Feeding your gecko a proper diet made up of various nutritious feeder insects is essential to their health and wellbeing, but having the proper feeding schedule is just as important.
An overweight leopard gecko is susceptible to many unpleasant health issues and an overall shorter life span than a gecko of a healthy weight.
Overfeeding your leopard gecko is possible and should be avoided. The most prominent sign of overfeeding is obesity, characterized by armpit fat bubbles, belly rolls, difficulty walking, or a slow, labored gait. An obese gecko’s tail is usually wider than its head and has a very thick tail base.
To learn more about how much and how often you should be feeding your gecko, keep reading.
We’ll also cover the basics of a proper diet and what you should do to prevent your gecko from becoming overweight.
How Much and How Often Should You Feed Your Leopard Gecko?
How much you will feed your gecko will depend primarily on its age.
Baby geckos will need to eat around three to five small to medium-sized worms or crickets per feeding, usually once per day, to support their rapid growth rate and fast metabolisms during this stage of life.
An adult leopard gecko will need anywhere from four to eight medium-to-large-sized insects about three times per week.
Of course, these amounts are just general estimates; most geckos will eat until they are full, and individuals’ appetites will vary significantly from one lizard to the next.
Never force-feed your gecko or leave uneaten insects in your gecko’s tank after a feeding session.
Monitor your gecko carefully while they eat to get an idea of how much they prefer to eat at a time.
In rare cases where a leopard gecko eats too much, they will attempt to regurgitate their food.
Feed your gecko slowly, one insect at a time to allow your pet to determine when they’re full and ready to stop eating.
What To Feed Your Leopard Gecko
Leopard geckos are strict insectivores, meaning they will only eat insects.
Don’t bother giving your gecko fruits or vegetables, as they will not show any interest in them.
Most geckos prefer moving prey to dead insects, and they are quite skilled hunters.
There are many inexpensive common insects at your local pet shop or purchased online to feed your gecko to make up a proper staple diet.
By feeding your gecko a variety of insects and avoiding overfeeding, your lizard will likely remain within a healthy weight range.
Here are some of the best and most common feeders to give to your leopard gecko.
Mealworms and Superworms
These are very visually and physically similar insects with moderate amounts of protein and fat.
Both make decent staple insects, particularly if they are dusted with a good amount of calcium powder.
The main difference between the two is their size, as superworms are three to five times larger than mealworms.
Another interesting difference between the two insects is superworms have much stronger jaws and can deliver a painful bite.
Thankfully, most leopard geckos are large enough to nearly swallow them whole or at least bite off the worms’ heads first to prevent themselves from getting stung.
Also quite high in protein but leaner than the typical feeder insect, crickets are a very common choice for a healthy gecko diet.
The only downside is their foul odor and their ability to easily jump from your hands and escape into your home.
Still, their jumping is easy to prevent by using a long pair of tongs or tweezers to carefully handle them during feeding time.
Dubia roaches are a bit harder to find than other more common feeder insects, but they are highly nutritious, and most geckos love them.
They are packed with protein and are fairly low in fat.
Avoid feeding your gecko large dubia roaches; opt for smaller ones whenever possible.
Remember, any food you give to your gecko should be smaller than the width of the space between their eyes to prevent choking and impaction.
These worms are great for an occasional treat, but they shouldn’t be given as a staple insect.
Although they are among most leopard geckos’ favorite foods, waxworms are very high in fat and lack much nutritional value otherwise.
Sprinkle them with calcium powder to make them a bit healthier.
Phoenix Worms (Black Soldier Fly Larvae)
Phoenix worms are a bit harder to find, but they’re a convenient option as they don’t need to be gut-loaded before feeding.
They’re low in fat, have a good amount of protein, and have excellent calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Not all geckos enjoy the taste of phoenix worms, but if yours has developed a taste for them, by all means, offer them regularly.
How To Tell If Your Leopard Gecko Is Overweight
On average, most healthy leopard geckos weigh around 60 to 70 grams, with males being slightly larger than females.
Take a look at this growth chart for general weight marks to hit at different ages:
|Weight In Grams||Age In Months|
However, this is a general estimate as some individuals are longer or shorter and carry their weight differently.
However, there are a few key signs of obesity in leopard geckos, regardless of their exact weight.
These signs include:
- Armpit fat bubbles
- Belly rolls or a sagging belly
- Slow, labored movement when walking
- Laziness, lethargy, or outright refusal to pursue and hunt feeder insects
- A tail thicker than the lizard’s head with a very thick, heavy base
If your gecko presents any of these symptoms, there is a good sign they are either overweight or obese.
To get your lizard back down to a healthy weight, decrease the frequency and amount you are feeding them slightly until you notice results.
Weigh them every few days to monitor their weight loss (or gain) and adjust feedings as needed.
If you adhere to a strict diet and feeding schedule, your gecko will have more energy over time and will be able to move around much easier thanks to losing the excess weight.
Plus, geckos within a healthy weight range tend to live longer than obese geckos.