Feeding leopard geckos is a simple process which is why keeping leopard geckos is so easy. Leopard geckos are insectivorous, and therefore can only be maintained on a diet of various insects. Feeder insects or "feeders" can be easily found at either local pet stores, or through purchasing in bulk online. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but both options work well as long as you insure the insects are of high quality. Never feed any bugs that you have caught from outside, as they have the potential to be carrying parasites, or have been sprayed by pesticides and other chemicals.
Making sure all feeders are properly "gut loaded" is very important. Gut loading is the process of feeding the insects very nutrient rich foods that will then be fed to the geckos. Crickets are a solid example of this, as without proper gut loading they are mostly an empty shell with minimal nutrients.
List of Feeders
Providing a variety of feeders is helpful to maintain a healthy gecko as each type provides different nutritional value. Some insects work best as the main portion of the gecko's diet, or as the "staple" food source, while others should only be offered occasionally due to high fat contents.
Geckos can be picky eaters, and some will refuse certain feeders that others may readily eat. Making sure you're familiar with the various options available will help in choosing the feeder right for you and your gecko(s), and will help you provide a good, balanced diet for your animals.
Tenebrio molitor - A common staple food source, Mealworms are the larval form of a type of darkling beetle. Along with being used to feed reptiles, they are also popular as fishing bait and for feeding to birds, making them an easily found feeder insect.
Throughout their life cycle they remain a perfect size for adult leos. They are very easy to breed for owners with larger gecko colonies, and can also be kept dormant in the refrigerator for those who only use a couple at a time. These feeders will eat a mixture of grains or whole oats, and carrots or potatoes can be used to provide moisture.
Mealworms are best fed to the gecko by placing them in a small bowl with tall enough sides that they cannot climb out, and yet the gecko can still reach them. Additional calcium or vitamin supplements can be added to the bowl as well.
However, very rarely, since mealworms have a very hard exoskeleton, pieces of the mealworm could get lodged inside the gecko's intestines, resulting in impaction. However, that is extremely unusual.
Zophobas morio - Superworms are a very good staple diet for your gecko. They can be kept at room temperature for long periods of time without worrying about pupating such as with Mealworms. Superworms have a higher fat ratio, so therefore geckos fed on super worms tend to be bigger then other geckos. Not many breeders use super worms because they are more expensive then mealworms. Remember, gut load all feeders before being fed.
Acheta domestica - Crickets are probably the most well-known feeder insect, and make an excellent staple food source when properly gutloaded and maintained.
There are several different kind of cockroaches that could be used as food for Leopard geckos. Two common species are the Orange spotted cockroach, Blaptica dubia and the Russian cockroach, Shelfordella tartara. Nutritionally cockroaches are similar to crickets but as usual a lot depends on how well fed the insect is before being given to the lizard.
Galleria mellonella - Waxworms are the caterpillar form of Wax Moths and have the strong reputation of a being a "treat only" feeder. These tiny white worms are very high in fat content, making them unsuitable as a staple food source.
Waxworms can be kept in the refrigerator to prevent them from pupating, and are wonderful as occasional treat for leopard geckos. The "waxworm wiggle" is said to be irresistible to leos, and they are even recommended to help get non-eating geckos interested in food again by feeding a few to begin with.
Tomato Hornworms are the caterpillar form of the Five-Spotted Hawkmoth (Manduca quinquemaculata) and can grow to be quite massive. These worms are impractical as a staple food source due to how quickly they grow, and how large they can grow, the fully grown worms topping out at 2-3 inches in length. They can make great treats however, when smaller worms are purchased in small quantities.
The Silkworm is the larval or caterpillar form of the domesticated Silk Moth (Bombyx mori). While most commonly known to popular culture for their use in producing fine fabrics, they also make an excellent food source for reptiles.
Similar to Hornworms, Silkworms can grow too large for adult leos, but make excellent treats while smaller. They must be maintained on mulberry leaves or appropriate "silkworm chow" for the duration of their life cycle.
Butterworms are the larval form of the Chilean Moth, Chilecomadia moorei. They are similar to waxworms in appearance, but are much larger and have a very high fat and calcium content. These insects are mainly imported directly from Chile, and are irradiated before leaving the country to eliminate possible dangerous bacteria. However, this also causes the worms to be unable to pupate and mature into moths.
Butterworms can be stored in the refrigerator for several months, and are best used as occasional treats.
The larval form of the Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, phoenix worms have a very high calcium content, along with being very low in fat. They can be fed in a bowl like mealworms or superworms and don't require any additional dusting with vitamin supplements. Phoenix worms can be stored at room temperature for several weeks with needing additional food, their best shelf life being achieved between temperatures of 50-60o F.
"Pinky" mice are day old baby mice. Some breeders feed these to their females who have recently laid eggs in order to help them better re-gain weight and nutrients during the breeding season. Pinky mice are strictly a treat only option, usually in the case of breeding females, as they have very high fat contents which would be unhealthy if fed over a long term.
When you first purchase your leopard gecko you might not be able to get it to eat for the first week. I even had a gecko go a month and then just started eating like a tank.
I cannot stress enough about GUTLOADING! gut load ALL feeders 24 hours prior to feeding your gecko. That making the insects more healthy and active. Remember ‚"You are what you eat!"
Crickets Mealworms Waxworms Superworms Fly Larva Butterworms Moisture, % 69.07% 62.44% 61.73% 59.37% 68.18% 58.54% Fat, % 6.01% 12.72% 22.19% 17.89% 7.81% 5.21% Protein, % 21.32% 20.27% 15.50% 17.41% 15.58% 16.20% Fiber, % 3.2% 1.73% 7.69% 6.80% 3.46% - Ash, % 2.17% 1.57% 1.02% 1.20% 1.40% 1.04% Ca, ppm 345 133 283 124 874 - P, ppm 4238 3345 2161 2320 2405 - Ca/P Ratio % .081 .040 .131 .053 .363 -
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