Feeder Insect Review: Phoenix Worms for Leopard Geckos

phoenix worms for leopard geckos

I have recently been reviewing the insects that I regularly feed to my leopard geckos, and this week I’ll be discussing phoenix worms (also can be known as calci worms).

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 variation, 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.

Phoenix worm care

My initial thought on phoenix worms was “ugh these are going to be a hassle” because they have to be kept in a soil-like substrate, and need washing before feeding to your leopard geckos, but honestly it takes about 5 minutes, and the time spent doing this is mitigated by the fact that these worms don’t need feeding (more on that soon).

To wash them, I just rinse them under a very gentle stream of tap water, and then dry them in some paper towels to take away any remaining dirt and moisture, and then put them into a feeding dish (I use glass ramekins for my feeding dishes). They need to be completely dry if you don’t want them to climb the surfaces.

They will last 4-5 weeks in cool but not cold temperatures, meaning you can’t put them in the fridge like you would with mealworms or waxworms to slow down their growth cycle.

Phoenix worms are shipped purged, which means that they have nothing in their stomachs. They do not need gutloading or feeding, and doing so is discouraged, because if you do this their digestive system will start working again and the feces will start to contaminate the soil-like substrate that they’re shipped in.

Nutrition

One of the great things about phoenix worms is that they have an almost perfect Ca:P ratio (Calcium: Phosphorous), meaning they’re one of the best things you can feed to your leopard geckos.

Due to the incredible calcium content, these worms have been known to prevent and even reverse metabolic bone disease (if you don’t know what this is then google it and hope that your geckos are nourished enough that they will never get this awful disease!)

They also contain lauric acid, which prevents viruses, and has a number of other properties which benefit your leopard geckos’ health, and finally they have a relatively low fat content.

They don’t smell/ make noise

Unlike insects like crickets, phoenix worms don’t make any noise or smell, so you can’t even tell that they’re there.

They move around lots

These worms wriggle around more than any of the other feeder worms I use. This is great for catching the eye of your gecko and encouraging it to feed.

Cost

As phoenix worms only last about 4-5 weeks before turning into a black soldier fly, it’s best to buy them in smaller quantities so that none go to waste. This means that they can get quite expensive if you want to use them regularly, but I think the benefits by far outweigh this factor.

 

Do you have a favourite feeder insect? Let me know in the comments section below!

 

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Leopard Gecko Feeder Insects FAQ

On my Instagram page I get quite a few messages asking questions about the insects I use to feed my leopard geckos, so this has prompted me to do a short blog post about my feeding routine. 

Disclaimer: This is what works for me and my geckos, keeping them healthy and happy – I’m not saying that everybody should do what I do.

Over the next month I will follow up this post with several more giving a more detailed overview of the various insects I use. Hopefully you find this helpful 🙂

Q. What do you feed your leopard geckos?
I feed them a mixture of insects; each having its own set of positive attributes and drawbacks. I believe it’s important to feed my leopard geckos as much of a varied diet as I can provide.
Currently my regular feeders are: mealworms, dubia roaches, phoenix worms (aka calci worms), silkworms, and the occasional waxworm. My leos haven’t had crickets or locusts since they were very young – I find them too much of a hassle considering the nutritional content isn’t that great anyway. Also they’re noisy, smelly, they stress out my geckos who are usually too lazy to catch them… the list goes on. But this is just a personal preference.

Q. Which is your favourite feeder insect?
I like different insects for different reasons, but I must say that my favourite all-rounder has to be dubia roaches. They are easy to keep and low maintenance, they have a good nutritional value and contain a high moisture content, they move around a lot and my geckos seem to LOVE them, and they have a relatively soft shell so I don’t need to worry about them giving my geckos digestive problems.
Last but certainly not least, they can’t crawl out of smooth surfaces, so I can put them in a dish and forget about them, without worrying they’ll get lost in the vivarium.

Q. …and which is your LEAST favourite?
As mentioned above, I don’t bother with crickets or locusts, but aside from that, my least favourite has to be silkworms, mainly because they are expensive and so difficult to look after!
They need to be fed a very specific diet of mulberry leaves or mulberry chow ONLY, they die very easily due to things like too much moisture or germs from your hands, and they don’t move around a lot so they’re less stimulating for my geckos. I don’t always have a supply of silkworms but I will continue to buy them because they have a really good nutritional profile so they’re just about worth the extra effort.

Q. Where do you get your insects from?
I now get all of my insects from eBay. I live in central London and I find this to be the cheapest and most convenient option (I don’t live anywhere near a pet store supplying insects!)

Q. How much do your insects cost?
Dubia Roaches – 50 small roaches – £3.33 + (£4.79 postage)
50 Phoenix Worms (Calci worms) – £6.99 + free postage
50 Silkworms – £5.99 + £3.40 postage
Silkworm Mulberry Chow – £2.50 + £3.40 postage
Mealworms 120g tub – £4.49 + free postage
50 Waxworms – £4.49 + free postage

Q. How often do you feed your leopard geckos?
Usually every evening, however if we are going to be away for a night, we will leave extra mealworms just to sustain them until we are home the next day.

Q. How much do you feed your leopard geckos?
Usually about 10 insects per feeding. If they eat all the insects immediately within about 10 minutes, I’ll give them some more, but 8-10 insects seems to be their limit.

Q. Do you dust your insects with extra vitamins?
I dust dubia roaches and mealworms with calcium and/or vitamin D3 powder, but the other insects have quite a good nutritional profile so I tend to just keep those hydrated and gutloaded without adding extra calcium to them. I always keep a pot of calcium in my geckos’ tanks so they can help themselves to it if they need to.

Q. Which feeding dish do you use?
I tend to buy insects which can’t climb smooth surfaces, and I have found that a glass ramekin is absolutely perfect for making sure none of the insects escape!

Q. Any other advice on feeding leopard geckos?
Yes! Only use waxworms as a treat, or if you’re trying to tame your gecko. I only use waxworms every 1-2 weeks.
Geckos LOVE waxworms – they’re like candy (really tasty but really bad for the gecko and can be addictive!).
So if you feed them their favourite food when you’re handling them, they will come to associate you, and your hand, with being fed their favourite treat. I used food to tame my geckos, and had them tame and crawling onto my hand within a week.