Hornworms, also known as tomato hornworms or Manduca sexta, are the larval stage of hawk moths. But the thing is, “can crested geckos eat hornworms?”


So, can crested geckos eat hornworms? Yes, crested geckos can eat hornworms. Hornworms are considered a suitable and nutritious food source for crested geckos, and many gecko owners include them as part of their gecko’s diet. These plump and vibrant caterpillars offer a valuable food source for crested geckos due to their impressive nutritional profile. Rich in protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients, hornworms provide a natural and diverse option to enhance the dietary repertoire of our gecko companions.


Feeding Hornworms To Crested Geckos


The high protein content of hornworms contributes to the healthy growth and development of these reptiles. Protein plays a crucial role in tissue repair, reproduction, and overall vitality. By incorporating hornworms into their diet, we provide our crested geckos with a protein powerhouse that supports their well-being.


Additionally, hornworms boast an optimal calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, which is vital for maintaining the robust bone structure of crested geckos. These reptiles require a balanced intake of calcium and phosphorus to prevent metabolic bone diseases. By including hornworms in their diet, we ensure that they receive the essential nutrients necessary for optimal bone health.


Furthermore, hornworms offer an additional advantage in terms of hydration. With their high moisture content, these juicy morsels serve as a source of hydration for crested geckos. This benefit can be particularly valuable in captive environments with lower humidity levels, ensuring our geckos stay properly hydrated.


Hornworms present an enticing dietary option for crested geckos. Their nutritional value, including protein, calcium, and hydration benefits, make them a worthwhile addition to our gecko’s meal plan. Crested geckos can be fed one to two hornworms per serving, once or twice a month.


Can Crested Geckos Eat Hornworms


Nutritional Value of Hornworms

Nutrient Amount per 100g (approx.)
Protein 13-17 grams
Fat 3-5 grams
Calcium 30-40 milligrams
Phosphorus 180-200 milligrams
Vitamin C 15-20 milligrams
Vitamin B6 0.1-0.2 milligrams
Vitamin B12 0.01-0.02 micrograms
Water 70-75 grams


Benefits of Feeding Hornworms to Crested Geckos


1. Nutritional Powerhouse

Hornworms offer a substantial source of protein and essential nutrients for crested geckos. Protein plays a vital role in various physiological processes, including growth, tissue repair, and maintaining overall health. By incorporating hornworms into their diet, crested geckos receive a nutrient-dense food source that supports their growth and development.


2. Easy to Consume

The soft-bodied nature of hornworms makes them highly palatable and easy for crested geckos to eat. Their pliable texture allows geckos to bite into them without much effort, making them a convenient food choice. This is especially beneficial for young or juvenile geckos who may have smaller jaws and may struggle with harder insects.


3. Enhanced Nutritional Value

One significant advantage of feeding hornworms is that they are a live food source. Live prey tends to be more nutritious compared to pre-killed or frozen options. Hornworms are metabolically active and offer higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, ensuring that crested geckos receive maximum nutritional benefits from their food.


4. Cost-Effective

When it comes to providing a varied and nutritious diet for crested geckos, affordability is an important consideration. Fortunately, hornworms are relatively inexpensive to purchase. They are readily available through various reptile supply stores, online vendors, or even through home breeding projects. Their cost-effectiveness allows reptile enthusiasts to introduce a diverse range of food options without breaking the bank.


Potential Risks and Considerations


While hornworms are generally safe for crested geckos, it’s important to consider a few potential risks. This mostly applies to wild hornworms.


Size Appropriateness

Ensure the hornworms you offer to your gecko are an appropriate size. Feeding oversized prey items can pose a choking hazard or cause digestive issues.


Pesticide Exposure

If you choose to collect hornworms from your garden, make sure they haven’t been exposed to pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Opting for captive-bred hornworms or purchasing them from reputable sources reduces the risk of pesticide ingestion. Wild hornworms may have been exposed to pesticides or other harmful chemicals in their natural environment. Ingesting such contaminated prey can introduce toxins into your gecko’s system, leading to potential health issues.


Disease and Parasites

Wild-caught hornworms can carry diseases and parasites that can be harmful to your crested gecko. These pathogens can cause infections and negatively impact your gecko’s overall health. Feeding commercially bred and raised insects helps minimize the risk of introducing these potential health threats.


Nutritional Consistency

The nutritional content of wild hornworms can vary significantly depending on their diet and environment. It is difficult to ensure a consistent and balanced diet for your crested gecko when relying on wild-caught prey. Commercially available crested gecko-specific meal replacement powders (MRPs) have been formulated to provide a balanced nutritional profile, making them a safer and more reliable option.


Can Crested Geckos Eat Hornworms


How to Feed Hornworms to Crested Geckos


Frequency of Feeding

To incorporate hornworms into your crested gecko’s diet, it is recommended to offer them at least once a week. This frequency ensures a balanced and varied diet for your gecko, allowing them to benefit from the nutritional value of these caterpillars without relying solely on them as a primary food source. When feeding hornworms, offer your gecko one or two at a time.

Here is a suggested feeding schedule for a crested gecko:

          • Hatchlings: Feed 3-4 times per day.
          • Juveniles: Feed 2-3 times per day.
          • Adults: Feed 1-2 times per week.


Size Appropriateness

It’s essential to consider the size of the hornworm in relation to your gecko’s ability to consume it comfortably. If the hornworm is too large, you can cut it in half using clean and sterile scissors. This helps prevent any potential choking hazards or digestive issues that may arise from offering prey that is too large for your gecko to handle.


Feeding Method

When feeding hornworms to your crested gecko, you have a couple of options. One method is to use tweezers to offer the hornworm directly to your gecko. This allows for precise control and helps ensure your gecko can easily catch and consume the prey. Another method is to hold the hornworm gently with your fingers and present it to your gecko within their enclosure. Monitor their feeding behavior and ensure they have successfully consumed the hornworm before removing your hand.


Remove Uneaten Hornworms

After a few hours, check the enclosure to see if any hornworms remain uneaten. If your gecko hasn’t consumed the offered prey during this time, it is best to remove the hornworms from the enclosure. Leaving uneaten prey in the enclosure for extended periods can lead to unsanitary conditions and potential health risks for your gecko. Discard the uneaten hornworms and consider offering a smaller-sized portion during the next feeding session.


Frequently Asked Questions


Can baby crested geckos eat hornworms?

Yes, baby crested geckos can eat hornworms, but it’s crucial to ensure the hornworms are appropriately sized for their small mouths. Baby geckos require smaller prey items to prevent choking hazards or difficulties in consuming the food. It’s recommended to offer hornworms that are no larger than the space between the gecko’s eyes.


Can crested geckos eat hornworms as their primary food?

Answer: While hornworms can be a nutritious part of a crested gecko’s diet, they should not be the sole or primary food source. Crested geckos require a varied diet that includes a combination of live insects, fruit-based diets, and occasional calcium and vitamin supplements. Offering a diverse range of foods ensures your gecko receives a balanced nutritional intake for optimal health.


Are hornworms suitable for juvenile crested geckos?

Answer: Yes, hornworms can be suitable for juvenile crested geckos. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the size of the hornworm is appropriate for their age and size. If the hornworms are too large, they can be cut in half to avoid any potential feeding difficulties or digestive issues. Always monitor your gecko’s feeding behavior and adjust the portion sizes accordingly.


Where can I buy hornworms for my crested gecko?

Answer: Hornworms can be purchased from reputable reptile supply stores, online vendors, or even through home breeding projects. It’s important to source hornworms from reliable sources to ensure their quality and to minimize the risk of introducing parasites or other potential health concerns to your gecko. An example is Amazon.com.


How often should I feed hornworms to my crested gecko?

Answer: It is recommended to feed hornworms to your crested gecko at least once a week. This frequency allows for a balanced diet and provides your gecko with the nutritional benefits of hornworms without over-relying on them as the sole food source. However, individual geckos may have different dietary requirements, so it’s important to monitor their health, weight, and appetite to determine the appropriate feeding schedule.


Can Crested Geckos Eat Hornworms


Can hornworms replace other feeder insects in my gecko’s diet?

Answer: While hornworms are a nutritious option, it’s not recommended to replace other feeder insects entirely. Offering a variety of insects such as crickets, roaches, and mealworms ensures that your crested gecko receives a diverse range of nutrients. This variety contributes to their overall health and helps prevent nutritional deficiencies that can arise from a single food source.


Are hornworms toxic to geckos?

No, hornworms are not toxic to geckos. In fact, hornworms are considered a safe and nutritious food source for crested geckos and other reptiles. They do not possess any known toxins or harmful substances that can negatively impact the health of geckos.


However, it’s important to ensure that the hornworms offered to geckos are from reputable sources and have not been exposed to pesticides or other chemicals. Sourcing hornworms from trusted suppliers or breeding them at home ensures their quality and reduces the risk of potential contamination.


Can hornworms hurt crested geckos?

No, hornworms cannot hurt crested geckos. Hornworms are soft-bodied insects and pose no physical threat to crested geckos. They are safe and easily digestible prey for geckos, even for juveniles and adults. However, it’s important to ensure that the size of the hornworms is appropriate for the gecko’s mouth to prevent any potential choking hazards.

Are hornworms good for crested geckos?

Yes, hornworms are good for crested geckos. Hornworms offer several nutritional benefits, including being a good source of protein, containing favorable calcium-to-phosphorus ratios, and having a high water content that helps keep geckos hydrated. They are a nutritious addition to a varied diet for crested geckos and can contribute to their overall health and well-being.



Hornworms serve as a healthy and nutritious food source for crested geckos. They offer a range of benefits, including their high protein content, ease of consumption, enhanced nutritional value as live prey, and affordability. By incorporating hornworms into your gecko’s diet, you can provide them with a diverse and well-rounded meal plan.

Feeding hornworms to your crested gecko at least once a week, adjusting portion sizes as needed, and ensuring the prey is an appropriate size for your gecko are essential considerations. Offering hornworms with tweezers or your fingers and promptly removing any uneaten prey from the enclosure helps maintain cleanliness and prevent potential health issues.

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