Leopard geckos are popular pets in North America and around the world. It’s native to Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nepal as it enjoys a hot and dry aquarium with a sandy substrate. If this is your first leopard gecko, it’s natural to be confused about what they eat as well as how much you should feed them for each serving.
If these sound like questions you have, keep reading while we take a closer look at the leopard gecko diet to help you understand what to feed them to keep them healthy and maximize your pets’ lifespan.
What to Feed Leopard Geckos
Foods Leopard Geckos Eat
Your leopard gecko will eat a diet that consists mostly of different types of insects. Variety is important to make sure they can get all of the nutrients they require. Some insects are high in fat and act as a treat for your pet that you will need to give sparingly to make sure your pet doesn’t gain weight, leading to health problems later in life.
Here are some insects that you will be feeding to your leopard gecko.
Foods Leopard Geckos Should Not Eat
There are also quite a few foods that your leopard gecko should not eat that might surprise you. At the top of the list are fruits and vegetables, which are safe to feed other geckos because the leopard gecko cannot break down the cellulose in plant fibers. This inability to process plant material also means you need to be careful when shopping for commercial food because many reptile foods contain these fibers. Here are a few other common foods your pet should avoid.
Leopard Geckos Feeding Chart
|Age||Size||Quantity of Food||Frequency|
|Newborn||3 inches||6 insects||Every day|
|1 month||4 inches||8 insects||Every day|
|3 months||5 inches||10 insects||Every day|
|6 months||6 inches||12 insects||Every day|
|9 months||7 inches||14 insects||Every other day|
|1 + year||8 inches||16 insects||Every other day|
|18 months||10 inches||20 insects||Every other day|
Is It Okay to Overfeed Leopard Geckos?
Leopard geckos love to eat, and if you feed them seven instead of six on accident, it’s unlikely to cause any problems, but like any living creature, if it eats too much, it will become overweight. Obesity can lead to health issues later on that can shorten the lifespan of your pet. Your leopard gecko will store fat in the tail, and if it becomes wider than its neck, it’s most likely overeating.
Do Leopard Geckos Need Supplements?
Gut Loaded Insects
To provide your leopard gecko with the best possible nutrition, you will need to gut-load the insects before feeding them to your pet. Gut loading is the process of feeding the insects a healthy diet before feeding them to your gecko. Insects that arrive through the mail can be stressed out and dehydrated. Taking 48 hours to feed and rehydrate them will provide your pet with a much healthier and satisfying meal.
After the insects are gut-loaded, you will coat them with a multivitamin powder. This multivitamin will provide your pet with essential nutrients it could not get elsewhere. You will need to apply it just before feeding, so it doesn’t have time to remove the powder through grooming.
Calcium is another powder that you will need to apply to the bugs right before feeding. Some commercial powders will combine the calcium with the multivitamin for convenience. Calcium is an essential nutrient that your pet cannot get in a standard diet. It’s responsible for bone strength and several metabolic processes and will help your gecko avoid serious illnesses like metabolic bone disease (MBD), which is life-threatening.
If the multivitamin powder you are dusting the insects with does not contain vitamin D3, you will need to find a calcium powder that includes it to help the calcium work efficiently in the body.
How Often to Give Treats to Leopard Geckos?
Waxworms are one of the best treats you can give a leopard gecko, but they are too high in fat to make part of their standard diet. We recommend giving your pet a small amount every few days and a standard diet of crickets and mealworms for the best results. Super worms are beetle larvae, and they also make a great treat, but remember to watch the tail, so your pet doesn’t become obese.
Do Leopard Geckos Eat Fruits and Vegetables?
As we briefly mentioned earlier, your leopard gecko cannot eat fruits, vegetables, or any plant matter. Small fibers of cellulose make up plant matter, and the leopard gecko cannot digest it. Your pet will not receive any nutritional value from plants and is unlike to eat it. Coating the food with it can cause intestinal problems and other health issues.
What to Do if Your Leopard Geckos Isn’t Eating
Leopard geckos can stop eating for many reasons, including cold temperatures, illness, injury, and even vision problems affecting your pet’s ability to see the food. Luckily, your pet can live for months without eating, so there is no need to rush to the vet or panic. Check the habitat’s temperature to make sure it’s within range and give your pet some time to work it out. You can also make sure there isn’t too much noise in the room, and the lighting is correct.
After a few days, place a small bowl of mealworms near our pet to see if it will eat. Leave them there for a day to coax it out of its hunger spell. If your pet did not eat, replace the old food with a new batch and give it another day. Continue to repeat this process until your pet comes around and begins to eat. If another week or so passes, you may need to seek out the advice of a veterinarian.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide, and it has helped you create a better meal plan for your pet. Feed your gecko using the chart above or by following the two crickets for every inch rule to prevent your pet from becoming obese. Order your insects in advance so you can properly gut load them before feeding and remember to dust them with calcium and a multivitamin each time.
If we have helped you provide a higher quality meal for your pet, please share this guide to feeding leopard geckos with your friends.
Featured Image Credit: ryomaQ, Shutterstock