There is a lot of controversy around whether Superworms can hurt Leopard Geckos. While some say they are safe, others are not so sure. But there is more to consider than just the physical risk of Superworms for your Leopard Geckos.
Although it is possible for Superworms to physically hurt Leopard Geckos, this is not a huge risk. Superworms are more harmful when they are used as a staple diet for Leopard Geckos due to their nutritional values.
Mature Leopard Geckos can eat Superworms, but they should only be fed as an occasional treat. Find out what impact Superworms have on Leopard Geckos and how to properly feed them below.
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How Can Superworms Hurt Leopard Geckos?
So, let’s look at how Superworms can hurt Leopard Geckos before we explain how to feed them safely to your Leo.
Superworms are rather large and feisty worms. They have more shell, or chitin, than standard mealworms and are about five times bigger.
They also have super strong mandibles which they will use to fight back and defend themselves. This is true not only during the attack of a Leopard Gecko. Superworms are also known to bite during handling.
As you can see in the video below, the natural instinct of a Leopard Gecko is typically to attack the front end of the Superworm first.
If by chance they do not neutralize the threat of the Superworm’s mandible on the first chomp, it is possible for your gecko to be bitten on the inside of its mouth. However, your gecko should quickly solve this problem with a few more fatal chomps.
Although it may hurt a little when if your Leopard Gecko gets bitten by a Superworm, it is not going to cause extensive damage.
Still, you should watch out for signs of infection at the site of the Superworm bite. Despite being unlikely, there have been reported cases of Superworm bites getting infected and causing further damage.
Also, a study has shown that superworms aren’t really able to survive inside a leos stomach and eat them from the inside. There are cases where this has happened but that may have been caused by other factors.
Note: We also recommend reading our article on whether leopard geckos should eat superworm beetles here!
As long as your Leopard Gecko is in the right environment, Superworms should not be a cause of impaction.
Feeding too many superworms and having your Leopard Gecko in an environment that is not ideal for digestion may result in causing impaction.
To avoid the risk of impaction, always make sure that your Leopard Gecko has enough heat to digest the Superworms.
That said, you should not feed your Leopard Gecko Superworms before you turn their heat source off. Without lights, your Leopard Gecko will not receive enough heat to digest the Superworms properly.
Also, do not feed more Superworms than the recommended amount of about three per week.
If Fed Too Often They Can Cause Disease
It is also important to note that Superworms are not the healthiest insect to feed your Leopard Gecko. Superworms do not hold very much nutritional value.
They have a high-fat content which, when fed excessively, can lead to fatty liver disease and weight gain. For a better idea of the nutritional specifications of a Superworm, take a look at the table below.
|Nutritional Specification||Amount Value|
|Calcium per kg||177 mg|
|Phosphorous per kg||2370 mg|
While Superworms are not extremely nutritional, they can be gut-loaded (see below) before feeding them to your Leopard Gecko. Gut-loading Superworms will make them a healthier snack for your Leopard Gecko friend.
Despite gut-loading and dusting in nutrients, Superworms should not be used for the main part of your Leopard Geckos diet. They are not nutritional enough and only feeding them may result in nutritional deficiencies as well as obesity.
Overfeeding your Leopard Gecko can also result in it regurgitating its food and becoming lethargic.
This can be prevented by limiting the amount of food you feed your Leopard Gecko and opting for healthier food options rather than treat-type insects such as Superworms.
How Should Superworms Be Fed to Leopard Geckos to Minimize Any Risks?
Most Leopard Geckos tend to be attracted to food that moves. Feeding your Leopard Gecko live Superworms is the general method, but it is not the only solution.
Note: We explain more on how Superworms should be fed to Leopard geckos here!
Use Tweezers or Tongs
Using tweezers or tongs to handle the Superwrom will also eliminate the risk of you getting bitten by it.
Additionally, if your Leopard Gecko is used to being handfed, you can offer the Superworm to it while holding the Superworm by its head with the tongs.
It will also not be able to reach your Leopard Gecko to bite it if you are holding it by the head with tongs.
Do Not Feed Superworms Often
Due to their nutritional values, or lack thereof, Superworms should only be fed to your Leopard Geckos occasionally or as a treat.
A maximum of two to three Superworms at a time is recommended. You should also limit your feeding of Superworms to your Leopard Gecko to once per week, every one to two weeks.
Pinch The Superworm’s Head
You can pinch the head of the Superworm you intend to feed to your Leopard Gecko to neutralize it slightly.
Pinching the head of the Superworm will also reduce the risk of it fighting back as you will have effectively broken its mandible.
Pinching the head of a Superworm can be done by just squeezing it between your fingers or by using a pair of tweezers or tongs. The Superworm will still move around enough to entice the attention of your Leopard Gecko.
The benefit of pinching the Superworms head or hand-feeding it with tongs is that the Superworm will be less of a threat to your Leopard Gecko. The Superworm cannot bite your Leopard Gecko with a broken mandible.
Gut-load And Dust the Superworms
Gut loading is the act of feeding the live food you plan to feed your pet with healthy and nutritious foods. This is done to increase the nutritional value of the live food.
Whatever the live food eats, essentially, your Leopard Gecko eats too.
As Superworms are not the healthiest food option available, there is no harm in gut-loading them before feeding them to your Leopard Gecko.
The more you gut-load your Superworms, the healthier of a snack they will become.
To gut-load Superworms, all you need to do is feed them a healthy diet of grains and vegetables. Gut-loading should be done one day prior to feeding the Superworms to your Leopard Gecko.
Calcium is an essential part of a Leopard Gecko’s diet. It is highly recommended that you dust the Superworms you intend to feed to your Leopard Gecko with reptile-grade calcium beforehand.
Despite the stigma around feeding Superworms to your Leopard Gecko, they make for a great and tasty treat.
Superworms can even be gut-loaded and dusted in calcium before feeding to your beloved Leopard Gecko to make them an even healthier snack.