Leopard Gecko Feeder Insects FAQ

On my Instagram page I get quite a few messages asking questions about the insects I use to feed my leopard geckos, so this has prompted me to do a short blog post about my feeding routine. 

Disclaimer: This is what works for me and my geckos, keeping them healthy and happy – I’m not saying that everybody should do what I do.

Over the next month I will follow up this post with several more giving a more detailed overview of the various insects I use. Hopefully you find this helpful 🙂

Q. What do you feed your leopard geckos?
I feed them a mixture of insects; each having its own set of positive attributes and drawbacks. I believe it’s important to feed my leopard geckos as much of a varied diet as I can provide.
Currently my regular feeders are: mealworms, dubia roaches, phoenix worms (aka calci worms), silkworms, and the occasional waxworm. My leos haven’t had crickets or locusts since they were very young – I find them too much of a hassle considering the nutritional content isn’t that great anyway. Also they’re noisy, smelly, they stress out my geckos who are usually too lazy to catch them… the list goes on. But this is just a personal preference.

Q. Which is your favourite feeder insect?
I like different insects for different reasons, but I must say that my favourite all-rounder has to be dubia roaches. They are easy to keep and low maintenance, they have a good nutritional value and contain a high moisture content, they move around a lot and my geckos seem to LOVE them, and they have a relatively soft shell so I don’t need to worry about them giving my geckos digestive problems.
Last but certainly not least, they can’t crawl out of smooth surfaces, so I can put them in a dish and forget about them, without worrying they’ll get lost in the vivarium.

Q. …and which is your LEAST favourite?
As mentioned above, I don’t bother with crickets or locusts, but aside from that, my least favourite has to be silkworms, mainly because they are expensive and so difficult to look after!
They need to be fed a very specific diet of mulberry leaves or mulberry chow ONLY, they die very easily due to things like too much moisture or germs from your hands, and they don’t move around a lot so they’re less stimulating for my geckos. I don’t always have a supply of silkworms but I will continue to buy them because they have a really good nutritional profile so they’re just about worth the extra effort.

Q. Where do you get your insects from?
I now get all of my insects from eBay. I live in central London and I find this to be the cheapest and most convenient option (I don’t live anywhere near a pet store supplying insects!)

Q. How much do your insects cost?
Dubia Roaches – 50 small roaches – £3.33 + (£4.79 postage)
50 Phoenix Worms (Calci worms) – £6.99 + free postage
50 Silkworms – £5.99 + £3.40 postage
Silkworm Mulberry Chow – £2.50 + £3.40 postage
Mealworms 120g tub – £4.49 + free postage
50 Waxworms – £4.49 + free postage

Q. How often do you feed your leopard geckos?
Usually every evening, however if we are going to be away for a night, we will leave extra mealworms just to sustain them until we are home the next day.

Q. How much do you feed your leopard geckos?
Usually about 10 insects per feeding. If they eat all the insects immediately within about 10 minutes, I’ll give them some more, but 8-10 insects seems to be their limit.

Q. Do you dust your insects with extra vitamins?
I dust dubia roaches and mealworms with calcium and/or vitamin D3 powder, but the other insects have quite a good nutritional profile so I tend to just keep those hydrated and gutloaded without adding extra calcium to them. I always keep a pot of calcium in my geckos’ tanks so they can help themselves to it if they need to.

Q. Which feeding dish do you use?
I tend to buy insects which can’t climb smooth surfaces, and I have found that a glass ramekin is absolutely perfect for making sure none of the insects escape!

Q. Any other advice on feeding leopard geckos?
Yes! Only use waxworms as a treat, or if you’re trying to tame your gecko. I only use waxworms every 1-2 weeks.
Geckos LOVE waxworms – they’re like candy (really tasty but really bad for the gecko and can be addictive!).
So if you feed them their favourite food when you’re handling them, they will come to associate you, and your hand, with being fed their favourite treat. I used food to tame my geckos, and had them tame and crawling onto my hand within a week.

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Review: Exo Terra feeding dishes for leopard geckos

Part of the regular diet I feed my leopard geckos consists of mealworms and dubia roaches; the benefits of these two insects being that they can’t climb smooth surfaces, so if my leos don’t eat any, I won’t have strays crawling around the vivariums.

Therefore, one of the important things I look for in a feeding dish is that they are escape proof- tall and smooth enough that the critters can’t escape.

I bought two Exo Terra dishes; one slightly shallower one (because I find my geckos are more interested if they can easily see wriggling insects) and a deeper one with two handy compartments.


Exo Terra Shallow Feeding Dish

Image result for exo terra feeding dish

Let’s start with the shallower one. It looks great (see photo below for how it looks in my vivarium)! Very natural with a lovely rock-like texture around the edge, but unfortunately, as soon as I put the mealworms in it, they were over the edge and crawling across the vivarium floor. I didn’t even attempt to put the roaches in as they’re much smarter and quicker. They would have escaped and hidden within seconds so I saved myself the trouble.

Having said that, I really do like the look of this dish, and didn’t want to get rid of it, so I tried it out as a water dish for my baby leopard geckos, and it’s perfect!

It’s shallow enough that it doesn’t pose a danger to baby or juvenile geckos, and my lazy leo seems to like treading across it instead of walking around it, so I’m hopeful this habit will keep his feet nice and moist around shedding time and prevent old skin from getting trapped around his toes.

Summary:

  • Very shallow – Mealworms and dubia roaches can easily escape
  • Would be great for non-live food, or for a shallow water dish

Here it is in my vivarium. Sorry that the photo was before I put any water in, but I chose it because you can spot my leo spying on his new dish 🙂

image1

 


Exo Terra Dual Compartment Feeding Dish

Image result for exo terra feeding dish

Now moving onto the dual-compartment dish – again it looks great with a natural rock-like texture, and also is much deeper so I was hopeful that it would prevent any escapees.

When it arrived, it was smaller than I expected, but this isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t take up a lot of space in my vivarium, and it means I can pile in quite a lot of mealworms on top of each other in the larger compartment. I find when there are more worms in a dish, the more there are, the more they move, and the more they move the more interesting they are to my geckos. Does anyone else find this?

When I tried putting my dubia roaches in this, I had a little more trouble. When I only put the very small ones in the dish, it was fine, however after watching them for a while, some of the larger ones were able to piggyback on top of other ones and get over the edge, so sadly it didn’t pass the dubia roach test!

In the smaller compartment, I have used this to keep my calcium powder in, and I’m very happy. I’m sure the two compartments could also be used for food and water, or two types of reptile food, but I find that it great for keeping the calcium in, and it is very space-efficient in my vivarium.

Summary:

  • Great size, and great multi-purpose dish. It doesn’t take up too much space yet successfully holds quite a lot of mealworms
  • Doesn’t keep my dubia roaches from escaping

 

Where to buy:

I bought my dishes from Swell Reptiles and Blue Lizard Reptiles – yes they’re also available on Amazon but I prefer to support independent businesses 😉

Which substrate for leopard geckos? Pros and cons.

One of the most confusing and stressful parts of planning your leopard gecko’s enclosure is knowing which substrate to buy. I have used several of these, so I am going to list the pros and cons of each type below.

It is quite well known that loose substrate (such as sand) can cause impaction when ingested, which is fatal to leopard geckos, yet it is so commonly used because pet stores push the product due to its high profit margins, and also because it will ensure return customers every time the sand needs to be replaced.

Even though I knew the risks, I’m ashamed to say I was pushed into buying sand initially by a reptile pet supply owner, and I felt too uninformed to push back. After all, who was I to argue with a ‘reptile expert’?

I am going to start with my favourite substrate which I currently use – vinyl (yes – just the type you’d put in your kitchen)!


Linoleum, tiles, slate and vinyl
RECOMMENDED

lino

Pros

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Very easy to wipe clean
  • Mimics natural habitat of leopard geckos
  • Conducts heat well
  • Easy to source
  • Easy to cut to size
  • Geckos won’t get toes caught
  • Looks good, lots of styles to choose from
  • Doesn’t wear out
  • Doesn’t harbour germs
  • Geckos won’t get toes and teeth caught

Cons

  • Usually have to buy a minimum quantity therefore…
  • …slightly more expensive than other substrates
  • Doesn’t absorb smell of gecko droppings

* I will sell the remainder of my Vinyl flooring to anyone who needs it! Please visit my Etsy listing here


Reptile Carpet

carpet

Pros:

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Cheap
  • Easy to source online
  • Easy to cut to size
  • Conducts heat well
  • Looks natural

Cons:

  • Geckos can get toes and teeth caught
  • Doesn’t absorb the smell of droppings
  • More difficult to wipe clean
  • Can harbour germs
  • Needs to be replaced frequently

Paper towels/ kitchen roll

kitchen

Pros:

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Very cheap
  • Readily available almost anywhere
  • Easy to replace
  • Geckos won’t get toes and teeth caught
  • Great for housing babies on

Cons:

  • Doesn’t look particularly nice
  • Can go soggy quickly in a humid vivarium
  • Doesn’t absorb the smell of droppings

Sand (and other loose substrates)
NOT RECOMMENDED 

sand

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Readily available in most pet stores
  • Easy to sieve droppings out
  • Absorbs smell of droppings
  • Geckos won’t get teeth and toes caught
  • Various colours

Cons:

  • The leading cause of impaction in leopard geckos – this can cause them to die
  • Messy – sand can get everywhere if you’re not careful
  • Uneaten insects can bury in it
  • Has to be replaced quite frequently

 

Meet my leopard geckos!

It seems logical that my first post should be about my two pet geckos, so let me introduce you to Charizard and Nim. 

I have wanted some leopard geckos since childhood, and since I bought my own apartment at the beginning of the year, there is nobody stopping me from keeping reptiles and their live food in my home!

At the end of July I decided I was ready to buy them, so I did all my research (or so I thought – there was still so much to learn!) bought my vivarium and equipment, and found a great breeder on Gumtree, who was happy to talk to me on the phone, answer any questions etc. We then arranged for me to go and meet her the next day to see the geckos. I initially only wanted one, but fell in love with two of them, so I left her house with two baby leos.

Here’s Charizard (yes, I named him after a Pokemon). He was born on May 13th 2017. I’m not an expert on Leopard Gecko morphs, but after reading online I am quite confident that he’s a tremper albino, or something similar. He looks a little more pale than usual here as he was about to shed his skin.

Baby leopard gecko

This one is called Nim, she was born on June 13th 2017, so is exactly a month younger than Charizard, and I think she could possibly be a mack snow morph. If anybody knows about morphs, I’d really love to know what they both are.

leopard gecko care