A little bit of fat in a reptile’s diet is a good thing. Fat is a rich source of energy, helps the body absorb vital nutrients, and produces important hormones. It’s particularly important to reproductive females.
That being said, having too much fat in your lizard’s diet encourages excess weight gain, which puts strain on their organs and can shorten your pet’s lifespan. If you have an insect-eating pet lizard, be careful around these three WORST feeder insects!
Waxworms are 25% fat, which is a LOT! They also have a low mineral content and generally aren’t a great source of vitamins for your reptile, making them not very nutritious overall. They’re best used as a rare treat, and should be dusted with calcium before feeding to balance their phosphorus content.
Butterworms (also known as trevo worms) are 29% fat, which is even higher! Don’t be deceived by the sources that claim these bugs only have 5% fat — this erroneously under-reporting is based on an obscure, outdated study. Because of their high fat content, butterworms are best used as a rare treat, and should be dusted with calcium before feeding to balance their phosphorus content.
Superworms are 18% fat, which is certainly lower than the other two bugs on this list, but it’s important to note that this number is still very high. Superworms are high in protein and are known to gutload particularly well, which actually makes them a pretty beneficial feeder insect. However, they must be used in a rotation with other, lower-fat feeders. As always, make sure to dust them with calcium before feeding to balance their phosphorus content, and gutload them with high-calcium foods like collard greens, kale, and bok choy.
It’s time to come clean: There’s actually no such thing as the “worst” feeder insects, just like there really isn’t any such thing as the “best” feeder insects. No one feeder will automatically make your reptile fat. When used appropriately, waxworms, butterworms, and superworms can actually be a great way to bond with your pet and increase the variety in their diet. However, if these insects are all that your reptile eats, then obesity becomes more likely.
Think of it like pizza and ice cream. These foods taste amazing and are fine to have every once in a while, interspersed by healthier meals, but if you eat them every day, it’s not good for your body.
Give your insect-eating lizard a variety of low- to moderate-fat feeders as the bulk of their protein allowance. Such feeders include crickets, dubia roaches, black soldier fly larvae, hornworms, mealworms, silkworms, and captive-bred snails!