I have recently been reviewing the insects that I regularly feed to my leopard geckos, and today I’ll be discussing silkworms (yes – the same type that are used to produce commercial silk).
It’s really important to feed your geckos a varied diet of live food, because each different insect offers different nutrition and benefits, and also it’s nice for your geckos to have some variety, as their tastes and preferences can change as they age.
For some frequently asked questions I receive around my leopard geckos’ diets, please see my Leopard Gecko Feeder Insects FAQ post.
Let’s start with my least favourite thing about silkworms… they’re so difficult to care for, which is why they will never be a staple feeder insect for me.
Firstly, silkworms will only eat mulberry leaves. Unlike other feeder insects which will eat most fruit or vegetables found in a typical household, silkworms will die f they eat anything other than mulberry leaves.
This means that as well as purchasing the silkworms, you also need to have a supply of mulberry leaves, or mulberry chow. I have used mulberry chow, which is a paste made up of mulberry leaves and water and comes in a little container, and you put a small quantity into the tub of silkworms and allow them to eat it.
The amount you give them depends on the size of your colony, but it’s best not to overdo it, as another thing which can kill silkworms is too much humidity (are you starting to get the picture that these little worms can be killed off by almost anything?!), so I recommend adding a bit at a time.
Silkworms can go for up to a week without food however, they can become dehydrated and begin to die off after a few days without food, and the recommendation is they should be fed at least once daily in order to remain healthy.
As discussed above, moisture is bad news for silkworms, and condensation forming in the container after feeding will cause problems. If condensation does form, take the lid off your container and allow the container to completely dry out. Old damp food is a breeding ground for mould and other problems, so it’s important to keep on top of it.
They are very delicate, so taking a worm out of it’s container and putting it into your leopard gecko’s feeding dish can very easily squash and kill it. The silkworms I buy come with a little pair of tweezers but even then you have to be so careful.
You must also wash your hands before going near the silkworms, as they are susceptible to bacteria, and you guessed it… bacteria transferred from your hands could easily kill these worms. Even scents like garlic has been rumoured to kill silkworms… so you have been warned.
One of the great things about silk worms is that they are absolutely packed with calcium, which is essential to your leopard geckos’ health.
This means, you don’t need to dust these worms with calcium powder before giving them to your leopard geckos, which is good news if your geckos turn their nose up at anything with calcium powder on (like mine sometimes do).
They don’t smell/ make noise
Unlike insects like crickets, silk worms don’t make any noise or smell, so you can’t even tell that they’re there.
They don’t move much
These worms move very slowly, so they don’t always catch the eye of my leopard geckos immediately. Mine seem to prefer insects to wriggle a lot more than these guys.
Considering the fact that you have to buy special food for silkworms, and the fact that so many of them could die for a number of factors, I find that overall these are quite a costly insect to keep.
I don’t buy them very often, for this reason, and by the time I buy more, I also need to buy more mulberry chow as it will go off eventually and start growing mould (I learned this the hard way).
I feed these to my leopard geckos because of the high calcium content and to add a bit of variety, but I do not buy these on a frequent basis and they are not a staple feeder insect for me.
Ease of care: 3/10
Nutritional profile: 9/10
Smell/ Noise: 9/10
Ease of containing: 6/10