How to Gut Loading Mealworms for Leopard Geckos {Do You Have To?}

My leopard gecko is a picky eater. It’s frustrating to remove leftover fresh food in his vivarium to prevent them from rotting. This is why I switched to gut loading mealworms.

Your leopard gecko will enjoy a heartier and nutrition dense bite of a mealworm as a way to thank you for your effort.

How to gut loading mealworms for leopard geckos or any reptile companion is not too difficult. Here is an article dedicated to helping you perform a task that will become easier with practice.

How to Gut Loading Mealworms for Leopard Geckos

Gut loading mealworms is a weekly routine that starts with making sure you attain them from a trusted source where they are free of pesticides. This way you should not have to wash or rinse them out, but you can do it before placing them in a storage container with a lid.

You can feed them base foods such as raw squash, pumpkin, potatoes or oatmeal. 24 hours prior to offering them to your gecko, you can gut load mealworms with apples or practically any vegetable in your kitchen.

Finally, I like to soak mealworms in my apple puree 2 hours before I offer them to my leopard gecko for an added touch of satiability, nutrition and satisfaction for my reptile companion to eat with joy and excitement.

When To Gut Load Mealworms

Gut loading your mealworms for your reptile companion should be done for the purpose of giving them the maximum nutrition in the most efficient bite.

A mealworm should be gut loaded at least 12-48 hours prior to feeding or offering them to your leopard gecko or any other reptile.

Fruits and vegetables take time to work through a mealworm’s system. For an added punch, you can soak the mealworms that have already been gut loaded in pureed apple or any other blended fruit or vegetable.

You can do this 2 hours before feeding them to your reptiles. Now they have absorbed nutrition from eating 24-48 hours prior and soaked in an additional nutrition punch through their permeable bodies 2 hours before being offered to your reptile companion.

Remember that when brumation occurs, you should hold back on meals. Take a look here to find out what to do.

How To Prepare Mealworms For Gut Loading

Your reptile companions and mine will appreciate it if we can acquire mealworms free of pesticides from a reputable location. Live mealworms need to be prepared by gut loading them.

Almost any fruit or vegetables that your leopard gecko eats as part of their regular diet can be offered to the mealworms first.

Take the mealworms out of their original container and place them in a food storage container or bowl for them to be gut loaded.

You can always choose to lightly rinse them first with warm water to relieve them of any possible dirt, debris or suspected contamination with pesticides.

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How To Prepare Food For Gut Loading

Let’s use an apple as an example for a good you wish to feed mealworms for the purpose of gut loading. A grinder, food processor or blender will all work fine to get the apples down to a puree.

  1. Make sure to peel and chop the apples first.
  2. Add a few drops of water to thin out the blended mix.
  3. Now that apple puree is ready, you can pour it over the mealworms and add a bit more water before covering the storage container with them inside.

20 minutes to 2 hours prior to feeding your leopard gecko or other reptile is all it takes for the mealworms to soak in as much of this puree as possible.

What Foods To Use When Gut Loading Mealworms

24-48 before feeding your leopard gecko or any other reptile companion, you should already have this nutrient dense source of food on hand and get ready to gut load. Mealworms will eat just about anything in terms of fruits and vegetables or basic food.

Here are some base foods to gut load mealworms:

  • Oatmeal
  • Wheat bran
  • Raw Potatoes / Sweet Potatoes
  • Raw Squash/pumpkin
  • Cereal

Before It’s time to offer mealworms to your reptile companions, 2 hours to 24 hours prior place these foods in their storage container:

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Leafy greens
  • Turnip
  • Almost any leftover vegetables you have

Exclude lettuce from the list since it is mostly water without many nutrients.

Do I Have to Gut Load Mealworms?

You may choose to not gut load mealworms because they are already dense in nutrients when you acquire them. In my experience, my gecko doesn’t eat as much as I want him to.

This is why I hope to give him the best bang for his bite with a gut loaded mealworm instead. This bite equals 2-3 bites of mealworms that haven’t been gut loaded.

How often do you feed mealworms to your gecko? What I do is gut load them 24 hours to as close as 2 hours before feeding them to my gecko every other day or as little as once a week.

My leopard gecko will let me know based on how much he is eating. If he is not eating enough, then gut loading mealworms gives him the same or more nutrition than he would by eating the fruit without it getting absorbed by the mealworm first.

If you are taking your gecko outside, be prepared with the information in this article I wrote.


Gut loading mealworms provide added vitamins and minerals into the food source that you will eventually give your leopard gecko. You can begin gut loading mealworms 48 hours in advance to as close as 2 hours before feeding them to your geckos or other reptile companions.

A simple food container or bowl with a cover is enough for these mealworms to ingest what you are placing in there for them to consume.

Bonus tip: Can you gut load crickets for leopard geckos? I would have to say yes, but it was a taller task to get my leopard gecko interested in trying to catch the cricket that was gut loaded in the vivarium. You would have to place the bug closer to your reptile companion.

Mealworms are the easiest way to gut load for your geckos in my opinion. Let us know how it goes!


Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.