Looking at reptiles like leopard geckos, you might think that caring for them will be an expensive and dangerous responsibility. However, that isn’t the case at all because they are just insect lovers. So if owning a pet leopard gecko is the topmost priority on your to-do list, you may wonder: what do leopard geckos eat?
In this article, we will consider all the typical foods that can and should be fed to leopard geckos to meet their basic nutrient requirements. Keep reading to learn all about the do’s and don’ts when it comes to feeding these reptiles.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
For starters, leopard geckos are insectivorous animals. They don’t eat meat, fruits, or vegetables because their digestive tract is not built to digest those components. Therefore, the ideal meal for these reptiles is primarily insects.
But not all insects are valuable meals for leopard geckos. So it is important that you know what exactly should be fed as a staple food or treat and what should not be considered.
Leopard geckos that are kept as pets are expected to maintain the diet of those geckos in the wild. In light of this, insects that are eaten by wild leopard geckos are deemed acceptable for domesticated ones.
So without further ado, here are the basic foods leopard geckos eat, according to their natural dietary needs.
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These insects are often referred to as mealworm beetles. They are excellent sources of calcium which are important for healthy bone development.
The downside of this feeder insect is that it has a repulsive smell and can be aggressive due to its size. So, you have to feed your leopard gecko the darkling beetle that is proportionate to or even smaller than its size, or else your gecko will suffer much harm when feeding.
Not all leopard geckos will enjoy this feed and it’s understandable due to the fact that darkling beetles are aggressive and lacking in some basic nutrients. But if your pet likes darkling beetles, you can make up for the nutritional inadequacies by gut-loading them before feeding them to your leopard gecko.
If you want to go for a more affordable feeding option for your Leo, then crickets are your go-to feed. These insects contain a good amount of protein, just like darkling beetles.
Also, they are good for hydration because they contain a decent amount of moisture than most insects. And if you are concerned about your Leos weight, crickets are simply good enough for maintaining a normal and healthy fit in leopard geckos. This is particularly due to their low-fat content.
Crickets can be found online and in pet stores, so you won’t go through much stress looking for them to buy. In addition to that, they can last for a long time when stored properly. Give or take, they can live up to 10 weeks, which is enough time for you to feed your leopard gecko easily.
Most leopard geckos love dubia roaches. These roaches have a lot of essential nutrients that are beneficial to the health of most geckos so you must not miss out on this feeding option.
Dubia roaches are high in protein which helps reptiles in maintaining an active and healthy body system. To make up for the unbalanced nutrients in dubia roaches, they can be gut-loaded with fresh vegetables, whole grain cereals, and even fruits about 12 hours prior to your leopard gecko’s feeding time.
Feeding dubia roaches to leopard geckos is a stress-free procedure. These feeder insects are slow-moving and so you don’t have to worry about them causing a lot of trouble when they are offered to your pet reptile.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae
Black soldier fly larvae, also known as Calci worms, are good for consumption by leopard geckos. They are rich in a lot of essential nutrients that are easily digestible. Leopard geckos, both wild and domesticated, can do with one or two of these insects in their diet.
One good thing about this insect is its nutritional composition. A Black Soldier Fly larvae have a very good amount of protein and proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio due to their calcium-rich exoskeleton. In fact, they have 30 to 50 times more calcium than other insects, especially mealworms.
Another interesting fact about these caterpillars is that they don’t require extra supplements or additives. This means you don’t have to gut-load or dust any powdered supplements on them before feeding them to your leopard gecko. They are naturally appetizing to eat and nourishing at the same time.
So, with all these perks, it’s not surprising that leopard geckos would naturally like black soldier fly larvae.
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A healthy leopard gecko is one that takes a lot of supplements. These supplements can either be in powdered or liquid form.
The powdered form can be dusted on the feeder insects at the time of feeding. Nutrients that can be dusted on such meals are calcium, minerals, and multivitamins. This is important because a lot of insects don’t provide enough calcium to leopard geckos. Therefore, the bulk of these inadequate nutrients will be derived through this powdered supplement.
On the other hand, liquid supplements are obtained from blended matter. This majorly includes fruits. Leopard geckos don’t have a cecum in their digestive system and the absence of this cecum makes it difficult for leopard geckos to digest cellulose in fruits and vegetables.
However, since the diet of leopard geckos still consists of vitamins and minerals, which can be derived from veggies and fruits, the best way to ensure they are fed appropriately is through supplements.
You can blend feeder insects with fruits like apples, bananas, papayas, peaches, and others that are high in calcium. Let them blend to slurry then you can feed them to your leopard gecko.
Hornworms are sweet and tasty for leopard geckos. They have colorful skin that’s appealing to geckos and don’t have chitin, making them easily digestible for these reptiles.
These caterpillars have a generous amount of nutrients also that can improve the health of mature, juvenile, and baby leopard geckos and even sick and recovering ones too. Hornworms are rich in calcium which fosters bone development; protein which promotes body-building; and low-fat which prevents weight gain and ensures fitness. Additionally, hornworms have high moisture content which can prevent dehydration.
If you need your gecko to remain fit and active, then hornworms are the recommended feed. However, you should note that too much intake of this caterpillar could either make your gecko addicted to it at the expense of more healthy insects or could lead to protein, vitamins, and mineral deficiency.
Adult leopard geckos can be fed two to three moderate sizes once a week. As for baby geckos, one small hornworm once a week would suffice.
For a fact, leopard geckos love silkworms. These worms are in the larval stage of Mulberry silkmoths. They are odorless, slow, tasty, and really easy to eat. Coupled with the fact that they eat mulberry leaves and are naturally enriched with essential nutrients, there is no need for gut-loading silkworms to feed leopard geckos.
As earlier stated, silkworms are endowed with several nutrients. They have a low-fat content and a high amount of protein, calcium, and moisture and with this combination, your leopard gecko will have no problem staying fit and hydrated. Also, they have a decent amount of minerals and vitamins, especially Vitamins A, which strengthen the immune system and prevent infections in the digestive and respiratory tract.
Basically, silkworms are safe to consume, in the sense that they do not bite or wound leopard geckos when they are offered as a meal.
Silkworms are prized feeds. It can become scarce in the market at times and may be expensive to maintain since you would have to purchase a supply of mulberry leaves frequently. But in the long run, it is definitely worth it, for you and your leopard gecko.
There You Have It!
It is relatively easy and budget-friendly to feed leopard geckos. Since they are insectivores, you will have no problem getting a few grubs at home, in the gardens, at pet shops, and even online.
For the sake of your pet’s health, you are obligated to provide any of the aforementioned feeds for them to eat. And once you’ve fulfilled your duties on this part, you will just how healthy your gecko will become and how much you’ll be loved for it.
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I am a huge animal lover and have four dogs, a Labrador, Jack Russell, Pug, and Teacup Yorkie. I also have a cat and a Cockatiel. I have had pets since I was a toddler, and there was not a day when there wasn’t an animal in my house.