Leopard geckos are insectivores, which means that they eat bugs. No vegetables, fruit, or meat – they’re just crazy for bugs!
It’s easy to remember how much to feed your gecko: Offer 2 appropriately-sized bugs per 1 inch of your leopard gecko’s length, or however much they can eat in 15 minutes. Juveniles should be fed daily, and young adults fed every other day/every 3 days. Adults whose tail is fatter than their neck can be fed every 5 days.
Do not leave feeder insects in your gecko’s enclosure all day for your gecko to eat at their leisure — crickets and other feeders nibble on geckos in their sleep, sometimes causing serious injuries.
Good Feeder Insects for Leopard Geckos
- Superworms (small)
- Hornworms (captive only; wild hornworms are toxic!)
- Dubia roaches
- Discoid roaches
- Black soldier fly larvae
If at all possible, make sure to offer a rotation of at least 3 different types of feeders. Offering a variety provides enrichment for your gecko, as well as varied nutrition to prevent nutrient deficiency! For more information, see my compendium of feeder insect nutrition stats: Feeder Insect Nutrition Facts for Reptile Keepers.
Is it okay to feed canned insects to leopard geckos? If your gecko will eat them, yes. Not all leopard geckos are keen on pre-killed food, but it can be a very helpful way to increase the variety in your pet’s diet by introducing bugs that you’re unwilling to deal with live (ex: crickets) or are hard to find otherwise (ex: silkworms). However, avoid dried insects, as these tend to have a dehydrating effect on reptiles.
You can hand feed these to your gecko with soft-tipped feeding tweezers. This is also a great way to bond with your pet!
Treat Options for Leopard Geckos
- Wax worms
- Butter worms
These worms are very high in fat. So while they’re tasty, it’s best not to feed these more than once a week. Pinky mice should not be offered either, unless you are trying to fatten up a gecko who recently dropped its tail.
Insects to Avoid for Leopard Geckos
- Bugs caught in your backyard — These can make your gecko sick.
Note: Sometimes leopard geckos stop eating for weeks or even months at a time. This is normal. Whether due to breeding season or brumation, you don’t need to be concerned. As long as its weight stays roughly the same, your gecko will be fine.
All insect feeders should be dusted with calcium powder. If you’re not using a UVB light, be sure to use a supplement that includes vitamin D3 to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease.
Best calcium for leopard geckos with UVB:
Best calcium for leopard geckos without UVB:
Some keepers like to keep a dish of calcium powder (no D3) in their gecko’s enclosure for the gecko to lick at will. As long as you are dusting your feeders appropriately, however, this should not be necessary and may even contribute to calcium overdose. For more information about reptile supplements, read our article: What You Need to Know About Reptile Vitamins.
Leopard geckos also need an occasional multivitamin. Dust insects with a multivitamin powder once a week for young geckos and once every other week for adult geckos. If you are using Repashy CalciumPlus, no additional multivitamin is necessary.
Best multivitamins for leopard geckos:
Since leopard geckos are insectivores and unlikely to be able to convert carotene to vitamin A, they need a supplement that contains vitamin A (retinol) rather than beta carotene.
Because leopard geckos rely on insects for all of their nutrition, it is especially important to gut-load feeder insects for at least 24 hours before offering. The easiest way to do this is to keep them optimally fed with one of the following formulas:
- Arcadia InsectFuel
- Dubia.com Dubia Diet
- Lugarti Premium Dubia Diet
- Mazuri Better Bug Gut Loading Diet
- Repashy Bug Burger
For hydration, use gel water crystals.
Some people like to use vegetable scraps to “gutload” their feeders, but personally I dislike this practice since the nutrition is incomplete and not specifically formulated for the insects’ dietary needs. The Reptiles & Research podcast has a great episode discussing this fallacy which I highly recommend listening to:
Leopard geckos readily drink water from a dish, so fresh water must be available. It should be large enough to be convenient, but not deep enough that your gecko could potentially drown in it.
- PRO TIP: Don’t add vitamin drops to the water. These products are usually lower quality, and there’s no way to track how much your gecko is getting.
Keep reading about leopard gecko care:
- Introduction to Leopard Geckos
- Shopping List
- Terrarium Size and Cohabitation
- Lighting, Temperature & Humidity Needs
- Substrate (Bedding) Options
- Decorating Your Leopard Gecko’s Enclosure
- What to Feed Your Leopard Gecko
- Handling Tips & Leopard Gecko Body Language
- Common Diseases, Illnesses & Other Health Questions
- Additional Resources