Having a variety of food in its diet makes a leopard gecko healthy and happy. Apart from scheduling staple feeder insects, treats happen to be an excellent choice to spice things up.
So, here at Reptile Hero, we provide you with dependable information on different treat products that stood out; thanks to the feedback of our trusted gecko-owner friends.
If you are still looking to buy one, here are the three-leopard gecko treat brands you can check out:
- Josh’s Frogs Hornworms Habitat Cups (Best Hornworm Treat)
- Galleria mellonella Live Waxworms (Best Waxworm Treat)
- Critters Direct Live Superworms (Best Superworm Treat)
So, let us start with our review of the three treat brands for leopard geckos.
Josh’s Frogs Hornworms Habitat Cups – Best Hornworm Treat
One of the most-reviewed hornworm products you can find on Amazon is this product that comes with several features:
- Free care sheet. To help you take care of the larvae, you can read the detailed guide for FAQ and instructions.
- Refund for the dead on arrival. You can avail of a refund when the larvae are dead on arrival at temperatures between 20 to 85°F.
- Self-sustaining container. The container is well-thought-of, and all you may need to do is pick up a larva to feed your gecko.
- Two counts. A 12-count cup and a 25-count cup are options you can choose from to accommodate what your gecko can eat.
- A guide sheet. Even if you have no idea how to take care of the larvae, you can manage to keep them alive with the detailed care sheet that comes with the product.
- Excellent customer service. With immediate and proper communication to the seller, you can avail of a refund or replacement of the product when you meet the criteria.
- Highly recommended. If you have trouble feeding them to your gecko, you may seek assistance from the seller for ideas and solutions.
- More worms in the container. To give leeway for uncontrollable transit conditions, you may receive more larvae than what was declared upon opening the container.
- Small and healthy larvae. This may come at you negatively if you feed these larvae to larger lizards. However, having tiny larvae (from one-fourth to one inch) in this product is ideal for geckos.
- Expediting the shipment. If you want to guarantee that these larvae would be at your doorstep healthy, you may need to shell out additional money to expedite the shipping.
- Purchasing additional food. You may have to buy extra food for the hornworms as the given amount for free may not be adequate to last until you have fed all the insect treats.
Larval Form: Hornworms
Adult Form: Tobacco hawk moth (Manduca sexta)
Other Names: Tobacco hornworms
Tobacco hornworms are often interchanged with tomato hornworms (Manduca quinquemaculata), which are their close relatives. They are popular staple foods for many insect-loving reptiles like bearded dragons. For chameleons and leopard geckos, these bright-green larvae make an enticing treat that you can feed not more than one larva at a time per week.
What You Need To Know
Tobacco hornworms are excellent treats for your leopard gecko. Some strong points they possess are:
- Ease of care. You may not need to stress yourself over dying larvae at your disposal.
- High moisture content. You can give them as an occasional alternative source of water for a dehydrated gecko that refuses to drink on its bowls.
- Low-fat content. Their low-fat content frees you from the worry of fattening your gecko.
- No unpleasant smell. With the absence of foul odor, you do not have to hold your breath while feeding them to your gecko.
- No irritating noise. You and your gecko can also feel more at peace since they do not generate buzzing sounds like other feeder insects.
- Sizable worm. Due to their filling size, one larva may be enough to feed your adult gecko to satisfy its hunger.
- Slow movement. They move slowly yet visibly, so your gecko (of any age) would not have trouble catching it.
Some drawbacks you might encounter for this larvae are:
- Expensive. Because of their limited supply, they may be more expensive than other gecko treats.
- Fast growth. Often, their rapid growth can work against you, especially if you only have a baby or juvenile gecko to sparingly feed these worms as a treat.
- Hard to gut-load. They tend to shy away from healthy foods, which limits you from adding additional nutrients.
- Localized ban. In case you reside in the UK, you may have to forego this treat because importing the larvae is illegal in your country.
- Limited supply. While they are widely available in nature, these larvae can be difficult to get a hold of due to the low number of suppliers.
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Galleria mellonella Live Waxworms – Best Waxworm Treat
In case you are interested in including this in your gecko’s diet, this product is one of the trusted waxworm products on Amazon that has the following features:
- Hold for pickup. The seller can request the courier to hold your order for pickup to prevent losses while out for delivery. If the temperature in your area lies outside 55 to 85°F, you can claim the parcel at the nearest post office.
- Three counts. It comes in 250, 500, and 1000-worm count, so you certainly have an option to whatever you might need.
- Bang for the buck. This could be better than similar ones from a nearby reptile store, which can save you up to a third of the cost.
- Guaranteed packing. As an effort to keep the insects alive, you can anticipate receiving a well-contained batch of waxworm to feed your gecko.
- High-quality larvae. With great care and suitable packaging from the seller, the waxworms should arrive at your doorstep in good condition for your gecko to eat.
- Refund requests. If you can make a prompt and proper request, you may file for a refund after explaining the details.
- Replacement requests. You can also make a direct communication to request replacements of the product.
- Distinct scent. Once you get a hold of the container, you may catch a particular smell that could put you off.
- Varying worm sizes. With the number of larvae per order, you should note that there can be times when a portion of the waxworms is smaller or larger than expected.
Larval Form: Waxworms
Adult Form: Greater Wax Moth (Galleria mellonella)
Other Names: N/A
Like tobacco hornworms, waxworms are usually used as feeder worms for many insectivorous pets, such as anoles, birds, bearded dragons, chameleons, and turtles. You may be surprised to know that they are also extensively grown for human consumption due to their high fiber content. For geckos, they are strictly given as treats at most once a week.
What You Need To Know
Waxworms make an ideal gecko treat, and some of their strong points are:
- Apparent motions. With their fast wiggly movements, these larvae can immediately catch your gecko’s attention, triggering its hunting instincts.
- Easy to hunt. Especially for younger geckos or lazy adults, their inability to climb smooth surfaces (like glass) is advantageous for your pet.
- Hardy. Due to their survival capability at low temperatures, they can be stored in refrigerators to further extend their short lifespan.
- Less expensive. These larvae can put a greater value on your money because you can prolong their life with proper storage.
- Low maintenance. You may find them easy to care for because there are chances that you do not need to do anything out of the ordinary to keep them alive.
However, these larvae have drawbacks as well like:
- Low in nutrients. They have a pretty low calcium content, so you may need to dust them every time you give them to your gecko.
- Low in supply. Because these larvae are exports, these can swiftly go out of stock to accommodate demands from outside of the US.
- High-fat content. Unless you have an emaciated or sick gecko, you have to tone down in giving them as a treat as they increase the risk of obesity.
- Highly addictive. You may need to strictly feed them to your gecko at most once a week because they are known to make geckos stubborn and picky eaters.
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Critters Direct Gut Loaded Superworms – Best Superworm Treat
Another insect treat brand you cannot miss on Amazon is this superworm with the following features:
- Four sizes. Although the count size is 100 worms, it comes in four different size options ( <1″, 1–2″, >2″, and mixed) you can choose from.
- Gut-loaded. The larvae are fed with high-quality vegetable mix and supplements before shipping, so you can directly give some to your gecko as a treat.
- Suitable packaging. A cotton bag filled with a paper substrate is used in packing the larvae to maximize crawlspace and provide proper ventilation.
- Healthy larvae. Because they are contained in suitable packaging, you can expect to receive alive and healthy larvae.
- More than advertised. To make up for possible losses, you may receive more larvae than what you have ordered.
- Refund request. When you receive an undesirable order, you can kindly request a refund from the seller.
- Value for money. With more healthy larva in their correct size, proper packaging, and timely arrival, you can get the value for what you paid for.
- Well-packed. With proper packaging, the superworms should arrive at your doorstep in good condition.
- Foul odor. The larvae and the packaging can produce an unpleasant smell. So, your gecko may not eat them with the nasty scent.
- Proper storage. Since they come in a mesh bag, the larvae may need an appropriate container for long-term storage.
- Unlabelled. You could receive a package with no visible labels or markings to indicate that the parcel contains live animals.
Larval Form: Superworms
Adult Form: Darkling Beetle (Zophobas morio)
Other Names: King Worms, Morio Worms, or Zophobas
Superworms are a common feeder insect to amphibians, reptiles, and other invertebrates. While other feeders can live off with these alone in their diet, leopard geckos should only have them as occasional treats. To enrich the diet of your leopard gecko, you can give this larva at most once a week.
What You Need To Know
Superworms have their own strong points as gecko treats, which include:
- Can be gut-loaded. You can enhance their nutritional content by feeding these larvae healthy foods like quality grains and vegetables.
- High protein content. As a treat food, they are high in protein essential for growing geckos like babies and juveniles.
- Highly palatable. These larvae can help you jump-start feeding a picky eater by introducing one to two larvae along with the staple foods.
- Long lifespan. Even if you do not refrigerate them, these larvae can stay alive without eating for up to two weeks, making worldwide commercial availability.
Along with their benefits are drawbacks you have to consider when buying:
- Biting issues. When they are threatened, these larvae can inflict pain on you or your gecko because they tend to bite.
- High-fat content. Unless you have a female gecko during mating season, you should only provide these around once a week to avoid obesity in your gecko.
- High-phosphorus content. Their high phosphorus content may entail you to dust more calcium powder to better and lessen the natural imbalance of the two minerals in the larvae.
- Special storage. Because they do not hibernate, these larvae must be kept at warm temperatures between 75 to 82°F, which you may find challenging during cold seasons.
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While live insects are what you should buy, be mindful of risks that may not be entirely the seller’s fault. Especially if you order them online, you could encounter some problems that come along with live-shipping products.
Eight common risks of live-shipped products include:
- Delivery delays. When transportation takes longer than expected, you may receive the package in an undesirable state, such as the presence of maggot and mold growths.
- Hot weather. Because they are live products, some larvae you have bought could die or get sick during transit, especially during the hot seasons.
- Improper labeling. The absence or improper labeling of the package can lead to poor handling of the product while in transit. So, the larvae may get sick or die.
- Long transit time. Since the larvae are alive, they could grow larger than advertised because of the long transportation time.
- No available recipient. When no one can accept your parcel upon arrival, it can get stored inside your mailbox unattended. This situation can kill the insects you have ordered.
- Packing issues. Depending on the person who prepares your product, differences in the packaging could considerably degrade its quality.
- Poor handling. Poor or mishandling of your parcel can significantly reduce the worm count because such can kill the insects inside.
- Uncontrollable situations. Aside from hot weather, there are other factors that are out of the seller and courier’s hands. So, you may receive dead larvae upon opening the parcel.
Did we miss anything? Or do you have anything else to add? Feel free to hit us up by filling out this form! We always anticipate hearing from you about this brief list we have prepared.
To recap, Reptile Hero’s three best treats for leopard geckos are:
- Josh’s Frogs Hornworms Habitat Cups (Best Hornworm Treat)
- Galleria mellonella Live Waxworms (Best Waxworm Treat)
- Critters Direct Live Superworms (Best Superworm Treat)
As an owner, you should know, to begin with, that leopard geckos are insectivores. With this in mind, their food is strictly limited to insects; even their treats are insects! So, you cannot give treats like fruits and vegetables.
The most common leopard gecko food treats are:
- Black Soldier Fly Larvae
The following 7 factors play a key role when choosing a leopard gecko treat:
- Nutrition profile
- Price and cost
- State of the insect
An insect treat that is readily available to gecko owners is preferred over those that are hard to come by. Apparently, this is one of the first factors you must evaluate when making your decision.
Of course, you would not want to spend additional bucks for the shipping fee just to send the parcel to your address when you can get a similar insect treat in a nearby reptile shop. Likewise, you would undoubtedly prefer an insect treat available throughout the year than wait for seasonal ones that can get really pricey during peak times.
A one-fourth to one-inch insect treat that does not produce annoying buzzing noise and emit unpleasant smells could be better than the others. As a result, you should refrain from feeding your gecko with an insect treat bigger than the space between its eyes.
As for the noise and scent, these two could actually depend on your preference. You can also get noisy and have a distinct aroma if you do not mind at all. However, your gecko may not get too stressed when dealing with silent and odor-free insect treats.
An insect treat that can be gut-loaded is more ideal than one that cannot be. Because with gut-loading, you can increase the initial amounts of the different nutrients it contains. So, even if it is just an occasional treat, it can come as healthy food (not as junk food) as well.
Though you have to keep in mind that there are instances when an insect treat does not need gut-loading because of limitations. And you can still choose this over others, given that its nutrition profile is acceptable. However, when it cannot be gut-loaded (with a horrible nutrition profile), you may be better off not feeding it to your pet.
Getting an insect treat that does not require any special care and storage parameters is more convenient than those that tend to be challenging to maintain. Because as an owner, the last thing you would undoubtedly want is an additional task.
However, this is your personal preference. So, if you are one of those owners that can spare some more time in your daily routine, you can still choose those that may not be as easy to care for and contain.
An insect treat rich in nutrients may be the best insect treat that can be fed occasionally. However, you may find this factor the trickiest to evaluate since no insect treat is perfect. At some point, you may have to compromise one nutrient for the other.
To add, a lack of studies of the required nutrients of most insectivorous reptiles like leopard geckos can bring the difficulty of this factor to another level. Since finding a direct source is hard, we can extrapolate information from close relatives like other insectivorous reptiles .
|Crude Protein||30 – 50%|
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Given the table above, you can use this information as a guide to gauge your decision when picking an insect as a treat nutrition-wise. However, after all, you can take this information lightly if you do not plan to frequently feed your gecko with unhealthy insect treats!
An inexpensive insect treat is a wiser choice than unnecessarily expensive ones.
Again, this should be common sense, although it also comes down to your personal preference. You might just want to spend your allotted budget for leopard gecko treats, and that is OK. Or you can afford to shell out money to frequently buy small quantities of insect treats, and that is also OK.
However, even with your spare money, you might want to save it for more essential and unforeseen use in the future. And that could save you trouble.
An excellent leopard gecko treat is a live insect, and not frozen or freeze-dried ones. What makes live insects, whether you give them as staples or treats, stand out from frozen and freeze-dried counterparts are 1) their better nutrition profile 2) their capability to trigger hunting instincts.
You may even already have an idea about this as every gecko owner recommends live insects as a staple food.
So, despite experiencing a slight inconvenience when handling live insects, you are still advised to buy them so as not to feed treats (and staples) that have decreased nutrients as the frozen and freeze-dried ones .
The two key points that differentiate treat and staple insects are their nutrition profile and health impacts on the gecko.
A staple food for your leopard gecko is an insect that you can regularly feed your gecko with, such as dusted crickets, Dubia roaches, and mealworms. It constitutes a large portion of their meals with a varying frequency that supplies the required daily energy and nutrients in significant amounts .
On the other hand, insect treats are often unhealthy in two different ways: physically and mentally. When used as a replace for staple food, these insect treats can cause various health issues due to their unbalanced nutrient content such as:
- calcification of internal organs (high-calcium content)
- constipation (high-fiber content)
- diarrhea (high-moisture content)
- gout (high-protein content)
- metabolic bone disease (high-phosphorus content)
- obesity (high-fat content)
To add, another even more insidious side effect is addiction. Yes, you read it right. Geckos can become addicted to such treats by refusing staple food (picky and stubborn eaters). Waxworms are quite notorious for that. So, you have to feed them in moderation to avoid this from happening to your pet.
No feeder insect—both as a staple or as a treat—is perfect. So, you have to weigh your options according to your needs and preferences.
Giving proper husbandry to your leopard gecko does not only include a vivarium setup that meets its demands. It also entails you to feed it with a variety of staple and treat insects.
While hornworms, waxworms, and superworms make great treats for your leopard gecko, three other insects are also excellent occasional feeders you can give your pet:
- Black Soldier Fly Larvae
|Nutrient||Silkworms||Butterworms||Black Soldier Fly Larvae|
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Larval Form: Silkworms
Adult Form: Mulberry silk moth (Bombyx mori)
Other Names: N/A
Silkworms have become one of the most economically essential larvae due to their capability in producing silk. That is why they are typically cultured in bulk and large scale. However, they are also a good treat for leopard geckos and other reptiles, given two to three times a week.
Aside from their significant economic importance, silkworms have a lot of solid points as a treat like:
- Easy to swallow: while these larvae can grow up to two inches long, their somewhat soft bodies make up their size. So, they could be easier to swallow and safer to digest compared to other feeder insects.
- High levels of nutrients: especially when you have growing geckos or gravid females, you can opt to occasionally feed them with these larvae because of the high calcium and protein contents.
- Non-fattening. They also make excellent treats because of their low-fat content that even chunky geckos can eat.
With their advantages, there also comes with some drawbacks like:
- High maintenance: when you intend to culture, you should know that they have a short lifespan and may require special feeding, which could pose difficulty when stocking up.
- Pricey: with low stocks and limited supply, they can get rather expensive than other treats on the list that you can buy.
- Rare to find: although they are mass-cultured for silk production, feeder-grade larvae could be hard to come by. So, you may have difficulty getting one for your gecko.
- Slow-moving: their deliberate wiggling can hamper the stimulation of your gecko’s hunting instinct.
Larval Form: Butterworms
Adult Form: Chilean moth (Chilecomadia moorei)
Other Names: Tebo worms or Trevo worms
Butterworms are a typical staple food for insectivore pets, such as reptiles and larger arthropods. However, they are recommended to be used strictly as treats in leopard geckos. Although they are a good source of calcium, they should only be given at most once a week because of their exceptionally high-fat content.
If you consider having butterworms as leopard gecko treats, here are some vital points they have:
- Good source of protein: your growing gecko can take advantage of their high protein content as part of its varied diet.
- Irresistible food: their bright color and attractive scent help attract your stubborn eater to jump-start your feeding.
- OK-calcium content: you may get the full benefit from the larvae’s moderate calcium level if you generously dust them with calcium powder upon feeding.
- Low maintenance: despite having a short lifespan, they can be easily maintained inside the container they are sold in, with little to no feeding.
Just like other insect treats, they also have drawbacks such as:
- Challenging to get: because they are an export product, they can have a shortage of stocks. So, you may not easily buy them.
- High-fat content: unless you strictly need to fatten up your underweight gecko, you may better not feed them to your healthy or chunky gecko to refrain from further obesity.
- High-phosphorus content: to balance the lack of calcium, these larvae may need liberal dusting of calcium powder when feeding them to your gecko.
- Seasonal supply: aside from being an export product, these larvae may not be available year-round which can be bothersome.
- Short lifespan: you may encounter trouble stocking them up for more prolonged use because they tend to live relatively short in captivity.
- Skin-burn hazard: they can possibly secrete an acid-like substance. So, you need to handle them properly to avoid burning your gecko’s skin.
Larval Form: Black Soldier Fly Larvae
Adult Form: Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens)
Other Names: Phoenix worms
Initially known as Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL), phoenix worms are a relatively new entry as food treats you can feed your gecko two to three times a week. These larvae have only been commercially sold in the past five years. With varying sizes, they have become great reptile treats for all ages.
In case you need another worm to vary your gecko’s diet, BSFL can help you with their strong points, such as:
- Exceptionally high calcium content: although the values may vary, you can expect them to contain significantly higher calcium than phosphorus, which can reverse metabolic bone disease.
- Low-fat level: with a high calcium content, their low-fat content makes them a fully loaded insect treat that you can give even to your chunky gecko.
- No noise and smell: smelly and/or noisy critters often put us off, and luckily, they are neither of the two. So, you do not have to worry about those with these larvae.
- No need to gut-load. even without gut-loading, you can expect them to be full of nutrition. Actually, you are not recommended to feed them to avoid contaminating their container.
- Varying sizes: their length can be from an eighth of an inch to three-fourths of an inch long, which means that your gecko (whatever age it would be) can enjoy them as a treat.
- Very energetic: these larvae move around a lot so that they may look very active. So, they can easily catch your gecko’s attention in no time.
Their benefits can look enticing, but you have to remember that they also have some drawbacks like:
- Care and handling: you may initially get pressed with the different way you must handle them compared to other insect treats. So, you may need some time to get used to it.
- Containing and storage: their lifecycle can work for or against you. They are typically at the larval stage for about four to five weeks in a cool (not cold as a refrigerator) container. So, only buy what your gecko can eat in a short time.
- May get expensive: since you are advised to buy in small numbers if you only have one gecko, they can get costly in the long run when regularly purchased in small quantities (due to the delivery cost).
Seven factors must be considered when choosing an insect treat for leopard geckos: 1) availability, 2) characteristics, 3) gut-loading, 4) maintenance, 5) nutrition profile, 6) price and cost, and 7) state of the insect.
After careful consideration of the seven common factors, hornworms, waxworms, and superworms stand out to be excellent treats.