All Uroplatus are insectivores, which means that the ideal leaf-tailed gecko food is BUGS. Offerings of meat or plant matter will be rejected or—if eaten—can make the gecko sick.
Juveniles should be fed daily; adults can be fed every other day. Offer as much as they can eat in one night. One female U. sikorae I worked with did well on 5-6 large crickets every other night. I’ve also experimented with adding a certain number of roaches to the enclosure once a week and letting the gecko hunt them down on her own time. However, other keepers have documented feeding adults daily, with one “fasting” day per week.
Conclusion: do what keeps juveniles growing and what keeps adults’ weights stable, which means that weekly weighing is required.
All feeders should be at least slightly smaller than the gecko’s head. Offer them in the evening, after misting so you don’t accidentally wash off calcium powder.
Good Feeder Insects
- Darkling beetles
- Dubia roaches
- Discoid roaches
- Red runner roaches* (warning: infestation risk)
- Hornworms (captive only; wild hornworms are toxic!)
- Wax moths
Crickets, roaches, and snails are the most popular leaf-tailed gecko food, whose hunting instinct is triggered by motion, especially prey capable of climbing into their arboreal territory. The exception to this rule is snails, which are a natural prey for wild Uroplatus.
Do not be concerned if your gecko ignores or rejects worm feeders. Offering a variety is nice, but sometimes Uroplatus have very specific preferences.
Avoid the use of feeding dishes. Uroplatus like to dive from leaves/branches to catch their prey, and like solid substrates, hard dishes can cause injury. If you must use a feeding dish, line the floor of the dish with a sponge for the gecko’s safety.
Because leaf-tailed 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 keep them optimally fed and gut-loaded is with one of (or even a rotation of) the following formulas:
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.
Feeders should be lightly dusted with calcium powder at every other feeding. A common symptom of over-supplementation in Uroplatus is weight gain, so look out for fat stores accumulating under the jaw and in front of the rear legs.
If you are using a UVB bulb, use a calcium powder with low to no D3. If you are not, calcium with D3 will be required to keep the gecko healthy. However, the use of UVB is strongly recommended for these geckos’ optimal wellbeing.
For leaf-tailed geckos with UVB:
- Arcadia Earthpro supplement system (instructions here)
- Repashy Calcium Plus LoD
For leaf-tailed geckos without UVB:
NOTE — U. sikorae and U. phantasticus are particularly sensitive to over-supplementation, so supplement should only be offered every other feeding or even just once a week, depending on the state of their calcium sacs. U. henkeli, on the other hand, have been noted to need a lot of calcium, and should get it more frequently.
A Quick Note about Water
Although they prefer to lick water off leaves and the walls of their enclosure, Uroplatus will drink from a small bowl if provided. Install a magnetic gecko feeding ledge on one of the sides of the enclosure and keep a small condiment cup of water there for the gecko to use as needed. Replace the water every day and disinfect the cup weekly.
- Introduction to Leaf-Tailed Geckos
- Leaf-tailed Gecko Shopping List
- Uroplatus Species
- Terrarium Size Requirements
- Substrate Options
- Temperatures & UVB
- Humidity Requirements
- How to Decorate a Leaf-Tailed Gecko Terrarium
- What to Feed Your Leaf-Tailed Gecko (YOU ARE HERE)
- Handling Tips & Body Language Info
- Common Diseases & Other Health Questions
- Additional Resources