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When it comes to buying a new pet, it’s essential to understand what they are meant to be eating. There are many options for live food available for reptiles, and it can be hard to know which ones are appropriate for your pet.
If you have a leopard gecko, waxworms are a perfectly appropriate food source for them, but they aren’t the best food source and should be fed as a treat. Leopard geckos are known for their voracious appetites and for eating anything that wriggles.
Determining why and what’s best for your leopard gecko to eat starts with understanding the physical differences between a leopard gecko’s digestion and a human’s.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
Leopard geckos are part of a class of creatures formerly known as insectivores. As the name implies, insectivores primarily eat insects as their primary diet. However, insectivores have been rolled into the carnivore classification in recent years.
As carnivores, leopard geckos are designed to eat animal proteins — or in this case, insect proteins. Leopard geckos lack a functioning cecum because of this. The cecum is the part of the body that breaks down and digests cellulose, the nutrient portion of plant material.
Leopard geckos also have a shorter digestive tract that is alkaline. Herbivores tend to have a longer, acidic digestive tract that helps them break down plant material more efficiently.
Additionally, as carnivores, leopard geckos display a voracious appetite, and they’ll eat anything that crawls past them. Evolutionarily, this is because hunting isn’t always a successful venture.
Carnivores, in particular, will instinctually gorge themselves on food when presented with an opportunity to do so since they don’t know when their next successful hunt will come through. When given a chance, Overeating allows them to store fat and nutrients to get them through any dry spells of hunting.
In captivity, this behavior can quickly lead to obesity. So, it’s essential only to feed your gecko at appropriate feeding times.
The most common food fed to leopard geckos is crickets. Live crickets offer a comprehensive nutritional profile for leopard geckos and are most appropriate for regular feeding.
Additionally, live mealworms, tomato hornworms, waxworms, super worms, butter worms, silkworms, sowbugs, and cockroaches can be fed to leopard geckos when appropriate.
It’s worth noting that waxworms and super worms should be kept as treats rather than a primary food source. These worms are very high in fat content and can cause your gecko to gain weight.
Butter worms should also be kept as treats rather than a primary food source. Leopard geckos have been known to become addicted to butter worms when they’re provided too frequently and may begin refusing other food sources.
When feeding your leopard gecko, it’s also important to consider your leopard gecko’s size. If the food you feed Leopard gecko is too large, they may not be able to subdue it and eat it.
Feeding Your Leopard Gecko By Size
Leopard geckos should be fed based on their size. Ideally, you don’t want any food you offer them to exceed the space between their eyes, which is a good indicator that the food is too large for them. If the food is too large, live food may begin to bully your gecko.
You can usually determine what size food your leopard gecko needs, basing the calculation on their life stage.
Baby geckos will need crickets that are about 3/8 inches long. Usually, these are baby crickets that haven’t grown to full maturity yet.
Juvenile geckos will need crickets about 1/4 inches long, and adult geckos will be fed adult-sized crickets or small adult-sized crickets, depending on the gecko’s adult size.
How Frequently Do Leopard Geckos Need to Be Fed?
Leopard geckos feed at different times based on their age. Baby geckos need to be fed every day until they reach about a year of age. Once they’ve matured into an adult gecko, you can feed your gecko every other day.
If your gecko becomes ill, it’s best to feed them every day until they regain their strength. They’ll be using most of their energy to get better!
When feeding your leopard gecko, it’s best to introduce their food to them in the late evening, and is when geckos would start to hunt in the wild, and it will help them stay on track with their instinctual clocks.
Some leopard geckos may not want to eat in captivity on their owner’s schedules. If your leopard gecko isn’t eating enough, you should provide them with a dish of worms that they can graze from throughout the day.
When doing so, it’s important to remember to feed your leopard gecko only enough to sustain them correctly. You don’t want to overfeed your Leopard gecko by accident when leaving them food to graze on.
How Much Do Leopard Geckos Need to Eat?
As a general rule, leopard geckos need two insects per inch of body length to be healthy. So, a four-inch gecko would need eight crickets or mealworms to be healthy.
Geckos still growing or recovering from illness may need more food than healthy and have already reached their adult size.
Do I Need to Supplement My Leopard Gecko’s Diet With Fruits and Vegetables?
Insectivores are carnivores at heart. As we’ve mentioned, leopard geckos don’t have a functioning cecum. So, digesting plant matter isn’t in the cards for them.
You shouldn’t feed your leopard gecko any fruits or vegetables. They aren’t biologically inclined to eat them, and since they can’t digest them, they won’t get many nutrients from doing so.
While some leopard geckos may eat fruits and vegetables when offered them, this is mostly a factor of evolutionary overeating rather than desire. They don’t have a biological drive to seek out the plant material.
Additionally, fruits contain very high sugar contents, leading to obesity in leopard geckos.
What Are Signs of Obesity in Leopard Geckos?
Leopard geckos seek to store as much fat as possible to sustain their bodies even if they aren’t successful at hunting. While an unsuccessful hunt isn’t a risk in captivity, the biological drive is still there, and as a result, carnivorous pets can become overweight from overeating.
Leopard geckos store their excess fat in their tails, and the leopard gecko’s tail should always be more expansive than its body. If the leopard gecko starts to gain weight on its body, this is a good sign that it is overweight.
While some roundness is expected after feeding, leopard geckos should maintain a trim torso outline. If the roundness persists long after feeding, your leopard gecko needs to be put on a diet.
Additionally, overfeeding your gecko can cause them to regurgitate the food they’ve eaten and forfeit the nutrients, causing lethargic behavior.
What Foods Are Toxic for Leopard Geckos?
There are also a handful of bugs that are toxic for leopard gecko consumption. While you won’t usually find these sold in pet stores as food, some gecko parents like to catch wild bugs to feed to their gecko.
Lightning bugs, fireflies, and other bugs that emit light are naturally toxic for geckos. Bugs that light up circulate a compound called luciferin through their bodies, a substance that’s highly toxic to reptiles.
Additionally, wild-caught bugs aren’t recommended for feeding your reptiles. Not only is there a risk of the bugs you catch being toxic to your reptiles, but you also run the risk of pesticide contamination when feeding your geckos wild-caught bugs.
To safely feed wild-caught bugs to your gecko, you’ll need a pretty strong background in entomology — the study of insects — to ensure that you aren’t feeding your gecko anything that might harm it. You also need to be able to ensure that no insects you’ve caught have come in contact with pesticides.
Overall, it’s safer not to feed your gecko anything you catch around the house, and you never know what might be lurking there.
FAQ’s about Leopard Gecko
Conclusion on Feeding Leopard Geckos Wax Worms
Waxworms make an excellent treat for your leopard gecko, and they’re sure to appreciate them if you offer them! Even if they’re not an appropriate primary food source, understanding why is essential for a leopard gecko owner.
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