Are Crickets or Mealworms Better for Leopard Geckos?

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Mealworms and crickets are the most popular feeder insects for leopard geckos. However, it can be difficult to figure out which one is best for your pet. Fortunately, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. 

So which insect is better? Well, we’ll have to go with crickets.

Crickets are more nutritious than mealworms for leopard geckos. They’re also easy for your leopard gecko to digest. The fact that they are active also helps – it keeps your gecko engaged as it feeds. However, it is best to feed your Leo a balanced diet including both of these insects.

Mealworms vs crickets for leopard geckos

What makes crickets more nutritious for leopard geckos is that they are high in protein but low in fat.

Based on their dry weight, they are 63% protein, significantly higher than the 46% mealworms contain.

And when it comes to fat, only 15% of their dry weight can be attributed to it. This is much lower than the 37% that mealworms boast of. 

Crickets also have a higher calcium content and lower phosphorus than mealworms. This provides your leopard gecko with better calcium to phosphorus ratio.

Another thing that these insects have going for them is the fact that they are rich in vitamins and amino acids like vitamin B12, methionine, and lysine. 

Interestingly, mealworms aren’t bad in this regard either. They also contain amino acids like cysteine and methionine that help leopard geckos heal wounds, treat liver disorders, and be healthier.

Beyond that, their slow pace makes them a great food option for geckos who are sick or elderly – they don’t require much energy from our gecko. But on the flip side, this can make them a boring food option for active adult geckos.

Moreover, mealworms have a harder exoskeleton and higher fiber content than crickets. This makes them harder to digest and more likely to cause bowel impaction in leopard geckos. 

Related: Find out how many crickets to feed your leopard gecko

Is it easier to keep crickets or mealworms?

If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep large amounts of insects for your leopard gecko for long periods of time, you need to know what’s in store for you when it comes to crickets and mealworms. 

For one, you should know that crickets are noisy and smell bad. And this is made worse by the fact that they can easily escape because of their speed, forcing you to hunt down where the strange smell and noises are coming from.

Beyond that, while sourcing crickets in bulk is easy, keeping them alive is difficult, especially when compared to keeping mealworms alive.

To effectively do so, you’ll have to store your crickets in a large plastic container with plastic holes at the top to ensure good ventilation.

Before you put the insects inside it, you’ll need to place egg crates, old paper towels, or toilet paper rolls inside it. These will provide more space for your crickets to space out so that they don’t suffocate. 

This isn’t enough, though – keeping crickets will also require you to keep their habitat between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. And when dealing with small crickets, you will have to increase the temperature to between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

This temperature range is necessary for crickets of at most ½ inch to grow. So you have to ensure you at least have access to an incandescent bulb before embarking on this journey.

What’s more? You have to feed crickets regularly and clean their containers. You can place a whole carrot in the container or give them bug grub.

As for the cleaning, doing it once a week and any time you get more cricket is more than enough. This will effectively eliminate all the dead crickets, fecal matter, and waste, preventing them from contaminating the insects’ food.

This is particularly important because these insects die so quickly.

Ultimately, the whole cricket-keeping process is tiring and time-consuming. It’s particularly frustrating when you consider that mealworms need to be stored in a refrigerator in a ventilated container with wheat bran.

They are quiet and don’t smell. They also don’t need to be fed regularly. You just have to feed them a carrot in the first couple of days after you get them before placing them in the refrigerator. Afterward, you only have to feed them once a week after three weeks of cooling. 

Will either bite leopard geckos?

While mealworms can nip your leopard gecko with their jaws, they can’t cause a serious bite. And after a while, most leopard geckos learn how to eat them in a way that prevents this altogether. 

You can crush the mealworms’ heads before feeding them to your gecko if you’re worried about it, although it’s unnecessary. Of greater importance is that you feed your gecko mealworms of the appropriate size.

On the other hand, uneaten crickets not only annoy leopard geckos but can also bite them. This can cause injuries and infections. That’s why it’s advisable to never leave your leopard gecko with them – always feed them the amount they can eat and remove leftovers immediately. 

Can crickets harbor disease?

Crickets can transmit parasites like Physaloptera spp, Cryptosporidium spp, Tapeworm cysticercoids, and Isospora spp to your leopard gecko.

These can cause disease and negatively affect your leopard gecko’s wellbeing. The Cryptosporidium spp parasite can lead to Cryptosporidiosis – a fatal disease with no cure.

It’s worth noting, however, that crickets usually get such parasites from interacting with your gecko’s tank. For instance, they could get a parasite from ingesting your gecko’s droppings. So the shorter the time they spend in your gecko’s habitat, the better. 

Final thoughts 

When it comes down to it, crickets are a better food option for your leopard gecko than mealworms. They will provide it with all the primary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs without putting it at risk for obesity.

Also, they will create a stimulating feeding experience that any active leopard gecko will not soon forget. As long as you don’t keep them for long and don’t leave them in your gecko’s vivarium, everything should be fine!


Wiley Online


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