Ever wondered, “What do Leopard geckos eat?” It’s a fair question to ask, since feeder insects vary greatly in a variety of ways. There are factors to consider that can be easily missed, so we’ve put together a quick article detailing the pros and cons of each of the commonly available feeder insects, as they apply to Leopard geckos. This is definitely worth a read, so stay with us.
Leopard Gecko Foods
It’s important to realize that Leopard geckos generally prefer to eat live insects, although they will also accept commercially available canned diets on occasion. But, live foods are always best.
Crickets make an excellent food for Leopard geckos, although it’s important to make sure they are appropriately-sized. If the crickets are too small, the geckos will ignore them, but if they’re too large, the crickets may be too large to swallow. Also, large crickets can bite and chew on reptiles as they are voracious and opportunistic feeders, so make sure the number of crickets you place into the enclosure matches what your Leopard gecko will eat that day.
Baby Leopard geckos can generally be fed 3/16” to 1/4” crickets, while juveniles and adults are usually fine with 1/2” to 3/4” crickets. We advise avoiding adult crickets altogether. They have a lot of undigestible chitin (exoskeleton), are the most aggressive, and have the shortest lifespans.
Dusting crickets with a quality calcium supplement is advised, especially with babies and juveniles. We recommend having a small dish or bottle cap of calcium available inside the enclosure at all times. The Leopard geckos will actually ingest the supplement as they see fit.
Don’t bother breeding crickets, it’s just not worth the hassle, smell, and mess. We can ship crickets right to your doorstep.
Slightly higher in fat than crickets, mealworms are a fine addition to the Leopard gecko diet. In fact, you could present a great argument that they make a great feeder for them, since they are easy to contain in a dish, they are easy to breed, they don’t smell, they don’t jump, they don’t climb, and they don’t make noise.
There’s an old wive’s tale that mealworms can eat out of the stomach of a lizard, and it’s completely untrue. We have never once, in our history, had an issue with feeding Leopard geckos mealworms.
When mealworms in the feeding dish stop moving, it’s time to replace them, as the Leopard geckos only react to movement. Mealworms will pupate after several days in the dish, at which time you can either dispose of them, or place them into a breeding bin (they’ll turn into beetles which will mate and lay eggs).
Dusting mealworms doesn’t work well since their exoskeleton is so smooth the dusting doesn’t stick. Although, we highly recommend gut loading your mealworms by placing them into a plastic shoebox of chick feed or vegetables 12-24 hours prior to feeding. We can ship mealworms right to your doorstep as well.
Waxworms are on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to fat content, but in moderation they are a valued member of the feeder insect menu for your Leopard gecko. Their ease of care is an added bonus—they don’t eat, and can be kept for 1-2 weeks at room temperature. Remove any worms that turn black. Some may morph into wax moths, at which point they can be discarded or fed to another reptile, but the Leopard geckos won’t eat the moths.
A few Leopard gecko keepers have said some Leopard geckos can become addicted to waxworms and won’t accept any other feeder insect, but we’ve never experienced this supposed phenomenon and believe it’s mild exaggeration.
Too many waxworms as a food item can lead to obesity in Leopard geckos, but again, moderation is key. Variety is the spice of life, so offer your Leopard geckos a selection of foods to keep things interesting. We can ship waxworms directly to you.
We avoid giant mealworms because they are simply normal mealworms treated with a steroid that prevents them from pupating when they normally would. If you’re looking for a larger feeder insect, we recommend the below option rather than this unnatural choice.
Adult Leopard geckos are large enough to consume superworms, which are about a half-inch larger than giant mealworms but are naturally raised. One advantage they have over normal mealworms is a more favorable chitin-to-meat ratio, which means their exoskeleton is a smaller percentage of their overall composition, making them easier to digest.
Don’t refridgerate superworms either, it will eliminate them. Keep them similarly to normal mealworms, meaning a bin of bran or oatmeal. They can be gut loaded the same way as mealworms. Breeding them is generally not worth the hassle. Yes, you guessed it, we can also ship superworms right to your door.
Leopard Gecko Foods to avoid
Now that we’ve covered what you should feed your Leopard geckos, let’s cover a few things not to feed them.
- Avoid feeding your Leopard gecko beetles of any sort–they can be difficult to digest, and the geckos likely won’t be interested in them anyway. (beetles often emit a musk that reptiles find distasteful).
- Avoid flying insects as a Leopard gecko food. The geckos cannot catch, nor are they interested in, moths, butterflies, and flies.
- Avoid feeding vegetable matter to your Leopard gecko. They likely won’t touch it, and it will usually rot quickly.
What do Leopard Geckos Eat – Conclusion
We hope we’ve been able to answer the question of what Leopard geckos eat in captivity. Each gecko is different, and will have various “favorite” foods, but do keep in mind the guidelines listed above as you raise your new pet. It should also be mentioned that Leopard geckos eat their shed skin, so don’t be alarmed when you see your gecko with a mouthful of it!
You can experience the joy of keeping your own gecko by visiting our captive bred Leopard geckos page. We’ll ship right to your door in an insulated, temperature-controlled box, with a full live arrival guarantee.