Should you give your leopard gecko a calcium supplement?
Does your gecko need a calcium supplement with or without vitamin D3?
Understanding your leopard gecko’s nutritional needs is essential for their health and well-being, as proper nutrition can prevent diseases and help your gecko live a long and healthy life.
Knowing when and how to supplement your leopard gecko’s diet can often be confusing, especially for new pet owners.
In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at calcium supplements, including why they are an essential part of your gecko’s diet and how to use them properly for maximum effectiveness.
What Do You Need To Know About Calcium For Leopard Geckos?
A calcium supplement should be an essential part of your leopard gecko’s diet. Insects do not provide enough calcium on their own, and calcium deficiency can lead to metabolic bone disease, known as MBD.
What Is Metabolic Bone Disease?
MBD is considered an incurable disease, and it causes a great deal of suffering to your gecko before it leads to death.
Symptoms of MBD include:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Bone deformities
- Bowed legs
Calcium supplements come in the form of calcium powders, which may be directly given to the leopard gecko by leaving some in a small dish placed inside the gecko’s enclosure.
This is a somewhat unreliable method because calcium powder isn’t very tasty on its own, and your leopard gecko may decide not to lick it directly from the dish for this very reason.
It is also difficult to monitor just how much calcium your gecko is ingesting.
The most common way to ensure your leopard gecko is getting the calcium it needs is to dust insects with the calcium powder right before you feed them to your gecko.
It is also a good idea to feed the calcium powder directly to your feeder insects when you are gut loading them.
Sprinkle the powder onto their food, which they will then digest and pass the nutrients on to your gecko.
Phosphorous is a mineral naturally present in insects, and it aids in metabolizing specific vitamins and minerals.
Too much phosphorous, however, prevents the leopard gecko from absorbing calcium.
It is crucial to choose a supplement with a calcium-to-phosphorous ratio of 2:1 to ensure proper metabolic function.
Vitamin D3, which is a hormone, is also an essential part of calcium supplementation.
D3 is a vital nutrient because it helps the leopard gecko absorb calcium.
Without D3, a gecko cannot absorb calcium and other minerals.
Their body will naturally leach calcium from their bones, which will ultimately lead to calcium deficiency and metabolic bone disease.
Modern calcium supplements take the guesswork out of your leopard gecko’s nutritional needs by including essential vitamins and minerals required for a well-rounded diet.
These supplements are formulated both with and without D3. If you choose a calcium powder without D3, be sure to include a proper vitamin D3 additive as well.
For an excellent, well-rounded calcium supplement, Repashy Calcium Plus is highly recommended.
This calcium powder has essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D3.
Many leopard gecko breeders also recommend Repashy Calcium Plus to maintain the health of breeding females and encourage healthy growth in young geckos.
The following table illustrates the calcium to phosphorous ratios for common feeder insects.
|Feeder Insects||Calcium to Phosphorous Ratio|
Feeder insects lack the proper amount of calcium your leopard gecko requires in order to maintain their health.
This is why the addition of a calcium supplement is so important to prevent disease and encourage healthy growth.
How Often Should You Give Your Leopard Gecko A Calcium Supplement?
You should always dust your feeder insects with a calcium powder supplement prior to feeding your gecko.
It is also advisable to sprinkle a calcium supplement onto the food you give to your feeder insects for maximum effectiveness.
Leopard geckos should be fed 2 insects for every 1″ inch (2.5 cm) of body length, and insects should be no larger than the space between your gecko’s eyes in order to prevent a choking hazard.
Feeding should take place in the evening, around sundown, when leopard geckos would naturally forage for food in the wild.
5-7 small crickets and/or mealworms daily until they grow to about 4″ inches (10 cm) in length are fine for leopard geckos.
Then, introduce slightly larger insects every other day until the gecko is a year old.
Adult leopard geckos do well with 6-7 larger insects 3-4 times a week.
It is important to feed your gecko an array of insects to ensure their nutritional needs are met.
Staple insects include crickets, locusts, and roaches.
Mealworms and waxworms should be fed only as a treat due to their high-fat content.
Never leave live insects inside your gecko’s enclosure, as they can cause stress and may also bite your gecko, causing a lot of harm and possible death.
Choose a feeding dish with smooth rounded sides to prevent insects from escaping, and remove any insects which remain uneaten after 15 minutes.
As an alternative, you may also feed your leopard gecko by hand, which also helps your gecko bond with you.
Gut-loaded insects are also vital to the leopard gecko diet because they provide much more nutritional value than an insect with an empty stomach.
Gut loading should be done 12-24 hours before feeding your gecko for the insects to digest and absorb important nutrients.
A proper diet for your feeder insects should include dark leafy greens, carrots, apples, potatoes, squash, oats, and commercial cricket food, which also provides the insects with a small amount of moisture.
Repashy Superload Insect Gutload Formula is an excellent commercial insect food containing high amounts of calcium and other vital vitamins and minerals and a 10% moisture content.
In addition to a healthy diet, you need to provide your leopard gecko with fresh, clean water every day in a shallow dish to prevent drowning.
Tap water is safe to use and contains minerals beneficial to your gecko.
Should You Add Other Vitamin Supplements In Addition To The Calcium Supplement?
If you are using Repashy Calcium Plus and properly gut-loaded insect feeders, there is no need for additional vitamin supplements.
However, if you are nursing a sick leopard gecko back to health or have a breeding female who is getting ready to lay her eggs, Repashy Supervite is an excellent product to use.
It contains a variety of vitamins and minerals beneficial to your gecko.
Be aware; Repashy Supervite does not contain calcium, so it should be used in addition to a quality calcium supplement.
Calcium supplements are a critical addition to your leopard gecko’s diet, as they help prevent metabolic bone disease and other ailments.
It is unnecessary to add another vitamin supplement unless your gecko is sick or is not eating as often due to breeding.
Calcium supplements, alongside a varied, gut-loaded insect diet and clean freshwater will provide your leopard gecko with the vital nutrients it needs to live a long, healthy, and happy life for many years.
Supplements also take the confusion out of feeding your gecko, so you don’t have to worry if your pet is getting proper nutrition.