A beginner’s guide to feeding leopard geckos

Leopard geckos are easy to feed, as long as you don’t mind feeding them live insects only. Here are some things you will need to know if you need to understand the basics of feeding a leopard gecko.

locusts leopard geckos

Read my FAQ on leopard gecko feeding here
Read my feeder insect reviews here
If your leopard gecko isn’t eating, check here

I also encourage you to read multiple sources to gather more in-depth information, as it’s important to educate yourself and expand your own understanding of your geckos and their health.


Leopard geckos will not eat any dead insects (many seem to not bother with insects unless they are wriggling and moving) and will not eat a plant-based diet. Some of the most popular insects fed to leopard geckos are:


Nutrients

gutloading leopard gecko insectsSome insects (such as mealworms, and waxworms) have a really low nutritional content and lack the essential vitamins required to keep leopard geckos healthy. It is important to “gutload” the majority of insects at least 24 hours before feeding them to your leopard gecko.

This means all of the nutrients you feed to the insects will be passed onto your gecko when the insect is eaten.

See: What is Gutloading and why is it important?

You should also dust insects such as mealworms with calcium powder at every feeding, and about twice per week dust the insects with calcium combined with vitamin D3 powder.

See: Which vitamins and supplements do leopard geckos need?


Quantity and Frequency

It is recommended that you feed baby and juvenile leopard geckos on a daily basis, however adults have a slower metabolism, therefore only need feeding every couple of days.

There is some debate over how many insects should be fed to your geckos, but geckos tend to stop eating when they’re full, so trying around 6-8 insects to begin with would be a good start to see the quantity needed per feed, and adjusting if necessary.


Waxworms warning

leopard gecko waxwormsIt really is true that leopard geckos LOVE waxworms – they are fatty, soft, and absolutely irresistible to leos.

Some people do not feed these to their geckos at all, and some recommend that these are only used as a treat.

Personally, I try to only feed waxworms if I’m trying to coax my leos out of their hides, or trying to gain their trust, and I would never feed them with a waxworm more than once a week (but in practice, I do this maybe once per month!)


 

11 comments

  1. I wish I had this two years ago when I got my first leopard gecko! I was a complete beginner and I had no idea what I was doing. Ended up gifting (him or her? No idea!) to my best friend. He’s much more of a pro! But thanks so much for posting. I’ll use this next time. ❤️

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  2. I am finding your information so helpful. Not exactly sure of the age of our Leo, but he is approximately 2-3 months. (We are first time leopard gecko owners) We feed him approximately 7-8 mealworms in the morning and the same amount of crickets in the evening, all dusted with calcium + vitD except once a week when we dust with a multi-vit. And an occasional superworm as a treat. My question is, are we feeding him the right amount?

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    1. I’m so glad you find it helpful, thank you!
      Yep that sounds like the perfect amount. Your gecko is unlikely to overeat and will just stop when he is full; at this young age they tend to eat quite a lot and this will slow down over the next year as their metabolism slows and they reach maturity. Mine now only eat 2-3 times per week and only a few insects at a time.
      Also if they start getting fussy with food there’s no harm in switching to some new insects like locusts or Dubia roaches 🙂

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    2. That’s ok what your feeding him but way too much. Maybe 3-4 morning and night, preferably 7-8 at night (that’s when they hunt). Also no super worms. There huge and I fed my baby on 2 months ago and she choked and threw the thing up on me (eew) you can give him waxworms. Also
      November-March they Brumate so they don’t eat as much

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      1. 7-8 mealworms at night isn’t too much in my opinion, especially for a baby.
        Mealworms only small and younger geckos will eat way more. Other small insects like nymph dubia roaches are fine in quantities of about 7-8 too.
        Larger insects like morio worms, on the other hand, shouldn’t be fed to geckos until they have reached full size, and waxworms only as an occasional treat.
        Also not all geckos will brumate, so it’s important to just be intuitive with your geckos, pay attention to how much they eat but understand that their appetite will fluctuate based on so many factors; brumation possibly being one of them, but also things like whether they have recently shed or not.

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  3. We have had our gecko for weeks and we honestly haven’t seen her eat yet……… she isn’t interested in locust, meal worms or even wax worms. She doesn’t venture out of her warm hide ever! Is this normal? We had her initially for 3 weeks but took her back to the pet shop due to her not eating and they monitored her for a week. We have her back now and she has been with us for a further 2 weeks again no eating…………

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    1. I think maybe the stress of her going to the pet shop and back to yours again could have impacted her appetite.
      How have you been feeding her? Are you feeding her one insect at a time? Or are you leaving some in a dish?
      When I first got my geckos, I would leave about 10 mealworms in a dish over night and see how many were left in a morning. I also bought one of these cameras to watch my geckos eating when I went to bed, and to see how often they left their warm hides.

      https://leopardgecko.care/2019/06/03/how-to-spy-on-your-leopard-gecko/

      What is the rest of your setup like? What substrate do you use? What heat source do you use? What temperatures do you have in your vivarium? All of these things could impact their appetite.

      Also is your gecko looking underweight and thin? Does she ever poop?

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  4. Thank you for your information, I am babysitting a 10 year old leopard gecko “Biggysmalls”, for a friend. When I can’t make it to the pet store I go out at night and catch a few cricket’s, he seems to love them. Is it OK to feed him free range cricket’s ???

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