Can Crested Geckos Eat Mealworms? A Complete Guide
crested geckos for sale are one of the most popular pet reptiles in the world. They are easy to care for, have a variety of colors and patterns, and can live up to 20 years in captivity. Crested geckos are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. In the wild, they feed on insects, small vertebrates, and fruits. In captivity, they can be fed a commercial crested gecko diet that contains all the nutrients they need, as well as occasional live insects as treats.
But what about mealworms? Mealworms are among the most common feeder insects for many reptiles, birds, fish, and even humans. They are cheap, easy to find, and high in protein. But can crested geckos for sale eat mealworms? Are they safe and healthy for these lizards? How often and how many should you feed them? In this article, we will answer all these questions and more. We will also provide you with some tips and tricks on how to feed mealworms to your crested gecko properly.
- crested geckos for sale can eat mealworms as an occasional treat once or twice a month.
- Mealworms are high in protein but also high in fat and have a hard exoskeleton that can cause digestive issues if fed too often or too large.
- You should only feed mealworms that are small enough for your crested gecko to swallow easily (not bigger than its head).
- You should gut-load and dust the mealworms with calcium powder before feeding them to your crested gecko.
- You should offer the mealworms in a shallow dish or tweezers and remove any uneaten ones after 15 minutes.
- You should balance the diet of your crested gecko with other insects, such as crickets, roaches, or waxworms, and fruits, such as bananas, mangoes, or papayas.
What are Mealworms?
Mealworms are not actually worms, but the larval stage of the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor), a species of darkling beetle. They are called mealworms because they feed on grains and other stored food products, making them common pests in farms and households. They are native to Europe but have spread worldwide due to human activity.
Mealworms have a yellowish-brown color with dark stripes along their body. They have a segmented body with six legs near the head and two small antennae. They can grow up to 2.5 cm (1 inch) in length and 0.3 cm (0.1 inch) in width. They molt several times before pupating into a white cocoon and then emerging as an adult beetle.
Mealworms are also bred as feeder insects for various animals, such as reptiles, birds, fish, and even humans. They are rich in protein and fat and can be fed live or dried. Some people also use them as fishing bait or as ingredients for insect-based food products.
Nutritional Value of Mealworms for Crested Geckos
Mealworms provide several nutrients that are beneficial for crested geckos for sale, such as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Here is a table that shows the nutritional value of mealworms per 100 grams of dry weight:
|Vitamin A||10 IU|
|Vitamin B1||0.15 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.68 mg|
|Vitamin B3||3.6 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B12||0.07 mcg|
Protein is essential for muscle, skin, and bone repair and growth. Fat is a source of energy and helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Calcium and phosphorus are important for bone health and metabolism. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12 are involved in various bodily functions such as vision, nerve function, digestion, blood formation, and immunity. Iron is needed for oxygen transport and red blood cell production.
However, mealworms also have some drawbacks that make them less than ideal for crested geckos for sale. One of them is their low calcium to phosphorus ratio (Ca:P). Calcium to phosphorus ratio is the proportion of calcium to phosphorus in a food item or a diet. Ideally, it should be around 2:1 for crested geckos for sale, meaning that there should be twice as much calcium as phosphorus. This is because calcium and phosphorus compete for absorption in the body, and too much phosphorus can interfere with calcium uptake and cause calcium deficiency or metabolic bone disease (MBD).
Mealworms have a Ca:P ratio of 0.13:1, which is very low and unfavorable forcrested geckos for sale. This means that they have more than four times as much phosphorus as calcium, which can lead to calcium depletion and bone problems if fed too often or exclusively. For comparison, crickets have a Ca:P ratio of 0.9:1, roaches have a Ca:P ratio of 0.8:1, and waxworms have a Ca:P ratio of 0.2:1.
Another drawback of mealworms is their hard exoskeleton, which is made of chitin, a tough and indigestible substance. The exoskeleton can be difficult to digest and pass through the digestive system of crested geckos for sale, especially if they are fed too many or too large mealworms. This can cause constipation, impaction, or internal damage to the intestines or other organs.
Therefore, mealworms should not be considered as a staple food for crested geckos for sale, but only as an occasional treat that should be given with some precautions.
Feeding Instructions for Crested Geckos
If you want to feed mealworms to your crested gecko, you should follow some general tips and guidelines to ensure their safety and health. Here are some of them:
- Choose healthy mealworms from a reputable source and check them for signs of illness or parasites. Avoid buying mealworms from pet stores that keep them in poor conditions or mix them with other insects. You can also breed your own mealworms at home if you want to have more control over their quality and quantity.
- Gut-load the mealworms with nutritious food before feeding them to your crested gecko. Gut-loading is the process of feeding the insects with high-quality food that will enhance their nutritional value and benefit your crested gecko. You can use commercial gut-load products or make your own by using fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, or cereals. Gut-load the mealworms for at least 24 hours before offering them to your crested gecko.
- Dust the mealworms with calcium powder to increase their calcium content and balance their Ca:P ratio. Calcium powder is a supplement that provides extra calcium for your crested gecko and prevents calcium deficiency or MBD. You can use plain calcium powder or calcium powder with vitamin D3, which helps with calcium absorption. Dust the mealworms lightly by shaking them in a plastic bag or a container with some calcium powder before feeding them to your crested gecko.
- Offer the mealworms in a shallow dish or tweezers and remove any uneaten ones after 15 minutes. You can place the mealworms in a shallow dish that has smooth sides to prevent them from escaping. Alternatively, you can use tweezers or forceps to hand-feed the mealworms to your crested gecko if you want to bond with it or entice it to eat. Do not leave any uneaten mealworms in the terrarium, as they can hide under the substrate or bite your crested gecko.
How Many Mealworms to Feed Your Crested Gecko
The number of mealworms you should feed your crested geckos for sale depends on its size and age, as well as the frequency of feeding. As a general rule, you should feed your crested gecko only as many mealworms as it can eat in 15 minutes, and not more than 10% of its body weight. Here is a table that shows the approximate number of mealworms you should feed your crested gecko based on its size and age:
|Size and Age||Number of Mealworms|
|Hatchlings and juveniles (up to 10 cm or 4 inches)||1-2 small mealworms every other day|
|Adults (10-20 cm or 4-8 inches)||3-5 medium-sized mealworms once or twice a week|
|Pregnant females||4-6 large mealworms twice a week|
You should also adjust the number of mealworms according to the activity level, appetite, and health condition of your crested gecko. If your crested gecko is very active, hungry, or recovering from an illness or injury, you can feed it more mealworms. If your crested gecko is inactive, full, or overweight, you should feed it less mealworms.
You should also monitor the weight, appetite, and fecal output of yourcrested geckos for sale regularly and consult a vet if you notice any signs of illness or distress.
How to Choose the Right Size of Mealworms for Your Crested Gecko
The size of the mealworms you feed your crested gecko is also important for its health and safety. You should only feed mealworms that are small enough for your crested geckos for sale to swallow easily without choking or injuring itself. A good way to measure this is to compare the size of the mealworms with the head of your crested geckos for sale. You should avoid feeding mealworms that are bigger than the head of your crested gecko, as they can cause impaction, internal damage, or suffocation.
You should also prefer freshly molted mealworms that have a softer exoskeleton and are easier to digest. You can tell if a mealworm is freshly molted by its white or yellowish color and its lack of movement. You can also induce molting by placing the mealworms in the refrigerator for a few hours before feeding them to your crested gecko.
If you cannot find small or freshly molted mealworms, you can cut the mealworms into smaller pieces with a sharp knife or scissors before feeding them to your crested gecko. You can also use a blender to make a paste out of the mealworms and offer it to your crested gecko in a dish or a syringe.
Risks and Drawbacks of Feeding Mealworms to Crested Geckos
Feeding mealworms to your crested gecko can have some risks and drawbacks that you should be aware of and avoid. Some of them are:
- Obesity: Mealworms are high in fat and can cause weight gain and health issues if overfed. Obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, joint problems, and reduced lifespan for your crested gecko. You should limit the amount and frequency of feeding mealworms to your crested gecko and provide it with enough exercise and stimulation.
- Constipation: Mealworms have a hard exoskeleton that can be difficult to digest and pass through the digestive system of your crested gecko. Constipation can cause discomfort, pain, loss of appetite, dehydration, and infection for your crested gecko. You should provide your crested geckos for sale near me with enough water and humidity to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration. You should also massage its belly gently or give it a warm bath to help it defecate.
- Impaction: Mealworms can block the intestines or cause internal damage if swallowed whole or in large pieces. Impaction can cause severe pain, swelling, bleeding, infection, organ failure, and death for your crested gecko. You should only feed small or freshly molted mealworms to your crested gecko and cut them into smaller pieces if necessary. You should also seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect impaction in your crested gecko.
- Nutritional imbalance: Mealworms have a low calcium to phosphorus ratio and can cause calcium deficiency or metabolic bone disease if fed exclusively or too frequently. Calcium deficiency or MBD can cause weak bones, fractures, deformities, seizures, paralysis, and death for your crested geckos for sale. You should dust the mealworms with calcium powder before feeding them to your crested gecko and balance its diet with other insects and fruits that have a higher calcium to phosphorus ratio.
How to Balance the Diet of Your Crested Gecko
To ensure the health and well-being of your crested gecko, you should provide it with a balanced and varied diet that meets its nutritional needs. Mealworms should not be the main or only food for your crested gecko, but only an occasional treat that should be given with some precautions. Here are some tips on how to balance the diet of your crested geckos for sale near me:
- Feed your crested gecko a commercial crested gecko diet once or twice a week. A commercial crested geckos for sale near me diet is a specially formulated product that contains all the nutrients your crested gecko needs, such as protein, fat, calcium, vitamins, and minerals. You can choose from different brands, flavors, and forms, such as powder, paste, or pellets. You should follow the instructions on the package and mix the product with water before offering it to your crested gecko in a dish.
- Feed your crested gecko other insects besides mealworms every other day. Other insects that are suitable for crested geckos for sale are crickets, roaches, waxworms, silkworms, hornworms, butterworms, and phoenix worms. These insects have different nutritional values and benefits for your crested gecko, such as higher protein, lower fat, softer exoskeleton, or higher calcium to phosphorus ratio. You should also gut-load and dust these insects with calcium powder before feeding them to your crested geckos for sale near me.
- Feed your crested gecko fruits once or twice a week. Fruits are a natural and tasty food for your crested geckos for sale near me that provide it with water, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Some fruits that are safe and healthy for crested geckos for sale near me are bananas, mangoes, papayas, figs, berries, kiwis, peaches, apricots, and plums. You should avoid citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, or grapefruits, as they are too acidic and can cause stomach upset or mouth sores for your crested geckos for sale near me. You should also avoid grapes, cherries, or apples, as they have seeds or pits that can cause choking or impaction for your crested geckos for sale. You should cut the fruits into small pieces or mash them into a puree before offering them to your crested gecko in a dish.