Leopard geckos eat insects only. This makes them insectivores. This doesn’t mean you can feed them any and everything you find in your garden, though. In fact, if you do that there is a good chance your leopard gecko could get impacted and possibly die.
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How To Feed Leopard Geckos?
Now that we know leopard geckos are insectivores; you might be wondering how do you feed them? You can’t just drop dried up insects in your leopard gecko’s tank and expect them to eat them. A lot of pet stores sell dried crickets and mealworms but leopard geckos will not touch them. Why? Because, if the insect is not moving it does not interest them.
Leopard Gecko’s can be very picky eaters. At times my geckos won’t eat either mealworms, superworms, or crickets. They might prefer crickets one week and then mealworms the next week. Really there is no rhyme or reason to it.
How Often Should You Feed Them?
As you will soon learn crickets are a good idea to feed them as a staple diet. For hatchling or juvenile leopard geckos I would feed them daily. For adults I would feed them every other day.
It’s important to note that leopard geckos can go 3 weeks without eating because they do have a very slow metabolism.
When I feed my leopard geckos I tend to give them crickets mostly. The only problem with crickets is if they are not eaten within 20-30 minutes your leopard gecko could be bitten by them while they are sleeping. This doesn’t really harm the gecko, but does annoy them. It is a good idea to drop in 5-9 crickets and see if your gecko eats them all. You can adjust that number depending on how many crickets you leopard gecko usually eats. You can also leave some mealworms or superworms in a bowl for them to eat if they get hungry. Worms will not harm or bite your leopard gecko.
Can They Over Eat?
No, leopard geckos can not overeat like fish. Instead they will stop eating when they are hungry. You can always check your leopard gecko to see if he/she is overweight. When a leopard gecko is overweight they will have a big bulge in their stomach or their tail will be thicker than their body.
What To Feed Leopard Geckos?
Whenever you feed your leopard gecko make sure the food is never bigger than the space between their eyes. Otherwise they do run the risk of choking or getting impacted. For years and years I wasted hundreds on food for my leopard geckos. I would buy their food from the local pet shop. I didn’t realize that I could get the food for far cheaper on eBay.
Crickets. These are the most popular insects to feed your leopard geckos. They have a lot of nutritional value. I really don’t like to buy them from PetCo, PetsMart, etc. because they are kind of expensive that way. 50 of them would cost be around $9. Instead, I like to buy them in bulk on eBay. You can get 1,000 of them for $20.
Mealworms. These are very good option for a staple diet for your leopard gecko. Don’t confuse these with Superworms because they are much smaller. They are good for your gecko. Again, they are rather expensive at PetCo, PetsMart, etc. At the stores they will cost you $5 for 25 of them. However, you can get them on eBay for far cheaper.
Superworms. These are good for leopard geckos. You can feed them to your leopard gecko daily. This is the staple diet that I use to feed mine. They love them. They are very expensive at the pet stores though. 25 of them can cost you $10. You can get them a lot cheaper on eBay.
Waxworms. Think of these as treats. I wouldn’t feed these to your leopard gecko daily. They contain a lot of fat and can easily make your leopard gecko obese, or where they will want to starve themselves for only waxworms. Only give your leopard gecko 3 of them per week.
Silkworms. These are very good for your gecko. They are kind of expensive though. They do provide your gecko with some variety of food, if you want to buy them every once and awhile.
Dubia Roaches. These are very good for leopard geckos and they breed very quickly. A lot of leopard gecko owners will start a colony of dubia roaches so they never have to spend money on food again for leopard geckos. However, some people will be creeped out by having roaches in their home. You can get them on eBay, but it will take them a bit to start breeding and get your colony going.
Avoid Feeding List
Lightning Bugs, Fireflys, or any other bugs that light up. Bugs that have anything that makes them light up are toxic for leopard geckos. They will kill your gecko within hours of eating them. Avoid lightning bugs, fireflys, or any bug that lights up.
Insects that you caught outdoors. Don’t make the mistake of catching bugs outside and feeding them to your geckos. This can be a very bad idea because a lot of times these bugs will have parasites or have been sprayed with pesticides. These are toxic to leopard geckos.
Leopard Gecko Vitamins?
Insects don’t always have the most nutritional value for your leopard geckos. Depending on the bug you feed them will require some extra vitamins to make sure your leopard gecko is healthy. To make sure they are getting the proper nutrition you’re going to either want to gut load their food or dust their food in calcium with D3.
Think of gut loading as feeding your leopard geckos food before your gecko eats them. I always try to gut load my crickets at least 4-12 hours before I feed them to my leopard geckos. This insures that the nutrients are in the cricket’s system. I do recommend Flukers gut loading for your crickets. It really helps fatten up your crickets before your leopard gecko eats them.
If your feeding your leopard geckos mealworms or superworms I would recommend gut loading them at least 12-24 hours before your gecko eats them. I typically use carrots or potatoes for gut loading my worms. Optionally, you can leave a little carrot in the geckos dish which the worms and crickets will eat. This also helps the mealworms move more which sparks the leopard geckos interest. They usually are not that interested in food if it isn’t moving.
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It is a good idea to dust your crickets or mealworms with calcium powder with D3. To do this I typically use a plastic baggy or glass jar. I put the food in there and then shake up the jar or bagging before putting them in the leopard geckos tank. It is a good idea to dust their food every time you feed them when they are a juvenile. Once they get bigger you can dust their food every 2 or 3 feedings.
My gecko has been eating mealworms every day since I brought him home. He stopped eating them and I was just wondering what was the best way to house the crickets. I haven’t gotten any yet, but your article says to vary the diet. Is there an easy way to keep the crickets in the bowl when I feed them to him, and do I keep them in a container when I am not feeding them, like the mealworms. And do I keep them in the fridge? (sorry for all of the questions)
Great info! My son’s gecko is a few months old. We just noticed tonight that he’s missing toes. It appears shed is stuck and after doing some online research, the shed can cut off circulation. Will toes grow back, like the tail? Any other advice besides lukewarm water bath to loosen shed? Looks like he’s struggling to walk on one of the feet. I feel awful if we messed this poor creature up. I should’ve researched better aforetime to learn that it gets caught in toes.
Hi there-our Leopard Gecko WILL NOT eat on her own! The vet says she is really healthy and happy but we have to syringe feed her a couple of times a week on slurry made with Gecko food, dog food, calcium and Repashy meat pie. We have tried mealworms and she just spits them out and ignores crickets…
How can we get her to eat on her own please? Thanks …Cherry
Please help, I took my female leopard gecko outside, and she nipped a firefly. She spit it out Immediately, i gave her some wax worms right after hoping that would help. Will she be alright? Did i do the right thing?
Yeah, firefly’s are toxic to leopard geckos. She probably didn’t like the taste of it anyway. Wax worms are like treats for leopard gecko’s though. Don’t feed them too many or they will not eat crickets, mealworms, and superworms.
Hi, I have a gecko and I was wondering if it’s OK to feed her night crawlers my sister picked up from the bait shop? Thank you.
It says on Google, you can serve them chopped night crawlers but I am not very sure, I am getting mine on Saturday.
Oh this is way interesting. When I read a previous post and you mentioned feeding your leopard gecko I had visions of hunting for insects in fields lol.
Yes this makes perfect sense. You said that it is important for the insects to be alive, but you say you buy it from eBay? Do they seriously sell live bugs?
Yep, seriously eBay is awesome for live food. Super cheap but seriously one of the best finds I have ever found!
My son is really interested in getting a leopard gecko. There is so much information online, and we found some at a local pet store for $80. Where can I find a good breeder with a responsible price? Petsmart has them at a lower cost and they look healthy. We live in Ohio, but I’m not sure of using a pet store since they claim “available during season” what is the “season”??
I actually wrote a post on leopard gecko breeders which you should check out. Breeding season for leopard geckos is between January to September. Typically, they lay their eggs 16 to 22 days after intercorse. It then takes 35 to 89 days for them to incubate. Different stores have different times of the year when they stock up on reptiles.
I am interested in getting a leopard gecko. How long do they live?
15 to 20 years 🙂
Very nice and very thorough article on what do leopard geckos eat. At one point we ran out of superworms and fed our geckos medium sized nite crawlers. I see from this read that we shouldn’t have done that.
i’m curious, we live in a small town without a pet store. Is there a suggestion you would have for getting the proper food. Ours don’t like crickets, but will eat just about any worm.
Nightcrawler’s are fine to feed leopard geckos rarely. They really don’t have a lot of nutritional value. I’m really surprised that you leopard gecko ate them though. Generally, they won’t touch them. Must have been really hungry 🙂
Honestly, I just order all my food on eBay because it’s cheaper and saves a lot of time.
Wow! These photos are amazing! are these yours? I have always been fascinated by geckos and think they’re very cute, indeed. In Florida, where my mother lives, there are tons but not sure they are the same quality as the geckos you have on your site here. Is it very hard to keep them? Love your site!
Yes those are my geckos and they are very easy to take care of. On average it takes less than 5 minutes a day to care for a leopard gecko. The geckos that roam Florida are tropical house geckos (they are really cool reptiles, though). They are not leopard geckos, but similar.
Thanks for all this great information on what to feed leopard geckos!
We have a leopard gecko that belongs to my son who takes care of him. We mainly feed him crickets and mealworms. I didn’t know that there were other options of bugs. Thanks for letting me know about the toxic kind of bugs- I didn’t think that would be an issue for geckos so I have learned something new.
We don’t give our gecko any other nutrition, so I will be buying some dusting to add to his food. Do we throw away the excess dust or can we keep it for the next dusting?
You can keep the power for the next feeding. It’s a good idea to dust their food at least once per week. The better you control their diet the longer, happier, and healthier they will live. I usually just sprinkle mine in a little baggy and then use it all until its gone. I believe the shelf life for the calcium powder is 2 years or so 🙂
Wow. I didn’t know that there is a commercially available leopard gecko foods nowadays. From my country, geckos eat on their own. They live on their own as well. Everything really changed nowadays! But, seriously my son wants one of these. I have been looking at those dishes that shake. It looks like you put dried up crickets in them. Do those work for leopard geckos?
Don’t waste your money on those dishes that shake. I made the mistake of buying one of them and my leopard geckos were terrified of it. They would run to their hides every time I turned it on. Not to mention all the food just goes all over the place.
I don’t think my leopard gecko Charlie has eaten for about a week now should I be concerned. His tail is not thin or anything though?
Some leopard geckos don’t eat for a week at times. They are either picky eaters,voracious eaters or normal eaters. During the months of Winter or Spring they usually fast or don’t eat for 2-4 weeks. Don’t worry they can go quite a long time without food 🙂
I never knew you had to be so careful feeding your leopard geckos. I’m so glad I just read this article. My nephews almost fed Shark our leopard gecko some bugs from outside! The food is really expensive until I saw your links to eBay. I have been wasting a lot of money on leopard gecko food! Thanks!
Can I ask why is that bugs that light up such as lightning bugs are toxic to leopard geckos? What is inside the light of those bugs that is toxic?
Thanks again for your expertise.
Some of these bugs that light up contain more toxins than other bugs. However, the fireflies contain ucibufagins, bufodienolides, cardenolides, and luciferin.
I have an uncle that studies reptiles for a living and he is very good at it. I can see from this post that you know what you are talking about. Great stuff! keep doing what you are doing and helping people take care of their leopard geckos. 🙂
I was wondering if leopard geckos can eat beetles? You know the ones that mealworms turn into?
They can, but they probably won’t really like the taste of them. Mine usually will not touch beetles. The black ones are very hard, but newly molted ones your leopard gecko will probably eat those. These mealworm beetles are not bad for them or anything, though.
Great article, I love it! I have bookmarked your website so I can show these beautiful leopards – Geckos to my children, I am sure they will love it. I am also certain that they will want me to bring one at home. So I have some questions if you don’t mind:)
1) I have two cats and two dogs, can this be a problem for the leopard?
2) Do I have to clean his house? If yes, how many time a week?
3) Can he stroll in the house and play with children?
4) Does he drink water?
I hope I didn’t bother you too much with all these questions:)
Thank you very much
1. Put a rock on their cage. Cats and dogs are curious by nature.
2. Yeah once a week (takes 5 minutes tops).
3. Older leopard geckos are good with children, but younger ones are skittish.
Are they harmless? And what are some of the qualities that make them good pets?
They are harmless lizards. They don’t bite and it’s very rare that one bites you. They would much rather drop their tails and run and hide than get in a physical fight.
Qualities that make them good pets:-
Mine did bite me but that was because I stupidly started feeding him mealworms by hand, and he thought the fat part of my little finger was one of them. Other than that, again which was my fault, they are great!
I have heard that leopard geckos don’t drink from water bowls. Is this true? Should I put a water bowl in my leopard gecko’s tank?
Actually, they will drink out of water bowls, but you will rarely see them do it. This is because they are from the desert and really don’t require a lot of water. One thing I have always done with my leopard geckos is keep a spray bottle around and mist their cage. They will come out and lick the water of the rocks/decorations.