What should Leopard Geckos eat? Food and dietary requirements

Leopard Geckos may be small (and adorable!), but they are amongst the most complex species to care for. The environment they are kept in must be precisely right, and the same goes for their food.

Table of contents:

Leopard Gecko food - what do Leopard Geckos eat? | Can Leopard Gecko's eat fruit and vegetables? | What food is toxic to Leopard Geckos? | What do baby Gecko's eat? | How often do you feed Gecko's? | What should a Leopard Gecko drink? | Why is my Leopard Gecko not eating? | Gut loading crickets, meal worms and other insects for your Leopard Gecko | Dusting Leopard Gecko food with vitamins and minerals | Can Leopard Gecko's be overfed? | Do Leopard Gecko eat their own?...

While Leopard Gecko's have big appetites and will eat pretty much any insect that wriggles in front of them, over-feeding them, or giving them the wrong type of food, can have very serious health consequences.

Keep reading for advice on how to provide the best diet for your Leopard Gecko.

Leopard Gecko food - what do Leopard Gecko's eat?

A Leopard Gecko's diet should include insects and worms, fruit and vegetables. Leopard Gecko's don't tend to eat dead prey, as they're attracted to the movement of live food. 

Here's a safe live food list for your Leopard Gecko.  The list also shows what Leopard Gecko's can eat in the wild. 

What do Leopard Gecko's eat in captivity?What do Leopard Gecko's eat in the wild?
CricketsSpiders
MealwormsCaterpillers
Waxworms Locusts
ButterwormsBeetles
SilkwormsScorpians
Tomato hornwormsLizards (occasionally)
BeetlesRodents (occasionally)
Sow BugsOther invertebrates
Beetles
Roaches

Should you offer your lizard super mealworms, you should do so sparingly offering only newly-molted (white) grubs.

Butterworms should be kept as a treat, as they are fatty, contain bad calcium and some geckos have been known to get addicted to them and refuse all other food.

You can buy live food for your Leopard Gecko from Northampton Reptile Centre.

Read our article about setting up your Leopard Gecko's vivarium

Leopard Gecko's and obesity

It's your responsibility to avoid over feeding your Gecko, to help prevent obesity.  In the Leopard Gecko’s natural habitat (the dry regions of South-eastern Asia), the availability of food varies drastically according to conditions. For this reason, Leopard Geckos have developed a habit of effectively processing and storing food, which is helpful in the desert, but may cause over-eating and obesity in captivity.  

We offer advice on how often you should feed your Gecko further down this article. 

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Can Leopard Gecko's eat fruit and vegetables?

Leopard Geckos can eat fruit and vegetables.

Soft fruit like papaya, mango, peach and apricot can be given to your Leopard Gecko, but make sure you mash them or chop them to very small pieces to make them easier to digest particularly as it increases variety and interest. You can also dust these in a mineral supplement.

The best way to feed your Leopard Gecko fruit and vegetables is as baby food. This can be left in a dish in the tank, but be mindful your Leopard Gecko doesn’t stand in the dish, as the food is sticky and can cause harm.

Its recommended that you introduce various food items to your Leopard Gecko from a young age, as juvenile geckos are more likely than older geckos to try new food.

Fruit and baby food and can be bought at most supermarkets and stores, while the more specialty items, such as the insects and worms , can be bought at the Northampton Reptile Centre, or via other reptile outlets.

What food is toxic to Leopard Geckos?

  • Bugs that light up are toxic to Leopard Gecko's: The most harmful insects are bugs that light up (like Lightning Bugs and Fireflies). These bugs contain chemicals which are extremely toxic to geckos and should never be used as a food source.
  • Wild caught insects can be toxic to Leopard Gecko's: Opinions are split on whether you should feed your geckos insects you’ve caught yourself. Some websites say that these can be a good (and cost effective) source of nutrition, while others like Thebeardeddragon.org, say you should never feed wild caught insects to your gecko, as these may contain parasites or have traces of pesticide that can be toxic to your Leopard Gecko.

If you do choose to feed your gecko insects you’ve caught yourself, make sure you have an in-depth knowledge on the kind of insects which are toxic to geckos and be aware of pesticide contamination (so, preferably stick to your own garden). Keep these as a treat to stop your gecko becoming addicted to them and refusing to eat shop-bought food.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t feed your Gecko insects that are too big. As a rule, this means insects bigger than the space between your Leo’s eyes.

What do baby Gecko's eat?

  • Baby Geckos: You should feed your baby gecko crickets that are around 3/8 inches in size.
  • Juvenile Geckos: You should feed your juvenile gecko crickets that are around 1/4 inch in size.
  • Adult geckos: You should feed your adult gecko small adult to adult size crickets.

You can buy crickets from Northampton Reptile Centre.

How often do you feed Gecko's?

  • Active, healthy Geckos can be fed as much as they can eat in 15-20 minutes.
  • Leopard Geckos younger than one year should be fed every day.
  • Healthy adult geckos should be fed every other day.
  • Sickly geckos should be fed once a day until they regains their strength.
  • Food should be given late in the day or early in the evening, as that is the time Leopard Geckos are likely to start hunting in the wild.
  • If your Leo is a problem eater, feed it normally, but leave a dish with worms in its tank in case it wants to eat later.

As mentioned before, most Leos have a healthy appetite. However, while their little bellies may be cute, they should not be allowed to gorge on large amounts of food. You should ensure you tailor the amount of food you give to your Leo according to their eating habits. If your Leo tends to over eat, set an amount of food you want to feed it each day, and stick to that.

What should a Leopard Gecko drink?

Your Leopard Gecko must drink clean, fresh water, that should be available in your gecko's tank at all times. 

Make sure the dish is shallow, so that your Leo can drink from it easily, and there is no chance of it drowning if it managed to climb into it.

As the substrate in the cage should be kept dry, the dish should be stable to avoid spillage.

Why is my Leopard Gecko not eating?

  • Your Leopard Gecko may not be eating because its tank is too cold:  The first thing to check here is the temperature in your gecko’s tank. Leopard Geckos are reptiles, and as such are dependent on external ways to help regulate their body’s temperature.

    Your Leopard Gecko needs heat to digest its food and so, if its tank is too cold, it will go off its food. If the problem persists, the cold may also affect your gecko’s immune system.
  • Your Leopard Gecko may not be eating because its stressed: Another potential reason for your Leopard Gecko refusing to eat is stress. Changes in its environment may lead to this, which is why geckos sometimes take time to start eating when you first bring them home. Setting your Leo’s tank with plenty of hides for it to retreat to will help alleviate this issue.
  • Your Leopard Gecko may not be eating because it's dehydrated:  Another important thing to note is that your Leopard Gecko has enough water in its tank, as dehydration may also cause it to stop eating.

If you’ve taken all the steps mentioned above and your Leopard Gecko is still refusing to eat, you should seek the advice of a vet, as it may be indicative of a serious health issue.

Gut loading crickets, meal worms and other insects for your Leopard Gecko

The best way to insure your Leopard Gecko gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs is by gut loading the insects you feed it.

Gut loading means feeding the bugs you intend to use as food for your gecko nutritious food before you give them to your Leopard Gecko to eat. It is recommended to gut load the insects 12 hours before feeding them to your gecko.

What food can you feed to crickets for Gecko's

Crickets can eat a variety of fruit and vegetables in order to provide your Leopard Gecko with extra nutritional value (but avoid acidic fruit and veg, as well as spinach and broccoli).

You can also buy cricket feed and gel balls that act as a water source from the Northampton Reptile Centre. 

Make sure to change the crickets’ food regularly, to avoid the build-up of mould.

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What food can you feed to mealworms for Gecko's?

Mealworms like to eat carrots.  These should be given to them 24 hours before you feed them to your gecko. Cricket gut loading food can be placed with the carrots to give the mealworms extra nutrition.

If you leave mealworms in your gecko’s tank for it to eat whenever it wants, you might consider leaving some food for the mealworms as well, so they are gut loaded for whenever your Leopard Gecko chooses to eat them.

Dusting Leopard Gecko food with vitamins and minerals

Another important way you should be supplying your Leopard Gecko with vitamins and minerals is with dusting.

You can dust your Leopard Gecko's food with a calcium and vitamin D3 powder that can be purchased at the Northampton Reptile Centre, or other reptile retailers. You then need to powder the insects your gecko is going to eat. After you coat the insects in the powder, you should feed them to your Leopard Gecko immediately, to avoid giving them the time to clean the powder off their bodies.

You can also use multivitamin powder, but it is best to keep this to once a week, as it is possible for your Leopard Gecko to get too much vitamins.

Calcium is particularly important for hatchling and juvenile geckos and for females during breeding season, if they are to produce eggs. Multivitamin can be given twice a week in these cases. However, be careful not to give your gecko too much vitamin D, as this can be harmful.

It should be remembered that while the most important thing for your Leopard Gecko is a varied diet, using vitamins and minerals to supplement its food intake is recommended.

Can Leopard Gecko's be overfed?

Yes, Leopard Gecko's can be overfed. As mentioned above, Leopard Gecko's are big eaters and do tend to ‘stock up’ on food as a habit caused by their natural environments (even if they were born in captivity).

As they carry their fat in their tales, it is not always obvious they are gaining too much weight, but this can still have health consequences.

As a rule, a Leo’s tail must always be wider than its body and its stomach should be mostly flat (except for right after feeding).

Over feeding your Leopard Gecko can cause it to regurgitate its food and may cause lethargy. If you notice any of these issues with your Leopard Gecko, you should cut back on the amount of food you feed it and make sure not to feed it fatty insects (like Waxworms and Butterworms).

Our vet fee only policy will cover £1,000 of vet fees for accidental injury or illness. Find out more about your insurance options.

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Alternatively you can call us on 0345 982 5505

Do Leopard Gecko eat their own?...

Do Leopard Gecko's eat their own skin? 

Yes. After shedding, Leopard Geckos eat their shed skin. They do this for two reasons – so that no one would know they were there (to avoid predators in the wild), and because the shed skin contains protein and vitamins helpful for growth, which they cannot get in any other way.

Do Leopard Gecko's eat their own eggs? 

Female Leopard Geckos sometimes lay eggs which are infertile (so, not created through contact with a male and therefore no baby is inside them). In this case, they may eat them.

Opinions on whether Leopard Geckos will eat fertile eggs are split, with some saying they might, if they feel threatened or lack calcium, and some saying they would not do so under any circumstances.

This is the same on whether Leopard Geckos will eat their young. For precaution, If you have more than one Leopard Gecko, it is best to keep the eggs in a separate tank with their mother, and separate adult and hatchling geckos.

Do Leopard Gecko's eat their own poop?

The general opinion here is that Leopard Geckos would not eat their own poop. They may sometimes try to bury it though, so make sure you check your Leo's tank carefully.

Sources: The Gecko Spot; The Bearded Dragon.org; The Reptile Blog and Leopard Gecko Guy.com