Can Leopard Geckos Eat Nightcrawlers?

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As responsible pet owners, we want to ensure that our pets never go hungry. Here are a few things to consider when trying to feed Nightcrawlers to Leopard Geckos.

As Pets, Can Leopard Geckos Eat Nightcrawlers?

Yes, Leopard Geckos can eat Nighcrawlers as it is safe for them to do so. However, although Leopard Geckos will not be hurt by eating nightcrawlers, they will refuse to eat them. Nightcrawlers (Lumbricus terrestris, more commonly known as earthworms) secrete a sticky fluid which helps them get around and protect their eggs. They also secrete a mucus that helps them to remain moist and avoid dehydration. Leopard Geckos are irritated by these fluids and will refuse to eat these nightcrawlers because they produce even more of the fluids (which aid in escape) when under stress.

Do Leopard Geckos Eat Nightcrawlers in the wild?

Naturally, Leopard Geckos do not eat Nightcrawlers primarily because the worms are normally too long and can be difficult to digest if they try to eat them whole. Leopard Geckos prefer other insects and crawlies such as beetles, spiders, snails, cockroaches, silkworms, crickets, grasshoppers, locusts, and flies.

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Nutritional Value of Nightcrawlers for Leopard Geckos

Nightcrawlers are not dense in nutrients, and their nutritional breakdown is as follows:

Moisture/Water83 %
Fat1.6%
Protein10%
Magnesium136 mg per kilogram
Calcium444 mg per kilogram
Phosphorus1590 mg per kilogram

Benefits of Eating Nightcrawlers for Leopard Geckos

Aside from filling their stomachs when absolutely famished, there are no significant benefits to Leopard Geckos for eating Nightcrawlers. There are more nutritionally beneficial food sources for Leopard Geckos than Nightcrawlers which pose less of a feeding hazard and risk.

Risks to Leopard Geckos when eating Nightcrawlers

In the wild, these worms can pick up toxins such as pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides, and other harmful chemicals present in the soil. On top of that, they may also pick up parasites, bacteria, mold, and other harmful substances. While one or two bites of toxin-contaminated earthworms will not immediately kill the Leopard Gecko, repeated and regular consumption overtime may lead to serious complications or in extreme cases, even death.

Even when clean, the sheer length of the nightcrawlers bodies will overwhelm the Leopard Geckos’ digestive tracts, causing complications such as blockage or rupture. The typical Leopard Gecko meal ranges in size from a quarter of an inch for hatchlings, up to almost 3 inches long for fully-grown adults. In stark contrast, the average size of these Nightcrawlers range from 10 to 15 inches, which is more than three times the size of an adult Leopard Gecko.

Alternative Options to Nightcrawlers that Leopard Geckos Can Eat

As responsible pet owners, we need to provide the best nutrition to our pets. We also need to lower any health risk posed to our pets. Here are a few options when thinking of what Leopard Geckos can eat:

Dubia Roaches

These fat and protein-rich bugs make an excellent food source for Leopard Geckos. Full of carbohydrates, minerals, and water, Dubia Roaches make nutritious and healthy snacks for your Leopard Gecko. Also, since the Dubia Roaches are not excellent climbers, cannot fly, make no noise, and are easily chewed and digested, these make it all the more satisfying for the Leopard Geckos (and their humans as well).

Other Types of Worms

There are other types of worms that are more nutritious and delicious than Nightcrawlers. Among the Leopard Geckos’ favorites are the Waxworm (which have the highest fat content among all), Superworms (favored by owners for their easy-to-breed nature), Silkworms (which are healthy due to moderate fat content and their mineral-rich nature), and Mealworms (which are easy to find, and relatively the most affordable).

In Summary : Leopard Geckos Can, but Don’t Eat Nightcrawlers

Leopard Geckos physically can bite, chew, and digest Nightcrawlers, but they prefer not to because of the irritating fluids secreted by the worms, most especially when stressed out. However, in desperate cases when no other food sources are available, it is best to provide the Leopard Geckos with store-bought, uncontaminated nightcrawlers for them to eat. Also, it would favor the Leopard Geckos for human assistance in breaking down the worms into smaller, bite-sized morsels.

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