If there’s one thing we know about leopard geckos, it’s that they love eating live insects. But can they eat fruit as well? That’s what we are going to talk about in this post.
So can leopard geckos eat fruit?
Leopard Geckos can’t eat fruit. Their stomachs haven’t adapted to digesting fruit. So even if you feed them fruit, it won’t do them much good. Leopard Geckos might eat fruits in the wild if there’s no other food available. However, definitely, DO NOT feed your Leo fruit.
Leopard Geckos and Fruit
Leopard geckos can’t digest fruit because they don’t have a caecum. This is present in herbivores/omnivores. It is a pouch-like body part located between the small and large intestines. It is responsible for digesting cellulose – a substance found in fruit, vegetables, and other plant parts.
That’s why omnivorous and herbivorous reptiles like bearded dragons can effectively digest all plant matter. On the other hand, the digestive tract of leopard geckos is only adapted to digest insects.
First of all, their small intestine is more developed and can effectively digest the hard exoskeleton of insects. Secondly, their digestive tract is short and alkaline – a suitable environment for digesting meat.
This is directly opposite to what herbivores/omnivores have – a long acidic digestive tract that can handle the long periods plants require to be digested.
Leopard geckos and other insectivores have smaller and less robust skulls and jaws than herbivores/omnivores. This is because they don’t need to chew their food for as long as their plant-eating counterparts.
Dangers of Feeding Fruit to Your Leopard Gecko
If you still insist on feeding your leopard gecko fruits regularly, be prepared for some negative side effects. For one, they could develop plaque buildup because of all the sugars present in fruits. This could eventually lead to mouth rot. Also, they could choke while trying to eat the fruit, especially if it has tough skin.
Beyond that, they could suffer from indigestion or diarrhea due to fruits’ acidity. This could lead to loss of appetite, bloating, or dehydration down the line. Eventually, you may have to see a vet so that they can prescribe something for your gecko’s symptoms.
What Fruits Can Leopard Geckos Eat?
When feeding a leopard gecko fruit, it’s best to opt for those with a high calcium content and low phosphorus levels.
Leopard geckos can eat bananas, mangoes, papayas, apples, peaches, apricots, cantaloupes, and nectarines.
It’s a bad idea to feed your leopard gecko strawberries, oranges and other fruits high in Vitamin C as geckos cannot process high amounts of Vit C.
Leopard geckos cannot eat avocados, star fruit, and rhubarb – they contain compounds that are toxic to reptiles. Also avoid fruits containing high amounts of acidity such as citrus.
Related: Can leopard geckos eat lettuce?
Is there a situation that warrants you feeding your leopard gecko fruit?
The only time it makes sense to offer your leopard gecko fruits is when your vet requires you to do so. For instance, if your leopard gecko is recovering from an illness, your vet can prescribe some nutritious fruits and vegetables to speed up the process.
These usually need to be blended with your gecko’s everyday food to form a slurry to be hand-fed to them as instructed by the vet.
Before you blend these fruits, though, ensure that you wash them. This will get rid of any pesticide or bacteria on the fruit. Also, remember to remove pits, seeds, or any other inedible/toxic parts beforehand.
Baby food is a safe way to feed your leopard gecko fruit. Just make sure to buy ones that are organic and don’t contain additives.
How can you provide your leopard gecko with nutrients found in fruit?
The best way to provide your leopard gecko with the nutrients present in fruits is gut loading. This is the process by which you feed your pet’s prey with food that has the nutrients that you want your pet to gain. So when you finally provide the prey to your pet, it transfers the nutrients to them.
In the case of leopard geckos, this process relies on feeder insects like crickets and small locusts. All you have to do is feed them with fruits that have high calcium to phosphorus ratio and avoid those that are toxic to leopard geckos.
You can feed them leafy greens as well. For best results, feed the insects fruits at least 24 hours before feeding them to your gecko.
Also, dust the feeder insects with a ¼ teaspoon of calcium and multivitamin powder before offering them to your gecko. These two are the main supplements that leopard geckos need to remain healthy.
Calcium is particularly important for young and female leopard geckos, especially during breeding season when they’re getting ready to produce eggs. Interestingly, leopard geckos will often eat their own unfertilized eggs for the nutrients.
There’s one thing you need to keep in mind when dusting, though – do it at most 5 minutes before feeding. Doing it earlier gives your gecko time to remove the powders through grooming.
To keep your leopard gecko healthy, dusting should be done regularly, even when you’re not gut loading. For adult geckos, it’s advisable to do it for every meal. On the other hand, young geckos only need it done for every other meal. Whatever the case, though, always opt for calcium powder with vitamin D3.
This vitamin is essential for bone health. As such, too little of it can lead to metabolic bone disease, a severe condition that can be life-threatening. Ultimately, dusting is an effective way to add the nutritional value of your gecko’s food and combat the lack of diversity in their diet.
How can you add variety to your leopard gecko’s diet in the absence of fruit?
If you’re tired of giving your leopard the same old food day in and day out, you can add some variety without introducing fruits. You can do this by introducing new insects to the mix. This can even improve your gecko’s appetite if they are a picky eater.
Some insects you can easily incorporate are butter worms, super worms, hornworms, and Dubia roaches. Ensure you offer the worms in moderation, though – they have a lot of fat and can lead to obesity. As such, it’s better to offer them as a treat around once a week. This is especially true of super worms.
This is an excellent rule to follow when offering butter worms. Not only are they fatty, but they are also highly addictive. Some leopard geckos even reject all other foods because of them. Whatever you do, though, always ensure you get your insects from reputable breeders.
This is the only way to ensure that they don’t have any pesticide or insecticide residues. Dubia roaches can certainly be a more nutritious option that your leopard gecko will enjoy.
Also, never feed your gecko bioluminescent insects like fireflies – these are usually toxic to leopard geckos. In fact, one firefly can kill a leopard gecko within minutes. Try to avoid offering pinky mice and lizards as well. While the latter can transmit parasites and diseases, the former can cause nutritional problems.
Unless prescribed by the vet, you should keep fruits out of your leopard gecko’s diet. It can be detrimental to their health and won’t benefit them at all. Instead, focus on gut loading, diversifying your gecko’s insect diet, and dusting. These three approaches will keep your gecko strong and healthy for years to come!