Geckos are small lizards found all over the world. The only place you can’t find them is Antarctica. These small reptiles are friendly, docile, and easy to tame. That’s why they make good pets. People also love geckos because they’re cute and aren’t that difficult to care for. Geckos are particularly popular for beginners i.e. people who’ve never had reptiles as pets before. Like all other pets, geckos need adequate nutrition to maintain good health. What do geckos eat, though? You’ll find out in this post.
What is Geckos’ Favorite Food?
Geckos prefer eating live prey. While cats and dogs do well eating prepared food, geckos are different. If you’re planning to get a gecko, you will need to buy live insects to feed this little reptile or you can breed them.
However, some geckos eat fruit too. In that case, your gecko can eat prepared fruit mixes formulated for these reptiles specifically. Pureed fruit mixes are also an option here.
While some geckos can eat fruit, it’s important to bear in mind they are insectivorous primarily.
The best way to determine ideal nutrition, or favorite food, for your gecko is to understand the species. For example, day geckos and crested geckos are frugivorous meaning they eat fruit. On the other hand, house geckos, African fat-tailed geckos, and leopard geckos are insectivorous.
Foods to Feed Your Gecko
Now that we’ve established geckos can eat insects and, in some cases, fruit, it’s necessary to address the best option for this precious little reptile.
Insects to feed your gecko include:
- Crickets: the cornerstone of the gecko diet primarily because they’re easiest to obtain, not because they’re the healthiest insect for these reptiles. Crickets are nutritious; they’re abundant in protein and also have decent water content. Besides crickets, your gecko would also love grasshoppers
- Mealworms: while they’re among the favorite foods for leopard geckos, these insects tend to be too big for other species such as house geckos. Geckos, and other reptiles, love mealworms because they’re rich in nutrients such as protein. Besides mealworms, your gecko will also eat waxworms, silkworms, butterworms, tomato hornworms, among others. Keep in mind waxworms and other types of worms are pricier, which is why it’s practical to use them as a treat you’ll give once a week to your gecko
- Flies: ideal for smaller species such as house geckos. Fruit flies are particularly useful. Geckos and other lizards like flies because they “hunt” them as they tend to fly toward light fixtures and lighted windows. When it comes to insects with wings, geckos can also eat mosquitoes, dragonflies, moths, just to name a few
Other insects geckos can eat range from beetles to cockroaches, termites, and mosquitos. The abovementioned insects are the ones that are easier to buy or raise.
Foods to feed your fruit-loving gecko include apples, apricots, papaya, bananas, pears, figs, berries, grapes, just to name a few. An important thing to remember is that geckos aren’t strong enough to bite and chew hard textures. For that reason, they need fruits to be cooked or pureed.
You can chop softer fruits, but make sure the pieces are very tiny. Ideally, they shouldn’t be bigger than gecko’s eyes. Remember, these little guys don’t have that much strength to handle larger pieces. Pet stores usually sell fruit mixes that you can use.
When to Feed Your Gecko?
Most geckos are nocturnal animals, meaning they’re particularly active at night and tend to sleep during the day. For that reason, the best time to feed your gecko is during the night as well. Otherwise, your gecko would be asleep or may not be hungry at the feeding time.
Some species are active during the day, such as day geckos or long-term captives.
Not only do geckos need proper nutrition for good health and wellbeing, but you also need to feed them at the right time. When not hungry during feeding time, your gecko can’t eat much, just like any other living being. This isn’t so bad once or twice, but if it happens regularly it could lead to nutritional deficiencies and weight loss or weakness.
To ensure your gecko gets everything it needs from food, you need to feed it during the time of the day when this reptile is active. So, if your gecko is nocturnal, feed it at night. But if the reptile is active during the day, feed it during day hours.
The frequency of feeding time also matters.
Ideally, young geckos should eat every day whereas adult geckos need food every other day. In addition to proper food, geckos also need access to fresh and clean water. One way to make sure the gecko gets much-needed humidity is to regularly mist the tank.
How Much Food Do Geckos Need?
There is no “one size fits all” rule here because the amount of food depends on the gecko’s age, size, and activity levels. For example, baby leopard geckos generally need five to seven small crickets until they grow to about four inches.
Once the leopard gecko is four inches long, it needs larger food until it becomes full-grown (10 to 12 inches). Adult leopard geckos need six to seven large crickets or mealworms. Remember, baby geckos need food on a daily basis whereas mature, full-grown reptiles are fed every other day.
If you’re not sure how much food to feed your gecko, try using tweezers. This little instrument can help you control how much food you give to your pet reptile. A good rule of thumb is to feed gecko as much as it will eat eagerly within a few minutes. Once the gecko stops eating eagerly, it means it’s just not hungry anymore.
While it may seem easy to just put a fistful of insects into the tank, this is not a wise idea. Insects can escape or geckos may eat them long after they’re not hungry, which could lead to overeating. Plus, if you just throw insects into the tank, you’re not able to control how much they eat.
That’s why the best thing to do is to feed them insects one by one and slow down as the gecko’s interest in food decreases.
Once you’re done feeding the gecko, make sure to clean the tank and remove leftover insects and fruit mixes. Leaving them in a cage or tank is not a good idea because they can rot and create an unhealthy and unclean environment for the gecko.
Is it Necessary to Buy Insects or Raise Them?
Geckos need proper and regular nutrition to remain healthy. While you can buy insects, it’s a lot easier and more affordable to breed feeder insects on your own. A great option here is to raise some feeder insects like mealworms and crickets and buy some pricier treats from time to time. Generally speaking, raising insects is a better and more practical solution in the long term.
What is gut-loading?
If you’ve looked for information about raising insects for geckos, you probably came across the term gut-loading. In a nutshell, gut-loading is the practice of feeding the insects an extra nutritious diet for 24 hours before you feed them to your gecko. You’ll find prepared food to gut-load insects in most pet stores. Another thing you can do is to dust insects with nutritious powder, especially calcium to make sure the gecko gets all the nutrients it needs for good health and wellbeing.
Can I Use Dried Insects to Feed My Gecko?
Not really! Using dried insects to feed geckos isn’t the wisest thing to do. You see, dried insects lack certain nutrients the geckos can obtain from live mealworms and others. Plus, most geckos won’t even eat an insect unless it’s alive and moving. This is where their survival instinct kicks in, actually.
Are Geckos Picky Eaters?
Generally, no. Most geckos aren’t picky eaters and will eat anything you put in front of them. Some geckos can become picky, usually when feeding time is when they’re not hungry. Limits to the gecko’s diet only depend on the reptile’s size and foods available in the area. The larger is your gecko, the larger prey it can eat. That’s why bigger geckos can eat quite a versatile diet, whereas smaller geckos consume less varied foods.
What Do Geckos Eat in the Wild?
Geckos in the file eat anything smaller than them. Some examples include spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, and smaller rodents. They snatch insects at night using their long, sticky tongue. Basically, they can eat anything smaller than them. Since geckos aren’t that large, to begin with, their diet consists primarily of insects and bugs, mollusks, and small snakes and rodents.
Geckos are usually not that picky; they eat different insects and bugs. In wild, geckos eat small rodents too. While most geckos eat insects primarily, some love fruit too. Remember, insects should be alive and gut-loaded whereas fruit should be pureed. In addition to an adequate diet, geckos also need specific feeding time and you also need to ensure they receive the right amount of food.