Wax worms can be frequently found at pet stores being advertised as good food for leopard geckos, but as a lot of new keepers come to learn, some large chain pet stores do not always have your pet’s best interest at heart.
This is why articles like this exist, to make sure that everyone has access to information involving their pet care that is reliable.
In short, there is nothing that says leopard geckos are unable to eat wax worms, however, according to data in published research articles, they have a nutritional content that is extremely lacking, making them a less-than-adequate contender for your gecko’s staple food source.
Nutritional breakdown of wax worms
In a scientific article published in the journal ZOO BIOLOGY, by Mark D. Fink, wax worms are consistently low in what seems to be many essential nutrients, while being very high in fat.
Wax worms have been found to have the lowest amount of crude protein out of a sample of crickets, mealworms, and super worms. They do however have the highest amount when it comes to metabolizable energy, simply meaning what is not used immediately will be stored as fat,
They are very low in essential minerals such as calcium, amino acids such as alanine, and many fatty acids.
Something important to note is their intense lack of vitamin D3, which is an integral part of the processes that allow leopard geckos to absorb calcium.
Why wax worms are bad for leopard geckos.
Wax worms have a very low nutritional profile as we saw earlier and honestly tend to do a lot more harm than good.
When feeding wax worms as a staple food, many health problems can result in your leopard gecko.
Metabolic bone disease always seems to be a very hot topic in the reptile community. It is a very prevalent issue with bearded dragons and leopard geckos, especially.
As this disease develops, the bones begin lacking calcium, causing bones to become warped and misshapen. This restricts movement and causes more injuries in these animals. Most significantly, it is extremely painful and if gone untreated will result in complications that might even lead to death.
Wax worms not only lack the calcium necessary for their health, but they also lack a key player in calcium absorption that is often overlooked: vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 is essential in being able to process the calcium ingested by the leopard gecko, and putting it to good use in creating a healthy bone structure, amongst many other necessary bodily processes.
If wax worms were the primary staple diet of a leopard gecko, then chances are the gecko will struggle with metabolic bone disease and be in lots of pain, along with being overweight, which will exacerbate the symptoms of MBD due to the gecko having to carry around more weight on their misshapen and delicate bones.
The good aspects of wax worms for leopard geckos
Wax worms seem to be a pretty appetizing treat to leopard geckos, as unhealthy as they are. This however can be used advantageously in the right situation.
Leopard geckos can sometimes be picky eaters. Every leopard gecko is different with big personalities that differ in every individual.
Feeding wax worms can be used to entice these picky eaters to eat their staple foods, which can be helpful when you need them to sustain their weight and to get them to eat their proper nutritional foods.
Some reptile keepers have also found wax worms useful as a way to help emaciated leopard geckos gain weight fast to nurse them back to health. They can be used in a pinch to give a starving gecko something to keep them going and help them gain strength.
When should you feed wax worms?
For a healthy gecko that is a great eater, wax worms are by no means necessary for their diet. Wax worms do, however, make a delicious treat that these little guys can’t seem to resist.
Just as we can not eat cake for every meal and still be healthy, we can still have it every once in a while because it’s delicious and makes us happy. The same goes for leopard geckos eating wax worms.
This should only be done at most every other week.
How should you prepare wax worms for your leopard gecko?
Preparing wax worms is not all that much different than regular insects. The only difference is how supplementing vitamins and calcium are more necessary for adding nutrients to the wax worm.
This is also a good way to get some extra calcium or vitamin supplementation into your gecko’s diet, especially if they are weird about having calcium dusted on their staple insects. This is a good way to sneak those into their diet as well.
What age should you feed wax worms to your gecko?
Though wax worms seem like a great reward and treat for your pet, it is best to wait until they are fully grown to give them.
Growing leopard geckos need a lot of valuable nutrients to grow, so these foods should be prioritized when feeding a younger leopard gecko.
An example of a staple food would be something like dubia roaches or crickets, for instance.
Should you gut load wax worms before feeding them?
Gut-loading wax worms is not a viable or sustainable option in captivity, as they eat beeswax and that is not always readily available.
Since wax worms are only really used as a treat, you do not need to go through the trouble of finding beeswax to feed them or keep them long-term.
Can leopard geckos eat dead or damaged wax worms?
Feeding your gecko dead wax worms is a terrible idea. The wax worm died of something, which could be some type of pathogen or disease that could get your pet sick.
Leopard geckos can eat a variety of foods, including wax worms. This may be true but as their keepers, we must think about what foods offer them the most nutrients for them to live, grow, and thrive.
Due to wax worms’ low nutrient content and high amounts of fat, they are best only given as a treat every once in a while because leopard geckos simply just really enjoy them. They are also used to entice picky eaters to eat some of their staple foods, or to help a gecko gain weight in a dire situation.