Why Won’T My Leopard Gecko Eat Mealworms?

Leopard geckos may refuse to eat mealworms due to stress or an underlying health condition. Sometimes, they might simply prefer other food options.

As a leopard gecko owner, it can be concerning when your pet doesn’t eat mealworms. There could be several reasons why your leopard gecko is not interested in this common food choice. It’s important to rule out any potential underlying health issues or stress factors that may be affecting their appetite.

In some cases, leopard geckos may simply have a preference for other food options. By understanding the possible reasons behind their mealworm aversion and making necessary adjustments, you can ensure the health and well-being of your leopard gecko.

Possible Reasons For Refusal

Leopard geckos are known for their hearty appetite, but if your gecko refuses to eat mealworms, it can be concerning. There are several possible reasons for this refusal, ranging from health concerns to stress or environmental factors.

Health Concerns

Leopard geckos may refuse mealworms due to underlying health issues. Digestive problems, parasites, mouth infections or impactions can all lead to a loss of appetite. It’s vital to monitor your gecko’s overall health and consider consulting a veterinarian if the problem persists.

Stress Or Environmental Factors

Stress from factors such as improper temperatures, inadequate hiding spots, overhandling, or changes in environment can cause a gecko to lose its appetite. Ensuring a proper terrarium setup, including appropriate temperature gradients and hiding places, will help lower stress levels. Maintaining a stable environment is key to promoting a healthy appetite.

Why Won'T My Leopard Gecko Eat Mealworms?

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Alternative Food Options

Mealworms are a popular staple food for leopard geckos due to their nutritional value and ease of accessibility. However, some geckos may refuse to eat mealworms for various reasons.


Crickets are another excellent food option for leopard geckos. They provide essential nutrients and can be a great alternative to mealworms. In fact, many geckos naturally prefer the movement and taste of crickets.

When offering crickets to your leopard gecko, ensure they are appropriately sized. Crickets that are too large may intimidate your gecko, while those that are too small may not be satisfying enough. This means selecting crickets that are approximately the same size as the space between your gecko’s eyes.

Additionally, you may want to consider gut-loading the crickets before feeding them to your gecko. Gut-loading involves feeding nutrient-rich foods to the crickets at least 24 hours before offering them to your gecko. This enhances the nutritional value of the crickets, which can benefit your gecko’s overall health.

Dubia Roaches

Dubia roaches are an increasingly popular alternative to mealworms for leopard geckos. These roaches are highly nutritious and their soft exoskeleton makes them easier to digest compared to other insect options.

When selecting Dubia roaches for your gecko, ensure they are appropriately sized. Just like crickets, the size of the roaches should match the space between your gecko’s eyes. This ensures that they can easily consume and digest their prey.

Dubia roaches can be fed a balanced diet to further improve their nutritional content before being offered to your gecko. This includes providing them with a combination of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein feeders such as dry dog food or fish flakes.

Tips To Encourage Eating

If your leopard gecko is refusing to eat mealworms, it can be concerning as a pet owner. However, there are several steps you can take to encourage your gecko to eat these nutritious insects. By varying feeding times and offering live prey, you can entice your gecko and help them overcome their reluctance to eat mealworms.

Varying Feeding Times

Leopard geckos, like any other reptile, appreciate a varied schedule for feeding. By mixing up their feeding times, you can simulate the unpredictability of their natural environment. This can encourage their natural hunger and make mealworms more enticing to them.

Here are a few ways you can vary the feeding times:

  1. Feed your leopard gecko at different times of the day, alternating between morning, afternoon, and evening feedings.
  2. Vary the frequency of feedings by skipping a day or two between meals. This mimics the irregular feeding patterns they encounter in the wild.
  3. Offer mealworms at different times before or after their usual shedding cycle. This can help stimulate their appetite and encourage them to eat.

Offering Live Prey

Leopard geckos are natural predators, and their instincts are particularly triggered by live prey. If your gecko is not eating mealworms, try offering them live insects instead. The movement and behavior of live prey can be highly stimulating to them, making them more likely to pursue and consume their food.

Here are a few live prey options you can provide:

  • Crickets: These active insects can be a great alternative to mealworms. Just ensure they are of an appropriate size for your gecko.
  • Phoenix worms: These tiny, wiggling worms can catch the attention of your gecko and entice them to eat.
  • Roaches: Dubia roaches or discoid roaches are popular choices and can be well-received by leopard geckos.

Offering live prey can be a helpful way to stimulate your gecko’s appetite. Just be mindful of the size and type of insects you provide, and ensure they are suitable for your gecko’s size and age.

Why Won'T My Leopard Gecko Eat Mealworms?

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When To Seek Veterinary Help

If your leopard gecko refuses to eat mealworms, seek veterinary help promptly as it may indicate underlying health issues. Professional assessment can address the root cause and provide tailored solutions for your pet’s well-being.

When to Seek Veterinary Help If your leopard gecko consistently refuses to eat mealworms over several weeks or shows visible signs of illness, it may be time to seek veterinary help. Here are the signs that indicate when you should seek professional assistance. Consistent Refusal over Weeks If your leopard gecko shows consistent refusal to eat mealworms over several weeks, it might indicate an underlying health issue. In such cases, it’s important to seek help from a reptile veterinarian. They can conduct thorough examinations and provide appropriate treatment to address any underlying health concerns. Visible Signs of Illness Visible signs of illness in a leopard gecko may include lethargy, weight loss, abnormal feces, skin abnormalities, or difficulty shedding. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary help promptly. A reptile veterinarian can assess your gecko’s condition and provide the necessary medical care to address any health issues. In conclusion, It’s important to monitor your leopard gecko’s eating habits and overall health regularly. If you notice consistent refusal to eat mealworms over weeks or any visible signs of illness, seeking veterinary help is essential to ensure the well-being of your beloved pet.
Why Won'T My Leopard Gecko Eat Mealworms?

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Frequently Asked Questions On Why Won’t My Leopard Gecko Eat Mealworms?

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Refusing Mealworms?

Leopard geckos may refuse mealworms due to stress, illness, or dietary preferences. Offer a varied diet for nutritional balance.

What Other Food Options Can Entice My Gecko?

Try offering crickets, dubia roaches, or waxworms as alternatives to mealworms. Rotate food options to prevent picky eating habits.

How Can I Monitor My Gecko’s Appetite And Health?

Regularly observe your gecko’s feeding behavior, weight, and overall appearance. Consult a reptile veterinarian if appetite changes persist.


In order to address your leopard gecko’s reluctance to eat mealworms, consider various factors including their age and health. By making adjustments to the feeding routine and ensuring a proper environment, you can encourage your gecko to consume mealworms. Consulting a veterinarian may also provide valuable insights.

Experiment with different options to find the best approach for your pet.

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