Is it right to feed pinkie mice to your leopard gecko? Why should or shouldn’t you feed them pinkies?
Leopard geckos can eat pinkies and sometimes do in the wild. However, it’s not recommended to feed pinkies to leopard geckos. Leopard geckos are primarily insectivores. Their diet mainly consists of crickets, cockroaches, and larvae from other insects.
Read on to find out the pros and cons of doing so.
Why Would a Leopard Gecko Eat a Pinkie?
Insects are good sources of protein for leopard geckos. So too are pinkies. In fact, pinkies trump crickets any day when it comes to protein content.
Pinkies also contain calcium, vitamins, and minerals that you wouldn’t usually find in crickets and other insects.
All of these are important to your leopard gecko’s nutrition and growth.
The sad thing is that pinkies have too much protein and fat for a leopard gecko to have on a regular basis.
What is a Pinkie?
A pinkie is a young rat or mouse ranging from a day to 5 days old. They get their name from their normal coloration, but it is not unusual to find darker cubs that are also considered pinkies.
Pinkies normally contain:
- 4 to 15% fat (based on their age)
- 55 to 65% crude protein
- calcium (passed on from the mother to the pinkie)
- vitamins (passed on from the mother to the pinkie)
- minerals (passed on from the mother to the pinkie)
These are popular food items sold in pet stores for reptile owners who want to provide their pets a treat or a valid source of protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals.
Good Reasons To Feed Your Leopard Gecko A Pinkie
Despite the pushback from some leopard gecko owners on feeding pinkies to leos from humane or purist diet standpoints, there are some excellent reasons involved in mixing this into your pet’s diet. Here are some reasons why:
Your Leopard Gecko Is Pregnant
It’s no secret that pregnant or gravid leopard geckos need more vitamins, minerals, and protein in their diet to produce healthy eggs.
Feeding them a pinkie is a great way to satisfy those needs. This will help your female leopard gecko lay healthier eggs with a higher rate of survival once laid.
After laying their eggs, pinkies can also help mothers recover faster.
You Want To Make Your Leopard Gecko Bigger
Some pet owners like owning fat pets. There’s no harm in that. The problem starts when their pets become obese.
Feeding a leopard gecko a pinkie to help them bulk up is a shortcut that should be planned properly.
You can create a diet that centers around feeding your leopard gecko a pinkie without going overboard.
You Want To Give Them A Varied Diet
One of the most boring things about owning leopard geckos is their ability to thrive on an insect-based diet. They’ll happily munch on crickets, cockroaches, insect pupa and beetle larva their entire lives and not complain.
This is a good thing because you can readily find these food items for a very low price in most pet stores.
But like any pet owner, you’d want to give your pet some variety in their food. Giving them a pinkie is like giving yourself an oversized hamburger for a meal. It will taste great and make you feel good, but it’s not something you can eat every day. So go ahead, give them a pinkie every now and then to mix things up and keep things interesting for your leopard gecko.
It’s Fun To Watch Leopard Geckos Eat Pinkies
This may seem like a sadistic reason for feeding pinkies to your leopard geckos, but if you think about it, it’s no different than feeding crickets or mealworms to your pet.
Leopard geckos are active hunters, and they will stalk their prey before pouncing on it.
This is true regardless if you’re feeding them live pinkies or frozen ones through a pair of tongs. They’ll run up to it, slowly measure it up, give that signature tail quiver, and pounce.
This happens very quickly. So you don’t need to worry about inflicting too much pain on the unsuspecting prey item.
Pros And Cons of Feeding Your Leopard Geckos Pinkies
Pinkies Are Excellent Sources Of Protein.
This is good if you want to bulk your leopard gecko up. It’s also good for ensuring your pregnant leopard gecko gets enough protein for their eggs to develop in their bellies properly.
Pinkies Contain Vitamins And Minerals
Rats and mice nurse their young and pass on vital vitamins and minerals due to the cubs drinking milk from their mothers.
Pinkies Have A Natural Calcium Content
Pinkies that have nursed through their mothers retain that milk in their bellies. This is calcium in one of its richest forms. Older pinkies (5 days old) have a higher calcium content that your leopard geckos can benefit from when they eat them.
Cons (Or Why You Shouldn’t Feed Your Leopard Geckos Pinkies)
Pinkies Are Fatty
Feeding your leopard gecko pinkies regularly can lead to digestive problems. A pinkie has fat content ranging from 4 to 15%, depending on its age.
Naturally, bigger or older pinkies will have a higher fat content.
You risk your leopard gecko developing gout or a fatty liver if they constantly eat pinkies.
Feeding Your Leopard Geckos Pinkies Regularly Can Lead To Obesity
The worst thing that could happen when you regularly feed your leopard geckos pinkies is that you might end up with an obese leopard gecko.
Note: The good thing about this is that leopard geckos don’t get fat overnight. This is going to be a progressive thing that happens over the course of a few weeks or months.
You’ll know your leopard gecko is getting up there in weight when it starts pushing past 100 grams at 8 inches.
You’ll Start Seeing Armpit Bubbles In Your Leopard Geckos
Another thing you might start noticing when you regularly feed your leopard geckos pinkies is the development of armpit bubbles. These bubbles are the accumulation of fat, protein and calcium-based on your leopard gecko’s diet.
A Pinkie Can Injure Your Leopard Gecko
Although this is an infrequent occurrence, a pinkie can injure your leopard gecko if it is big enough or strong enough to struggle against getting eaten.
Some pinkies, on the verge of becoming fuzzies, are often mixed in by pet owners trying to move their products out before they get too old.
Make sure you feed appropriate-sized pinkies to your leopard geckos. It should be small enough to fit their jaw easily and young enough not to struggle.
Try to avoid fuzzies, or better yet, feed your leopard gecko thawed pinkies to eliminate the risk of injuries.
Not For The Weak Stomached
Leopard geckos are violent eaters. They also have very sharp teeth. Watching a leopard gecko eat a pinkie is mesmerizing, and it can go two ways (1) it can be satisfying for experienced owners, or (2) it can be horrifying for newbies and experts alike.
Normally, a leopard gecko will grab onto the head and swallow the pinkie whole in one to two gulps. Sometimes, pinkies struggle, and there will be blood.
Your leopard gecko could also smack the pinkie on the ground to get a better hold before swallowing it whole.
This is not for the weak-stomached.
How Many Pinkies Can I Feed My Leopard Gecko Per Month?
At the most, one.
But this shouldn’t be done every month.
If you really have to, you can feed your leopard gecko one pinkie per month for three months and stop for another three months before resuming that diet.
This is only for the purpose of bulking up your leopard gecko or for feeding pregnant leopard geckos who need something extra in their diet.
For leopard geckos without any special needs, you can feed them one pinkie every six months. You can even get away with just feeding them one pinkie a year or none at all.
As a pet owner, it is entirely up to you if you want to feed your leo a pinkie or not.
If you do decide to feed them a pinkie, make sure you do it sparingly. Make it a rare treat, or use it as a special diet for addressing special dietary needs.
Whatever you do, don’t make it their primary diet. There are far more disadvantages involved than advantages when feeding leopard geckos pinkies.