Feeding Your Leopard Gecko
Leopard Geckos are insectivores, which means that they eat primarily live insects. In fact, they don’t eat anything but insects! How often Leopard Geckos need to eat depends on age: The general rule is to offer 2 appropriately sized bugs per 1 inch of your Leopard Gecko’s length, or however much they can eat in 15 minutes.
It is best to offer your Leopard Gecko a variety of different food items so they can nutritionally benefit from several different sources of protein.
- Dubia roaches
- Discoid roaches
- Red runner roaches
- Black soldier fly larvae
- Darkling beetles
- Waxworms (as a treat)
How often Leopard Geckos need to eat depends on their age:
- Juveniles — fed daily
- Young Adults — fed every other day / every 3 days
- Adults whose tail is thicker than their neck — fed every 5 days
The key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for your pet is VARIETY. Provide as varied of a diet as you possibly can, and you will be rewarded with a healthier, non-picky pet that always looks forward to mealtimes.
All insect feeders should be lightly “dusted” with calcium powder to balance the calcium-phosphorus ratio. Multivitamin powder can be used every once in a while, to provide extra nutrients. All-in-one powders provide a balanced dose of both at once.
If you are providing your Leopard Gecko UVB, then they only need D3 sparingly in their diet since their body will be utilizing their UV light to synthesize D3. If your gecko is not offered UVB lighting, they should have dietary D3 frequently so they can properly metabolize their calcium.
Gut Loading Your Insects For Your Leopard Geckos' Diet
Gut loading your Leopard Geckos’ insects ensures that they are receiving the optimal nutrition from their meals. To gut load, offer your Leopard Gecko’s insects a variety of healthy foods such as leafy greens and a commercial gutload diet like Repashy SuperLoad, 24-48 hours before offering the insects to your gecko. In this time, the bugs will ingest the food and their bodies will become full of additional nutrients that will then pass on to your gecko once they are consumed. Gut loading is not a replacement for supplement dusting your insects but should be an additional step to ensure your pets are receiving the most nutrition possible from their prey.
What Types of Food Are Not Safe For Leopard Geckos To Eat?
Never feed insects you have found in the wild to your Leopard Gecko. Feeding wild caught prey runs the risk of introducing disease to your pet. You also run the risk of your animal ingesting pesticide or fertilizers, which can be fatal. Even if you do not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers in your own lawn, it does not mean the insect you are catching has not traveled from somewhere that does.
Some wild caught insects are toxic, such as hornworms. The hornworm’s diet in the wild causes them to be toxic to your pet. Always ensure your animals are being fed hornworms that were raised on a captive diet. Captive hornworms will be a blue/aqua color, and wild hornworms will be bright green.
Leopard Geckos should also not consume dead, dried, or processed foods regularly. Leopard Geckos are designed to eat fresh, live prey. Insects that are dead, dried, cooked, frozen, or processed lose some of their nutritional value. If these items are offered regularly or exclusively, it can cause your Leopard Gecko to not receive the optimal nutrition that they require. The best “treat” you can offer your Leopard Gecko is not a dried insect or pelleted treat, but a new, or infrequent live protein source like a waxworm.
How Long Can Leopard Geckos Go Without Eating?
As a general rule, otherwise healthy adult Leopard Geckos can go for up to 2 weeks or more without eating, and some have been known to go several months in extreme cases, though this is not ideal. Leopard Geckos should always have access to clean, fresh drinking water, and cannot survive for very long when dehydrated. Leopard Geckos store excess fat in their tails and will use this as a reserve when they are unable to access food. Although Leopard Geckos may slow down on how much they are eating during the colder winter months, Leopard Geckos should always be offered food even if they do not show enthusiasm for a meal. If your Leopard Gecko is refusing food and losing weight, it is important that you get them into a licensed exotic veterinarian promptly to address the issue. Weighing your Leopard Gecko every week as a baby, and every two weeks to every month as an adult allows you to keep track of your animal’s weight. Oftentimes weight loss can be the first sign that your Leopard Gecko is not feeling themselves and allows you to act and get them to a veterinarian before the issue becomes more severe.