Leopard geckos are excellent pet lizards for all levels of reptile owners. These geckos are very friendly, easy to care for and have a simple diet. Some pet lizards need a specific diet of insects, vegetables, and fruits. But a Leopard gecko’s diet is one of the easiest to feed.
These geckos are insectivores. Leopard geckos should only be fed insects like crickets, mealworms and roaches. They live a healthy life on a diet of insects supplemented by vitamins and other minerals.
If you plan on owning a “Leo,” make sure you know the best insects to feed to keep them strong and healthy.
Keep reading for our tips on the best feeder insects, gut loading, feeding schedules and how to feed them.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
Leopard geckos are primarily opportunistic insectivores. This means that they will eat any invertebrate and insect that is put in front of them. They normally eat insects like:
Leopard geckos should not be fed anything other than insects.
There is no need to give them grains or vegetables. Instead, they get those nutrients from the insects that they eat, which are typically gut-loaded with grains and veggies.
In the wild, these geckos eat any insect that comes in front of them. Sometimes they will even eat other leopard geckos, however this is rare. This cannibalistic behavior has also been seen in captivity. It is one of the main reasons why leopard geckos should not be kept together as pets.
Leopard Gecko Diet
It is important to know what the best diet for a leopard gecko is. Even if they are eating what you feed them, it does not mean that they are getting the right levels of nutrients for healthy growth.
When feeding Leopard geckos it is best to offer a variety of prey items. This means their staple diet should consist of more than one insect. The more diversity that is in their diet, the more likely they will receive all the nutrients they need.
A good example would be to feed crickets and mealworms interchangeably, while feeding waxworms and hornworms would do well as treats.
Leopard geckos should only be fed insects that are the right size. This will help them to avoid choking or difficulties with digestion. It is recommended that insects are no more than the distance between your Leo’s eyes.
As your lizard grows, the size of their feeder insects should also grow.
A juvenile lizard should not be fed an adult-sized hornworm or even a king mealworm. Instead, they should be fed young crickets, mealworms, and similarly sized insects.
The frequency at which you feed your gecko should also change as they age. Young geckos should be fed much more frequently than older ones.
Leopard Gecko Food List
There are many different feeder insects for leopard geckos available on the market. However, only three feeder insects are considered to be the best. Below is a list of these three insects your leopard geckos should eat as a staple:
Leopard geckos love to eat crickets!
Crickets are not only great because they are easy to breed and raise, but they are also very nutritious for leopard geckos. Crickets are also very easy to keep in small insect tanks. They can be gut-loaded with specific diets or an assortment of fruits and vegetables.
Mealworms can be found in various sizes, the largest being a different species called the king mealworm. Mealworms, along with king mealworms, are little insects that are great for leopard geckos of all sizes. They can be fed live, frozen, or dried. However, live insects are recommended.
There have been some studies that show that leopard geckos fed a primarily mealworm diet in the first few years of their life go on to live relatively long lives.
Roaches are clean and very nutritious, when they are domestically raised.
There are two main species of roaches that are commercially available for leopard geckos. The first is the dubia roach (Blaptica dubia) and the other is the orange-headed roach (Eublaberus prosticus). These feeder insects can be kept similarly to crickets; however, they do not survive in cool temperatures for more than a couple of days.
Deciding on which feeder insects are best can seem daunting. Most owners know that one of the most popular feeder insects available on the market is crickets. However, there are plenty of other insects that are excellent including mealworms, roaches, and even beetles.
Leopard Gecko Feeding Schedule
The exact feeding schedule you stick to will depend on how old your leopard gecko is.
Juvenile Leos require more frequent meals and more vitamin supplements, while adults can be fed less frequently. This is because younger species require more nutrients for energy to grow healthy.
Baby leopard geckos are those that are up to six months of age. These geckos are growing at a fast rate and require plenty of food in order to keep up with their growth.
Babies should be fed feeder insects daily (small crickets or dubia roaches) that are both gut-loaded and dusted with calcium powder.
It is recommended that you feed as many as they are willing to eat in 15 minutes. However, it is important to remove the insects that are not eaten after 15 minutes.
|1/4 inch crickets or Dubia roaches||5 to 8||Once a day for 15 minutes||Daily|
Remember, the schedule above is only for their primary diet on any given day. You should always offer a variety of insects. This variety ensures that they are receiving different nutrients that may not be present in their primary diet.
One or two main feeder insects should be consistently fed to them according to the schedule above.
If you want to feed your Leopard Gecko a new insect as a treat, you can do so less frequently.
Leopard Geckos that are between the age of 6 months and 12 months are known as juveniles.
Geckos at this age should not be fed as often as babies, but they still require a consistent feeding schedule that allows them to continue growing. It is recommended that they are fed every other day.
Feed them the same way you would a baby by allowing them to eat as many calcium-dusted insects as they can in 15 minutes.
Vitamin and mineral supplementation should also be done at every mealtime for juveniles.
|1/2 inch crickets, Dubia roaches or mealworms||As many as willing to eat||Every other day for 15 minutes||Every other day|
Once a Leopard Gecko reaches about one year of age, they are considered an adult, or subadult.
At this point, they reach the feeding schedule that they will maintain for the rest of their lives. It is recommended that adults can be fed only 3-4 times a week. This allows them to grow at a healthy rate without becoming overweight.
Depending on what feeder insect you choose to be their primary prey item, you made feed more or less. However, remember that insects need to be the right size. You should not be feeding your adult Leo the same size insects as you did when they were a baby.
Adults should receive vitamin supplements less frequently too. Vitamin and mineral supplementation should be done every other feeding for adults. The only exception is for females who are used for breeding.
|Adult crickets||6 to 10||2-3 times a week||Twice a week|
|Dubia roaches or mealworms||6 to 10||2-3 times a week||Twice a week|
|King mealworms||3 to 5||2-3 times a week||Twice a week|
Before insects are fed to leopard geckos, they should be gut-loaded. This will ensure that they are receiving the most nutrition possible from the insects you feed.
We recommended that you feed your leopard gecko in an empty tank. This is especially true if your gecko is in a tank with a very fine substrate that can be easily eaten when catching insects.
Most owners will buy a small tank that is free of substrate for feeding. They move their gecko to that tank whenever it is time to feed them. That way you can avoid worrying whether your leopard gecko is ingesting the substrate. This also helps in cleaning and catching insects that were not eaten.
Impaction from eating too much substrate is a very common health concern for leopard geckos. This happens when your gecko is catching insects and accidentally swallows substrate as well. This can cause a series of health issues including constipation and a blockage of the digestive tract.
How To Feed Leopard Geckos
Feeding leopard geckos is usually a fun experience that is interesting to watch.
Before you begin feeding, make sure to prepare the insects. It is essential to dust enough insects with a multi-vitamin and calcium powder and ensure they were gut-loaded no more than 24 hours earlier.
- Begin by adding two or three insects to the tank with forceps.
- Place your leopard gecko in its feeding tank and watch as they hunt and eat.
- Make sure not to feed more than 2 or 3 at a time to not overwhelm.
- As they continue to eat, you can add more until they are satisfied.
- Remove all insects that were not eaten.
- Place your lizard back in their tank.
Vitamins and Supplements
Leopard geckos require vitamin supplements at all stages of their lives.
Vitamin supplementation is one of the most important parts of a leopard gecko diet.
The most common illnesses in these lizards are metabolic bone diseases (MBDs). MBDs are a group of diseases caused by a deficiency of minerals and vitamins. Providing mineral and vitamin supplements to your leopard gecko is important to keep them healthy.
Most experts agree that calcium is the most necessary mineral, with Vitamin D3 and Vitamin A also being very important.
Some owners will dust their feeder insects with multi-vitamin and calcium powders to ensure their Leo is getting all the nutrients needed. This powder is typically a fine white powder that easily attaches to the feeder insect.
Another option that can be done alongside dusting insects is leaving a calcium bowl in your gecko’s tank. A calcium bowl is simply a small dish with calcium that is crushed into a powder on it.
A calcium bowl is recommended because it provides your leopard gecko a constant supply of calcium that they can eat whenever their body signals they may need it. It will ensure that your gecko does not have a lack of calcium in its system.
Gut loading feeder insects before feeding Leopard geckos is another great way to provide them with a good amount of nutrients.
Insects that are gut-loaded are insects that have been fed a nutritious meal within 24 hours of being fed to your gecko. This process gives feeder insects protein, fat, and other macronutrients before they are fed.
Gut-loading can be done in a number of different ways.
There are commercially sold powders that are specifically used to gut-load feeder insects. These powders or pellets are typically packed with calcium, numerous vitamins, and other essential trace elements.
Another way of gut-loading insects is by feeding them with nutrient-rich vegetables such as squash, carrot, kale, and orange. They can also be fed rodent chow, baby cereal flakes, and Layena-brand chicken mash.
Many leopard gecko owners purchase small tanks where they house feeder insects.
This will make it easier to gut-load them and give them access to water. This is not required, but it does make feeding a leopard gecko easier.
Can Leopard Geckos Eat
Earthworms: Technically, yes they can. However, it is recommended that pet leopard geckos are not fed earthworms frequently. These worms are 84% moisture with good protein levels but contain very little nutrient supply. In other words, these worms will fill up your Leo without providing much nutritional value. However, if you choose to feed your gecko an earthworm once or twice make sure they are not wild-caught.
Wax worms: Yes, but only as a treat. Waxworms should not be fed as a primary part of their diet. These larvae are very high in fat, and relatively low in protein levels. They also have a low calcium-to-phosphorus ratio which means they should be dusted with calcium powder when fed.
Hornworms: Yes. Hornworms are a favorite amongst adult Leos. These feeder insects are moth caterpillars and are relatively large compared to other insects. Because of this, they should only be fed to adults. Hornworms are a great source of hydration and calcium for leopard geckos but are relatively low in protein levels.
Grasshoppers: Sometimes. Grasshoppers are another feeder insect that is not recommended but can still be eaten. These insects are considered safe to feed, but they are very low in calcium. They also have a hard chitin exoskeleton that could cause an upset stomach or choke your gecko.
Mealworm Beetles: Yes. Leopard geckos can eat mealworm beetles. However, whether they chose to eat them is a toss-up. These beetles have a relatively hard exterior that may be unappealing to some. You can try to feed it occasionally as a treat. However, if they do not find interest in them, move on to another insect.
Dubia Roaches: Yes. Leopard geckos can eat dubia roaches. These insects should be given as part of their staple diet. Dubia roaches are high in protein and calcium, so they provide a great source of nutrition for your gecko. They are a leopard gecko super food!
Superworms: Yes. Superworms, which are also known as king mealworms, are great insects for leopard geckos. These insects provide similar nutritional value to mealworms, the only difference is that they have a thinner exoskeleton, so they’re easier to digest. These insects should only be fed to adults because of their large size.
Phoenix Worms: Yes. Phoenix worms are excellent treats. These worms are well-known for being an excellent source of calcium.
Mealworms: Yes, mealworms should be a part of your leopard geckos main diet. They provide well-balanced nutritional values and are available at different sizes for Leos at different ages. Another great thing about mealworms is that they can be frozen and thawed when fed to your gecko. This way they last longer and can be kept in larger quantities.
Beetles: Maybe. There are many beetles that these geckos can eat, and many that they cannot. Besides darkling beetles, other beetles are not typically fed to leopard geckos. However, if you do choose to feed one to your leopard gecko, make sure they are smaller than your gecko’s head.
Pinkies: Sometimes. Leopard geckos are strictly insectivores and should only be fed live insects. However, sometimes pinkies are fed to prepare a female for breeding. Pinkies are infant mice that are used as leopard gecko food.
Ants: No. Ants should never be fed to a leopard gecko. Not only are these insects too small for even young leopard geckos, but they are also aggressive. Ants have been known to bite and injure lizards.
Leopard geckos are insectivorous and should only eat a diet of live insects.
Do not feed your leopard geckos fruits, vegetables, or meat.
You should feed your gecko crickets, mealworms, or roaches. These three insects provide the most well-balanced nutritional value for leopard geckos. This diet can be supplemented with treats like hornworms, waxworms, or darkling beetles.
Younger geckos should be fed more frequently. Baby Leos should eat every day, juveniles every other day, and adults should be fed 2 to 3 times a week.
Finally, leopard geckos can develop metabolic bone disorders. This is caused by a lack of vitamins and calcium. Dusting feeder insects and using a calcium bowl is essential for a healthy diet.
Now that you know their diet, are you interested in adopting a Leopard Gecko? Let us know in the comments below!