Butterworms for Leopard Geckos: The Ultimate Feeding Guide

As a loving leopard gecko owner, you know that a happy and healthy gecko starts with a balanced diet. Just like how we humans have our favorite go-to meals (hello, pizza night!), our scaly friends also need a diverse menu to keep them thriving.

Butterworms for leopard geckos are like chocolate for humans – a great, high-energy treat, but not a good choice for a regular diet!

If you’ve been searching for a nutritious and delicious option to make your gecko’s taste buds sing, look no further than butterworms! In this article, we’ll dive into the wonderful world of these wriggly, buttery delights and explore how they can be the ultimate treat for your adorable gecko buddy.

Butterworm Basics

First things first: what on earth are butterworms, and why are they called that? Fear not, they’re not some strange butter-flavored gummy worms (though we’re sure some folks might appreciate that). Butterworms are the larval stage of the Chilean moth (Chilecomadia moorei). These squishy little critters get their name from their smooth, buttery texture and mild, slightly sweet aroma. Plus, they’re packed with nutritional goodness that your leopard gecko will love.

Nutritional content and benefits

When it comes to leopard gecko cuisine, butterworms are like the fine-dining experience of the insect world. They’re rich in protein, calcium, and essential fatty acids, making them a scrumptious, nutrient-dense snack. In fact, butterworms contain about 16% protein and an impressive 29% fat, which provides a great energy boost for your pet. Their high calcium content also helps support healthy bone development.

Mealworms (for comparison)20%12%62%
Source: GrubCo, Reptilesupply

Comparisons to other feeder insects

Now, you might be wondering how butterworms stack up against other popular feeder insects, like mealworms or crickets. Well, we’re glad you asked! While mealworms and crickets are certainly excellent options for your gecko’s diet, butterworms have a few unique advantages. For starters, their soft exoskeleton makes them easier for your gecko to digest. Additionally, their high fat content makes them an ideal treat to help your pet gain some extra energy or recover from illness.

For a full list of recommended feeder insects, check out our ultimate food list for leopard geckos!

Feeding Butterworms for Leopard Geckos

Now that you’re well-versed in the butterworm basics, it’s time to learn how to serve up these tasty morsels like a pro. Just like us humans, leopard geckos can overindulge in their favorite treats (we’re looking at you, chocolate chip cookies), so it’s important to feed them butterworms in moderation. Think of butterworms as a delightful dessert to be enjoyed after a balanced meal.

A good rule of thumb is to offer your gecko 2-3 butterworms per week, in addition to their regular diet of other feeder insects. You’ll want to adjust the portion size based on your gecko’s age, size, and activity level. Juvenile geckos might need fewer butterworms, while adult geckos with a taste for luxury could handle a few more. Just remember, moderation is key to keeping your gecko healthy and happy!

Butterworms for Leopard Geckos The Ultimate Feeding Guide
They might not look interesting to us, but butterworms are real treats for leopard geckos!

How to prepare and serve butterworms for your leopard gecko

Alright, so you’ve got your butterworms, and you’re ready to treat your leopard gecko to a fancy feast. But how exactly do you serve these squishy critters? Thankfully, it’s easier than whipping up a gourmet meal for a dinner party!

Simply grab a pair of feeding tongs or tweezers, gently pick up a butterworm, and wiggle it enticingly in front of your gecko. Your gecko’s natural hunting instincts will kick in, and they’ll snatch up that wiggling butterworm like it’s the tastiest morsel they’ve ever seen. If your gecko is feeling shy, you can also place the butterworms in a shallow feeding dish to encourage self-serve snacking.

Tips for gut-loading and dusting with supplements

To make worms even more nutritious for your leopard gecko, you’ll want to “gut load” them before feeding. Gut-loading simply means providing the worms with nutrient-rich food to eat 24-48 hours before serving them to your gecko.

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However, since butterworms eat only the leaves of the Trevo plant (Trevoa trenervis), gut-loading them with veggies is impossible. This is another reason why butterworms only serve as treats, not as a staple feeder insects!

Lastly, don’t forget to “dust” your butterworms with a high-quality calcium and vitamin D3 supplement. This helps ensure your gecko receives the proper balance of vitamins and minerals for optimal health. To dust the butterworms, place them in a plastic bag with a small amount of the supplement powder, and gently shake until the worms are coated in a fine dusting of goodness. It’s like adding powdered sugar to a donut, but for geckos!

Make sure to understand the supplementation needs of your leopard gecko! Read more in our guide.

Proper Storage and Care for Butterworms

Congratulations, you’re now a certified gecko gourmet! But, what do you do with all those leftover butterworms? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Proper storage is essential to keeping your butterworms fresh and healthy for your gecko’s next meal.

Unlike the ice cream in your freezer that you’ve been eyeing all day, butterworms prefer to chill in the refrigerator. A temperature between 42-50°F (6-10°C) is ideal. Simply place your butterworms in a well-ventilated container with some holes for airflow, add a bit of bedding like paper towels or bran, and pop them in the fridge. The cool temperature will slow down the butterworms’ metabolism, essentially putting them in a sleepy state and prolonging their shelf life.

Shelf life and signs of unhealthy butterworms

With proper storage, butterworms can stay fresh for up to 2-3 months, giving you plenty of time to treat your leopard gecko to a tasty feast. However, just like that mystery Tupperware in the back of your fridge, butterworms can go bad over time. It’s essential to keep an eye out for any signs that your butterworms might be past their prime.

Unhealthy butterworms may be discolored, mushy, or have an unpleasant odor. You should also be on the lookout for mold or condensation in the container, which could indicate excess moisture. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to say goodbye to those butterworms and replace them with a fresh batch.

Where to Buy Butterworms for Leopard Geckos

By now, you’re undoubtedly eager to introduce your leopard gecko to the delightful world of butterworms. But where can you find these tasty treats? Thankfully, butterworms are becoming increasingly popular as feeder insects, making them more accessible for gecko gourmets like yourself.

Your local pet store may carry butterworms, but don’t be discouraged if they don’t have them in stock. You can also find reputable online retailers that specialize in feeder insects, which can ship fresh butterworms right to your doorstep. Just remember to check the weather before placing your order, as extreme temperatures can be harmful to these delicate critters during transit.

Online retailers vs. local pet stores

When deciding between purchasing butterworms from a local pet store or an online retailer, there are a few factors to consider. Buying from a local store allows you to inspect the butterworms in person, ensuring they’re healthy and fresh. Plus, you’ll be supporting a local business, which is always a great thing!

On the other hand, online retailers often offer a larger selection and competitive pricing. Additionally, buying online can be more convenient, especially if you don’t have a pet store nearby. Just be sure to do your research and choose a reputable retailer with positive reviews to ensure you receive high-quality butterworms.

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Tips for selecting high-quality butterworms

Whether you’re shopping in person or online, there are a few key things to look for when selecting the best butterworms for your gecko’s gourmet experience:

Size: Choose butterworms that are an appropriate size for your leopard gecko. Smaller geckos may have trouble tackling large butterworms, so opt for medium-sized ones that are easier to manage.

Color and texture: Healthy butterworms should be bright yellow and have a firm, slightly wrinkled appearance. Avoid any that appear discolored, mushy, or overly smooth.

Activity: While refrigerated butterworms will be sluggish, they should still show signs of life when gently prodded. Steer clear of any that appear lifeless or unresponsive.

Alternating Butterworms with Other Feeders

Variety is the spice of life, and the same goes for your leopard gecko’s diet. While butterworms make an excellent treat, it’s important to provide your gecko with a diverse menu to ensure they receive all the essential nutrients they need to thrive. Alternating between different feeder insects not only keeps mealtime interesting for your pet but also helps maintain a balanced diet.

Other feeder insects to consider

In addition to butterworms, there’s a whole smorgasbord of feeder insects your leopard gecko will love. Some popular options include crickets, mealworms, superworms, and dubia roaches. Each feeder insect has its unique nutritional profile, so offering a mix ensures your gecko receives a well-rounded diet. Plus, it’s a great way to keep your gecko’s palate entertained!

Creating a feeding schedule for optimal health

To make sure your leopard gecko enjoys a varied diet, create a feeding schedule that incorporates different feeder insects throughout the week. For example, you could offer crickets on Mondays and Thursdays, mealworms on Tuesdays and Fridays, and reserve butterworms as a special treat for Wednesdays. Feel free to mix and match to find the perfect combination that keeps your gecko happy, healthy, and excited for mealtime.


In this article, we’ve explored the wonderful world of butterworms and their role in a leopard gecko’s diet. These tasty, nutritious morsels offer a myriad of health benefits and make an excellent addition to your gecko’s gourmet experience. Remember to serve butterworms in moderation, as a treat alongside a varied diet of other feeder insects.

We’ve also covered the essentials of proper butterworm care and storage, along with tips for sourcing high-quality butterworms. With this newfound knowledge, you’re well on your way to becoming the ultimate gecko caretaker and gourmet chef. So, go ahead and treat your leopard gecko to a delicious butterworm feast, and watch their taste buds sing with delight!

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