Leopard Gecko Diet – Feeding Guide and Recommendations

Leopard gecko diet
Image Credits : Mylifepet

One of the first concerns many people have when buying their first leopard gecko is “What to Feed Them”. The leopard gecko’s diet is more likely insects, unlike many reptiles that will eat various foods, such as commercial food, vegetables, and fruits. If you want to give the best leopard gecko diet, so we’ll look at the various kinds of insects the leopard gecko diet may consume. Keep reading as we cover the leopard gecko diet and feeding guide.

Leopard Gecko Diet in the Wild

These lizards are insectivorous. They mostly seek invertebrates in the wild. Although their exact diet is unclear, we may assume from observations and the biodiversity of their environment that leopard geckos diet includes: 

  • Mealworms
  • Grasshoppers
  • Beetles
  • Centipedes
  • Small locusts
  • Spiders
  • Snails
  • Springtails
  • Crickets
  • Caterpillars
  • Waxmoth larvae
  • Flies and fly larvae
  • Nesting mice

If they occur to come upon their nests, geckos may also opportunistically eat on

  • Smaller lizards 
  • Scorpions
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Mice and other newborn rodents

These geckos will only pursue live and moving prey. This implies that they won’t fight back or consume something already dead.

How Do Wild Leopard Geckos Hunt Their Prey?

They are highly opportunistic predators. Any bug or other creature that comes too close will be pounced upon. Leopard Geckos are either nocturnal or crepuscular hunters. While nocturnal leopard geckos are primarily active at night, crepuscular geckos are more active between the hours of dawn and dusk. 

Fortunately, they have excellent vision, particularly at night. This adaptability greatly aids them in hunting their prey at such strange hours. Leopard geckos find insects at night, ambushing them as they pass with their keen vision. Their main food sources are mealworms, caterpillars, and other types of similar insects.

To catch its food, a leopard gecko would often hide around or behind shrubs or rocks, wait for an invertebrate or insect to cross its path, and then rapidly leap at it. They quickly snatch up their unfortunate food using their very sticky tongues!

Pet Leopard Gecko Diet

Leopard geckos were first captured and moved from their natural habitats by reptile breeders in the middle of the 1970s to be bred and sold. They rapidly gained popularity as pets among both beginners and experienced in the reptile world because of their easy care needs and exceptionally outgoing, sociable nature.

The recommended diet for a pet leopard gecko closely resembles its wild cousins. Due to their strict insectivores, they consume a variety of feeder insects that have been carefully produced and grown to prevent the spread of diseases and parasites. Since their diet is much less dangerous for them to consume, this is one of the causes captive leopard geckos typically live longer than those found in the wild.

Live insects such as waxworms, crickets, “calci worms,” and small locusts (no larger than your leo’s head in size) constitute the majority of the diet of leopard geckos. Fresh veggies and clean water will also be required to keep these insects hydrated. Young leopard geckos should be fed daily, and adults should be fed every other day.

There are various appetizing and healthy feeder insects available on the market for the leopard gecko diet, including the following:

  • Crickets
  • Mealworms
  • Dubia roaches
  • Hornworms
  • Red runner roaches
  • Superworms
  • Butterworms
  • Discoid roaches
  • Silkworms
  • Phoenix worms/black soldier fly larvae/NutriGrubs

How to Feed a Pet Leopard Gecko?

It is both easy and highly amusing to entertain a pet gecko being fed. They track their victim from a distance or just wait for the insect to come too close before ambushing it, much like their wild counterparts.

The ideal way to feed a leopard gecko is to provide them with as many insects as they can consume in a 5-10 minute timeframe. Moreover, only choose insects that are smaller than the distance between a gecko’s eyes to avoid impaction or choking. Variety is essential because your gecko won’t last long if it consumes the same thing every day.

The majority of reptile owners just place the feeder insects one at a time into their lizard’s cage or feeding dish, letting the leopard gecko grab them as they please. If your gecko is picky (or, disabled/aging, alternatively) and requires extra assistance, feeding tongs are also on the market. Another choice is to hand-feed your pet lizard, although this discourages their natural hunting activities and can eventually make them sluggish.

What Size Food Should I Feed my Leopard Gecko?

As a general rule, you should not give your leopard gecko any insects that are larger than his eye space.

Baby Leopard GeckoFeed crickets that are around 3/8 inches in size to your baby gecko.
Juvenile Leopard GeckoFeed 1/4-inch or smaller crickets to your baby geckos.
Adult Leopard GeckoFeed small adult to adult size crickets to your adult gecko.

How Frequently do Leopard Geckos Feed?

Leopard geckos mostly consume live, moving insects as food. Commercially bred crickets along with smaller quantities of waxworms, silkworms, superworms, roaches, mealworms, and other live insects may make up a suitable diet. Adults should eat 2-3 times per week for adults, every 1-2 days for juveniles, and every day for babies.

Healthy leopard geckos under one-yearFeed Daily 
Healthy adult leopard geckosFeed Every Other Day
Sickly leopard geckosOnce a Day

Food should be provided in the late afternoon or early evening since that is when leopard geckos are most likely to begin hunting in the wild. Feed your gecko usually if it is a picky eater, but keep a dish of worms in its terrarium in case it likes eating later.

How Much do Leopard Geckos Eat?

Six to seven large crickets/mealworms can be given to your leopard gecko (whether it’s an adult, juvenile, or baby) two to three times per week. Geckos should be fed three to five worms every three times a week when taking supplements like calci worms or waxworms.

Which Foods are Poisonous to Leopard Geckos?

  • Lightning insects: The most dangerous insects are those that emit light (such as Fireflies and Lightning Bugs).

These insects should never be used as food for leopard geckos since they contain compounds that are extremely poisonous to them.

  • Wild-caught insects: There is debate about whether you should give your pet lizard insects that you have captured.

If you decide to give your lizard wild insects, be cautious of pesticide contamination and ensure you have a thorough understanding of the types of insects that are poisonous to geckos (so, sticking to your garden is recommended). To prevent your gecko from becoming dependent on them and refusing to consume store-bought food, keep these as a treat.

  • It is not advisable to feed animals low-nutrient foods like nightcrawlers, weevils, and earthworms.
  • Centipedes
  • Chicken, pork, processed meat, or beef
  • Cat, dog, or ferret food
  • Fish
  • Spiders
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Since they are insectivores, leopard geckos can’t eat fruits or vegetables. Only meat, like insects, can be digested by a leo’s body. They are unable to consume fruit or vegetables since their bodies are not designed to handle or digest them.

Why can’t Leopard Geckos Digest Fruits and Vegetables?

They lack a functioning cecum, which is the organ responsible for breaking down the material present in fruits and vegetables called cellulose. Additionally, they have an alkaline, shorter digestive track compared to a herbivore’s considerably acidic and longer digestive tract. Geckos  also have a weaker, smaller skull and jaw than herbivores, which have evolved to consume meat. 

According to some investigations, leopard geckos can consume fruit and vegetables, but since they are unable to digest them, it is doubtful that this will be of any benefit to them. If your pet does take fruit and veggies, it’s probably because it’s “there” rather than because it’s in their nature to do so.

Safe Insects

Worms

They rarely consume worms, although the majority usually find the slimy secretions of worms unpleasant. Worms have a lot of water, but they are deficient in almost all other nutrients.

Credit: ytimg

Crickets

The two most common feeding insects for leopard geckos are banded and house crickets. To give crickets, take tongs or a feeding dish. Higher nutritional content and ideal for feeding every day.

Mealworms

Leopard geckos love mealworms. Mealworms have a significant amount of indigestible chitins, hence it’s crucial to combine them with other insects.

Caterpillars

Might be safe, depending on the species. You may feed some caterpillars as treats, including silkworms and waxworms. Many wild caterpillars and other species are poisonous or coated with stinging hairs.

Pink Mice

A breeding female could be offered pink mice. It aids in the development of fat following egg laying. Male leopard geckos shouldn’t receive more than one pinky every month.

Nightcrawlers 

Nightcrawlers aren’t highly nutritious, like worms, and many leopard geckos dislike the texture. Bite-sized portions of large nightcrawlers must be used.  

Dubia Roaches

They make a great meal and may be fed every day. They have a low-fat content and chitin content but are abundant in protein, phosphorus, calcium, and fiber. If you can establish a warm, dark habitat, they are rather simple to breed and make no noise.

Hornworms 

These are a favorite food for many geckos. They are low in chitin and fat while being rich in proteins, phosphorus, calcium, and fibers.

Waxworms 

One of your leo’s favorite foods is waxworms. The majority of specialists advise giving them as a rare treat to avoid obesity and the associated health issues. Additionally, some caretakers use them as bribes to convince stubborn geckos to resume eating.

Gut Loading Insects

The best approach to guarantee that the insects you offer your pet gecko include all the minerals and vitamins they require is to gut load them. Before giving the insects to your lizard to eat, you must “gut load” them with nutritious food. The insects should be gut loaded 24 hours before being fed to your gecko.

Crickets: Various fruits and vegetables may be consumed by crickets to give your leopard gecko additional nutritional content (but avoid acidic vegetables and fruit, also broccoli and spinach). To prevent the growth of mold, be sure to constantly replace the crickets’ food.

Mealworms: Carrots are a favorite mealworm’s food. Before feeding these to your lizard, you must serve them 24 hours in advance. To provide the mealworms with more nutrients, mix some carrots with cricket stomach-loading food.

If you put mealworms in your gecko’s terrarium for it to eat when it likes, you could think about putting some food in the cage with the mealworms so they have food in their guts when your pet gecko decides to eat them.

If you buy your insects online, they are sometimes dehydrated and distressed by the time they arrive at your place, thus most experts suggest gut loading with vegetables and fruit for at least 24 hours before feeding.

Vitamins and Supplements

For leopard geckos, there are two essential nutrients needed:

  • Calcium
  • Multivitamins

Both supplements are frequently found as powders, occasionally as calcium and a mix of vitamin powder. Supplements assist in supplying all the micronutrients required for a healthy and long life for your pet lizard.

Dust (a quarter spoon) your feeder insects with multivitamins and calcium powder, not more than five minutes before feeding. If you dust them earlier, they will have time to groom off the powder. Dust the insects every meal for adults and every other meal for juveniles.

Multivitamins and Calcium Dusting

Dusting the insects before feeding them to your leopard geckos will guarantee that they get most of the minerals and vitamins they need. When it comes to producing eggs, female geckos during breeding and hatchling and juvenile leopard geckos need calcium more than any other time of year. You will need to buy commercial calcium powder, which generally also contains vitamin D3, and sprinkle it on your feeder insects before each feeding.

Dust your insects by placing them in a bag with the powder and making sure their bodies are completely covered. To prevent the powder from being licked or rubbed off, you should feed the insects to your leopard gecko right away.

The majority of Leopard geckos consume two insects for every inch of body size.

Multivitamins are equally essential to calcium. Making sure your pet gecko is receiving all the nutrition it needs is easy with a multivitamin. It also supplements the decline in prey variety.

Water

Fresh water should be accessible since leopard geckos may quickly drink from a dish. Use a strong ceramic dish to prevent spills, but make sure it is not too deep to risk your gecko drowning. Clean up the plate immediately if it spills or sprays.

Note: Avoid putting vitamin drops in the water. The quality of these drops is typically poor quality, and there is no method for monitoring how much your pet lizard is taking.

Never use distilled or softened water! Minerals essential to your leopard gecko’s health may be found in tap, filtered, and spring water. Yes, this may result in buildup in the water dish, but it’s worth it and is readily avoidable with regular cleaning.

It’s fascinating to see how they drink because they use their tongues to take sips, just like cats or dogs do. Every day, you should replace the water. The dish must be somewhat shallow for adults and no deeper than half an inch (around 1 to 1.5 cm).

If you raise baby geckos, be careful since they can quickly drown in water, even in trays meant for larger lizards. For hatchlings and small juveniles, the dish should be no deeper than one centimeter deep.

Do Leopard Geckos eat their own….?

Skin

Yes. Geckos consume their lost skin once they shed. There are two reasons behind this: first, they want no one to know they’re there (to escape predators in the wild); second, the shed skin provides vitamins and protein that are essential for growth and are unavailable to them elsewhere.

Eggs

Yes, they do on occasion. Infertile eggs are occasionally laid by female geckos. If so, they might consume them.

There are differing views on whether Leopard Geckos may consume viable eggs; some believe they may do so under certain conditions, such as when threatened or deficient in calcium.

This also relates to whether Leopard Geckos will consume their young. In order to be safe, it is preferable to keep the mother and its eggs in a separate container from the adult and hatchling leopard geckos if you’ve more than one leopard gecko.

Poop

It is believed that Leopard Geckos wouldn’t eat their own feces. But occasionally they could try to bury it, so be sure to thoroughly inspect your cage.

How Long can a Leopard Gecko Live Without Eating?

Juveniles and hatchlings both grow quickly. Once they become a year old, their weight gain should begin to slow down. However, you must take your pet lizard to a veterinarian if it goes over four days without eating. When shedding, adults could go longer than a week without eating. If an adult refuses to eat for longer than ten days, you must take them to the veterinarian.

Common Feeding Mistakes

Even though leopard geckos are simple to feed, novice keepers occasionally make mistakes:

Feeding Mealworms

For adults, mealworms are a nutritious alternative, but they must be eaten with other insects such as cockroaches or crickets. Mealworms alone can cause delayed growth and nutritional deficits. Mealworms are less nutritious than softer insects and more difficult to digest due to their higher chitin to meat ratio. They shouldn’t be given to babies less than four inches at all.

Not Giving Calcium

It’s crucial to take calcium supplements for a gecko to be healthy. Intestinal issues and metabolic bone disease are brought on by calcium deficiency. UVB light is also necessary for leopard geckos to convert calcium into vitamin D3.

Overfeeding

Despite being naturally big and storing fat in their tail, this species may still put on weight (obese). Leopard geckos love eating. Giving in and offering them more food than they require is simple. Maintain a feeding plan for your pet and keep an eye out for overeating symptoms.

The width of a leo’s tail shouldn’t exceed the width of its neck in good health. Regrown tails often tend to be fatter and shorter than ordinary tails, unless the tail was lost.

Conclusion

As insectivores, leopard geckos require a diet entirely composed of insects as well as other small invertebrates. 

Adding Dubia roaches and crickets to the leopard gecko diet can help make your pet healthy and happy. As a special treat, you may also offer waxworms and hornworms. Your gecko will obtain the minerals and vitamins it requires if you give it multivitamins, calcium powder, and gut-loading insects before feeding it. 

They  will be healthy for above 15 years with the appropriate leopard gecko diet. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it has assisted you in deciding what to feed your pet.

FAQs

What Not To Feed Leopard Gecko?

Avoid giving your leopard gecko any insects that glow, like lightning bugs or fireflies. These insects should never be handled or eaten because the chemicals that make them light up or glow in the dark are poisonous and dangerous. 

All insects obtained in the wild can have parasites that might cause a stomach ailment in your lizard; moreover, the pesticides ingested by these insects are hazardous to your gecko. Additionally, they are unable to consume vegetables or fruit because these foods are not handled or digested by their body.

How Often Leopard Gecko Eat?

Leopard geckos mostly consume live, moving insects as food. Commercially bred crickets along with smaller quantities of waxworms, silkworms, superworms, roaches, mealworms, and other live insects may make up a suitable diet. Adults should eat 2-3 times per week for adults, every 1-2 days for juveniles, and every day for babies.

Is Overfeeding Good?

Lethargy and food regurgitation might result from overfeeding your pet gecko. If your leo exhibits any of these symptoms, you should reduce the amount of food you give it and avoid giving it fatty insects (such as Butter worms and Waxworms).

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