Do you sometimes feel like a grandma when feeding your reptile? Poor baby, you look so thin! Do you even eat? Let grandma make you a hundred sandwiches. Well, at least I feel like this sometimes.
However reptiles should not be fed like humans, of course. And I am not talking about feeding crickets instead of sandwiches. I am talking about how much you should feed, when you should feed and what you should feed. In this article you will learn that leopard gecko diet is a crucial part of keeping a healthy gecko. You will learn everything you need to know about leopard gecko food and leopard gecko feeding.
Some Feeding Basics
Leopard geckos only eat meat. That means that you should only feed crickets, roaches, locusts and so on and so forth. Leos are not made to digest any fruits or vegetables. Maybe you think now: "Okay, but mine eats veggies and fruits happily". Well, as most reptiles, leopard geckos are pretty greedy and it can happen that you wiggle a fruit in front of their eyes and they just snap and eat it. Still, you shouldn´t feed it.
Through feeding your gecko it will get used to you. Some geckos are pretty mean to their keepers at the beginning, but the more you handfeed them, the calmer they get.
If you have a really shy gecko you can use tweezers like these (click) instead of your bare hands to feed it until it gets more used to you feeding it. If you don´t want to handfeed your gecko and you don´t want to let the feeder insects run around in your tank either, get a food bowl like this(click).
Zoo Med Feeding Tongs
These feeding tongs will help you to bond with your shy leopard gecko
When Should You Feed Your Gecko?
Leopard geckos are nocturnal, that means they are most active when the sun goes down. So you have to feed your gecko in the evening hours when it gets active. That is their natural hunting time.
Don´t feed your gecko in the morning. During this time they should sleep anyway, but you often times see leopard geckos being active during the day, mostly because of bad husbandry. Stick to the natural feeding time in the evening.
How Much Should You Feed?
I know that a lot of leopard gecko keepers feed every single day until their gecko is full and doesn´t want to eat anymore. However this can lead to overfeeding quickly as leopard geckos tend to eat more than they need like most reptiles. Overfeeding can lead to serious health problems and it can even end deadly for your beloved pet. So always keep in mind that less is more in most situations.
Babys And Gravid Females
You should feed baby leopard geckos (below 12-15g) and gravid female geckos every day. Babys need a lot of food to grow properly and their appetite is crazy. Gravid female leopard geckos need a lot of energy, obviously, to produce healthy eggs. You can stop feeding for a day if your gecko doesn´t eat anymore. After a day or two it should eat again.
Subadult Leopard Geckos
With a bodyweight below 30g, your leopard gecko is still not an adult gecko. Until it reaches a weight above 30g you should feed every second day as much as it can eat. However you should keep an eye on your gecko´s tail. If it is too fat, stop feeding for two or three days. I will explain more about that later in this article.
Adult Leopard Geckos
I know that this might be a shock for a lot of leopard gecko keepers, but adult leos should only be fed every 2 to 4 days, depending on their tail size.
How To Tell If Your Leopard Gecko Is Too Fat
Leos store fat in their tails. In the wild they eat as much as they can and get energy from the fat that is stored in their tail when they don´t find any food for a couple of days. They also get energy from their tails during brumation.
So a tail that is too fat clearly shows that your leopard gecko should stop eating for a couple of days until it gets to the normal size again. On the other side, if the tail is too thin, you have to feed your gecko more often. You probably want to know now how to tell if it is too fat or if it is too thin.
The thickest part of the tail should be one and a half times thicker than the base tail. Easy, right?
What Should You Feed?
One of the best feeder insects is definitely the dubia roach. Compared to other feeder insects it is very meaty, doesn´t contain too much fat and it is way more healthy. Besides that dubia roaches are quiet and if some of them escape you don´t have to worry about them infesting your house. Dubia roaches need constantly high temperatures and humidity to breed. (Get Dubia Roaches Here)
Of course you can feed crickets and locusts as well. What I wouldn´t feed that often are mealworms and super worms. You could say they are the fast food in the reptile world. They aren´t meaty, their hard bodies can hurt your leopard gecko and they contain a lot of fat. Actually I would feed them only to malnourished leopard geckos that need to gain some weight.
Gut Load Your Leo´s Food
It is very important that your leopard gecko gets enough vitamins. The problem is that feeder insects do not contain a lot of vitamins. So it is very important that you take good care of the feeder insects before you feed them to your leopard gecko. I recommend to put them in a box like Lee´s Kricket Keeper(click) where they have a lot of space and do not start to attack each other. Then feed them some healthy food like any kind of salat, vegetables and fruits.
Lee´s Kricket Keeper
Excellent for housing feeder insects and keep them alive and healthy.
The feeder insects stay healthy in the large box, they get a lot of healthy food which contains a lot of vitamins and when your leopard gecko eats those insects, it will take in the vitamins with those healthy crickets, dubias, whatever. That´s called gut loading and it is actually one of the most important things you should know about leopard gecko diet.
If you gut load the feeder insects as you read above, usually there is no reason to use any vitamin products. However there are two things you should definitely get.
Calcium and Vitamin D3
Since most leopard gecko keepers do not use a UVB lamp in their leo habitat, it is very important to use a vitamin D3 supplement. Why do they need that? In short: it is important for their bones since the bones will get soft if they don´t get any vitamin D3 (and calcium). I recommend to get this calcium with vitamin D3(click).
You should always have a water bowl in your tank. Unfortunately this has to be cleaned quite often as most leopard geckos love to poo into the water bowl. Well´at least they are pretty cute while doing it, lol.
Okay that´s it, you are good to go. Go and prepare some dubia roaches for your leopard gecko. Don´t forget to use the calcium supplement on those feeder insects. Have fun!