Leopard geckos are one of the most popular pet lizards in the world, and for good reason. These small, docile lizards are easy to care for, have unique appearance and playful personalities. However, one of the most critical aspects of caring for a leopard gecko is understanding their dietary needs.
In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at what leopard geckos eat, including their natural diet in the wild, and the best options for captive leopard geckos.
Leopard Geckos Diet in the Wild
In the wild, leopard geckos are opportunistic feeders, which means that they will eat whatever food is available to them. The majority of their diet is made up of insects, such as crickets, beetles, and roaches. These insects provide leopard geckos with the protein they need to grow and maintain their health.
Leopard Gecko Diet in Captivity
Leopard geckos are insectivores, which means that they eat insects in the wild. When kept as pets, it’s essential to provide them with a diet that is similar to what they would eat in the wild. Live insects are a great option for feeding leopard geckos.
What Insects can Leopard Geckos Eat?
Live insects are a great option for feeding leopard geckos. Crickets, roaches, and mealworms are all suitable options, but it’s important to make sure that the insects you’re feeding your leopard gecko are gut-loaded (fed a nutritious diet) before being offered to your leopard gecko.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to dust the insects with a calcium or vitamin supplement before offering them to your leopard gecko.
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:
- Dubia roaches
- Phoenix worms
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:
- Butter worms
Leopard Gecko Vitamins and Minerals Supplements
Leopard geckos have specific dietary requirements that must be met to ensure that they are healthy. One of the most critical nutritional needs for leopard geckos is a diet that is high in calcium and vitamin D3.
A diet that is deficient in these nutrients can lead to metabolic bone disease, which can be fatal. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that your leopard gecko is getting enough calcium and vitamin D3 by offering them a diet that is high in these nutrients, or by providing a calcium supplement.
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 supplement without Vitamin D3 is essential for all outdoor captive reptiles
- Phosphorus Free
- 2 Ounce jar
- Age range description: All Life Stages
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.
- Recommended for reptiles or amphibians that are kept indoors
- Promotes healthy bones and vital bodily functions
Carnivorous Reptile Multivitamin
This multivitamin is required on a weekly or biweekly basis.
- Multi vitamin supplement for reptiles and amphibians stimulates growth, reproduction and other vital bodily functions
- Contains all the essential amino acids and vitamin A from beta carotene
- Perfectly balanced trace elements, minerals, amino acids and vitamins
- To serve mix with fruits and vegetables or coat insects according to feeding instructions
- Recommended in combination with Exo Terra Calcium + D3 Powder Supplement or Exo Terra Calcium Powder Supplement
Leopard Gecko Water Requirements
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.
How Much Food should I Give my Leopard Gecko?
Baby and juvenile leopard geckos should be fed 5-7 small crickets or mealworms daily until they reach 4 inches in length. Once they reach this size, offer larger food every other day until they reach full maturity, which typically occurs within 10-12 months.
Adults can be fed 6-7 large crickets or mealworms 2 to 3 times a week.
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 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 insectivores 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.
Gecko’s Feeder Insect Nutritional Breakdown
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:
|Feeder||Protein %||Fat %||Ca:P Ratio||Gut Loading|
|Crickets||19%||5%||1:9||Commercial high calcium cricket gut load, vegetables, fruits, dog or cat food|
|Mealworms||19%||9%||1:7||Greens, carrots, squashes|
|Superworms||19%||18%||1:18||Greens, carrots, squashes|
|Roaches||~20%||~8%||1:3||Fresh fruits and vegetables|
|Hornworms||9%||3%||1:3||Hornworm media included in container|
Reasons Why Your Leopard Gecko is Not Eating
The following are some possible explanations for why the leopard gecko isn’t eating:
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.
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.
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.
4. 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.
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.
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.
7. 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.
It’s essential to understand that a leopard gecko’s diet is an important part of their overall health and well-being. By providing your leopard gecko with a diet that is similar to what they would eat in the wild, you can help to ensure that they live a long and healthy life.
Additionally, it’s essential to be mindful of the sugar content of any commercial leopard gecko food you are considering feeding your gecko, as a diet that is high in sugar can lead to health problems. It’s also important to maintain a regular feeding schedule and to supplement their diet with calcium and vitamin D3.
The latest research on leopard gecko diet has shown that a diet that is high in protein and low in sugar, and supplemented with calcium and vitamin D3, is ideal for maintaining optimal health.
Geckos that are fed a diet that is high in sugar and deficient in calcium and vitamin D3 can develop health problems such as obesity and metabolic bone disease. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of the nutritional content of any food you are considering feeding your leopard gecko.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles or do additional research to get more information on the specific nutritional needs of your leopard gecko. Additionally, it’s a good idea to check out credible research articles which discusses the optimal diet for leopard geckos in captivity.
A well-rounded diet that includes a variety of insects, and supplemented with calcium and vitamin D3, can help to ensure that your leopard gecko is healthy and happy. By providing your leopard gecko with the nutrition they need and being aware of the special dietary considerations, you can enjoy many years with your fascinating pet.