Getting a new leopard gecko is exciting, especially if you’ve never had one before. However, figuring out what to feed it can be tricky. For instance, you may wonder whether your leopard gecko can eat baby food.
Leopard geckos can only eat baby food in emergencies. Offering baby food is advisable when your leopard gecko is sick, thin, weak, and can’t/won’t eat alone. Otherwise, you should stick to feeding your leopard gecko insects.
Feeding Baby Food to Your Leopard Gecko
People have been using baby food to rehydrate sick leopard geckos and give them a nutrient boost for a while now. This is particularly common among those whose geckos have refused to eat insects, even when they have been mashed together.
While offering baby food is far from ideal, it can keep your leopard gecko alive and help get them back to eating live insects. To make the baby food more effective, it’s advisable to mix it with calcium and vitamins that leopard geckos usually need.
What is the best baby food to feed your sick leopard gecko?
The best baby food for a leopard gecko is one that has a high protein content. Meat (beef, chicken, or turkey) flavored ones are particularly advisable. However, if you notice that your leopard gecko is sick, thin, or refusing to eat, it’s best to first take them to a vet before offering baby food. This could be a sign of a metabolic disorder, parasitic/bacterial enteritis, or any other disease. Ultimately, proper diagnosis is integral to proper treatment.
Related: Should you feed chicken to your leopard gecko?
How to feed baby food to your leopard gecko
Feeding your leopard gecko baby food is usually a force-feeding technique – that’s why it’s effective for leopard geckos who are having trouble eating. As such, it involves more than just offering your pet a bowl of food – you’re going to have to use a syringe.
First of all, you’ll have to create a slurry using your chosen baby food and feed it into a syringe. Afterward, hold your leopard gecko gently, and use the syringe to apply the slurry on their face, particularly near their mouth – ensure you squeeze it out a little at a time. Between squeezes, monitor your leopard gecko – ideally, they will start licking the food off their face or even off the syringe.
If you feel like the slurry is too thick, add some Pedialyte to it – this will thin it down and help rehydrate your leopard gecko. Whatever you do, though, don’t pry your pet’s mouth open – this will only make them more stressed. And if they don’t respond to the force-feeding, take them to the vet.
What is a great alternative to baby food for leopard geckos?
As much as baby food can help starving leopard geckos gain back their strength, it’s not the best or even the only product that can be used for this. After all, it is full of sugars and preservatives, none of which leopard geckos should be consuming regularly. You’re better off feeding your pet a slurry made of crushed insects.
Since they are rich in energy and fat, wax worms are particularly great for this purpose. Just ensure you crush them humanely and mix them up with some calcium and vitamin powder to make them more nutritious. If your leopard gecko rejects this, you could try offering some crushed fruits and see if they take it.
Alternatively, you could use a specialized supplement like Repta Boost. Such supplements are designed to hydrate and energize malnourished reptiles. They can be used as either an emergency aid solution or as part of your pet’s daily maintenance routine. It also helps that they usually come in the form of a powder together with a syringe, spoon, mixing cup, and instructions.
How to keep your leopard gecko nourished and eliminate the need for baby food/force-feeding?
There are several reasons why your leopard gecko could be refusing to eat and choosing to starve instead, forcing you to use baby food or other emergency interventions. Understanding them is integral to preventing malnutrition in your pet. As such, we’ve rounded them up below:
- A cold tank – since leopard geckos need heat to digest their food and depend on external temperatures to achieve this heat, cold temperatures will make it impossible to eat. If the cold temperatures persist, your leopard gecko could also develop problems with its immunity.
- Stress – can hinder your leopard gecko’s appetite, especially when a change in their environment causes it. They can refuse to eat when you first bring them home. However, providing several hides where your pet can retreat to when need be can help make things better.
- Dehydration – dehydrated leopard geckos can refuse to eat. So ensure that your gecko always has a bowl of water in their tank.
If you’ve checked for and solved all the above issues and notice that your leopard gecko is still not eating, take them to the vet immediately. Even if force-feeding works, you need to get to the root cause of the food rejection. As we’ve said before, this could be indicative of serious illness.
Ultimately, baby food is not ideal for leopard geckos and should only be offered during emergencies where you have nothing better available. While it can keep your gecko alive to fight another day, it’s not something you should feed them long-term. Insects slurries and supplements like Repta Boost are way better as they are designed explicitly for geckos. Whichever you go for, though, always ensure you see your vet first – they are the best ones to help you create an effective treatment and daily diet plan for your pet.