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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Feeder Insect Review: Dubia Roaches

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be reviewing the insects that I regularly feed to my leopard geckos.

It’s really important to feed them a varied diet, because each different insect has a different nutritional profile, and can offer differing benefits to your leopard gecko.

For some frequently asked questions I receive around my leopard geckos’ diets, please see my Leopard Gecko Feeder Insects FAQ post.

I’m going to start with my absolute favourite feeder insect; the Dubia Roach.

Where do I even begin?

They’re easy to keep.

I find dubia roaches to be one of the most low-maintenance insects to look after. They come in a tub which contains part of an egg box for them to hide under, and I just add a thin layer of oats to the bottom, and feed them with vegetable peel from potatoes, carrots, apples etc. (I don’t use anything too moist as it will just go mouldy).

And that’s it. That’s honestly all I do to look after them. Then prior to feeding I’ll dust them with some calcium powder (which stays really nicely on top of their shells), and I’m done!

They don’t smell/ make noise

Unlike insects like crickets, dubia roaches don’t make any noise and don’t smell, so you can’t even tell that they’re there.

They can’t climb smooth surfaces or jump

This is an important one for me, as I like my leopard geckos’ to eat from a dish. If you get a deep enough dish, the roaches will not be able to climb out, so if you have lazy leopard geckos like I do, then you can always be sure that there won’t be any escapees, which could subsequently die and decompose, or irritate your leopard geckos.

They have a good nutritional profile

Obviously this one is very important. They have a soft shell which is easier for your leopard geckos to digest, they have a high protein/low fat content, they gutload well, they can be dusted with calcium easily, and they already have a good Ca:P ratio (Calcium: Phosperous).

They move around lots

Unless they’re left for too long, I find that dubia roaches run around loads which is really eye catching for my leopard geckos. They go into an absolute feeding frenzy when I put roaches in!

They’re cheap (in the UK at least)

I get about 50 nymph roaches for £6-7 from eBay which I think is a great price considering all of the above attributes.

 

So, there you have it. My opinion of why dubia roaches are the best feeder. What’s your favourite feeder?

Review: Exo Terra feeding dishes for leopard geckos

Part of the regular diet I feed my leopard geckos consists of mealworms and dubia roaches; the benefits of these two insects being that they can’t climb smooth surfaces, so if my leos don’t eat any, I won’t have strays crawling around the vivariums.

Therefore, one of the important things I look for in a feeding dish is that they are escape proof- tall and smooth enough that the critters can’t escape.

I bought two Exo Terra dishes; one slightly shallower one (because I find my geckos are more interested if they can easily see wriggling insects) and a deeper one with two handy compartments.


Exo Terra Shallow Feeding Dish

Image result for exo terra feeding dish

Let’s start with the shallower one. It looks great (see photo below for how it looks in my vivarium)! Very natural with a lovely rock-like texture around the edge, but unfortunately, as soon as I put the mealworms in it, they were over the edge and crawling across the vivarium floor. I didn’t even attempt to put the roaches in as they’re much smarter and quicker. They would have escaped and hidden within seconds so I saved myself the trouble.

Having said that, I really do like the look of this dish, and didn’t want to get rid of it, so I tried it out as a water dish for my baby leopard geckos, and it’s perfect!

It’s shallow enough that it doesn’t pose a danger to baby or juvenile geckos, and my lazy leo seems to like treading across it instead of walking around it, so I’m hopeful this habit will keep his feet nice and moist around shedding time and prevent old skin from getting trapped around his toes.

Summary:

  • Very shallow – Mealworms and dubia roaches can easily escape
  • Would be great for non-live food, or for a shallow water dish

Here it is in my vivarium. Sorry that the photo was before I put any water in, but I chose it because you can spot my leo spying on his new dish 🙂

image1

 


Exo Terra Dual Compartment Feeding Dish

Image result for exo terra feeding dish

Now moving onto the dual-compartment dish – again it looks great with a natural rock-like texture, and also is much deeper so I was hopeful that it would prevent any escapees.

When it arrived, it was smaller than I expected, but this isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t take up a lot of space in my vivarium, and it means I can pile in quite a lot of mealworms on top of each other in the larger compartment. I find when there are more worms in a dish, the more there are, the more they move, and the more they move the more interesting they are to my geckos. Does anyone else find this?

When I tried putting my dubia roaches in this, I had a little more trouble. When I only put the very small ones in the dish, it was fine, however after watching them for a while, some of the larger ones were able to piggyback on top of other ones and get over the edge, so sadly it didn’t pass the dubia roach test!

In the smaller compartment, I have used this to keep my calcium powder in, and I’m very happy. I’m sure the two compartments could also be used for food and water, or two types of reptile food, but I find that it great for keeping the calcium in, and it is very space-efficient in my vivarium.

Summary:

  • Great size, and great multi-purpose dish. It doesn’t take up too much space yet successfully holds quite a lot of mealworms
  • Doesn’t keep my dubia roaches from escaping

 

Where to buy:

I bought my dishes from Swell Reptiles and Blue Lizard Reptiles – yes they’re also available on Amazon but I prefer to support independent businesses 😉