While there is no perfect time to feed your gecko, usually around dusk is ideal as that would be a natural hunting time in nature. Geckos that lean towards overeating should be fed a predetermined amount only, while ones that don’t can be fed as much as they can eat in a 20-minute window. It is also normally advisable to leave a bowl of worm somewhere in the habitat to provide a snack for later.
As leopard geckos age, they sometimes change their preference for certain types of prey. This means they can love worms one week and completely ignore them the next, kind of as if they are overeating a certain food and lose their taste for it. Typically, you should mix up what you’re feeding your gecko through a combination of different insects and worms. You don’t have to feed crickets every night.
The Feeding Routine
Place worms into a shallow feeding bowl or dish to keep them within easy reach of your pet. When feeding live insects such as crickets, make sure your gecko is aware that you are feeding. Place insects in front of or near your pet so your gecko can get a visual on the prey and begin hunting. Geckos can be weird eaters at times so it is a good practice to only feed one or two insects at a time so you can remove them again if your gecko does not finish the meal. Leaving insects in the habitat can lead to extra mess, insects molting and insects that climb on and potentially bite your gecko’s tail. Just remove them with a small net or your hands and save them for next time.
Feed Only Appropriate Sized Insects
Sometimes an insect can be too large for your gecko to safely ingest. Luckily, there is a rule to follow here: Never feed an insect that is greater in length than the area between your gecko’s eyes.
- Gecko hatchling should be fed ¼ inch insects or smaller.
- Gecko juveniles can eat 3/8 inch insects.
- Gecko adult can pretty much anything up to the size of a cricket.
Overfeeding Your Gecko
Overfeeding, while possible, is not really an issue with leopard geckos because they store any excess fat inside their tail. If you do feel that your gecko is noticeably putting on weight or acting sluggish, you can always cut back on the amount of food you provide or keep fattier insects out of the diet. Your pet’s stomach should be flat in between meal times and the tail should never be wider than the body itself.
Insects That Are Healthy For Your Leopard Gecko
Crickets – These are the most common food choice because they are healthy and easy to buy.
Dubia Roaches – A healthy meal for geckos that owners can raise themselves in a colony to save time and money.
Waxworms – High in fat, these worms should only be fed as treats a couple of times per week. Your gecko will love these.
Mealworms – Easy to purchase and very healthy for your gecko, these worms are another staple in the diet. Choose freshly molted worms for easier digestion.
Silkworms – A healthy choice that can add variety to mealtimes. They are quite expensive though and don’t live a long time so purchase sparingly.
Do not feed your gecko any of the following insects or bugs as they are very unhealthy and can be toxic to ingest.
- Lightening bugs
- Other glowing insects
- Wild outdoor insects that you have caught yourself are also a bad choice as they can carry parasites and other contaminants into your gecko’s home.
Supplements For Your Gecko
Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of a healthy gecko diet. Of course your gecko isn’t going to swallow a gecko supplements pill for you, so techniques called “dusting” and “gut loading” are your tools.
Dusting – A powder made out of calcium or vitamin D3 with which you dust your gecko’s prey before placing into the habitat. Place insects or worms in a jar and add some powder, shaking gently to dust the insects. Do this right before mealtime so the insects are not able to shake off the dusting.
Gut loading – This is where you keep the insects and worms on a nutritious diet themselves, so that your gecko is receiving a healthy meal every time. There are insect feeds available specifically for this purpose. If you’re feeding worms, then having them gorge on carrots for 24 hours before feeding makes them a nutritious choice.