Is lettuce a safe food for your leopard gecko?
What essential nutrients should be included in a leopard gecko’s diet?
Knowing what kinds of foods to feed your leopard gecko is essential for their health and overall well-being.
Providing your gecko with a varied diet ensures they receive the vital nutrients they need for them to thrive.
We’re going to take a closer look at what you should and shouldn’t feed your leopard gecko and how to provide them with the proper nutrients they need.
Table of Contents
Can Leopard Geckos Eat Lettuce?
You should never feed your leopard gecko lettuce. Unlike other omnivorous reptiles, which eat plants and animals, leopard geckos are insectivores. This means they can only digest insects, as they cannot digest plant fibers.
Even if you could convince your gecko to eat lettuce, they would very likely spit it out because they don’t like the taste.
Instead, your leopard gecko’s diet should include various live insects, which can easily be found at your local pet supply store.
Acceptable insects include:
- small grasshoppers
- tomato hornworms
- dubia roaches
Please note: healthy leopard geckos are attracted to live prey, and they will not eat dead or freeze-dried insects.
You should avoid feeding leopard geckos insects such as lightning bugs or fireflies, which are very toxic to the gecko.
For proper nutrition, the insects you feed to your leopard gecko should be gut loaded.
This means feeding the insects various fruits and vegetables approximately 12-24 hours before feeding your gecko, which allows the insects to digest vital nutrients to be absorbed by your gecko when eaten.
You should avoid feeding your leopard gecko only one type of insect and instead offer a variety.
This not only provides a more well-rounded diet for your gecko but also keeps them from becoming a picky eater.
Safe And Unsafe Foods For Your Leopard Gecko
The table below illustrates what to feed and what not to feed your leopard gecko.
|Safe to Eat Gecko Insects||Crickets, Small Grasshoppers, Silkworms, Tomato Hookworms, Beetles, and Dubia Roaches (live)|
|Feed Sparingly Due to High Fat Content||Mealworms and Waxworms (live)|
|Avoid||Fruits, vegetables, human food (table scraps), and dead insects|
Note: Always feed your pet geckos insects purchased from a pet store.
Wild-caught ones may end up passing on gecko parasites causing you to deal with some sickly geckos.
Properly Gut Loading Your Feeder Insects
Gut loading your feeder insects is essential, as they naturally lack many essential nutrients your leopard gecko needs.
The only exceptions to gut loading are silkworms, whose diet primarily consists of mulberry leaves, and waxworms, which are typically kept refrigerated to prevent them from pupating and turning into moths.
Proper foods for gut loading your insects to provide excellent calcium content include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Commercial cricket food
You want to avoid gut loading with acidic fruits and vegetables and iceberg lettuce and cabbage, which do not offer enough traditional value.
In addition to leopard gecko fruits and vegetables, you will need to add nutritional supplements such as a calcium multivitamin supplement.
It is very important to prevent your leopard gecko from getting metabolic bone disease, and vitamin D3, which is essential for your gecko to absorb the calcium.
Sprinkle these calcium powders on the food you supply your feeder insects and dust the insects themselves right before you feed them to your gecko to ensure maximum effectiveness and increased levels of calcium.
Find reptile calcium multivitamins from online pet-specific retailers.
Calcium is critical for healthy bones.
Gut loading should be done 12-24 hours before feeding your leopard gecko.
This ensures the insects will have time to absorb the nutrients when it feeds.
How Much And How Often To Feed Your Leopard Gecko
As a general rule of thumb, healthy adult geckos should be fed 2 insects for every one inch (2.5 cm) of body length.
Gecko measuring is an integral part of their feeding.
Insects should be no larger than the space between your gecko’s eyes to ensure they do not choke on their food.
Never leave live crickets in your gecko’s enclosure, as they can bite your gecko and cause it a great deal of stress.
Hatchling leopard geckos may not eat until their first shed.
Baby leopard geckos, also called juveniles, should be fed 5-7 small crickets and mealworms every day until they grow to about 4″ inches (10 cm) in length.
Offer baby geckos slightly larger insects, such as small crickets, every other day until the gecko is one year old.
Adult leopard geckos should be fed 6-7 larger insects 3-4 times a week.
The following table shows the percentages of moisture, protein, and fat naturally occurring in a few common feeder insects.
Mealworms and waxworms have a much higher fat content than other insects and should be fed as a treat, no more than once a week.
Providing fresh water daily is also crucial for your gecko to prevent dehydration, leading to appetite loss.
What If Your Leopard Gecko Refuses to Eat?
Many reasons a leopard gecko will refuse to eat from time to time aren’t necessarily life-threatening.
Pet leopard geckos require heat to digest their food, so take care to keep their enclosure at their optimal temperature between 80-85o degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).
As stated above, dehydration may cause a loss of appetite, so be sure to provide your gecko with fresh water daily.
It is normal for leopard geckos to not eat both before and during shedding, and they may become slightly aggressive towards you.
Once their shedding is complete, they return to regular eating habits and behavior.
If your gecko is pregnant and about to lay her eggs, she will eat very little or not at all for between 1-3 months, and this is also considered normal behavior.
If your leopard gecko refuses to eat, there is no need to panic, as they can go months without eating and still be okay.
However, if your gecko is not cold, dehydrated, shedding, or pregnant, you should seek a veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out injury or disease.
Lettuce is never safe to feed to your leopard gecko, as they cannot digest plant fibers.
Pet gecko diets of gut loaded live insects, combined with calcium vitamin supplements, will provide your leopard gecko with the proper nutrients they need to thrive.
A bad calcium ratio is detrimental to its health.
To be the best leopard gecko owners there are, you need to get this information committed.
Avoid overfeeding your leopard gecko, and they will live a longer, happier life for many years.