Feeding Mealworms to your Lizard

Mealworms have been a staple feeder insect in the diets of insect-eating lizards for many years. When I first started out keeping reptiles, mealworms were the only feeder insect you could get with regularity in South Africa. Crickets are now the number one feeder insect in the world ( feeder roaches are becoming popular so crickets watch out). Mealworms are the larvae of a flour beetle and have three life stages, larvae, pupa and beetle.  Mealworms will be eaten by all insect-eating reptiles. The pupa will be eaten on occasion. The beetles will only be eaten if they have just pupated, you can tell this as newly pupated beetles are brown while older beetles are black. The following statements are made about mealworms: mealworms have a thick exoskeleton and it is said that they cause gut compaction. It is also said that feeding mealworms leads to nutritional deficiencies. I have not found either of the above to be true. I have raised two leopard geckos from hatchlings to adults feeding only mealworms and both grew up without any problems. In fact I still have one of those geckos who is now seven years old, he still only eats mealworms.  I have a bearded dragon that has never seen a cricket and is more than five years old.  I believe that my success with mealworms is due to using calcium and vitamin supplements. The above is based on my personal experience and I am not suggesting that everyone should start feeding their lizards only mealworms. Feeding crickets is not at all a bad idea. I just can’t stand the chirping!