Can Leopard Geckos Eat Mealworm Beetles?

Are you interested in whether Leopard Geckos can Eat Mealworm Beetles? Then this guide is for you!

Getting the correct type of food for your leopard gecko pet is vital. While some foods are convenient and readily available, they may not be nutritious enough for the lizard.

The best meal should be affordable, readily available, convenient, and nutritious.

The mealworm beetle is not your leopard gecko’s first option for a meal. They will eat mealworm beetles under certain conditions. For example, it may not have much choice after some time without a meal. This choice is also okay if the leopard gecko has run out of its supply of other softer and more succulent sources of nutrition, such as crickets and dubia roaches.


The mealworm or darkling beetle is an insect tougher than most. As such, whether the leopard gecko eats this insect or not depends on the individual reptile.

However, some leopard geckos relish a mealworm meal, regardless of the availability of other meals. If this describes your pet, you’re lucky because it’s relatively easy to breed mealworm beetles.

What Are Mealworm Beetles?

From the pupa stage, mealworms grow into mealworm beetles in the larval stage. They later turn into darkling beetles as mature adults – easily identifiable by their black color.

They are found in nature in almost all regions of the world. However, they mainly do well in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa.

Because of their hardy nature, mealworm beetles can thrive in different climatic conditions. This makes it easy to breed them from around the globe throughout the year.

Mealworm beetles are a good source of minerals, proteins, and vitamins – much needed by the leopard gecko.

They are also a rich source of Vitamin A, which your pet needs to see clearly at night.

These insects are great survivors. It’s easy to breed them for your leopard gecko because they eat just about anything.

For example, they feed on dead or decaying plant and animal material. They also eat any food particles they you may be left lying around.

Mealworm beetles can also climb walls looking for nourishment in hidden cracks and crevices.

Suppose there’s nothing nutritional left for them to feed on. In that case, these insects resort to eating non-nutritive materials such as paper.

Are Mealworm Beetles Convenient for My Leopard Gecko?

Feeding your leopard gecko pet mealworm beetles is cheaper and more convenient than some other pet foods.

You’ll discover you can make considerable savings on your pet-food bill by breeding mealworm beetles.

The grown-up version of mealworm beetles is known as the darkling beetle. It is a proper meal for your pet, especially when other food choices are unavailable.

However, some keepers think the darkling beetles are inappropriate because they are tougher than the younger version of the beetle.

The good news is that mealworm beetles can be found in most human habitats – around our homes and near animal barns.

If they are not so bountiful in your area, it’s not hard to introduce them and breed them successfully in your garden.

Mealworm beetles thrive in cool and dry areas, away from direct sunlight. Therefore, they need a healthy supply of dead plants and animal matter to feed on.

Your leopard gecko pet can eat this beetle at any developmental stage – from pupa to adult.

Mealworm beetles are convenient for your leopard gecko because they are easy to breed. They are also nutritious and cheaper than most leopard gecko pet foods.

What Size of Mealworm Beetle Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko?

This depends on how big your leopard gecko is. Feeding a fully grown mealworm to a baby leopard gecko would be counter-productive.

Actually, the smaller and softer the insect, the better a meal it makes for your pet, regardless of age.

Leopard geckos find it easy to feed on the more chewable younger versions of mealworm beetles.

The larger darkling beetles have a tough chitin covering, which can be problematic to your pet’s digestive system.

How Safe Are Mealworm Beetles for My Leopard Gecko?

Most leopard geckos experience no problem after feeding on mealworm beetles. However, if you are introducing this meal to your pet, you need to start with younger and smaller mealworm beetles.

Your leopard gecko may have trouble swallowing the bigger, more hardened mealworm beetles. Also, mealworm beetles can be ferocious when threatened by a predator such as your pet.

If your leopard gecko bites the beetles from the tail end, the insect may lash out and harm your pet in the eye.

In some cases, mealworm beetles have been known to eat through the leopard gecko’s stomach, causing irreparable damage.

You may have to disable the beetle before feeding it to your pet. This allows the leopard gecko gradually get used to digesting that kind of meal.

To make fully grown mealworm beetles safer for your pet, try cutting them into smaller sizes that the leopard gecko can easily swallow.

Smaller insects, such as dubia roaches and young crickets, are preferred if your leopard gecko is young.

Such insects are less likely to cause choking or digestive complications because their exoskeletons are softer and suppler.

Are Mealworm Beetles Easy Prey for Leopard Geckos?

The leopard gecko will have no trouble capturing the mealworm beetle. For one, mealworm beetles cannot fly.

Armed with a sticky tongue, your pet has an advantage over the beetle. However, this insect has a powerful defense mechanism it unleashes in the face of an attack.

The mealworm beetle emits an awful smell that puts off even the most determined predator. As such, your leopard gecko may not be so keen on this meal, unless it really has no other option.

Can a Mealworm Beetle Bite Harm My Leopard Gecko?

A fully grown darkling beetle has well-developed mandibles. It employs these jaws for feeding and self-defense.

This insect readily uses its jaws to ward off predators such as humans and lizards. However, it cannot cause much harm to humans or grown leopard geckos.

Young, sickly, or invalid leopard geckos, on the other hand, do not stand a chance if attacked by a fully grown mealworm beetle.

How Do I Get the Best Nutritive Value for My Leopard Gecko?

Increasing the nutritional value of mealworm beetles is beneficial for your leopard gecko.

Although these insects are found in plenty in many natural habitats, wild mealworm beetles may not be the best option for your pet.

This is because these insects are prone to ingesting toxins from insecticides and unsuitable dead matter.

The best mealworm beetles for your leopard gecko are the homegrown variety. Breeding mealworms enables you to add nutritional value to the insects for your pet’s benefit.

You can feed oats and sweet potatoes to these insects to build their nutritional value. Carrots, spinach, kale, and cabbages also boost the value of the insects you feed your pet.

Also, ensure that the mealworm beetles are bred in a controlled environment with the correct humidity and temperature.

If your schedule leaves you with little time to breed mealworms, you may opt to get them from pet shops.

Decide whether you want hormonal-bred or organic-bred mealworm beetles, and acquaint yourself with the pros and cons of each.

For example, while hormonal-bred mealworms are cheaper, organic-bred mealworms are more nutritious for your leopard gecko.

On the other hand, organic-bred insects are harder to come by, although they are more desirable.

How Do I Breed Organic Mealworm Beetles?

#1 – Source for the Mealworms

Before you purchase mealworm beetles for your breeders, you need to consider a few things. For example:

  • Identify a reputable pet shop
  • You need to start with about 500 insects for continued breeding
  • A batch of 500 mealworms costs between $10 and $20
  • Avoid mealworms that have been treated with chemicals or hormones – they may end up being sterile
  • Acquaint yourself with information about breeding mealworms and feeding them to leopard geckos

#2 – Construct a Breeder Box for the Mealworms

If you’re not very good at DIY projects, you can purchase a plastic or glass breeder box to house the initial batch of 500 mealworms.

Some keepers prefer glass boxes because they are see-through. They allow you to track the growth and movements of the insects inside.

Bear in mind that glass breeder boxes require thorough cleaning every three to five days, depending on how busy they are.

The advantage of plastic breeders is that they are less likely to break. Also, they are easier to clean.

What are the Benefits of Using a Breeder?

  • They are versatile – they can be as small as a shoebox or as big as a microwave
  • . Hold the insects well since mealworm beetles don’t fly
  • . They can be made from metal, plastic, and glass.
  • Can be sub-divided to provide room for different types of mealworms
  • Can separate different kinds of foods within the same box
  • Ideal for maintaining the right breeding conditions (humidity 70% and temperature 760 to 800 F
  • Good for holding the male and female mealworms in the same place

#3 – Feeding the Mealworm Beetles

You need healthy, well-developed mealworms for your leopard gecko.

Since your pet is an omnivorous reptile, it will feed on mealworms grown on just about any type of food.

A mealworm diet should be well-balanced – fruits, vegetables, and canned dog food will do just fine. Feed the mealworm beetles, carrots, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, bananas, and apples.

Although mealworm beetles eat lots of dead and decaying matter in the wild, you may want to keep the breeder box clean of such materials.

Also, avoid feeding the mealworms dry food as they may not grow as fast as you’d like them to.

Well-fed mealworm beetles grow quickly. They start as brown insects before quickly turning purple or pink.

Within a few weeks, they’ll have grown to be up to one inch long. At this stage, they are white and will gradually turn black as they become fully grown.

It’s best you feed mealworms to your leopard gecko before they turn black.

Does a Leopard Gecko Enjoy Mealworm Beetles?

Leopard geckos turn to mealworm beetles as a food source when other options are not so palatable.

Ordinary, a leopard gecko prefers softer, more succulent insects to mealworm beetles.

Here are some reasons mealworm beetles may not be the leopard gecko’s preferred dish:

  • This insect may not always be readily available
  • Fully grown mealworm beetles have a hard covering called chitin, which is difficult for the geckos to chew on
  • Mealworm beetles are not as tasty as some other insects
  • Fully grown mealworm beetles ((darkling) may be too large to fit in the leopard gecko’s mouth
  • Mealworm beetles produce a repugnant smell that keeps your pet at bay


Although mealworm beetles may not be the leopard gecko’s first choice of food, your pet will do just fine if you feed it this meal correctly.

Ensure that the mealworm beetles are gut loaded for best results. After all, you want the very best for your leopard gecko!

P.S. You might also want to check out if leopard geckos can eat spiders.

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