Feeding Your Crested Gecko
Generally speaking, prepared diets are not the best way to feed a reptile. Prepared diets are typically full of fillers and low-quality ingredients, and they don’t provide a balanced diet. Thanks to the exhaustive efforts of some really smart people, there are some nutritionally complete prepared diets on the market ready for your gecko to chow down:
- Black Panther Zoological (BPZ)
- Leapin’ Leachie
- Zoo Med (new formula only)
These brands offer high quality formulas with a range of flavors to suit your individual gecko’s preference. If you are feeding your gecko a prepared diet that already has bugs in it (Pangea With Insects/Fig and Insects, Repashy Grubs N’ Fruit), technically feeder insects are not needed for the gecko’s survival. But they make a great source of enrichment and exercise for the gecko, and they help juveniles grow faster, as well as fatten thin adults. Geckos that are not offered bugs may grow slowly, become lanky, and overall seem less healthy than those that are offered insects regularly.
In other words: even with a good, crested gecko diet, crested geckos should still be offered bugs. Offer insects 1-2x/week for best results. If you notice that your gecko is getting fat on this schedule, reduce the number of feedings.
- Dubia roaches nymphs
- Small hornworms
- Black soldier fly larvae
- Small superworms
- Discoid roach nymphs
How often crested geckos need to eat depends on age:
- Juveniles (0-12 months old) — Crested gecko diet available daily, insects 1-2x/weekly
- Adults — Crested gecko diet every 2-3 days, insects 0-1x/weekly
Adult crested geckos that are overweight or obese should be reduced to less frequent meals and smaller amounts of food, sometimes once every 5-7 days. Obese crested geckos will often have visible rolls on their sides. You can encourage your gecko to move around to help them exercise. Keep in mind that it typically takes quite a while before weight loss is observed in reptiles after reduced feedings and increased exercise.
Always offer a clean dish of water for your crested gecko. Misting the walls of your enclosure once per day before bed will allow the gecko to hydrate by licking droplets from the walls and decor.
What Types of Food Are Not Safe For Crested Geckos To Eat?
Crested gecko nutrition has come a long way in the last decade. When crested geckos were first available as pets, it was commonplace to offer them a diet of baby food and yogurt along with some sort of protein-based baby food (usually chicken). We now know that these foods are not the best choice for our reptiles. Thankfully, with several complete meal replacement diets available on the market, we no longer have to guess and hope we are meeting our animal’s nutritional requirements.
You should stick to complete crested gecko diets for your gecko, along with calcium dusted insects. With the variety of gecko diets and insects, you can always offer your gecko a variety to switch it up. Some geckos may not take to variety, and many keepers will find that their gecko has a favorite flavor of crested gecko diet.
Incomplete diets, such as baby food, fruit puree, or only insects, can lead to health issues for your gecko such as metabolic bone disease (MBD) or calcium crashing. Crested gecko diets are formulated with the proper ratio of vitamins and minerals to ensure your gecko is receiving proper nutrients to survive. Some geckos may prefer insects over crested gecko diets. In this case, it is important to note that you cannot replace a complete crested gecko diet with an insect-based diet; crested gecko diet should make up the majority of your gecko’s diet. Some geckos will hold out and refuse prepared diets in order to get insects. A healthy animal will not starve itself. If you are concerned with your animal not eating, examine your husbandry, and a trip to an exotic veterinarian may be in order.
Can Crested Geckos Eat Fruit?
Crested geckos eat fruits, nectar, and soft seeds in the wild. A small piece of select non-citrus fruit as a treat is fine now and then for your crested gecko. It is important to keep in mind that our domesticated fruit varieties contain much higher levels of sugar when compared to wild fruits and are not healthy when fed in excess. Typically, wild crested geckos are eating fruits when they are over-ripe and soft and have fallen off of trees. It is important to note this since they are not designed to consume harder, under ripe, or crispy fruits. The most common fruits offered for treats in captivity for a crested gecko are soft fruits such as:
- Ripe or rehydrated figs
- Over ripe watermelon
How Long Can Crested Geckos Go Without Eating?
Crested geckos can go 2-3 weeks without eating but cannot live long without access to water. Some crested geckos will not eat for a few days after bringing them home, and this is not a reason to panic. Some geckos can take up to 10 days to start eating their food once being introduced to a new home. Crested geckos are most active at dawn and dusk and are most likely to eat during these times. Use a shallow dish with a thin layer of crested gecko diet to observe lick marks. Young geckos may have a harder time finding their food, especially if they are kept in a large enclosure. If you insist on housing a small gecko in a large setup, you should offer several eating places to aid your gecko in finding their food. Sometimes it is necessary to downgrade your crested gecko to a quarantine enclosure or sterile setup to ensure they are eating and upgrade them as they grow.
Another helpful tip- if you see poop, they are eating! Sometimes geckos will eat without you realizing. It is a good idea to keep track of your gecko's weight weekly with a gram scale to monitor their growth. If you notice your gecko losing weight, especially if they are young, it is important to address the issue with an exotic veterinarian.
Avoid hand feeding your gecko as they can become dependent on it and may not receive an adequate amount of food to be healthy. You should only resort to hand feeding when instructed to by your veterinarian.
Support for You and Your Reptile – Care Sheets for A Variety of Reptile Species
To learn more about Crested Geckos and their care, check out our Ultimate Crested Gecko Zen Guide! A comprehensive, over 100-page guide, all about crested geckos and their care!
Zen Habitats provides in-depth care sheets for many different species, making it easy to understand specific care needs of your pet. Zen also offers knowledgeable customer service gurus, available 7 days a week to answer care questions, point owners in the right direction, or make helpful suggestions. Additionally, you can find many useful articles and videos on the site, covering a wide array of reptile related topics, including interviews with reptile industry professionals and expert breeders.