What Do Leopard Gecko Eat? Foods for Leopard Gecko Diet


close up of two brown crickets insects with brown 2022 03 04 02 06 52 utc scaled

A balanced diet is important for the growth and body functioning of your leopard geckos. Having the right kind of food will make them healthy and stay longer. It also makes their organs work properly. Therefore, it is important to determine what is the best food to feed them in order to support their optimal growth.

In their natural habitat, leopard geckos usually hunt insects and other small animals to live. In captivity, they are normally given a variety of insect feeders. Adult geckos may also be given pinky mouse on an occasional basis. Aside from living insects, there are also ready-made feeds available in the market.

Insect feeders, although rich in protein, are deficient in nutrients. Thus, feeds should be accompanied by vitamins and calcium to help them thrive.

In this article, we will discuss the most common feed for leopard geckos as well as their nutritional value.

Top 5 feeds for leopard Gecko Diet:

There are several insect feeders which may be given to your geckos namely: mealworms, super worms, dubia roaches, crickets, phoenix worms, silkworms and hornworms, and others.  These insect feeders vary in their nutritional value and have to be given in variety to achieve a balanced diet.

Crickets

Crickets are closely associated with the family of grasshoppers. They are categorized into black and brown crickets. These insects are excellent sources of nutrients but a comparison must be made since they vary in nutrition content. 

Crickets are often kept as feed for reptiles. They can be purchased in local pet stores in bulk and at an affordable price. Aside from their nutritional value, they also differ in habitat and behavior. Brown cricket is bigger and more aggressive compared to brown crickets. On the other hand, the latter is smaller in size but jumps quickly. 

Black Crickets 

Black crickets or Gryllus assimilis are outdoor dwelling crickets. They are commonly found in open fields. This insect is a great source of essential nutrient which is needed by your leopard geckos. 

These feeder insects are rich sources of protein, lipid, energy and fiber as well as essential and non-essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building block of protein. It’s used by the body to help the muscle grow and boost the immune system. 

In terms of essential amino acids, black cricket contains a higher amount of valine, lysine and tryptophan. It also contains a higher concentration of Fatty acids like Oleic acid, palmitic, and Saturated fat. For vitamins, it contains more vitamin E, Vitamin B2 and B12 compared to brown crickets.

Brown Crickets

Brown crickets or Acheta domesticus are domestic or home-dwelling crickets. This is also a great source of vitamins and minerals for your geckos.

Compared to black crickets, it has a higher concentration of lipid, protein, energy and fiber. They are also rich in amino acids such as leucine, phenylalanine, methionine and histidine as well as non-essential amino acid, taurine.

Brown crickets also contain more fatty acids such as linoleic acid and EFA  compared to black cricket. For minerals, Brown crickets has more calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, zinc, manganese and copper. 

For vitamins, They contain higher amounts of Vitamin A, C and choline. 

Black and Brown Crickets: Nutritional Value 

Insect Feeder Protein  Lipids Fiber Fats Leucine Lycine Saturated Fatty acids Calcium  Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin B2
Black Field Cricket  70.8% 21.8% 19.1% 12.0 7.74 7.90 43.72 45.30 2.90 30 3.41
Brown House Cricket  71% 22.8% 10.20% 4.4 9.75 5.40 32.22 132-210 <67 1.32 .23

Waxworms

Leopard geckos love to ear waxworms! This feeder is a larva of the Greater wax moth and is widely available in the market. Gecko hobbyists also like this feeder because it can last longer even without food.

Leopard geckos like waxworm because this feeder is rich in fat and calories! So if you want your geckos to gain weight, you can feed them with this.

It must also be noted that geckos who are always given waxworms tend to refuse other insect feeders. Excessive consumption of waxworm may cause obesity and fat buildup. Waxworms are also poor when it comes to nutriets. In comparison with crickets, they contain lesser amounts of protein, fiber, calcium ang phosphorous. Hence, this is not a good staple for your leopard geckos. But it can be given in minimal amount.

Mealworms

Mealworm or Tenebrio molitor are one of the most popular  feeder insects for leopard geckos. In fact, it can be given even from the juvenile to adult stage. They are cheap, readily available and have a long lifespan if provided a good condition. You can also buy freezed-dried mealworms from the market.

Live or dried mealworms contain protein, fat, fiber and calcium. Mealworms are also good for your leopard geckos since they are easy to eat once placed on the food dish.

Dubia Roaches 

Dubia roaches or Blaptica dubia are great sources of protein but are low in fat. This has become a good staple food for leopard geckos since it contains moisture, protein, fats, fiber and a trace amount of calcium. 

This feeder insect is also good since it doesn’t smell, jump or make any noises. They also tend to live longer than crickets and mealworms. 

Dubia roaches, although high in protein cannot be given in excessive amounts. This is because the protein which is converted to uric acid is not excreted when they urinate. If your leopard geckos eat dubia roaches in excessive amounts, it may lead to gout problems.

To ensure that your dubia roaches are healthy for your geckos, make sure you feed them with vegetables and fruits. Avoid feeding dog food as it may contain chemicals and preservatives that are harmful to your geckos.

Waxworm, Mealworm and Dubia roaches: Nutritional Value

Insect Feeder Protein  Fiber Fats Ca:P Ratio
Waxworm 15.50 7.68 22.19 1:7
Mealworm 20.27 2% 12.72 1:7
Dubia roaches 23.4 1% 7.2 1:3

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can leopard geckos eat pinky mouse? 

Yes, you can feed your leopard geckos pinky mouse on an occasional basis. Pinky mouse is a rich source of fat, calcium and other nutrients that your geckos would love. However, this must be given in moderation. 

As recommended, feed them only once a month otherwise, they will suffer intestinal gout and obesity.

Can you feed your leopard geckos wild crickets or insects? 

Wild insects such as roaches or crickets are born scavengers. It means that they mainly feed on decaying organisms to survive. They are unhygienic and carry parasites or diseases that can cause harm to your geckos. 

Can Leopard Geckos Eat Fruit?

No, geckos cannot benefit from the nutrient in fruits. That is because they are insectivores and their system cannot digest food unless it is meat or insect. Aside from that, sugar content can also cause problems such as mouth rot.

How Long Can A Leopard Gecko Go Without Eating?

Leopard geckos are designed to store food in their tails. Fatty tails indicate that they are well-nourished and well-provided. Hence, if there is no food, they can directly use the fat as their energy. Usually, they can last 10 to 14 days without food.

How Often Do Leopard Geckos Eat?

Hatchlings and juveniles can be fed every day. Adults, have to be fed 3 to 4 times per week. In either stage, nutrient-dense insects must be given in order to promote a proper diet. 

What Causes Leopard Geckos To Stop Eating?

One of the primary reasons why leopard geckos stop eating is because they are stressed or have an environment that is too cold. In the worst cases, non-eating can be caused by illnesses or health problems.

To prevent the enclosure from getting too cold, place a heat mat or heat bulb to raise the temperature inside the enclosure.  Also, provide them with hides for security and avoid unhealthy food to alleviate stress.

Can Leopard Geckos Eat superworms?

Yes, you can feed your leopard geckos superworms in moderation. Superworms contain high amounts of calories, which when given in excessive amounts, may lead to obesity. However, if your leopard gecko is malnourished and thin, this diet can be of help.

Can Leopard Geckos Eat hornworms?

Yes, your gecko can eat hornworms. In fact, they love it! Hornworms are a great source of nutrition as well as calcium but they should also be given in moderation or not more than 3-4 times a month. 

Can Leopard Geckos Eat earthworms?

Yes, but caution must be made. Earthworms contain, protein, fats, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium but they also carry parasites and bacteria since they feed on organic materials in the soil. 

Can Leopard Geckos Eat mealworm beetles?

Yes, they can eat mealworm beetle because it’s rich in nutrients and minerals. Just remember the golden rule in feeding your geckos: the size of the insect must not be more than the space between the geckos’ eyes. 

Mealworm beetles are bigger compared to other insect feeders. Caution must be made in order to prevent choking. 

Can Leopard Geckos Eat grasshoppers and locusts?

Yes, it’s completely safe to feed your gecko’s grasshoppers or locusts. Grasshoppers or locusts are packed with nutrients and minerals. 

Grasshoppers contain 72% moisture, 20% protein, 2% fat, and 5% fiber. Locust, on the other hand, contains 62% of calcium, 22% of protein, 9% fat, and 4% fiber. The only disadvantage is that it’s difficult to find live locusts in the market.

Why do leopard Geckos eat their skin?

Shedding leopard geckos normally eat their shed. There’s nothing to worry about this since it’s completely healthy!

The reason behind this is that leopard geckos lose a lot of nutrients and minerals during shedding or ecdysis. They eat their old skin in order to get back the nutrients in their body.

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