Superworms and mealworms are two of the most popular worms for leopard geckos. But which one is better? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Generally, superworms are a better option than mealworms for leopard geckos. They are more nutritious and have a lower risk of impaction. However, they aren’t as readily available and don’t last as long as mealworms.
Superworms vs mealworms for leopard geckos
There are several reasons why superworms are better for leopard geckos than mealworms. First of all, their nutrient profile is more impressive. While they have less protein content than mealworms, they have more fat. This creates a perfect protein-fat balance for leopard geckos and other reptiles.
Another thing that superworms have going for them is their calcium to phosphorus ratio. At 1:6.9, it is way better than that of mealworms – 1:11.8. However, none of them is even near what experts recommend – 2:1.
You will still have to ensure your leopard gecko gets its calcium supplements no matter which worm you go for. You’ll just need less for superworms.
Beyond their nutritional composition, superworms are also lower in chitin – the fiber that makes insects’ exoskeletons rigid. While this fiber is helpful to insects, it makes it harder for leopard geckos and other reptiles to digest them, particularly because they have short digestive tracts.
So when your leopard gecko tries to digest food with high chitin, it will lead to massive bacterial growth and a loss of nutrients. It can also block your leopard gecko’s bowels, causing what is known as bowel impaction.
When left untreated, impaction can collapse your gecko’s digestive system, cause kidney failure, and even kill them. That’s why it’s important to avoid impaction at all costs.
What do mealworms have to offer your leopard gecko?
While superworms are undeniably better than mealworms, the latter still has a lot to offer your leopard gecko. That’s why they are one of the most popular feeder insects, second only to crickets.
For one, they are readily available and cheap – you can easily find them at pet stores and other feeder insect suppliers. Also, they are easier to handle and last longer than superworms. As long as you properly store them, they can last several weeks. Mealworms can also go well with crickets.
Does your leopard gecko prefer superworms or mealworms?
Although superworms are better, some leopard geckos prefer mealworms to them.
Ultimately, you can’t force-feed your pet anything and will have to consider their preferences when choosing a suitable diet. Some factors that can help you determine which type of worm your pet would like are their level of activity and training needs.
For instance, if your leopard gecko is an active adult that requires a lot of engagement and entertainment, superworms are a better option.
This is because they like moving and digging, even under bedding. This can help your leopard gecko harness their skills in stalking, chasing, and catching prey. You would need a lot of mealworms to make up the value of a superworm for an adult leopard gecko.
Since mealworms aren’t as active, they are a better option for elderly and juvenile leopard geckos. Also, since they are easier to handle, they are great for training your leopard gecko.
You can also try feeding your leopard gecko mealworm pupa. Although, regular mealworms are probably the best.
Can your leopard gecko survive on superworms alone?
While superworms are good for your leopard gecko, they can’t be the only thing your pet eats. Since they are rich in fat, they can make your gecko obese when overeaten.
Your pet’s diet should also have some mealworms and crickets to balance this out. Ultimately, it’s up to you to design a suitable diet for your gecko’s nutrition needs.
On the days you feed mealworms to your leopard gecko, ensure that you dust them with calcium powder and vitamin D3.
This will help increase the meal’s calcium to phosphorus ratio and ensure your gecko gets enough vitamin D, especially if they don’t get a lot of sunlight. And on the days you serve superworms, ensure you only feed adult worms to adult geckos.
Baby leopard geckos should only get worms measuring ⅜ inches while ¼ inches is great for juveniles. Also, keep the number of superworms you feed your leopard gecko to two or three at a go.
Another thing to keep in mind is that for many leopard geckos, eating superworms once or twice a week is enough.
How do you store mealworms as opposed to superworms?
Storing superworms is easier than storing mealworms – the former is low maintenance.
You must store them in a well-ventilated container with wheat bran and regularly feed them a carrot. This is because they will remain in their pupae state at room temperature as long as they are with other worms. In fact, low temperatures can kill superworms.
On the other hand, mealworms need to be kept at low temperatures to keep them from turning into darkling beetles. This means you’ll only be able to leave them at room temperature for the first couple of days. During this time, you should feed them a carrot.
Afterward, you’ll need to refrigerate them. You’ll have to keep them in a well-ventilated container with wheat bran and maintain their temperature at 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, you will only need to feed them a carrot once a week if you intend to keep them for more than three weeks.
You should remember one thing, though – superworms and mealworms shouldn’t be stored together. The former can eat the latter and even their eggs.
No matter how you look at it, superworms are better for your leopard gecko than mealworms.
They are more balanced in nutrients, have less fiber, and are easier to store. But you can’t depend on them for all your gecko’s dietary needs – they can contribute to obesity, are more expensive, are harder to source, and don’t last long.
So for best results, don’t cut out mealworms altogether. Just give your gecko both worms and crickets – this is the best option!
Giant Mealworms vs Superworms. (2017, September 28). Josh’s Frogs. Retrieved March 19, 2022, from https://www.joshsfrogs.com/catalog/blog/2017/09/giant-mealworms-vs-superworms/
Superworms vs Mealworms – What’s the Difference? – The Critter Depot. (2021, November 3). The Critter Depot. Retrieved March 19, 2022, from https://www.thecritterdepot.com/blogs/news/superworms-vs-mealworms-whats-the-difference
Samurovic, K. (2020, September 15). Leopard Gecko Impaction: Causes And Treatment. Terrarium Quest. Retrieved March 19, 2022, from https://www.terrariumquest.com/leopard-gecko/impaction/