If you own a Leopard Gecko, you might be aware of how essential a nutritious diet is for them. Now, Leopard Geckos consume live insects and fresh vegetables. But, can Leopard Geckos eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae, and are they healthy enough?
Black Soldier Fly Larvae, also called Nutrigrubs or Calci Worms are good feeder insects for leopard geckos. The larvae are high in calcium and protein, are easily digestible, and have a good size for adult and juvenile leopard geckos to eat.
If you would like to know how many black soldier fly larvae leopard geckos should eat, how to store, where to buy these feeder insects, and more – read on!
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Can Leopard Geckos Eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae?
Black Soldier Fly larvae, also known as Nutrigrubs, Phoenix Worms, Soldier Grubs, and Calci Worms, are safe to consume for Leopard Geckos.
As per research based on the digestibility of Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Hermetia illucens) published on PLOS, it was found that BSF larvae are easily digestible for Leopard Geckos.
Moreover, Leopard Geckos can also digest and absorb most of the nutrients present in BSF larvae. They’re also rich in proteins and calcium as demonstrated in the table below.
Yet, one thing to note here is that there is not enough evidence to prove whether or not BSF larvae offer enough calcium to Leopard Geckos.
Benefits of Feeding Black Soldier Fly Larvae to Leopard Geckos
Several people prefer feeding Black Soldier Fly larvae to their leopard geckos due to the following benefits.
Proper Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio
Typically, most feeder insects have a high amount of phosphorus when compared to calcium. However, too much phosphorus content can reduce the absorption of calcium in Leopard Geckos. This reduction can cause calcium deficiency.
Calcium deficiency may cause fatigue, twitching toes, lack of appetite, and other problems in Leopard Geckos. In the worst-case scenario, it may lead to MBD or metabolic bone disease.
Therefore, it’s essential to look for food consisting of a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio.
One of the benefits of feeding BSF larvae to Leopard Geckos is that they have a 2.5:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio due to the presence of a calcium-rich exoskeleton.
This is uncommon in most feeder insects as, for example, BSF larvae contain 30 to 50 times more calcium than mealworms.
No Gut Loading or Dusting Required
Gut loading stands for feeding nutritious diets to live insects that you’re going to feed your Leopard Geckos. However, gut loading might not be feasible for all reptile owners.
Therefore, BSF larvae are a great and quick option to feed your Leopard Geckos as they don’t require gut loading. Similarly, you don’t need to dust BSF larvae as their exoskeletons are already quite rich in calcium.
Appetizing In Nature
Your Leopard Gecko may or may not be a picky eater. However, BSF larvae are a suitable option if your pet is in the former category!
BSF larvae are available in varying sizes, ranging from 1/8th to 3/4th. So, you can feed them to your Leopard Gecko as treats in whichever size they prefer or as per their age.
Moreover, Nutrigrubs are often quite energetic and love to move around. Hence, they will catch your pet’s attention, making them look more appetizing.
Also, BSF larvae are safe for Leopard Geckos as they don’t bite or wound.
Low Fat Content
Finally, BSF larvae are an excellent option for treats due to their low-fat content (around 10%) whereas the same for crickets and mealworms is around 13.8% and 32.8% respectively.
Hence, you can feed them to your Leopard Geckos without worrying about obesity issues.
Limitations of Feeding Black Soldier Fly Larvae to Leopard Geckos
A few drawbacks to feeding BSF larvae to Leopard Geckos include the following.
Might Not Provide Adequate Calcium
Although BSF larvae contain high amounts of calcium, it may not be enough for your gecko.
According to a study, the absorption of calcium from BSF larvae is low in Leopard Geckos. This might be because the BSF larvae exoskeleton is hard to disrupt simply by chewing or needling. So, the Leopard Geckos cannot obtain enough calcium nutrients from it.
In all, you shouldn’t rely on BSF larvae entirely for the calcium requirements of your Leopard Gecko.
Short Life Cycle
The BSF larvae have a short life cycle, which essentially reduces their shelf life too. For instance, small BSF larvae have a shelf life of one to two weeks whereas the same for BSF larvae is five to seven days only.
So, you need to feed BSF larvae quickly to Leopard Geckos as you cannot store them for long.
How Many Black Soldier Fly Larvae Can Leopard Geckos Eat?
The number of Black Soldier Fly larvae you should feed your Leopard Gecko is dependent on their age. Typically, you should feed 2 properly sized insects for every 1 inch of your Leopard Gecko’s length.
You may refer to the chart below for a proper idea of how many BSF larvae to feed your Leopard Gecko.
|Age||Number of BSF Larvae|
|Young Leopard Geckos (0 to 4 months)||4 to 10 BSF larvae (¼ inches) – per day|
|Juvenile Leopard Geckos (4 to 10 months)||5 to 10 BSF larvae (½ inches) – 5 to 6 days a week|
|Mature Leopard Geckos (10 and more months)||5 to 15 BSF larvae (¾ inches) – 2 to 3 times a week|
Note that along with BSF larvae, you should also feed gut-loaded crickets or other worms (like mealworms) to your Leo.
We recommend having a look at our article on the best worms for leopard geckos here!
How to Store and Feed Black Soldier Fly Larvae to Leopard Geckos?
If you’re purchasing Black Soldier Fly larvae, you need to store them in the following ways:
- BSL larvae are available in small plastic cups, buried in the substrate.
- Simply keep the plastic cup at room temperature.
- If you want to extend their life for more than two weeks, store them in a cooler region. (around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Don’t keep BSL larvae in the refrigerator as the low temperature would kill them. However, you can opt for a wine or beer cooler.
Note: BSL larvae stay alive above 15 degrees Celsius and below that, they will begin to hibernate. However, below 0 degrees Celsius, BSL larvae may die. It’s not advisable to feed dead BSL larvae daily to Leos as they’re not nutrient-rich.
Now, what to do when you want to feed BSL larvae to Leopard Geckos?
- Before feeding BSL larvae to your Leopard Gecko, bring them out to a low-light area to awaken them.
- Don’t expose them to too much heat as they may die of heat shock.
- Take the larvae out of the substrate and feed them to your Leopard Gecko.
- There is no need to dust or gut load BSL larvae.
If you notice that your Leopard Gecko is feeding on BSL larvae too fast and they’re coming out undigested, you may poke the larvae with a sterilized needle before feeding them.
Where to Buy Black Soldier Fly Larvae for Leopard Geckos?
You can purchase live Black Soldier Fly larvae online as well as in pet stores. Some of the recommended websites for buying BSL larvae include:
Most of these websites have positive reviews stating that the BSL larvae came fresh and alive. Still, a few users have complained about receiving less quantity or dead BSL larvae.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae or Nutrigrub is an excellent option for your Leo. They’re richer in calcium as compared to other worms, don’t require gut-loading or dusting, and are easy to feed.
However, it is best to feed Nutrigrubs with other worms or insects to your Leo for a proper nutrient-rich meal.