If it’s your first time keeping a leopard gecko, it’s natural to wonder what to feed it. You may even wonder if it’s an omnivorous animal. If so, you’ve come to the right place.
So are leopard geckos omnivorous?
Leopard Geckos are not omnivores. They don’t eat both animals and plants. Instead, they primarily eat insects, making them insectivores. This is the only food that a leopard gecko’s digestive system is designed to digest.
The ideal diet for a leopard gecko
Ideally, you should only feed your leopard gecko insects, primarily crickets and mealworms. Other insects you can incorporate into the diet include waxworms, superworms, butterworms, sowbugs, darkling beetles, hornworms, silkworms, and Dubia roaches.
However, only offer superworms and waxworms as treats, around once a week. Since they have a high-fat content, they can make your leopard gecko obese if offered too regularly. Be careful when feeding your leopard gecko butterworms too. Not only are they fatty, but they also contain bad calcium. In the long run, regularly providing your leopard gecko butterworms can get them addicted and make them reject other foods.
Whatever you do, don’t offer your leopard gecko any dead or dried insects – each one should be alive. Also, don’t feed your gecko any ants or bioluminescent bugs. The former can bite your leopard gecko and injure them. The latter contain toxic chemicals.
Another thing you need to remember is to avoid feeding your leopard gecko large insects. Doing so may make it hard for your gecko to digest their food, causing impaction. This is particularly common among juvenile geckos. So always ensure that the insects you offer are smaller than the distance between your gecko’s eyes.
Can you feed your leopard gecko wild insects?
While your leopard gecko can eat wild insects, doing so is risky. Wild insects can contain pesticides, diseases, and parasites that can make your leopard gecko sick. You’re better off feeding your leopard gecko insects from trusted pet stores.
These days you can even order your feeder insects from online stores. Alternatively, you can breed them yourself if you have the time and resources. Just research the breeding guidelines for the insects you want to breed and follow them accordingly.
Can you feed your leopard gecko vegetables and fruit?
While some pet owners insist on feeding their leopard geckos pieces of fruit and vegetables, it’s not advisable. Your gecko’s digestive system can’t digest these foods and absorb their nutrients. So no matter how nutritious they are, they won’t help your leopard gecko.
After all, your leopard gecko’s digestive tract is short and alkaline, while those of animals who can digest plants are long and acidic. Generally, the latter type of digestive system gives plant matter enough time to digest fully. Also, herbivorous and omnivorous animals have stronger jaws and skulls than leopard geckos. These help them do all the chewing required to digest plant matter fully.
Ultimately, the only time that it’s advisable to give your leopard gecko vegetables and fruits is when a vet recommends it as part of a treatment plan. And even then, vets usually recommend blending everything as a slurry. Otherwise, the best way to provide your leopard gecko with the nutrients present in fruits/vegetables is to use them to gut load feeder insects.
This process involves feeding vegetables and fruits to the insects you plan to offer your leopard gecko. For best results, gut loading should be done around 24 hours before your leopard gecko’s feeding time. To add the insects’ nutritional value, consider dusting them with calcium powder with vitamin D3 just a few minutes before feeding.
Can you feed your leopard gecko meat like chicken or beef?
Although eating insects technically makes leopard geckos carnivorous, they can’t eat other types of meat like beef, pork, fish, or chicken. This is partly because many of these meats contain too much protein for leopard geckos to handle. Some even have too much fat for leopard geckos.
Beyond that, feeding them raw could infect your gecko with Salmonella or other parasites. This is particularly common when feeding raw chicken and fish. Another thing to keep in mind is that some meats like fish contain a lot of bones that can choke your leopard gecko. And since these geckos are native to deserts, they haven’t adapted to digesting such meats anyway.
Are other types of geckos and lizards omnivorous?
Interestingly, there are other types of geckos and lizards that are omnivorous. A good example is a crested gecko. This long-lived gecko is native to New Caledonia and lives on a diet of insects and fruits. Another type of omnivorous lizard is the bearded dragon. Native to Australia, this popular pet thrives on a diet of different plants and insects.
While it can be tempting to offer your leopard gecko meat, fruits, and vegetables, it’s not a good idea – it won’t be able to absorb any nutrients from them anyway. Instead, give your leopard gecko insects and make sure to dust and gut load them. This will ensure your pet gets a balanced diet and spare them from the adverse side effects of regularly consuming fruits/vegetables. These include plaque buildup, bloating, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and even dehydration. Ultimately, sticking to feeding your leopard gecko insects will keep them both healthy and happy!