Crested gecko or Leopard gecko, surely, they can eat the same food? Although some similarities exist, these two lizards actually have different diets. Find out what Crested gecko food to avoid and why steering clear from them may be the safest option.
Crested Gecko food such as soft fruit is unsuitable for Leopard Geckos. Leopard Geckos are insectivores that thrive on a varied diet of insects and worms. Their digestive systems and jaw structure make fruit and plant matter an unsuitable and unhealthy dietary option.
Can Leopard Geckos eat Crested Gecko food?
Leopard geckos cannot eat crested gecko food. Not only do Leopard Geckos dislike the taste of fruits, pollens, and seeds, but they also struggle to digest any foods other than insects and worms.
Even though Leopard Geckos should not eat fruit, if offered fruit, they may eat it regardless of whether it is good or bad for them. Typically, they will avoid fruit if other food options are available apart from if they are starving or lacking moisture.
Leopard Geckos are insectivores as opposed to Crested Geckos, which are frugivores. Crested Geckos not only eat fruits and fruit baby food but their digestive system and jaw structure differ.
Are there any occasions when Leopard geckos can eat plant matter?
It is best to provide Leopard Geckos with foods suitable for their body type that are easily and safely digestible.
The only occasion that feeding Leos fruit would be acceptable is under the direction of a veterinarian. This is typically done only on rare occasions where geckos are recovering from certain illnesses and would usually be offered in the form of a puree.
Related: What happens if you feed lettuce to your leopad gecko?
Why is fruit an unsuitable food option?
There are several explanations why fruit is unsuitable for Leopard Geckos. Here are some of the key reasons.
Leopard Gecko’s digestive system
Leopard Geckos have different digestive systems than herbivores. They do not possess a functioning cecum or digestive system to aid in the digestion and proper nutrient absorption of plant matter.
A cecum, otherwise named caecum, is a pouch connected to the small and large intestine that receives all undigested food. Digestive enzymes, which are also not present in Leopard Geckos, aid in fermenting and breaking down cellulose, the primary substance in the walls of plant cells.
Leopard Gecko’s also have an alkaline and shorter digestive tract than a herbivore. Herbivores have longer and more acidic digestive tracts, which aid in the effective digestion of plant matter.
Fruit can be very acidic, and Leo’s alkaline digestive tract is unsuitable for effectively handling acidity, which may trigger several health complaints.
Leopard Gecko’s jaw
The Leopard Geckos’ skull and jaw have evolved to eat meat and insects. Their jaws are smaller and weaker than herbivores, making it more challenging to swallow fruits and vegetables.
As already touched on, Leopard Geckos cannot digest or break down fruit and other plant matter effectively.
Eating indigestible fruits can lead to numerous gut issues. Your Leopard Gecko can suffer from an upset stomach, regurgitation, or illness. Some geckos can even become more aggressive due to the discomfort.
The acidity of the fruits can cause bowel problems, and the inability to digest the food may lead to regurgitation, with can injure their delicate esophagus. Bloating caused by undigested fruit can also trigger regurgitation.
Leopard Geckos can battle to swallow fruit and may even choke. This can happen if they try to swallow a fruit piece that is too large for their esophagus or if the fruit is too moist and gets stuck on the roof of their mouth, which can block their air supply.
Suppose Leo has consumed a piece of plant matter in error, and you notice they are having trouble breathing, shaking, or swaying their bodies. In this case, you may need to carefully aid in removing the obstruction or take them to your local vet.
Fruits are high in sugar content which can cause plaque build-up in your Leopard Geckos mouth. Plaque build-up can lead to mouth rot which is dangerous and potentially life-threatening for your gecko.
Mouth rot, otherwise known as infectious stomatitis, is a bacterial infection that develops when the mouth’s bacterial balance is disrupted. If left untreated, Leo’s respiratory and digestive systems may shut down and eventually lead to death.
Feeding your Leopard Gecko a suitable diet will help keep them at an appropriate weight and in good health. As a result, their immune system will be stronger for fighting off unwanted bacteria.
The sugar in fruit is not suitable for your Leopard Gecko and can lead to diabetes, fatty liver disease, unhealthy weight gain, and other associated diseases.
Calcium and vitamin deficiencies
Leopard Geckos thrive on calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2: 1. Fruits contain very little calcium and lots of phosphorus that does not provide the proper balance of nutrients and vitamins needed by your gecko.
Too much phosphorus will affect calcium absorption and lead to calcium deficiencies and potentially severe diseases like Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Secondary infections caused by vitamin deficiencies or toxicity are another concern that may kill Leo long-term.
Feeding your Leopard Gecko non-organic fruits is also harmful, and although it may not kill them, it can put them under a lot of metabolic stress, which may lead to other dangerous conditions.
Traces of insecticides and pesticides are found on most non-organic fruits and are not natural or healthy for your geckos.
Related: Should you keep a leopard gecko and crested gecko in the same tank?
What if Leo has eaten plant matter?
If Leo has eaten fruit accidentally or you are a newbie Leopard Gecko owner and were unaware of the dangers, there is no need to panic.
If only a small amount was fed and Leo seems otherwise healthy with no symptoms, they will likely be fine or get better independently. If you notice anything concerning or any behavioral changes, you may want to have them checked at your local exotic veterinarian.
Safe methods to provide Leo with plant nutrients
Although Leopard Geckos cannot digest plant matter, you can utilize a safer approach to provide them with all the fruit and vegetable goodness.
Feeding your insects and worms a diet of high-quality soft, non-acidic, and parasite-free fruit and vegetables 24 to 48 hours before offering them to Leo is a common and safe way to provide plant nutrients to your Leopard Gecko.
Gut loading is highly beneficial to your Leopard Gecko’s health. Feed your insects a mix of nutritious fruit and vegetables. An excellent choice would be apples, carrots, dark leafy greens, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
I would avoid any acidic citrus fruits, avocado, beans, onions, tomatoes, rhubarb, starfruit, or bananas, as these will be less well tolerated.
The fruits, seeds, and pollens from a Crested Gecko’s diet are not suitable for Leopard Geckos. Their food does not provide the required balance of nutrients and vitamins your Leopard Gecko needs and can result in digestion and weight problems or disease.
Long-term feeding of Crested Gecko food can lead to several associated conditions and potential loss of life. A varied, live, gut-loaded insect and worm diet remains the best choice for the long-term health and wellbeing of your Leopard Gecko.