Lately, I came across the issue of whether or not leopard geckos can eat earthworms. Researching among people who have leopard geckos as pets and have experimented with this type of food I realized that there is no definitive answer.
I really would have liked to bring a clear and concise answer, fill in the subject with some more related paragraphs and finish, but the truth is that some leopard geckos do eat worms and others don’t, so I have to develop this subject with some arguments.
Yes, leopard geckos can eat worms according to the testimony of several gecko-leopard owners who have given them to them. No, my gecko-leopards reject the worms whenever I give them to them.
The answer is positive in some cases and negative in others, but what does it mean that some geckos leopards can eat worms and others cannot?
Is there any danger in feeding a leopard gecko with worms? Why do some leopard geckos refuse to eat worms?
let’s go part by part…
Why leopard geckos don’t like to eat earthworms
We know the fact that leopard’s gecko must be provided with a fairly varied diet, also that they are insectivorous and like to eat their food alive, but many gecko leopards don’t like earthworms at all.
Some of the research I did with gecko leopard owners who offered earthworms to their pets and simply rejected them, says that the leopard gecko simply smelled them and rejected them immediately.
As it turns out, the leopard gecko has, like other reptiles, the so-called “Jakobson’s organ”, located in the sky of the mouth, and which can be considered similar to our sense of smell.
The leopard gecko can simply “taste” its food by simply smelling it (I wish I had had this sense before I tried the ” wrapped child”), something similar cats do, their instinct to feed is quite safe.
Through this, the leopard gecko can recognize some substance that could be toxic in the earthworm, so if you offer a worm to eat to your gecko leopard and it rejects it, trust its instinct.
I have read on several websites as well, including Wikipedia, that the earthworm when under stress releases substances into its body as a defense mechanism against predators, this substance, is perceived by the leopard gecko, which does not stimulate it to eat the earthworm.
So, to some degree, the earthworms are toxic to the leopard gecko, maybe not enough to kill it if it eats it, but enough to deter it from eating it.
Is the earthworm poisonous?
As we had mentioned, the fact that your leopard gecko does not want to eat an earthworm may be due to the fact that it has detected something that it does not like or that it finds toxic.
The coelomial liquid of the earthworm (Eisenia foetida) contains biologically active substances that can be toxic to vertebrates in appropriate doses, such as lysine.
Lysine is a protein that binds to sphingomyelin, causes pores in the cell membrane and thus leads to decomposition in erythrocytes. Lysenine has been shown to inhibit the growth of two types of worm-related pathogens in vitro.
The bacterial membranes are attacked, so they do not contain sphingomyelin, so the decomposition of the bacteria is slower. Since lysine seems to be, therefore, more effective in vertebrates, some experts assume that it is a molecule specifically designed to defend against vertebrates.
In addition, the manure worm contains proteases, fibrinolytic and vasosuppressive substances. Under stress, the worm releases the fluid from the coeloma through the pores located throughout its body. You may see a yellowish fluid suddenly emerge from the worm.
What about leopard geckos that eat earthworms?
As I mentioned before, some people who have leopard geckos as pets have managed to feed them earthworms without any problem, perhaps these cases are less likely.
But what is different about these cases? Perhaps the worms were already dead and therefore could not reach a level of stress where they secreted their anti-predatory substance.
These people, cut the earthworm into small trusses, also emphasize that there are different types of earthworms, there is an earthworm so healthy and nutritious that it is even suitable for human consumption.
This is the California red earthworm, an annelid that lives in moist soil and freshwater. It measures about six centimeters, weighs one gram and is a little thinner than a cigarette.
Also to emphasize, that not all the worms have the same composition and this can several according to its feeding, the worm fed with residual substances that contain heavy metals accumulates in its organism elevated concentrations of these elements.
Maybe feeding your leopard gecko with worms after all that is exposed here is not a very good idea, but if you really want to give it a try, you can do it without problems, nobody but your leopard gecko knows better if it can eat earthworms or not, trust its instinct.