Although bloodworms are widely available at local pet stores, are they the best choice for your Leo? Could there be a better available worm option?
Leopard Geckos can eat bloodworms. Despite this, superior worm options with better nutritional content are available and should be used. Wild or dead bloodworms can cause illness and potentially be fatal for your gecko.
Can Leopard Geckos eat bloodworms?
Leopard Geckos are insectivores indicating that they are carnivorous and only feed on insects, worms, and other invertebrates. Although bloodworms can be a food source for your Leopard Gecko, many Leo’s will avoid or ignore the worms when presented to them.
There are more nutritional and cost-effective worm options than the bloodworm. There is also substantial risk of harming your Leopard Gecko’s health.
What is a bloodworm?
If you consider feeding your Leo a bloodworm, it would be advisable to know more about them.
Genus Glycera, more commonly named bloodworms, is a group of bristle worms found in shallow marine or freshwater pools and ponds. Identified by their red color, bloodworms are rich in iron-porphyrin protein in their tissue and blood.
These worms were awarded the ‘bloodworm’ label because their translucent skin revealed their internal red iron-rich bodily fluids.
These worms are regularly found and farmed on the Northeast coast of America and grow up to 35 centimeters (14 inches) in length.
Where to source bloodworms?
Do not be tempted to source your own bloodworms, as this can be very dangerous for your Leo. Wild bloodworms can carry disease and be toxic to your Leo. Bloodworms can survive in polluted waters with low oxygen waters.
Source your bloodworms from a trusted, reputable reptile breeder or pet store. When purchasing bloodworms, make sure they have been bred in a clean, disease-free environment. Alternatively, if you have the know-how to breed your own bloodworms, this will help ensure a clean and controlled environment.
You can easily find bloodworms in most pet stores. If you are a fish enthusiast, you will know that bloodworms are a prevalent food source for several aquatic creatures.
How are bloodworms sold?
Bloodworms can be sold live, frozen, or freeze-dried. Never feed your Leo dead worms of any type as they could carry bacteria, fungi, or diseases that can harm your Leopard Gecko. Identifying how the worm died would also be near impossible.
Unless sourced responsibly, live bloodworms can carry disease risks and can only be stored for two to three days. However, live worms are usually packed with more nutrients and vitamins than other worms.
Bloodworms are mostly sold frozen due to their popularity. Their freezer life is approximately six months and not only are they convenient and easily accessible, but freezing the worms helps reduce any risk of disease.
The cheapest option for buying bloodworms is to buy them freeze-dried. However, this should be your last option as they are less healthy or nutrient-dense than the live or frozen types. If you are determined to buy freeze-dried bloodworms for your Leo, ensure to get the best quality available, as they are available in numerous quality levels.
Are bloodworms a nutritional food source for your leopard gecko?
Leopard Geckos depend on protein and fat for energy and require vitamins and fiber in their diets to stay healthy. Fat requirements are even higher for female Leopard Geckos who rely on this fat for their eggs.
Bloodworms do not offer anything of value to your Leo. Although bloodworms provide a moderate to low amount of protein, they offer a meager amount of fat or nutritional benefits compared to other readily available worms.
Comparing the bloodworm to other worms such as the mealworm, super worm, waxworm, or butterworm, their protein content is a lot lower, excluding the silkworm or hornworm.
Your Leopard Gecko will prefer a waxworm, butterworm, or hormworm as a treat to a bloodworm.
Although the bloodworm is not the worst worm option for your Leo, an occasional bloodworm should not harm your Leo. Nevertheless, there are much better insect and worm options.
More suitable worm options for your Leo
Many worms are available online and at most reptile-specific pet stores. These worms range in size, taste, nutritional benefits, and ability to bite.
Consider the age and size of your Leopard Gecko when purchasing worms. Younger or smaller-sized Leo’s should eat smaller-sized worms and be offered a lesser quantity of worms at a time.
Let’s review a few alternative worm options to the bloodworm.
Mealworms & Superworms
Mealworms are a popular worm choice for Leopard Geckos but should not be fed exclusively due to their low calcium content. Dusting the worms with a calcium supplement before feeding will help, but these worms should form part of a varied insect diet. Although better suited to adult Leo’s, be cautioned that these worms can bite. See how many mealworms you should feed.
Superworms have a similar protein content to mealworms. The super worm is not an ideal worm staple due to its high-fat content.
Silkworms are one of the best options for leopard geckos but are also very expensive. These worms are not only high in protein and calcium but also have a lower fat content. It is also advantageous that Leopard Geckos can eat both the silkworms and the silk moths.
There is no need to gut-load these worms as their calcium and phosphorus content are good. Due to their smaller size, they are suitable for all Leo ages. A good stable insect option.
Easily digestible, this is a healthier treat option for your Leo due to its lower fat content. The large nature of this worm makes it more of an adult gecko treat. Select smaller worms and store them in the fridge to slow their growth rate.
Bloodworms are not a recommended food source for Leopard Geckos due to their low nutritional value and potential to transfer disease. Although easily accessible, tastier, and healthier, insect options are available. Providing a variety of gut-loaded insects and worms is still considered the best way to keep Leo healthy.