Keeping lizards as pets can be very beneficial and you might absolutely adore your pet.
However, unlike traditional pets like cats and dogs, it can be difficult to know exactly how often you should be feeding them.
Leopard geckos are a popular choice of lizard pet and they are insectivores, which means their diet is heavily focussed on plenty of insects.
These may include cockroaches or crickets but they can also have treats of wax worms or superworms.
Baby leopard geckos should be fed about five to seven small crickets a day until they grow to around four inches long.
In the next stage of their life, they should be fed every other day until they are a year old.
Once you have an adult leopard gecko, it’s fine to feed them around seven large insects three times a week.
But there’s much more to note than just this.
So, we’ve written this handy guide which explains everything you need to know about the frequency of feeding your leopard gecko and some other helpful information.
Read on to learn more.
How Often You Should Feed Your Leopard Gecko
As we mentioned, the frequency in which you feed your lizard will depend on how old the lizard is.
When they are young, they will need to be fed more frequently but with smaller insects.
The importance of their food comes from the nutrition of their meals.
If they are not being fed the correct foods, it will be irrelevant of how often they are fed as they will become malnourished anyway.
Once you have a hatchling, a meal every other day is totally acceptable as long as it is nutritionally strong.
As your gecko gradually gets older, you will be spacing out their food until they are used to going a few days without eating.
This can get very confusing. Unlike feeding traditional pets, lizards do not need to eat everyday when they are fully developed.
The problem here is, you do not get into a routine of feeding your pet.
When you have a cat or dog, you might automatically feed them at the same time everyday, but as your lizard won’t fit into such feeding times, you will want to create a schedule.
Here’s what you can do about that.
Create A Feeding Table And Feeding Schedule
You must first create a feeding table which explains to you how often you need to feed your leopard gecko and you will be keeping track of their age and size.
|Age||Size||Food Amount||Frequency Of Feeding|
|Hatchling/Baby||3 inches||6 insects||Daily|
|One month old||4 inches||8 insects||Daily|
|3 months old||5 inches||10 insects||Daily|
|6 months old||6 inches||12 insects||Daily|
|9 months old||7 inches||14 insects||4 to 5 times a week|
|One year old||8 inches||16 insects||Every other day|
|18 months old||10 inches or more||20 insects||2 to 3 times a week|
This is your feeding table which will explain the size of your lizard and their age, and how this correlates to how often you should be feeding your lizard.
However, you will also want to then create your own schedule to feed your lizard that fits into your life. For example, when they are younger – consider feeding them first thing in the morning.
When your lizard grows older and does not need to be fed so often, set a reminder on your smartspeaker or on your cell phone. Or, you could be more traditional and write a diary entry to remind you to feed them.
Is It Possible To Overfeed A Leopard Gecko?
As with every other animal, it is definitely possible to overfeed them – whether that is accidentally or intentionally.
Generally speaking, your lizard will stop eating when they are full. However, over time this may change and they can eat too much.
If you feed your leopard gecko too much, this can lead to significant problems such as obesity, digestion problems and regurgitation.
This is particularly true if your lizard is not eating the correct nutritionally valued foods as they could be fed with insects high in fat.
You can take a look at your lizard’s weight to assess if they are not eating correctly.
The average weight of a leopard gecko is about 45 to 65 grams, anything less or more than this is going to be a problem.
However, it’s important to note that there are giant leopard geckos and they weigh about 100 to 120 grams typically. So, be sure that you know which leopard gecko you have.
Leopard geckos store their fat in their tails and over time, the fatty deposits will eventually travel to their vital organs such as in the liver, and this can cause liver disease and liver failure over time.
If you’re wondering how you would spot a fat lizard, you will look for things like fat rolls on their belly, fat legs and bubbles of air near their armpits.
After you have inspected your leopard gecko and you’ve noticed that they are showing some of these signs, it’s very important that you visit your vet as soon as possible for a new plan for nutrition.
What Exactly Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko?
As we mentioned earlier, leopard geckos are insectivores which means their diet is specifically filled with insects.
Despite what some online resources might report, lizards like this do not want or even enjoy vegetables.
This is because their bodies are not designed to process vegetables and therefore, if they were to eat them – they might actually get sick from it.
The best thing you can do is create a variety for your lizard with plenty of different insects such as crickets, mealworms, cockroaches, silkworms, hornworms and ants.
Some insects however are very high in fat, such as wax worms or butterworms. As a result of this though, leopard geckos get a taste for them, similar to how humans are with candy.
Too many of these high fat insects will almost certainly lead to obesity and other weight specific problems.
However, if your lizard has been feeding incorrectly over the previous weeks and has not been eating so much, they might be underweight.
If this is the case, then feeding them a couple of these high fat insects could be beneficial.
This should get their appetite back to normal and allow them to put a little extra weight on which they have lost.
When you are selecting the insects to feed to your lizard, you must ensure you are selecting the right size and the right number of insects. Do not overfeed them!
Generally speaking, the size of the insects should not be larger than the space between your lizard’s eyes!
Focus On Nutrition
The nutrition of your leopard gecko is incredibly important.
Along with feeding your lizard the right amount of food and the correct food, you should also consider dusting their food with nutrients.
You need to be careful with this though because if you over supplement their food, it can result in toxicity.
What you need to be doing however is gut loading the insects which feeds the insects with high nutritional foods before they are placed into the tank of your lizard.
Doing this is almost the equivalent of humans loading their meals with vegetables – they are highly beneficial to the diet of your lizard.
Once they consume the insects, they will also be consuming all of the nutrient density that the insects are filled with – giving them double the benefits.
It’s also important to note that you should not feed your lizard with insects that you have found in the wild.
This is because you do not know what the insects have been surviving from and they may have consumed things covered in pesticides or other fungus.
Of course, if your lizard eats these sick insects, they will also be consuming these negative things and will also get sick, so it’s best to avoid this and source their food from the right places.
How Long Can Leopard Geckos Go Without Eating?
Adult leopard geckos can last as much as 14 days without food. It is during this time that the gecko will absorb the energy it needs from the fat storage in their tail.
However, younger leopard geckos cannot survive any longer than about 10 days without food because they have likely not built enough fat storage in their tails to survive long enough.
What Is The Best Time Of Day To Feed My Leopard Gecko?
Generally speaking, these lizards are crepuscular – like cats. This means that they are most active between dusk and dawn.
As a result, one of the best times of day that you can feed your leopard gecko is just after sunset.
Throughout the rest of the day, your lizard will likely be conserving its energy.
Much like how cats will sleep for the majority of the day and then hunt in their active hours – the same applies with these lizards.
Can’t I Just Leave Crickets In The Tank?
No. It’s never a good idea to throw food into your lizard’s tank without them going to eat them.
If after 10 minutes, your lizard has not decided to eat their food, then you should remove them from the tank.
This is because insects like crickets can become aggressive and bite. If this happens, your leopard gecko could end up becoming injured, or at best – very annoyed!
You do not want your pet to be uncomfortable, so the best course of action is to feed your pet at the correct times and always be vigilant of their eating habits.
How Long Will My Leopard Gecko Survive?
If you feed your lizard correctly and treat it right, it should live for around twenty years.
Wild geckos usually have a shorter life expectancy of around 15 years, but when kept as pets, you should see some extra time.
What Should I Do If My Leopard Gecko Isn’t Eating?
As we mentioned, some lizards can go a long time without food.
However, if it is longer than a few days and your lizard does not seem to be interested at all – you may have noticed a change in their habits and appearance.
It’s critical that if you notice a major change in your lizard’s eating habits, you contact a vet as soon as possible.
Leopard geckos can be great pets to have but you need to ensure you feed them the right times and the right amount. We hope we’ve helped!