are quite nutritious and an excellent protein source, but at the same time, they are incredibly high in fat, meaning they are not an appropriate staple insect.
However, when fed every week or so, they make an excellent treat for your gecko’s diet.
If you’ve ever purchased waxworms for your reptiles before, you probably already know you have to refrigerate them to prevent them from pupating or forming a cocoon.
While your gecko can technically eat the worms in their cocooned form, most of them strongly prefer eating them while they’re still in their larval stage.
This is because waxworms are mostly made up of goo during their pupa stage and aren’t as tasty as geckos in this form.
However, in some instances, certain leopard geckos prefer the pupas to the larvae.
Nutritional Makeup of Waxworms
They also contain a decent amount of moisture, although you will need to provide your lizard with fresh water at all times to ensure they get the proper amount of hydration their diet requires.
Protein is essential for your gecko because it helps with growth and development and serves as a vital energy source as your lizard grows.
This is especially important for baby and juvenile geckos for their bones, muscles, and other body tissues as they develop into their adult size.
Fiber is also essential to support healthy and regular bowel movements.
It also helps prevent impaction, a potentially deadly condition where the lizard’s intestines become blocked by difficult-to-digest food or other materials.
Finally, a small amount of fat is essential to your gecko’s diet, too.
For this reason, waxworms are great when fed every couple of weeks or so in small amounts.
If you have an underweight gecko, it might be a good idea to supplement their diet with waxworms weekly to help boost the fat content in their diet.
Waxworms aren’t the worst thing to feed your gecko, but compared to other feeder insects, like Dubia roaches, crickets, mealworms, and superworms, their overall nutritional content doesn’t come close to being sufficient for regular feeding.
Should You Feed Your Leopard Gecko Waxworms?
Despite their somewhat lacking nutritional value, waxworms do serve a unique purpose in your gecko’s varied diet.
As with any pet, variety is crucial to maintaining their health and overall wellbeing, so you should be feeding your gecko a wide range of different kinds of insects.
Since leopard geckos are insectivores, you don’t have as many options as you would for an omnivorous or even herbivorous reptile, like a bearded dragon or a crested gecko.
Still, there are lots of different bugs you will be able to easily find at your local pet shop, and they all serve unique purposes in your lizard’s diet depending on their nutritional makeup.
A typical diet of insects for a leopard gecko needs to be made up of at least three or four different kinds of bugs with varying levels of the following substances:
There is no one correct diet you should be feeding your leopard gecko, but you should switch up the insects you give them daily as a general rule.
Don’t Forget Your Calcium Supplement!
You should purchase an extra calcium supplement and always keep it on hand to add to your gecko’s insect intake regularly.
Calcium powder is inexpensive and if you’re looking for some we recommend this one.
Your lizard needs a significant amount of calcium to keep their bones and other organs healthy and function correctly, and they won’t get enough calcium to thrive from their diet alone.
Some leopard gecko owners opt to pour a few teaspoons of the powder directly into their insect container and shaking it lightly to evenly dust the bugs inside.
Dust the insects individually as you feed them to your lizard, grabbing the bugs with tongs one by one and dipping them in the powder to thoroughly coat them with the powder.
Whether you’re giving your gecko waxworms or some other type of feeder bug, you should always be coating them with a decent amount of calcium powder.
Other calcium supplements are available like liquids or even tablets, but most owners find calcium powders to be the easiest to deal with and most accessible by far.
Check out our leopard gecko calcium guide for everything you need to know when it comes to calcium and these lizards.
How Often Should Your Leopard Gecko Eat Waxworms?
When it comes to waxworms, you should be feeding them to your gecko every other week or so as a treat.
Healthy adult geckos need a small amount of fat in their diet to store in their plump tails as they age.
For juvenile and baby geckos, you might opt to feed waxworms a bit more often, as younger lizards need more fat than adults because they are growing rapidly during the baby and juvenile stages of life.
The age of your gecko matters a lot in the number of wax worms you should be feeding them.
For an adult leopard gecko, you should feed them around one to three worms at a time every couple of weeks.
With younger geckos, you might feed them two to four at a time to boost the fat content in their diet.
We have more information in another post dedicated to how frequently to feed leopard geckos if you’d like more on the subject.
Should You Gut Load Your Waxworms?
Many gecko owners tend to “gut load” any insects they feed to their lizards.
All this means is they’re feeding the insects some kind of plant material before giving them to their gecko to eat.
By gut loading your bugs, you will boost the nutritional value of them, and your gecko will find them to be more flavorful, too.
You don’t necessarily have to feed your waxworms before giving them to your gecko, but it does help if you are able to do so.
Other Insects to Feed Your Leopard Gecko
In addition to waxworms, you should feed your gecko a few other types of insects to ensure they’re getting a varied, balanced diet.
Some other common feeder insects include:
- Dubia roaches (may be too large for juvenile and baby geckos to eat properly)
- Black soldier fly larvae
- Hornworms (may also be too large for smaller or younger geckos to eat properly)
- Butterworms (a great alternative to waxworms as they are a great protein and calcium source but are lower in fat)
Again, variety is vital, so switch up your gecko’s diet frequently to ensure they’re getting a balanced amount of vitamins and nutrients from the bugs they consume.
And if you want to learn more about the leopard gecko diet we have an article on what leopard geckos eat that you’ll enjoy reading.