A leopard gecko's health and wellbeing is based on various elements. One of the most significant factors that need to be taken into account is their diet. Leopard geckos are insectivores which means that their food is wholly based on protein in the form of insects, to help your leopard gecko to thrive there is a wide range of feeder insects available for you to choose from to help you fulfill their nutritional needs.
Leopard geckos are a popular pet within the reptile community and a great starter pet for anyone looking to get into reptiles, not fussy eaters by any means they will pretty much devour anything that you put in front of them and are attracted to anything that crawls and wiggles like a bug. This is why it's imperative that the food you offer them is going to be beneficial for their health and safe for them to eat.
What Insects Can Leopard Geckos Eat
- Per insect, they contain more protein and calcium than crickets or superworms, two of the most common alternative feeder insects.
Make barely any noise, particularly when compared with crickets, these bugs are very quiet.
- No unpleasant odor, unlike crickets, when kept properly dubia roaches do not have a strong foul scent.
- Easily bred, Dubia will breed themselves without even trying so you can always count on them making a few extra.
- Don't escape, since they cannot climb smooth surfaces, jump or fly, they won't escape easily like crickets.
- Very easy to store and maintain, all they need is a source of food and water, something to hide in such as egg crates or cardboard packaging, and a plastic tote or cricket keeper and they will live a long time, unlike crickets which die off very easily.
- Rarely carry parasites, dubia are clean and have less of a chance of infecting your leopard gecko with parasites than other feeders, crickets in particular.
- A well-balanced staple when it comes to protein and calcium.
- Higher fat content than other common staples so best fed alongside a less fatty staple such a dubia roaches or black soldier fly larvae.
- Better nutrition than mealworms when it comes to protein, calcium, and vitamins. Less of an impaction risk than mealworms due to having less chitin.
- Easy to feed, can be out into a dish and won't escape.
- Don't bite as crickets do.
- Easy to gut-load so you can pass nutrients and vitamins on to your gecko.
- Easy to care for, can be kept in the container they come in for low amounts, if they are ordered in larger amounts and do not arrive in tubs they should be transferred to a larger bin such as a plastic tote, given a substrate such as uncut oats and fed fresh vegetables as a source of food and water.
- Readily available and cheap to buy.
- Long lifespan so can be stocked up.
- Easy to feed as they don't escape their dish.
- Don't bite like crickets.
- Easy to gut-load so you can pass nutrients to your gecko.
- They contain a lot of chitin which can be difficult for your gecko to digest and this can lead to impaction.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Nutrigrubs)
- Known as a great source of calcium, this is one of the primary benefits of black soldier fly larvae, they can replace a powdered calcium supplement without D3.
- Inexpensive and well-stocked meaning that they are easy to find and easy to buy.
- Due to their small size some geckos may not be as interested in them as other feeders.
- They can be stored in the container they arrive in and don't need to be fed so easy to store and keep.
- A short lifespan makes it hard to stock up.
- A very popular and widely used staple they are easy to obtain.
- Crickets are inexpensive.
- Decent nutrition for your gecko.
- Crickets can bite, they can also hide under things in your gecko's tank so are best fed in a separate feeder tank.
- Crickets easily die even when seemingly taken care of.
- They can be gut-loaded with salad or commercially available products to get your gecko more nutrients than contained in the crickets on their own.
- Easily digested they are less chitin than other feeders, particularly mealworms.
- To house crickets they can be kept in a cricket keeper or plastic tote with plenty of ventilation, a food source, and water source, and also egg crates to climb and hide in.
- Crickets small very badly.
- Can jump and climb and try and escape when you open their container.
- A good staple due to high levels of protein, calcium, and nutrients in general.
- Well known to be high in moisture which can aid hydration, however, this can also contribute to runny stools which can impact the help of your gecko.
- Grow extremely fast so difficult to feed off to younger dragons and difficult to stock up on.
- Easy to store and maintain they can be kept in the container they come in and are usually provided with food, they just need to be cleaned out daily.
- A healthy feeder insect for your gecko.
- Being docile and slow they are easy to feed your gecko.
- Low in fat and high in protein and calcium.
- Silkworms contain a mild analgesic known as serrapeptase, this can help ease mild symptoms of pain should your gecko be sick and also helps with their calcium absorption.
- Very short lifespan of about a month so very difficult to stock up on.
- Expensive and somewhat rare they cannot be bought very easily and maintaining as a regular feeder would be difficult.
- A good source of protein and calcium for your gecko.
- Need to be fed alongside other staples that contain less fat like Dubia roaches as waxworms have a particularly high-fat content and can cause obesity if fed as the sole staple.
- Hard to stock up on due to having a short lifespan.
- Sold at online retailers and some pet-stores they can be readily bought but suffer from stock issues from time to time due to being an export.
- A good source of protein and calcium for your gecko.
- They look similar to waxworms and are the same kind of insect, except that they are not as high in fat as waxworms.
- Larger than BSFL but still maggots, they can be more tempting for your gecko than the BSFL.
- Due to being an export they can be difficult to find at certain parts of the year or when they are more popular.
- Difficult to stock up on due to having a short lifespan.
- Are able to be kept in the container they come in and don't need to be fed so are easily kept.
IMPORTANT - Supplementation for your leopard gecko
Leopard geckos should have their feeder insects dusted with supplements in order to keep them healthy, the supplements that are necessary are calcium without D3, calcium with D3, and a multivitamin supplement. The supplements will need to be rotated according to a routine, and you should be careful not to overdo it as using too much can lead to over-supplementation. You will need to make sure that your calcium plus D3 supplement powder doesn't contain more than 45,000-50,000 IU/kg of D3 to or you can end up feeding them too much D3, your calcium supplement needs to have a calcium:phosphorous ratio of 2:1 or 2.5:1. If the phosphorous portion of your supplement is too high compared to the calcium portion then the phosphorous will bind with the calcium and your gecko will be unable to absorb the calcium, you can check the ratio on the label of the supplement that you choose. When you are dusting your feeder insects, you don't want them to look like powdered donuts, you only need to use a pinch of each supplement per feeding. Supplements for your feeders can be found here.
Babies - Calcium three times per week, calcium with D3 three times per week, and multivitamin once per week.
Juveniles - Calcium once per week, calcium with D3 twice per week and multivitamin once per week
Adults - Calcium once per week, calcium with D3 once per week and multivitamin once per month
You only need to dust one of your geckos meals per day, whether it be the salad or one of the insect feedings. You should never leave a bowl of any supplement in your geckos tank as they cannot regulate the supplements themselves and this can lead to over-supplementation or under supplementation.