What Do Leopard Geckos Eat? Best Food and Feeding Tips

Leopard geckos are small, insectivorous lizards found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Iran’s deserts. Their adorable looking, small stature and low maintenance requirements make them a popular pet. These geckos require a variety of diets from various food categories. The most important food item in their diet is protein, which comes in the form of insects.

There are a variety of feeder insects that can assist your gecko to meet its nutritional demands and develop well. Leopard geckos, on the other hand, may experience a loss of appetite from time to time. It can cause serious health problems and dramatically reduce your gecko’s lifespan.

A balanced feed rich in minerals, proteins, and vitamins, together with an excellent habitat that has the right temperature, humidity, and hides, ensures that your pet gecko lives a long, healthy, and happy life. This article will assist you in determining the ideal diet for your leopard gecko.

What do leopard geckos eat?

Leopard geckos eat insects. This means you don’t have to worry about them eating fruits, meat, vegetables, or grains. They prefer to eat just insects or bugs. They are not fond of canned or dried reptile food.

There are a variety of live feeder insects available, which are an important kind of enrichment for your pet. Some of these feeders are your gecko’s primary source of nutrition. Leopard geckos require a variety of vitamins and minerals, with a particular emphasis on calcium and vitamin D3.

How much food should I give my leopard gecko?

Baby geckos: 

Feed your baby gecko insects, which should be roughly 3/8 inch in size, on a daily basis.

Juvenile geckos: 

Every other day, feed your young gecko crickets, which should be roughly 14 inches in size.

Adult geckos: 

Every 3-4 days, feed your adult gecko small adult to adult size crickets.

How often do leopard geckos eat?

Leopard geckos less than a year old should be fed every day. Adult geckos should be fed every other day because they can easily consume 10 insects per feeding. Food should be supplied early in the evening or late in the day, as this is when leopard geckos prefer to eat.

Sick geckos should be fed once per day. If your gecko is a picky eater, leave worms in a dish and don’t force them to eat. They will eat it afterwards.

What insects can leopard geckos eat?

Leopard geckos should consume insects high in protein, vitamins, and fat. You may also feed them freeze-dried insects or canned food, although they are less nutritious than fresh insects.

Your gecko can be fed a variety of insects, including:

  • Crickets
  • Dubia roaches
  • Mealworms
  • Silkworms
  • Beetles
  • Phoenix worms
  • Hornworms

Some insects are heavy in fat, therefore feed such fat-soluble insects to your gecko once or twice a week to assist your leopard gecko gain weight. These insects are:

  • Superworms
  • Waxworms
  • Butter worms

What happens when leopard geckos don’t eat?

Leopard geckos store fat in their tails and can go for up to two weeks without eating. However, if the gecko does not eat for an extended period of time, this could be a sign of disease. Your gecko could be unwell and require veterinary care.

Reptiles, on average, do not require as much food as mammals to survive. However, it is critical to provide your gecko with a nutritious meal on a regular basis in order to keep them happy and healthy.

Find out more about crested gecko care sheet.

Do leopard geckos eat fruits and vegetables?

Leopard geckos are carnivorous reptiles. They don’t consume fruits and veggies. They enjoy eating a range of insects that are both nutritional and beneficial for such lizards. Their bodies can only digest meat and insects.

The leopard gecko’s body lacks a functioning Cecum, which aids in the digestion of Cellulose, a chemical present in fruits and vegetables. They also have a shorter digestive tract that is not built to handle or digest fruits and vegetables. They have a skull and jaw that are adapted to effortlessly consume meat.

Which foods are toxic to leopard geckos?

Fireflies and lighting bugs are more toxic to leopard geckos.  These bugs contain compounds that are extremely toxic to your gecko and should never be fed to it. Insects collected in the wild, such as snakes, jackals, and scorpions, can potentially be harmful to leopard geckos.

Leopard gecko diet: Supplies

The gecko owner must locate food and water supplies to ensure that your gecko eats adequately. The three essentials for feeding your gecko are:

Bowl of calcium:

Some gecko owners keep calcium powder in the dish of their gecko with a high calcium demand. In this case, your pet may self-regulate calcium intake by licking the supplement as needed.

Because there is a slight risk of calcium overdose, the owner should instead sprinkle all feeder insects with calcium. If you wish to keep calcium powder in a bowl at all times, attempt to utilize it without vitamin D3 to decrease the risk of vitamin D3 overdose.

Food bowl:

Feed your gecko in a large bowl. Bugs and roaches will be unable to escape from the bowl in this manner. However, some crickets and roaches can quickly escape from any sort of feeding dish. If your leopard is hesitant to eat from a bowl, leave him alone for a few days to stimulate its feeding and hunting instincts.

In some cases, Leopard geckos can be fed with soft-tipped feeding tongs or even your fingers in some situations. This is critical for enhancing your pet’s life and encouraging physical activity. You should inspect the enclosure on a regular basis to see if any uneaten bugs are still present, as they might bother and irritate your pet.

Water bowl:

A shallow dish of fresh, clean water should always be provided in your pet’s enclosure so that he or she may easily consume it. Tap water, which includes many trace minerals that are healthy to your pet, can also be given.

Leopard gecko vitamins and minerals supplements

Vitamins and minerals play an important role in increasing the gecko’s nutritional value. Unfortunately, no diet can replace the variety of food that geckos consume in their natural environment. As a result, before feeding the insects to your pet, they are dusted with special minerals and vitamin supplements in the form of powder.

Leopard geckos have high calcium requirements, therefore keep a small tray of pure calcium supplements in the aquarium. To supplement your gecko’s food with vitamins, just place the feeder insects in a plastic bag with a supplement powder, shake the bag, and deliver the coated feeder insects to your pet gecko.

The calcium supplements listed below can be given to your gecko:

Calcium powder without Vitamin D3:

It should be kept in a dish in your leopard gecko’s tank at all times, or it should be dusted on insects before each meal.

Calcium powder with Vitamin D3:

This powder is required 2-3 times per week. This is not necessary if your gecko’s aquarium contains a UVB lamp.

Carnivorous Reptile Multivitamin:

This multivitamin is required on a weekly or biweekly basis.

Leopard gecko feeder insect information

It is critical to discuss feeder bug information with your leopard gecko since the nutritional breakdown of feeders may help you understand how to care for them and why you should buy such feeders in bulk.

Feeder insect nutritional breakdown in leopard gecko:

Leopard geckos require an equivalent amount of calcium to digest phosphorus levels, with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1 being optimum. Because most insects have a higher phosphorus level than calcium, they are coated in calcium powder.

Healthy leopard geckos may benefit from insects with more protein and lower fat content, whereas young animals utilized for breeding may benefit from insects with higher fat content.

It is critical to remember this information because which feeder insect should be used depends on your leopard’s age, weight, and overall health. For example, if you have an overweight leopard gecko, you should continue to feed them crickets and silkworms until their weight is under control.

Knowing the calcium and fat composition of feeder insects is also useful since it allows you to feed a sick or underweight leopard gecko.

The chart below can help you evaluate the protein and fat composition of various feeders, as well as which feeder is better to ingest in terms of calcium to phosphorus ratio:

FeederProtein %Fat %Ca:P RatioGut Loading
Crickets19%5%1:9Commercial high calcium cricket gut load, vegetables, fruits, dog or cat food
Mealworms19%9%1:7Greens, carrots, squashes
Superworms19%18%1:18Greens, carrots, squashes
Silkworms13%2%1:2.4N/A
Pheonix Worms18%10%1.5:1N/A
Roaches~20%~8%1:3Fresh fruits and vegetables
Hornworms9%3%1:3Hornworm media included in container
Wax worms15%22%1:7N/A
Butter worms16%17%1:18N/A

What should be done to care for Leopard gecko feeders?

The nine most prevalent feeder insects are favorites of leopard geckos. By correctly caring for these insects, you can keep your gecko healthy while also saving money for the owner.

Crickets:

Crickets can be kept at room temperature for nearly eight to ten weeks in a secure ventilated container with a lid and cardboard cover.

Mealworms:

Mealworms can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in an uncovered container without a lid.

Super worms:

It can be stored at room temperature in an uncovered container without a lid for up to a year.

Silkworms:

Silkworms can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks in their original container. Maintain the moisture level in their food.

Roaches:

Roaches can be stored at room temperature in a smooth-sided container with cardboard egg cartons for up to three months.

Phoenix worms:

They can live for up to three weeks on the door of your fridge or in a cool environment (50-70 degrees).

Hornworms:

Keep hornworms at room temperature for three to seven days.

Wax worms:

These insects can be stored in their original container at room temperature or in the refrigerator door for up to one month.

Butter worms:

Butter worms can be kept in the original container in the fridge door for up to four months.

The benefits of buying feeder insects in bulk

The following are the advantages of purchasing and keeping feeder insects in bulk:

Convenient:

Purchasing feeder insects in bulk is practical because newborn geckos require insects every day and adult geckos require them many times each week. Buying feeder insects in bulk is also less expensive and easier to keep.

Allows for gut-loading:

Gut loading is a technique for feeding healthy food to insects before feeding them to your leopard gecko. It is recommended that you gut load the insects for 12 to 48 hours before giving them to your leopard gecko.

Crickets can devour a range of fruits and vegetables before feeding them to your leopard gecko to provide extra nutritional value. Mealworms enjoy carrots, so offer them to your gecko 24 hours before feeding them.

In this manner, your gecko may benefit from purchasing feeder insects in bulk.

Reasons that your leopard gecko may be on a hunger strike

The following are some possible explanations for why the leopard gecko isn’t eating:

Stress:

Stress is a prevalent component in newly acquired leopard geckos. Because of the new environment, new geckos may refuse to eat during the first week. He may be stressed as a result of his new surroundings, which may result in a loss of appetite.

Temperature:

The temperature of your gecko’s tank should be the first thing you check. Leopard geckos are reptiles that rely on the temperature of their surroundings to keep warm. They require heat to digest their food, thus if the tank is too chilly, they will struggle to consume it.

Your gecko’s immune system may be compromised as a result of the cold. Maintain a temperature of 87-94 degrees Fahrenheit in a basking location or hide for the gecko.

Shedding:

Many leopard geckos refuse to eat for several days before or after shedding. Leopard geckos typically consume their discarded skin. Shedding could be the reason your gecko isn’t eating.

Many leopard geckos refuse to eat food a few days before or after they shed. Leopard geckos usually eat their shed skin. Shedding might be the reason that your gecko is not eating.

Mating season:

Leopard geckos’ breeding season typically begins in January and lasts until June or July. Females lose their hunger when ovulating, however, egg formation requires a lot of energy, which may enhance their appetite.

During breeding, a female may lay sterile eggs, which she may eat. During the breeding season, males may become so excited when looking for a companion that they lose interest in eating.

Brumation:

Minor temperature and lighting changes in the fall and winter may lead your leopard gecko to stop eating and drinking during brumation. However, during brumation, geckos may still move about the habitat and drink water.

Disease:

If your gecko appears to be lethargic and sick, he may be suffering from a disease or infection. In this state, your gecko may refuse to eat. In this instance, it is advisable to seek veterinarian care for your pet as soon as possible.

Gastrointestinal blockage:

If your gecko is consuming loose substrate from the tank, he or she is at risk of developing gastrointestinal blockage. Symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage include: 

  • Difficulty in eating
  • Regurgitation (action of bringing swallowed foods up again to the mouth)
  • No bowel movements

This is a serious issue that must be addressed right away.

Wrapping up:

Finally, it is not difficult to feed your gecko with calcium and vitamin-rich food. Keep an eye out for potential feeding concerns that could lead to health or environmental issues for the leopard geckos.

Drastic weight gain and loss can be detrimental to your pet’s health, but you can address this issue by paying attention to feeder insect nutritional content, feeding frequency, environmental conditions, and offering the finest veterinarian treatment as needed.

Remember that bugs, water, and vitamins are key components of your gecko’s diet. Combining the right diet with the right habitat and tank conditions will ensure that your leopard gecko lives a long and happy life.

Edward Jones is Editor-in-Chief at AZ Reptiles. He is a true reptile lover. He has a lot of experience in keeping and breeding most reptile pets.

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