When reading about feeding leopard geckos, you may keep coming across the term “gutloading,” but what does it mean, and why is it so important?
Put simply, this is just making sure that the feeder insects you give to your leopard geckos have the highest possible nutritional value and are packed with vitamins, so this goodness can be passed onto your leopard geckos.
Many feeder insects such as mealworms and crickets do not have the best nutritional profile, so making sure the food they eat is packed with good stuff means this goodness will be given to your gecko at feeding time.
It is highly recommended that you gutload and dust MOST feeder insects with calcium prior to feeding them to your geckos, because a malnourished leopard gecko could get Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), not develop properly, have fertility issues, or have digestive issues.
So, what can you gutload with? I like to use a combination of things:
- Leafy greens – such as spinach, kale, lettuce
- Root vegetables – thin shavings of veg like carrots, potatoes and parsnips
- Pre-made gutloader/ bug grub
- Bug gel, jelly pots
- Fruit and veg which is a little past its eat-by date, such as small slices of cucumber, brocolli etc.
Insects which should be gutloaded are:
- Morio worms
- Dubia Roaches
Insects which do not need gutloading are:
- Phoenix worms – these arrive purged and will live for a few weeks without food. They are very high in calcium and nutrients anyway so do not need any extra
- Silkworms – these require feeding but not gutloading. hey will only eat mulberry leaves
- Waxworms – these occasional treats are best kept in the fridge door to stop them turning into moths, and will not need feeding.
For more in-depth info on different types of feeder insects, please see the Feeding category.