If you’ve researched leopard geckos, you probably learned crickets are a part of their staple diet.
Your gecko might have even been fed crickets from the breeder since it was young, and you have included crickets in your leo’s diet after bringing it home.
But lately, you’ve noticed your pet isn’t eating the crickets you are offering.
So why won’t your leopard gecko eat crickets?
As a general rule, leopard geckos are notoriously picky eaters, and they will forego eating crickets if something tastier comes along. Crickets also pose a hunting challenge because they can jump and move quickly, making them more difficult for a leopard gecko to catch.
Many leos simply do not like eating crickets, whether it’s because they don’t like the taste or because it’s not worth the effort.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at what happens if a leopard gecko doesn’t eat crickets or loses its appetite altogether and explore ways to deal with a picky eater.
Table of Contents
Will My Leopard Gecko Survive Without Crickets?
Yes, your leo will do just fine if its diet does not include crickets.
While an all-cricket diet is packed with nutrients and their jumpy movements stimulate the hunting reflex, many other insect options are available for your pet.
Their quick movements also encourage the young leos to hunt for their food.
Once a leo reaches its adult stage, new insects are usually introduced to its diet.
Some individual geckos decide they prefer other insects over crickets once they have tried them.
Crickets are notoriously smelly, and their chirping is quite noisy and bothersome to reptile owners.
These owners are usually very happy their leopard gecko prefers to go without crickets.
However, other insects may not be as readily available as crickets in certain areas, or some owners insist on including crickets in their leo’s diet even if their pet is not eating them.
How Do I Get My Leopard Gecko to Eat Crickets?
You should never force your leopard gecko to eat anything it doesn’t want.
However, there are ways to stimulate your leo’s appetite for crickets.
The movements of crickets make them ideal for leos who like to hunt for their food.
For older leos with poor eyesight or slow reflexes, this is not ideal.
If crickets are too active for your leo to effectively catch, pulling the back legs off of the crickets will make them unable to jump away.
They can still move around, which will catch the attention of the leopard gecko, and the crickets will be much easier to catch.
You may also use special feeding tongs to feed crickets to your leo.
These tongs have special rubberized tips to prevent any injury while feeding your lizard.
Always offer your leopard gecko live crickets, as it will not be interested in a dead food item or freeze-dried crickets or other insects.
We also have some additional information on how many crickets to feed leopard geckos if you want to learn more on this.
What Are Some Other Insects To Feed My Leopard Gecko?
Do not be alarmed if you have tried these methods and your leopard gecko still will not eat crickets.
Leos are avid insectivores, and there are plenty of other nutritious insect options, such as:
- Dubia roaches
- Small grasshoppers
- Meal worms
- Wax worm
- Phoenix worm
- Horned worm
- Super worms
Dubia roaches are the best choice as a dietary staple to replace crickets, as both of these are feeder insects with similar nutritional values.
The following table illustrates the similarities in nutrition between dubia roaches and crickets.
As you see, dubia roaches are just as nutritious as crickets, and they offer more protein.
A good rule of thumb is to feed your adult leopard gecko two dubia roaches for every 1″ inch of body length.
In addition to dubia roaches, you should supplement your leo’s diet with any of the other listed feeder insects.
Offering up a wide variety of insects keeps your gecko from becoming a picky eater, so be sure to change up the insects you offer regularly.
This helps keep feeding time interesting for your leo and will stimulate its appetite.
While waxworms offer up a lot of nutritional value, especially calcium, they should only be fed sparingly as a treat due to their high-fat content.
Leos find waxworms particularly tasty, and if they are offered too many of them, they will refuse other feeding insects you offer.
Check out our list of best leopard gecko foods and other diet information for a huge list of food you can offer your pet.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Not Eating?
There may be times where your healthy leopard gecko loses its appetite not just for one type of insect and refuses to eat anything at all.
There are many reasons a leopard gecko will go through periods without food, such as:
- Temperatures in the enclosure are too cold
- Upper respiratory infection
- They are going through the shedding process
Cold Temperatures in the Enclosure
Leopard geckos need heat to digest their food properly.
If the environment inside their enclosure is kept too low for prolonged periods, your leo may lose its appetite completely until it is warm again.
Temperatures in the enclosure should never drop below 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
This aligns with their natural environment.
Using a heat lamp and monitoring enclosure temperatures regularly are good practices to keep the environment at the proper temperature.
Further reading: Do leopard geckos really need a heat lamp?
If you notice your leopard gecko is not eating and has not defecated in several days, it may be suffering from impaction.
Impaction occurs when your gecko ingests foreign particles, such as loose substrate, which they cannot digest in their belly.
These particles build up in your leo’s stomach and prevent any food from moving through the digestive system.
Soaking your leopard gecko in shallow, warm water usually relieves impaction.
Still, if this does not work, you should seek veterinary care to rule out the existence of parasites or other health problems.
Your veterinarian will be able to give your leo an enema to help it defecate properly.
Upper Respiratory Infection
Upper respiratory infections are the most common illness among baby leopard geckos and adult geckos, and they will stop eating if they are sick.
Leopard gecko owners need to watch for this carefully.
If you notice any of these symptoms, take your gecko to a veterinarian right away for proper treatment.
Once your gecko is well again, it will resume eating.
Your gecko will refuse to eat if it has any type of injury.
Injuries of the eyes, tail, or toes will cause your leo enough pain to make it lose its appetite.
Once your gecko has received proper veterinary treatment for its injury and the pain starts to subside, normal eating habits will resume.
If you have just brought your leopard gecko home, it will need up to two weeks to adjust to its surroundings.
During this time, your leo may refuse any food you are offering.
Give your gecko enough time to get used to its surroundings.
Once your leo becomes comfortable in your home, it will start eating.
If your gecko isn’t eating and you notice its skin has turned a milky white, your pet is going through the shedding process.
Shedding occurs approximately every 4-8 weeks in adult leopard geckos, with the entire process being completed in about two days.
During this time, your leo may stop eating.
Once the shed is complete, your gecko will start eating again.
And if your pet refusing to eat is a common problem make sure to read our post on why leopard geckos stop eating for help.