What do leopard geckos Eat?
Leopard geckos are Insectivores meaning they eat insects, worms and other invertebrates.
Just because leopard geckos are insectivores, this does not mean that you feed them any and every kind of incest you may find, if you feed them the wrong type of incest this can lead to digestion problems or infections.
As well as Insects your pet leopard geckos will need vitamins and D3 plus calcium supplements
Below there is a list of safe and easy to get insects that your geckos can eat with a short description of their nutritional value.
When you get a new pet leopard gecko
When you get a new pet leopard gecko or any pet for that matter, it is always a good idea to do some research on what kind of food the animal eats before you get the animal
It is not good to assume that all reptiles are the same and eat the same things
Before I got my first leopard gecko I spent a week researching as much as I can about them and I was an experienced bearded dragon owner, I was actually quite surprised at how different they were in terms of the food they ate, the enclosure set up, UVB lights etc.
Safe food for your leopard gecko to eat
Leopard geckos will eat almost any insect that walks, crawls or hops in front of them but, not all of them are safe or healthy for your Leo to eat
Mealworms are a staple food source for leopard geckos. They are easy to purchase both online and at local pet or reptile stores, they are also relatively easy to breed your one colony of mealworms is you want to put in the effort
They are a healthy food source and can last for a long time in a dish and be eaten daily – geckos do turn into a (pupa) the next stage of a mealworms life cycle before it turns into a beetle
The Pupa is safe for the gecko to eat, but a lot of geckos will not eat them because they don’t wiggle and move around unless being held by the head.
Mealworms are also a good option because they are small don’t jump around and can be contained in a shallow dish and left for days without getting all over your reptile enclosure.
They can be a little harder for your geckos to catch, but this will give your gecko good hunting practice
Make sure the crickets are small enough for your gecko to eat before feeding it to them, they should be no larger the distance between your leopard gecko’s eyes.
Remove any uneaten crickets when feeding it over.
Superworms are also a good food source for your leopard gecko they are larger that mealworms so your gecko does not have to eat as many during the 10 to 15-minute feeding window
Like mealworms and most worms for that matter, super worms are easy for your gecko to catch (good for geckos with bad eyesight or bad at hunting)
Unlike mealworms, they cannot be left in a dish in the enclosure for a few days because they tend to die before your gecko want to eat them. “at least from my experience”
Again you have to make sure your gecko can fit the Dubai rouche in its mouth before feeding it to your Leo (be smaller the distance between your gecko’s eyes.
A lot of reptile breeders breed their own Dubai rouches as they are easy to and it will save them money because of the sheer amount of reptiles they have to feed
waxworms can be good to help fatten up geckos that are underweight, but should not be used as a daily source of food.
Silkworms are a good source of nutrients and healthy for your leopard gecko and are good for adding some variety to your pet’s diet
However, silkworms can be relatively expensive and they don’t live very long, they only live for a few weeks so are only recommended buying in small quantities
Must have supplements for your leopard gecko
A good vitamin powder will contain everything you gecko needs one like Vionate multivitamin will do just fine it can also be used for your cat’s, dogs and other pets,
I use this 500g tub and it lasts for years, the more animals you have and use this for the faster it will run out but it is well worth the small investment.
Calcium and D3
Calcium and D3 are also needed to stop your gecko from having a calcium deficiency and developing (MBD) As described below under the how to feed and water your gecko heading, subheading vitamins calcium and D3
you can buy your calcium and D3 in separate containers but it is faster and easier to buy 2 in one vitamin with D3 Recommended for new geckos owners and people with a lot of reptiles to look after.
I personally like to buy calcium with D3 to same on time and save space in the gecko’s tank, I also mix the Multivitamins with the calcium powder in a 3 to 1 ratio, 3 parts Vitamins to 1 part Calcium plus D3, This is just my personal preference that I got from some big breeders and it has worked fine for them and me.
How much does leopard geckos eat?
All Leopard geckos are different and there is no set number for how much a leopard gecko eats as there is a lot of factors to take into account such as
age younger geckos will eat less but will need to be fed daily but older geckos can eat more but can space out there eating to every second or third day.
Size a smaller gecko will require less energy than a larger gecko so it only makes sense that a smaller gecko will eat less than a larger gecko
Temperature can affect geckos eating habits for example if it is too cold 60F -15.5C a leopard gecko will go into brumation and not eat for months until the temperature rises to around 75F – 23.8C to 80F – 26.6C ambient with a hot spot of around 90F – 32.2C
How often do you feed your leopard geckos
- Juvenile leopard geckos under 1-year-old should be fed daily, you should offer them as much food as they can eat in a 10 minute time period.
- Healthy adult leopard geckos should be feed every second day, you should feed them as much food as they can eat within a 15 minute time period.
- Sick or recovering geckos should be fed once every day until they regain full strength
How to feed and water your gecko
To feed your leopard gecko you should feed it once or twice a day depending on its age and health as explained about,
you can feed it any of the safe food mentions by dropping in the gecko’s tank and letting them hunt for it, however, if your gecko has trouble catching its food you can hold its food by hand or with tweezers down to the geckos month to help them if needed.
In addition to the daily feeding, leaving a small dish of mealworms in its tank at all times so it can eat freely when it is hungry is a good idea(Mealworms are the best option for this) because they don’t jump around are easy to keep in the dish and are a good staple food source for the gecko and they can start alive long enough for your gecko to find and eat them.
Gecko breeders and people with a lot of reptiles do this because it can cut down on the feeding times, sometimes they feed them only on mealworms in the dish by just topping them up every other day and only feeding them something different like super worms or crickets once every week or two
because they have hundreds of geckos they cannot sit for 15 feeding every gecko one at a time, this would take up all of their time and not leave them any time for cleaning and general husbandry
Frech clean Water should be left in the gecko’s tank at all time for your gecko to drink if and when it wants it, there is an ongoing debate whether leopard geckos drink water or not, I know from first-hand experience that they do drink water.
Vitamins calcium and D3
As well as insects geckos will also need vitamin calcium and D3 to help them develop and grow without getting any healthy or bone problems.
Vitamins are needed to give your gecko the micronutrients it needs to grow and develop into a healthy adult and stay healthy, just like us humans are recommended to eating our 5 a day.
Calcium is to help develop the make the bones strong, without this, your gecko can develop MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) this will cause your Leo pain and it will have difficulty standing and walking.
D3 just like in humans it is required to help with calcium absorption, too much D3 can be harmful to leopard geckos but too little can lead to calcium deficiency resulting in (MBD)
D3 is a natural vitamin that comes from the sun, in the wild leopard geckos only come out during sunset and go home at sunrise so they only get a small amount of D3, just enough vitamin D3 they need to help calcium absorption
UVB bulbs are not needed in your Leos tank but must be supplement with D3 powder, Some people do have UVB in their tank but this is not recommended especially for new leopard gecko owners as if the bulb is too strong it will give too much D3 exposure and your gecko will spend most of the day trying to hide from light.
I am not going to get into the whole UVB or not to UVB debate in this post as it will take far too long, I will cover this topic in another post.
Reptile Vitamins are provided in powdered form from a tub
Calcium and D3 powder can come in either one tubs containing both or 2 individual tubs
There are 2 main ways you can get your gecko to eat it
- leave it in a dish for your gecko to eat as and when it needs it, geckos are good a self-regulating what the need.
- Dust the food with the powder before feeding your geckos
You can keep them all in separate tubs in the gecko’s enclosure and let them just eat it as needed.
Have 2 separate dishes one for vitamins and one for D3
All have it all in one dish (this is what a lot of the big breeders do as it saves time when looking after a lot of geckos.
Gut loading your gecko’s food
Gut loading your incest is also another way of making sure your leopard gecko stays healthy and gets in the vitamin and minerals they need.
Gut loading is the practice of feeding your incests highly nutritious foods before you feed them to your pet gecko, you should gut load the insects 12 to 24 hours before feeding them to your gecko, depending on what they are
Crickets should be gut loaded 12 hours before you feed them your Leo this will give them enough time to digest the food and provide a good source of vitamins for your gecko, there are a variety of cricket gut loading food on the market such as Fluker’s Cricket Quenchers
If you are feeding your gecko’s mealworms you should gut load them with carrots 24 hours before feeding them to your geck as it takes a linger for them to digest the food, you can also add some of the cricket gut loading food into a small dish for the worms to eat also
If you leave a dish of mealworm in your gecko tank for them to eat as and when they like you may choose to leave some food in the dish for the worms to eat, so they will be gut loaded when your gecko chooses to eat them.
Of course, this is not necessary if you keep vitamins in a dish and dist your insets when feeding them to your geckos, There is more that one way to make sure your geckos get it essential vitamins and minerals in, just choose a method that suits your list style/time schedule and your geckos eating habits.
Leopard gecko not eating
If your leopard gecko is not eating during the 10 or 15 minutes time period you are feeding them at, there could be a few things you can do to make sure they are eating enough.
you could try feeding them at a different time in the day you could feed them later in the evening, in the wild Leos will come out and hunt for food from sunset to sunrise and spend the rest of the day in their caves hiding from predators and the suns UVB
Another good this to do is leave a small dish of mealworms in with them at all time as well as there normal feeding schedule, if you want to make know if they are eating only place 10 mealworms in the dish, you can count them in the morning and see if they have to eat any while you were asleep.
If you leave a small dish of mealworms plus feed them once a day for juveniles or once every other day for adults and they are still not eating there are a few things you could try
You could try varying up their food, change super worms for roaches or crickets etc.
There are a lot of reasons a leopard geckos will stop eating like a new environment, feeling stressed, getting ready to shed to cold, brumation Etc.
A leopard gecko can go for months without eating food and be fine, as long and your gecko is fit and healthy and not losing weight it fine, they store energy in their tails and that can keep them going for months at a time.
When feeding your gecko, Most geckos will stop eating once they are full but you do get the odd exception that just likes to keep eating and eating,
You should try not to overfeed your gecko as this will cause weight gain and also cause them to regurgitate their food.
If you think your leopard gecko is eating too much you can normally tell by looking at them, like humans when leopard geckos put on too much weight you can notice it around their stomach and tail.
Your gecko’s stomach should be relatively flat unless he/she is just after a feeding
Because geckos store fat in their tail, the general rule of thumb to tell if your gecko is overweight is by looking at their tail, a leopard geckos tail should be fat but not be thicker than their head
If you think your Leo is overweight, you should feed it less often until it returns to a healthy looking size, their tail should be fat but not as fat as their head.
Bugs to Avoid Feeding
Firefly, lightning bugs or any other bug that glows.
Never feed your gecko any insect that glows or lights up in the dark, the chemical in the incest that causes them to glow in the dark is highly toxic and will kill your gecko, As I write this article there is no known treatment for your gecko as none have reportedly lived long enough to see a vet after consuming as little as one firefly.
To be on the safe side just don’t feed your gecko any insect that you have caught inside or outside your home yourself, The reason behind this is that any wild caught insects could contain parasites that will affect your geckos if eaten also any wild insect that has been living outdoors could contain mild traces of pesticides that can be toxic to leopard geckos.
Do leopard geckos drink water?
A lot of people say that leopard geckos do not drink water but they still leave a small shallow dish of water in their enclosure, the reason for this because even if they do not drink the water it will still provide some moisture in the air.
The truth is YES leopard geckos do drink water, sometimes they lick the water off the sides of their moist hide or sometimes they drink the water directly from the water dish.
I had my geckos for about 5 months before I saw one of my geckos drinking all of the water out of the dish one day this may have been extreme circumstances because one of my kids was looking at her and then put her back in her enclosure
The next day I got out of bed I saw her standing on my the floor I thought “How the hell did she get out” So I picked her up and she was cold, so I held her in my hands to warm her up for a little before I put her on her heat mat to warm up
But she ran directly over to her water bowl and proceeded to drink it all, poor little thing must have been really thirsty (of course all of the kids got told to be careful in the future and make sure their enclosure is closed fully)
She crawled through a small gap the kids left, I noticed her trying to escape through a few times after that but it was secure.
Can leopard geckos eat vegetables fruits or salad?
Leopard geckos are 100% insectivores meaning their body digestive system is only capable of digesting meat like insects, they can even eat small picky mice if they are small enough for them to fit in their mouth, Some geckos breeders feed smell picky mice to their female leopard geckos during the breeding season because of the additional proteins and nutrients.
A leopard geckos cannot eat any fruits or vegetables at all because of their digestive system, it is not designed to possess a functioning Cecum, this is the part of the body that aids in the digestion of Cellulose the substance found in both fruits and veg.
they also have a short alkaline digestive track, compared to herbivore that has a longer acidic digestive tract, helping them digest fruit and vegs.
research has been done that revealed that leopard geckos can eat fruits and vegetables but because they can’t digest it properly it is not recommended that you try to feed your pet Leo anything other than live insects and vitamin and mineral supplements
Leopard geckos food digestion
Leopard geckos cannot produce enough body heat to digest food on their own they require belly heat in order to digest their food. The belly heat provided should be around 90F – 32.2C
If an adequate source of belly heat is not provided you gecko will not be able to digest the food in its stomach instead, the food will slowly rot and decay inside your gecko this can cause serious infections and your Leo can die from this…
Always make sure your gecko’s enclosure has an adequate source of belly heat your gecko’s life depends on it!