Have you wondered if there are any food alternatives for your leopard gecko?
Do they have to only eat a diet consisting of mealworms and crickets?
Diet isn’t something to mess around with, so you need to check out trustworthy help.
Luckily for you, we’re here to help!
Table of Contents
Leopard Gecko Food Alternatives
Leopard geckos will also enjoy various other insects like dubia roaches, super worms, silkworms, and grasshoppers. Do keep in mind, leopard geckos are insectivores and cannot eat human food.
In this article, we will go over various insects to offer your leopard gecko, including foods you should avoid giving your pet.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
Leopard geckos enjoy eating live food.
Their bodies are built to only digest insects.
Crickets and mealworms tend to be the most popular insect fed to leopard geckos.
However, beginner gecko owners may not realize the array of other insects they can feed their pets.
Make sure to only feed live insects to your pet.
Your lizard will probably turn its nose up to dead insects.
How Much Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
How much your pet gecko eats will depend on its age and size.
In general, you should feed your gecko two insects for every inch of their body length.
Here’s a quick look at how often your leopard gecko should be eating based on their age.
|Age||How Often They Eat|
|Hatchling Geckos||Every Day|
|Baby Geckos||Every Day|
|Juvenile Geckos||Every Day|
|Adult Geckos (10-12 Months)||Every Other Day|
It’s essential, especially with hatchling geckos, to “gut-load” the insects before feeding them to your pet.
It’s advisable to wait until your hatchling is a few weeks old before you offer crickets.
Gut-loading is when you feed the insects a diet of nutrient-rich foods, which will then be passed along to your gecko.
Hatchlings should also have their food supplemented daily with Vitamin D and calcium.
It’s essential to keep in mind the size of the food you are serving your gecko.
Feeding too large of insects can cause choking in your pet.
Insects to Offer your Leopard Gecko
Here is a detailed list of the insects you are able to feed your gecko.
We take into account their age along with their diet needs.
It’s essential to remove any insects your gecko is not interested in eating.
Any leftover live insects may bite your gecko resulting in harm to your pet.
As a rule of thumb, do not offer any insects bigger than the space between your gecko’s eyes.
To reduce the risk of pesticide contamination, it is not recommended to feed your pet any wild insects.
Finally, geckos are more likely to lose interest in a specific food over time, so serving your pet, a combination of insects, will ensure they will continue to eat the foods they need.
Crickets are likely the most popular choice of feeder insects for leopard geckos.
While this article informs you about leopard gecko food alternatives, we feel it’s still important to highlight what crickets have to provide for your gecko leopard.
You should avoid buying large crickets because your pet might have a hard time eating them.
You are able to give your baby gecko crickets daily.
A baby gecko will eat about 5-8 crickets once a day.
Crickets should be able 3/8″ inches (1 cm) in size for babies.
You should feed juvenile gecko crickets measuring around ¼” inch (.8 cm) in size.
An adult will eat anywhere between 5 and 10 every few days.
You should only feed adult size crickets to full-grown leopard geckos.
Overall, crickets are pretty easy to obtain and are not expensive.
Also, they are easy to digest.
The active insects act as a stimulant for your pet.
Crickets offer protein, calcium, and other essential vitamins.
Just be sure not to put too many crickets inside your lizard’s tank.
Otherwise, the insects may feed on parts of your pet.
As a pet owner, you should be aware of the awful smell crickets have.
Even if you are not feeding a large number of them, you will be quite aware of the smell.
Finally, you should make a point to feed the crickets beforehand.
If the crickets are hungry, they will feed on lizard feces.
In turn, they will be ingesting parasites, which will be transferred to your lizard.
The eggs will begin to hatch inside your pet.
And with crickets being a staple it’s concerning when your pet won’t eat them.
But it’s a common issue and we have a post going into detail on why leopard geckos won’t eat crickets where you’ll learn about the causes and solution to this problem.
The other staple choice for leopard geckos is mealworms.
I recommend buying them in bulk and storing them in your fridge.
Your gecko can eat between 20 and 30 mealworms in one meal.
Mealworms don’t contain as many nutrients as crickets, so it’s vital to include mealworms as part of a varied diet.
On the plus side, mealworms are not as active as crickets, so they can feed.
A dish with worms is a suitable option, especially if your leopard gecko has a hard time catching its food.
Finally, mealworms are less likely to carry diseases or harmful bacteria.
In general, dubia roaches are a great choice for reptiles.
They don’t smell, can’t climb, and are easily maintained.
They also won’t bite your gecko.
Since dubia roaches aren’t as fast as crickets, your gecko will likely have an easier time catching them.
Also, they have a low-fat content and are high in protein which will help your gecko maintain a healthy weight.
There are other types of roaches you are able to offer, like cockroaches, but dubia roaches stand supreme and are the best option, in my opinion.
Wax worms should be considered treats and only offered once a week or every other week.
Unfortunately, the high-fat content can cause obesity in your pet.
It’s essential to keep the weight of your lizard in check to prevent any future health issues.
However, if you want to help your gecko gain weight after an illness, wax worms are a great choice.
You want to make sure your pet doesn’t form a wax worm addiction.
Otherwise, they will be more prone to obesity.
Finally, your gecko could end up being addicted to the taste of wax worms and thus refuse any foods from their staple diet.
For additional information here is our post on how many wax worms leopard geckos should eat.
Butterworms are another insect you should view as a treat.
Keep in mind, a butter worm has a higher fat content and should only be fed to your leopard gecko on occasion.
Besides, make sure you purchase the butterworms from a reputable seller.
You want to ensure they are free of any pesticides, which in turn could cause harm to your gecko.
Silkworms are an ideal alternative for leopard geckos.
The insects don’t move fast, making it easier for geckos to catch them.
Besides, they are low in fat and high in protein and calcium.
They also contain serrapeptase, an enzyme known to promote calcium absorption and reduce inflammation and pain.
Keep in mind; silkworms do not have a long life span, so only order what you know your leopard gecko will eat.
They are also more expensive than mealworms and crickets.
Another type of food to offer your leopard gecko is locusts.
Ensure you do not buy locusts bigger than your pet’s head.
Otherwise, your pet will have a hard time chewing them and can even choke.
You are able to feed your growing gecko about 6-8 locusts daily.
You may have to play around with the number as you figure out how many your pet is interested in eating.
Finally, locusts are more expensive than crickets, but your pet will likely thank you for the pricey, tasty treat.
While fruit flies shouldn’t make up most of your leopard gecko’s diet, they will be a treat for your gecko.
The flies themselves are much too small to carry any nutritional benefit.
Nor will they satisfy your pet’s hunger.
You should view fruit flies as treats since there is no real benefit to them.
Also, they aren’t the easiest to catch since they can fly.
It may stress your pet out if they are not able to catch their food.
You are able to think of them as a snack alongside their regular meal.
Keep in mind; it would take a lot of fruit flies to consider it a meal.
Even flightless fruit flies aren’t a great option.
They should still be considered a snack even though your pet may have an easier time catching them.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae
Black soldier fly larvae are an excellent source of calcium for leopard geckos.
Their outer skin is a bit tough, so I recommend not feeding them in large amounts.
If you serve too many to your leopard gecko, you might notice constipation in your pet.
Just another reason why you should limit how much you give in one feeding.
Keep in mind, your leopard gecko may like the larvae, or they might turn their nose up to it.
It’s all about trial and error when picking out food alternatives.
Another option for food alternatives is grasshoppers.
You want to make sure you aren’t going outside in your yard to catch some.
When buying grasshopper, make sure to only buy them from somewhere they have not ingested chemicals, parasites, or pesticides.
Besides, make sure not to feed large grasshoppers to young leopard geckos.
The hard shell is not as easy to chew for the smaller lizards.
Moths are another alternative food you are able to serve your leopard gecko.
The only problem moths can present the risk for potential disease if they are caught in the wild.
So, keep this in mind if you catch a moth flying around your house.
It might seem like an easy snack to give your pet, but you don’t know if it will cause illness.
However, if any of your wax worms turn into moths, they are better suited for feeding your leopard gecko.
This way, you are able to ensure they are not carrying any diseases.
Moths are tricky because they fly, and your gecko may have a hard time catching them.
Consider silk moths since they do not fly.
In general, moths should be considered treats since they don’t offer many nutrients.
If you choose to serve your leopard gecko earthworms, avoid buying them from a bait store.
There is a greater chance of them containing pesticides if bought there.
Since earthworms are large, you should only feed them to larger, adult leopard geckos.
In general, earthworms are fairly well balanced when it comes to nutrients and certainly are a good addition to mixing up your gecko’s diet.
I recommend finding a reputable seller online to ensure the worms are safe for your pet gecko.
It’s not a good idea to just go into your yard to find some.
Hornworms are another great alternative food for leopard geckos.
They are full of moisture and soft, which makes it easier for your lizard to eat them.
If your gecko does not want to drink its water, hornworms are a good source of hydration.
They are low in fat and provide a good source of protein.
In addition, they are one of the best insects with calcium.
I recommend giving full-size hornworms to adults only.
Younger geckos will have a hard time swallowing the large insects.
Hornworms, in general, tend to be thicker, so it’s essential to monitor your gecko while they are eating one.
Hornworms grow very quickly, so it’s best to feed them relatively quickly after buying them.
They can reach full size in just a few days.
As a quick tip, if you keep them in a cold environment (50-60° degrees Fahrenheit or 15° C), you are able to slow their growth slightly.
Do Leopard Geckos Need Water?
You should offer your gecko a water dish.
The dish should be shallow and re-filled each day.
Your pet will enjoy soaking in the water, which is another reason why you should clean it daily.
You should also make a point to let them soak in warm water for about 15-20 minutes a few times a week.
Even if they are just drinking a little at a time, it will help avoid dehydration.
Avoid Giving Your Gecko These Foods
It should seem simple enough to only give your gecko insects, but it’s still essential to go over why you shouldn’t give other foods.
In regards to insects, there are a few foods you should not give your pet.
This includes lightning bugs, fireflies, and any bugs found around your house.
Here’s a rundown of the foods you should keep away from leopard geckos.
Fruits and Vegetables
While several reptiles enjoy occasional fresh fruits or vegetables, you should not offer them to your leopard gecko.
They are unable to process Cellulose, which is found in fruits and vegetables.
Their shorter digestive tract also makes it difficult for their body to process the foods.
Also, their jaws are built to eat meat.
If your leopard gecko takes a bite of your fruit or vegetable, it’s likely they only did it because it was available and not because they wanted it.
The Foods Humans Eat
In addition to fruits and vegetables, you shouldn’t be feeding your leopard gecko any foods humans eat.
While some reptiles, like bearded dragons, can share a snack with their owner, leopard geckos are not one of them.
So, avoid giving your gecko any scraps of your food, even if you think you are treating them.
Since pinky mice are offered to other reptiles, pet owners get the wrong idea they should feed them to their leopard gecko.
Over time, your leopard gecko can develop liver, kidney, and eye problems if they are fed too many pinky mice.
In the wild, leopard geckos may get an occasional rodent; insects still make up most of their natural diet.
Overall, a gecko’s digestive system is not equipped to handle rodents.
A female leopard gecko may feed off of them when she is ready to mate.
You are able to offer them every 2-4 weeks during this time.
Obesity and Leopard Geckos
As a pet owner, it’s up to you to ensure your leopard gecko is not overfed.
In the wild, the lizard’s access to food can vary greatly.
An overweight leopard gecko is not an ideal situation to have.
Due to this, leopard geckos became able to easily process and store food.
While in the wild, this is beneficial, it is not while they are in captivity as pets.
As an interesting note, they carry fat in their tails and stomach, so you may not always notice their weight gain as a pet owner.
If your gecko overeats, it will likely begin to regurgitate its food.
You probably will notice they have become lethargic, too.
If these symptoms arise, make sure you reevaluate how much you are feeding your lizard.
If you are feeding them any of the fattier insects, like butterworms or waxworms, you will want to make a point to cut way back on those.
You can learn more about obesity in leopard geckos in our other post we’ve linked here.
What to do if Your Leopard Gecko Stops Eating
If you have the opposite problem than obesity and notice your pet is no longer eating, there are several things to look at.
First, your tank might be too cold for your lizard.
Leopard geckos require heat to digest their food, so they will stop eating if they are too cold.
In addition, if your pet is stressed out, they will avoid their food.
If there have been any major changes, this could be the culprit of the stress.
Keep in mind, when you first bring your gecko home, they might be initially stressed from the change in environment.
Make a point to provide plenty of hides for your pet.
Finally, your pet might be dehydrated.
As previously mentioned, it’s crucial to offer a clean water bowl daily to ensure your leopard gecko stays hydrated.
If you’ve made the above changes and still aren’t eating, I recommend taking them to your reptile veterinarian to ensure there isn’t anything going on inside.
The Need for Vitamins & Minerals
Regardless of which insects you decide to feed your pet, you need to make sure they are receiving a proper amount of necessary vitamins and minerals.
The number one nutrient you need to provide is calcium.
Without an ideal calcium level in your pet, they are more prone to bone abnormalities, leading to weak legs, bent backs, and even death.
There are two basic ways to ensure your pet is receiving the proper amount of vitamins and minerals: dusting and gut loading your feeder insects.
It’s advisable to offer a supplement powder without vitamin D3.
This will help prevent a possible vitamin D3 overdose.
Simply dust the insects before feeding them to your pet.
As a reminder, gut loading is feeding the insects nutritious foods before offering them to your pet gecko.
This way, the nutrients are passed along to them during feeding.
It is recommended to gut-load 12 hours before feeding.
Crickets, for example, can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Avoid spinach or broccoli, as well as anything acidic.
As a note, mealworms enjoy eating carrots.
Finally, be mindful of how much calcium powder you give to your leopard gecko.
There are some gluttonous leopard geckos happy to feed off of it just because they are bored.
Leopard gecko owners should understand the importance of appropriate leopard gecko food alternatives for feeding their pets.
Leopard geckos can live up to 20 years when taken care of properly.
The foods you offer your leopard gecko should provide variety but, most importantly, the
vitamins and minerals to live a happy life.
As with any pet, a healthy diet is crucial in providing a healthy life for your pet.
We hope you found this information helpful in finding alternative food options for your leopard gecko!
And don’t forget to check out our leopard gecko food list for additional options and diet information for your pet.