Can Leopard Geckos Eat Slugs? (Potential Dangers)

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Do leopard geckos enjoy eating slugs? Are there any dangers in letting them indulge in a couple of slimy mollusks? Find all the answers here. 

Leopard Geckos should not be fed slugs. Slugs pose a potential health hazard to leopard geckos. Leopard Geckos thrive on a varied live insect diet and do not benefit nutritionally from a diet of mollusks. 

Feeding Slugs to Your Leopard Gecko

While Leopard Geckos are opportunistic predators that will prey on anything small enough to be swallowed, slugs are not an invertebrate that they would naturally feast on in the wild. 

Related: Feeding Pill Bugs to your Leopard Gecko

Several reasons why Leopard Geckos should not eat slugs

Slug size 

Slugs are a more suitable staple for larger reptiles. Leopard Gecko’s prefer to feed on a selection of insects and worms, customarily smaller in size than the space between their eyes

A healthy gecko can prey on insects up to an inch in length. The average slug is approximately more than 1.2 to 2 inches (35 to 50 millimeters) in length, with other varieties as long as 4 to 8 inches. 

Slug mucus and flavor

Although a slug poses no impaction risk due to the absence of a shell, it can produce thick and slimy mucus, making it hard for a Leopard Gecko to pick up and hold, and can potentially present a choking hazard. 

Slugs do not have stings and do not have toxic or poisonous glands. Their slimy secretions are made up of a mixture of mucous and serotonin that gives a foul taste to their prey. This clarifies why Leopard Geckos will steer clear of slugs unless desperate for a meal. 

Potential skin irritation

Certain slug species have a ridge that runs the length of their back. This is used to scrape surfaces and can potentially irritate the delicate skin of the gecko if rubbed against it. 

You may be surprised to discover that slugs have approximately 27000 microscopic teeth, which they use to nibble and grind their food. 

These teeth are known as the radula. Although slugs will not bite or seriously injure your gecko, the radula’s suction, when dragging itself along the ground, could cause microscopic damage to your Leopard Geckos’ skin if it makes contact. 

Slug toxicity

Slugs are well-known pests in agricultural and gardening communities. Slug pellets and chemicals are often used to control these pests, and if eaten by slugs and then consumed by your gecko, it can be extremely dangerous or even lethal. 

Slugs are notorious scavengers, and they will eat any greens they happen to pass by. Vegetables, fruits, and even plants are often sprayed with pesticides to keep bugs at bay, and these, if ingested or carried on the slug’s bodies, can pose a risk to any gecko that eats them. 

Furthermore, slugs consume toxic plants such as poison oak, animal droppings, and even poisonous mushrooms. If ingested by your gecko, these could make them severely ill, kill them, or pose an unwanted health risk. 

Signs Leo may be suffering from internal parasites.

Your Leopard Gecko may appear more lethargic than usual, lose weight, or regurgitate its food when feeding. These unpleasant symptoms usually require the assistance of an exotic veterinarian. 

Risk of parasites

Feeding your Leopard Gecko wild-caught slugs or bugs puts them at risk of consuming parasites such as nematodes or pinworms, making them severely ill.  

Lungworms are other potential parasites that slugs can carry that can be potentially dangerous. 

Slug nutritional composition

Slugs are high protein and low fat mollusks. They also provide a good source of iron and calcium and higher amino acids than those found in an egg. 

This sounds terrific, but slugs will not provide all the nutrients and vitamins required for a healthy Leopard Gecko. Gut-loaded live insects and worms and vitamins and calcium supplements are still the best and most beneficial options for your gecko. 

The risk of parasites and other toxins also outweighs slugs’ potential protein and low-fat benefits. Canned slugs or snails are also not advisable due to their lack of nutrition and movement. 

Not a natural food source

Slugs are not a food source that Leopard Geckos would easily find or enjoy eating in the wild. Snails live in dark and cool environments and do not do well in arid, hot, and dry climates such as the environment Leopard Geckos originate from. 

In the reptile community, it is well known that feeding your gecko a diet that replicates or is similar to that of one they would naturally consume in the wild is both beneficial and advantageous.  

Related: Can leopard geckos eat fish?

Final thoughts

It is never ok to feed slugs to your Leopard Gecko. The risk of parasites and toxicity is too high and poses a considerable health risk. Slugs are not a natural food source for Leopard Geckos. 

More suitable and more appetizing gut-loaded insect varieties are available that will significantly benefit their health. 

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