A lot of first time gecko owners find themselves asking “what do leopard geckos eat?”
And it’s a good question.
Leopard geckos have a very diverse diet and need access to a lot of different vitamins and minerals; however, it’s surprisingly easy to provide your gecko with the perfect diet so that it has a long and happy life.
A lot of people ask me ‘what do leopard geckos eat to be healthy’ but before I discuss their diet, I want to point out that your gecko will require more or less food depending on it’s age and size, but as a general rule of thumb, a gecko shouldn’t be fed food larger than it’s head and with specific food (crickets in particular) they should be fed two insects per inch of its body i.e. a 4 inch gecko would require 8 crickets.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
Having the correct diet for your leopard gecko is extremely important to both their health and their happiness.
I think it’s important to mention that you should never overfeed your lizard as they can become obese. I’d also highly recommend that you feed your gecko in the evening or at night as they’re primarily nocturnal hunters and will be more likely to eat at this time of day. Whilst adult geckos will only require feeding every couple of days, it’s important to remember that breeding females and hatchlings will require food every day.
The easy and quick answer to “what do leopard geckos eat?” is live insects.
It’s absolutely vital that you feed your leopard gecko live insects as they basically make up the entirety of their diet – both at home and in the wild. There are various types of insect you can feed to your lizard but I’d argue the best (and certainly the most common) type of diet is a combination of crickets and mealworms.
Crickets are a great source of nutrients for your gecko and, because they move around a lot, are also a great way to ensure the gecko doesn’t get bored when eating them. Remember, in the wild, the gecko would hunt its food and it’s important that you give the creature the opportunity to do this in the tank as well.
I think it’s worth noting that there are different types of cricket and each type acts differently (some chirp a lot more or move a lot less) so you can give the gecko a nice variety of food just by feeding it different types of cricket.
Another extremely popular source of gecko food is the mealworm (which are most nutritious after they’ve just moulted). There are several benefits to feeding mealworms to your lizard but I think a very important factor to consider is the lack of opportunity for them to escape or even bother your lizard if left for too long.
Whilst crickets can escape the tank or will nibble at your gecko if he doesn’t eat them, mealworms will just remain in their container for the gecko to consume at it’s leisure – although this may be a bit dull for your lizard.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat: The Different Types of Insect
As I’ve indicated, your lizard can eat a wide variety of insect, below you’ll find the most popular types of insect to feed to them:
Different insects will offer the gecko different nutritional benefits; for example, locusts are extremely rich in protein whereas other insects offer more vitamins or calcium. I’d also recommend that you don’t buy a huge amount of insects at once as you’ll have to care for them before they’re fed to the lizard and many insects don’t have particularly long shelf lives and will die before you can use them.
As a quick side note, I’d like to point out that you should never give your lizard an insect you’ve found in the garden. Insects that live outside eat a wider diet than those bred in captivity and thus carry a variety of parasites and germs that will make your gecko ill.
Now the question, “what do leopard geckos eat?” is a useful one to ask for any new leopard gecko owners, it’s also important to ask “how do I feed them?”
Whilst we’ve discussed the type of insects your leopard gecko will enjoy feasting on, it’s important to make sure that the insects are as nutritious as possible. One way to ensure this is to complete a simple task known as gut loading.
Gut loading is basically giving the insects the opportunity to eat as many healthy nutrients as possible before you feed them to your gecko. This way, when the gecko consumes the insects, he or she will also consume and digest the calcium and vitamins they’ve eaten earlier.
It’s highly recommended that you gut-load the insects up to 12 hours before you place them in the geckos tank. This gives them enough time to sufficiently feed themselves so they’re completely stuffed full of good nutrients for your gecko.
I’d recommend giving the insects access to a small piece of lettuce or carrot as they’ll eat this quite happily which will make the gut loading process easier. Alternatively, substances such as hog mash are other ideal types of food to ensure the insects eat enough nutritious food before they’re fed to the gecko.
A great way to ensure your geckos get as many minerals as possible is to use the dusting method to feed them. Dusting involves taking the live bait and placing them in a container or plastic bag alongside specific mineral-containing powders and shaking that container or bag so that the live bait is covered in the dust. Ergo, when the leopard gecko eats the live bait, it’s also consuming the powder on their bodies.
It’s advisable to do this just before you feed the insects to the gecko as some insects (crickets in particular) will clean themselves and remove the powder, thus preventing your gecko from receiving the nutrients it needs. This is another reason why mealworms are a useful food source, as they won’t remove the nutritious powder from their bodies before the gecko consumes them.
If you don’t want to use this method, you can give your gecko access to the powder directly (via a small container in its cage) and it will lick the powder it needs – it has an amazing self-awareness of the necessary nutrients.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat That Makes Them Fat?
Leopard geckos are just like every other animal in the sense that they’ll become fat if they eat far too much food. So, whilst it’s important to make sure your leopard gecko has enough food, it’s important that you’re selective with the food you make available.
If you constantly feed your pet lizard pinkies (baby/newborn mice) or specific insects (waxworms and/or superworms) they’re likely to become obese. You can tell if your leopard gecko is obese by analysing their body – they store fat in their tails, so if your lovely lizard has a body which is larger than or as large as it’s tail, then it probably needs to go on a diet.
On top of this, leopard geckos can also become quite addicted to pinkies or the aforementioned insects so you should only provide them as treats occasionally.
Remember, your gecko will stop eating when it’s full so try to learn how much it can generally manage as there’s no point feeding your gecko too much food – particularly as live insects can and will cause problems for your lizard if they’re not eaten quickly enough. Most geckos will eat for about 15-20 minutes and adults should only need feeding every other day (babies and breeding females will require access to fresh food every day).
What Do Leopard Geckos Drink?
Your leopard gecko will need access to completely fresh water (don’t even add vitamins to it) as they can be susceptible to picking up bacteria from dirty water. A common problem is your gecko identifying it’s water bowl as a toilet so you need to watch out for this and continuously clean the bowl until it realises it’s a source of water instead. Finally, it’s also important to make sure the water doesn’t spill because a gecko will thrive in a dry environment so use a container than won’t be easy to knock over.
Now that I’ve answered the question what do leopard geckos eat, you can provide your pet with the ideal diet to help it grow into a happy and healthy part of your family.