Are you interested in What Leopard Geckos Eat? This guide is for you!
You’d want your leopard gecko to live to a ripe old age of 15 years or more. To achieve this, you should provide your pet with all the love, care, and comfort it needs.
Your pet gecko’s diet is an essential aspect of its life.
Being an insectivore, your leopard gecko thrives entirely on a meat-based diet of small invertebrates such as dubia roaches and crickets. However, you’ll occasionally have to gut-load insects to provide your pet with enough nutrients and minerals for strength and growth. Also, consider giving your gecko the occasional treat of hornworms, spiders, and waxworms.
Take caution, however, when feeding your pet insects with high-fat content. Too much fat in the gecko’s system brings a raft of unwelcome complications, which you may have difficulty solving.
What Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko?
In the wild, leopard geckos live by the rule of survival for the fittest. This means they are likely to eat any animal weaker and smaller than them.
Typically, leopard geckos thrive on spiders, crickets, worms, and beetles. But, if the situation demands it, they feed on small mice, snakes, and other geckos.
In some cases, leopard geckos are known to eat their hatchlings.
Of course, you wouldn’t want your pet to survive like a wild gecko.
Insects and other small animals caught in the wild are not the best diets for your pet. Likely, wild insects have come into contact with herbicides and insecticides that make them too toxic for your pet’s consumption.
You need to choose an insect bred explicitly by a reputable breeder. These can be obtained from live and online stores.
As a keeper, you need to understand your pet’s feeding habits. For example, you’ll realize that leopard geckos don’t wait for their prey to bring themselves.
Being a predator, your pet enjoys searching, hunting, and chasing after its meal. This means attempting to feed your pet with dead prey would be futile.
A leopard gecko rarely takes an interest in prey that doesn’t move.
Leopard geckos are fierce and determined hunters who depend on their keen sense of smell and sharp eyesight to kill.
They are adept hunters both during the day and at night.
Does My Leopard Gecko Need a Balanced Diet?
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Choosy?
Like every other living thing, your leopard gecko needs the proper nutrients and minerals to thrive. Therefore, you need to give your pet a well-balanced diet to keep it alive and vibrant.
If you are a new keeper, you’ll realize that your pet is a picky feeder. It prefers the softer, more succulent insects to the hardy ones.
Not all insects have the same nutritional content. As such, you often have to gut-load insects before feeding them to your leopard gecko.
Remember, the critical issue here is quality as opposed to quantity.
You can choose a wide variety of insects for your leopard gecko. Acquaint yourself with the nutritional content of each insect to create the right balance for your pet’s meal.
Among the common insects preferred by keepers are dubia roaches, crickets, mealworms, hornworms, and waxworms.
The best insects for your pet are those high in protein but low in fat.
At the same time, pay close attention to the developmental needs of your pet. For example, baby leopard geckos have different nutritional needs than adults.
What Should I Feed My Baby Leopard Gecko?
Because of their fast growth rate, baby leopard geckos are fast eaters. Although they may not take much in one feeding, they will require frequent meals to meet their dietary demands.
Ideally, you should feed your baby leopard gecko at least once daily.
Feed only tiny insects to your baby gecko for apparent reasons.
The baby gecko may be intimidated by larger prey. Also, bigger your baby pet could choke on bigger animals.
You may realize your baby gecko is not keen on feeding from your hand. Before this reptile gets used to you, try feeding him from a small dish.
The dish allows the feeder insect to move around, thus attracting the baby leopard gecko’s attention.
Baby Leopard Gecko Feeding Schedule
Use different insects in your pet’s weekly diet to balance the nutritional content your gecko receives. Feed your baby gecko as many small insects as it can eat to eat fill, which usually takes about 10-15 minutes.
Here’s a sample baby feeding schedule you can use:
|DAY||INSECT AND QUANTITY|
|Monday||About 4 small crickets and 3 small dubia roaches|
|Tuesday||About 4 small crickets and 1 small waxworm or hornworm|
|Wednesday||About 7 small roaches|
|Thursday||About 6 small crickets|
|Friday||About 7 small dubia roaches|
|Saturday||About 6 small crickets|
|Sunday||About 4 small Crickets and 3 small roaches|
Feeding a Growing Leopard Gecko
As your pet grows, its nutritional needs change to reflect this growth. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry to introduce larger prey or more feed to your pet too early.
You don’t want to run into the danger of overfeeding the gecko or making it too overweight. The best way to approach this issue is to feed the gecko to its appetite.
As the pet grows, it begins to eat more per feeding, and less frequently. It also learns to handle larger prey – although they should feed on these under supervision.
By the time your baby leopard gecko is 6 months old, it should have grown considerably, and you can now introduce larger roaches, crickets, and mealworms.
A one-year-old gecko is a fully grown pet and should be able to handle large insects comfortably.
Adult Leopard Gecko Feeding Schedule
Adults feed less frequently than the younger leopard geckos. However, adults can take bigger prey in their mouths because of their size.
They also have a way of storing fat in their tails – meaning they have a ready supply of energy whenever they need it.
Here’s a sample adult feeding schedule:
|DAY||INSECT AND QUANTITY|
|Monday||5 large crickets and 2 mealworms|
|Wednesday||4 large crickets, 3 mealworms, and 2 hornworms|
|Friday||6 medium or 8 small dubia roaches|
Points to Note on Feeding Adults:
- The best time to feed them is in the evening when they’re most active
- You’ll enjoy hand-feeding your adult gecko because, by this age, they’re pretty cooperative
- Take care not to over-feed your pet. A fully-fed gecko should have a round stomach, not a bloated one.
- Keep away free-running insects from the enclosure when the pet is sleeping. Some insects may bite your pet when it’s not alert.
- The prey should not be too big for your lizard.
- Juveniles and young geckos eat insects around a quarter of an inch long. Adults can take one-inch-long prey.
- Your leopard gecko may go slow on eating when it’s shedding.
- However, consult a vet if your pet refuses to eat for more than two weeks.
- Feed the gecko a variety of insects to maintain the right balance in the diet.
What Are the Vital Supplements for My Leopard Gecko?
Your leopard gecko requires a steady supply of vitamin and calcium supplements for consistent growth.
You can get these supplements by gut-loading insects about 12 hours before feeding them to your pet.
Both vitamin and calcium supplements are sold in pet shops in powder form. A quick and effective way of feeding them to your pet is by dusting the feeder insects about 5 minutes before feeding time.
This gives your pet all the micronutrients required for enhanced growth and strength.
Calcium is essential for bone formation because of its vitamin D3 component. However, giving too much D3 to your pet could cause some complications – such as fatal metabolic bone disease.
Some experts believe that D3 should not be used alongside UVB light as this could lead to an overdose.
In handing your leopard gecko, ensure that D3 is given in moderation.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
As noted earlier, wild leopard geckos survive on any insect or animal not bigger or stronger than them.
Of course, you’d want to be more selective when choosing the suitable feed for your pet. Here’re some common insects your pet might enjoy eating:
This is by far the most popular meal for a leopard gecko. It has gained worldwide acceptance amongst keepers for a number of reasons.
First, mealworms are readily available. Many reputable online and live pet shops stock these insects because of their high demand.
Also, it’s fairly easy to breed mealworms. However, many keepers prefer to breed these insects at home, where they can monitor their progress before feeding them to the leopard gecko.
Under the right conditions, you can breed mealworms all year round, regardless of the prevailing weather conditions.
All the same, you can’t feed your leopard gecko mealworms as the staple food. Because of mealworms’ high-fat content, they should be fed to your pet occasionally.
Also, mealworms have a poor calcium-phosphorus ratio. As a result, you have to turn to other insects to supplement your pet’s dietary needs.
Crickets are also a favorite with many keepers because they are readily available.
Also, these insects provide a considerable variety of nutrients – though you must make some interventions to complete the meal.
Crickets are easy to breed if you are a hands-on kind of person. In addition, these insects have an excellent protein-fat ratio.
Crickets are good escape artists because of their jumpy nature. This may work to the advantage of your pet, whose predatory instincts are triggered by movement.
If you’re breeding insects in your home, you’ll have to devise a way of putting up with all the noise they produce.
You can feed worms to your pet occasionally for their high moisture content. However, your pet may not take to this meal readily because worms give off slimy secretions.
Also, worms do not provide most of the nutrients the gecko needs for growth.
Your leopard gecko will have to supplement its dietary needs with tropical roaches (different from the house roaches you find in your house).
To successfully breed dubia roaches, you must create the right conditions. For example, provide them with the right food materials, temperature, and suitable hiding places.
Roaches are usually slow-moving compared to your leopard gecko, and are unlikely to escape from captivity.
The rule of thumb is that you should never feed wild insects to your leopard gecko. Wild caterpillars are likely to be contaminated with herbicides and insecticides, posing a grave danger to your pet.
The best caterpillars for your leopard gecko are home-grown or sourced from commercial outlets.
Because of their high-fat content, caterpillars should be fed to your pet as a treat.
This is not the ideal meal for your pet. Your leopard gecko will turn to weevils only when it runs out of options.
This insect is too tough for your baby gecko and too small for adults. However, you can feed them to your gecko before you get a better source of nutrition.
Hornworms are an excellent treat for leopard geckos. They are tasty and provide your pet with the right mix of dietary needs.
Hornworms are loaded with fiber, calcium, phosphorus, and protein, which is good for your pet’s overall growth.
Because of their low-fat content, hornworms pose no threat to elderly geckos.
Nightcrawlers are large insects that should be chopped into manageable sizes before feeding them to your leopard gecko.
However, not many geckos like the taste and texture of these insects. In addition, Nightcrawlers are large and lack some essential nutrients for your pet.
Waxworms are high in protein and fat. Unfortunately, their high-fat content makes them unsuitable as a regular meal for your pet.
You should feed waxworms to your leopard gecko occasionally. They can be used as a treat to entice your pet to regain his appetite after a bout of illness.
Can I Feed Wild Insects to My Leopard Gecko?
Although some wild insects are highly nutritious, they have many disadvantages. For example, these creatures are often exposed to diseases ad parasites.
Some may come into contact with harmful insecticides and herbicides, rendering them unsuitable for your pet’s consumption.
Although many experts warn of the dangers of feeding wild insects to geckos, there’s no hard rule on this one.
Every keeper must decide based on their knowledge of their local environment and the activities there.
Some experts contend it is okay to use wild insects as long as you ensure they are collected from uncontaminated areas.
Also, ensure that you don’t cause an ecological imbalance by collecting wild insects from your locality.
You’re also advised to avoid toxic spiders and caterpillars, as they are likely to poison your gecko.
Large or hard-shelled wild insects are unsuitable because your leopard gecko cannot swallow or digest them.
Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko Fruits?
Leopard geckos are purely carnivorous, with a preference for insects. Therefore, unlike green iguanas and bearded dragons, your leopard gecko is not interested in fruits and vegetables.
You can use these plants to gut-load some insects before feeding them to your pet lizard.
Is Pinkie Mouse Good for My Leopard Gecko?
Pinkie mice are newborn mice rodents. It would be a good idea to feed your gecko a pinkie mouse once in a while.
However, because of the pinkie’s high-fat content, making it your leopard gecko’s regular food item would be unwise.
Pinkie mice are best fed to fast-growing young geckos. This is because the young lizards have a high demand for energy for sustained growth sprouts that the pinkie mouse can readily provide.
Also, a breeding leopard gecko female can feed on pinkie mice more often than her male counterparts.
She needs the fat and energy to sustain the reproduction process and bring forth new generations of geckos.
What Foods Should My Leopard Gecko Avoid?
- Fruits and vegetables will not do your leopard gecko any good because your pet is a carnivore. Fruits and veggies are best fed to feeder insects.
- Most human foods are unsuitable for your pet’s consumption
- Avoid feeding your gecko food meant for bearded dragons and crested geckos. These foods have vegetable and fruit products intended for these lizards.
- Avoid processed meat, pork, beef, and chicken.
- Toxic spiders and centipedes can poison your pet and should be avoided.
- Wild insects of questionable sources are likely poisonous.
- Low-nutritional foods such as weevils and night crawlers should be avoided.
- Freeze-dried insects should only be used as treats. They should not form the bulk of your pet’s staple diet.
How to Feed Your Leopard Gecko
For your leopard gecko to grow normally, you need to feed it properly. Therefore, ensure that you provide your pet with diverse sources of nutrients.
It’s improbable that one food source can provide your gecko with all the nutrients it needs.
As such, you can rely on different species of insects based on their contribution to your table of nutrients.
A fully-grown leopard gecko can eat up to 10 insects per feeding. Therefore, these feeder insects should not be of the same type.
You can have, for example, 5 large insects of one type, 3 small ones of a different kind, and 2 small ones of another variety to create one meal.
This way, you ensure that the dietary needs of your leopard gecko are well taken care of.
Remember, your pet will feed about 3-4 times per week.
Each feeding should consist of different combinations of insects so that your pet’s nutritional needs are well addressed by the end of the week.
Also, avoid leaving aggressive insects such as crickets in the tank with the leopard gecko because they can harm your pet when it is sleeping.
Instead of leaving food in the tank, feed your gecko with tongs or tweezers.
As noted earlier, you should avoid overfeeding fat-rich foods to your leopard gecko. You can tell your pet is getting overweight by looking at its tail.
If the tail is too big, you need to slow down on fatty foods. The only exception to this rule is with breeding females, as they need the fat and energy.
An overweight leopard gecko has stubby, fat legs and a tail. If you suspect this lizard is becoming obese, space out the feeding sessions even further.
This does not mean, however, that you should allow your gecko to become too thin. Regardless of its age and size, your pet needs the energy fatty foods give.
A healthy serving of fatty foods is necessary every now and then. Take the time to learn how to delicately balance the different nutrients needed by your pet.
Common Mistakes You Should Avoid as a New Keeper
Using Only One Type of Feeder Insect
Some first-time feeders make the mistake of relying on only one type of insect. For example, some think that mealworms can provide the leopard gecko with all its dietary needs.
The truth is that while mealworms are rich in nutrients, they need to be supplemented by other feeds.
Mealworms lack some essential nutrients, such as vitamins, which the pet can get from other insects, such as dubia roaches and crickets.
Feeding Your Pet Fat-Rich Diets
Like humans, leopard geckos can become overweight when they over-rely on fat-rich diets.
Although fat diets are essential for your pet’s growth and other developmental needs, care must be taken not to overdo them.
Don’t feed your pet too much fat to the point of obesity. For example, you’ll know your leopard gecko is overweight when its tail and legs are too chubby.
Feed your leopard pet the right amount of nutrients to maintain medium weight.
First-time gecko keepers are mistaken in thinking that the more food you give your pet, the better. The leopard gecko’s health is guaranteed by quality and not quantity.
This calls on you to develop a well-thought-out feeding schedule that takes care of the complete nutritional needs of your gecko.
Stick to set feeding times so your gecko can get used to the routine.
Inadequate Calcium Supplements
Calcium helps your pet to develop a sturdy structure. This nutrient is found in some feeds, although many prefer to offer it as a supplement.
You can get calcium supplements from any live or online pet shop that caters to the needs of lizards. You must also install UVB lighting that helps metabolize calcium into D3.
Some keepers choose to source D3 vitamins directly from the shop and dust them on feeder insects just before feeding time.
Leopard geckos are some of the easiest lizards to feed. All the same, you need to be careful about the kind of food you expose your pet to.
While some foods are toxic and may harm your pet, others are of no importance, and your pet will not be interested in them.
A good keeper knows the right food for his pet, and how best to create variety in the feeding program.
You’d want your leopard gecko to have the best nutritional value available. However, you’d also like to avoid overburdening your pet with unnecessary weight from fat-rich foods.