How Much To Feed A Leopard Gecko (Answered By Vet Tech)

How Much To Feed Leopard Gecko

Leopard Geckos are one of the most common pet reptiles. They’re cute, they stay small, and they’re pretty easy to care for! One thing that can be a little off-putting about leopard geckos is their diet.

Leopard geckos are insectivores which means that they only eat bugs. Because their diets are so different from ours, it can be difficult to guess how much they eat!

In this article, we’ll answer the question, “how much to feed a leopard gecko?”

The amount of food you give a leopard gecko depends on its age, weight, and what type of food you’re giving them. Juveniles eat once a day while adults eat every other day. A rule of thumb for leopard geckos is that they get 2 insects for every 1 inch of body length.

This rule for feeding leopard geckos comes with some stipulations. We’ll talk about what those are and how you can use this rule to understand how much to feed your pet gecko.

But, first, let’s talk about exactly what you should be feeding them.

What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?

Leopard geckos are insectivores. In both the wild and in captivity, these little lizards eat only insects.

The type of insects these reptiles eat depends on availability in the wild. However, when keeping them as pets, you have a lot more control over their diets.

Usually, the best insects for leopard geckos in captivity are mealworms, crickets, and roaches. Ideally, you’ll want to provide your gecko with live insects.

Should You Feed Your Leopard Gecko Live Insects?

Live insects are essential for insectivores because they provide both nutrition and mental stimulation.

Dead or freeze-dried insects don’t have the same nutritional value as live insects.  It’s like the difference between eating a grape and a raisin!

To ensure your insects are nutritious, you’ll need to feed them bugs before you give them to your pet. This process is called gut loading and ensures that the bugs are full of vitamins and minerals for your scaly friend.

You can buy commercially available bug food and throw it in with them for about 24 hours before you give your pet their meal. When you feed them out, you’ll also want to dust them with a calcium supplement.

Proper nutrition is essential for keeping your pet happy, healthy, and shedding normally.  

Besides nutrition, live bugs provide mental stimulation by allowing your gecko to engage in the natural behavior of hunting.

Hunting insects helps to keep a little excitement in your reptile’s life and will prevent boredom and the behaviors that come with it.

How Big Of Insects Do Leopard Geckos Eat?

The length of the bug that you feed your gecko shouldn’t be any longer than the width of your gecko’s head.

That means that most worms and crickets will be small or medium size. Juveniles may need extra small bugs when they’re very young. You should never give your gecko bugs that are too big.

Although it might seem like a treat, these bugs can be difficult for their small bodies to digest.  Plus, some larger insects might actually bite or sting your pet!

How Much Does A Leopard Gecko Eat?

So we know that leopard geckos are always going to eat bugs.  But, how many bugs should a leopard gecko eat?

There are two ways that you can determine how much a gecko should eat.

The first method you can use is the timing method.  This method does not work for juveniles or geckos that are sick or injured.

For healthy adults, you can place live insects in their enclosures.  However many insects your gecko eats in 15 minutes is a good estimate of the total amount of insects they should eat in one day.

The other method you can use to determine how much a leopard gecko eats is to use their body length.

For this method, you can measure your gecko from the top of its head to the base of its tail.  For each inch of length on an adult gecko, you can give 2 insects.

So, for an adult gecko that’s 6 inches long, you can give them 12 insects whenever you feed them.  As always, juveniles have a little bit of a different diet.

How Much Should A Juvenile Leopard Gecko Eat?

Juvenile animals eat much more than their adult counterparts do.  Juveniles are constantly growing and need nutrition to support their new growth.

Young leopard geckos should eat at least as many as 2 insects for every inch of their body length.  This might sound like the same diet as an adult, but the difference is the frequency of their feedings.

Juveniles are few 2 to 3 times more often than adults are.  We’ll talk about how often to feel leopard geckos now, so we can put all of the pieces together.

How Often Should You Feed A Leopard Gecko?

The amount of times a week you feed your leopard gecko depends on its age and size.

As we discussed earlier, baby geckos need more nutrition than adults and should be fed once a day until they’re about 6 months – 9 months old.  After that, healthy adult geckos can be fed every other day.

With one day being a food day and the next day being a fasting day. GEckos that are overweight may need to be fed only once every three days until they’re back to a healthy weight.

Lastly, sick individuals should be offered food daily until they’re back to their normal eating habits.

To put all of the information in this article together, we’ve created a simple chart to help you determine how much to feed a leopard gecko.

leopard gecko feeding chart

This chart should serve as a good overview of how much your pet gecko will eat based on their age and size!

How Should You Feed A Leopard Gecko?

Leopard geckos are one of the easiest reptiles to keep.  So, since you won’t have to spend much time maintaining their environment, you can have fun feeding them!

Ideally, you’ll want to be present when you feed your leopard gecko live insects. There are a few reasons for this.

The first reason is that you don’t want your leopard gecko to be bitten by an insect that might be too big for them.  The second reason is that any insects that aren’t eaten might stay in your gecko’s home and breed or just make a mess of the enclosure.

So, to feed your gecko, drop in 1 -2 insects at a time. Enjoy the show and watch how fast your leopard gecko is when they’re hunting.  After they consume the first couple of insects, you can add in a few more.  Repeat this process until you’ve met the insect quota for the day.

Alternatively, you can also try to feed your gecko by hand. Some people say this will help to tame your gecko and get them used to handling. The danger of this is that your gecko may start to associate your fingers with food and accidentally bite you.

If you decide to feed your gecko by hand, make sure to do the research so you don’t end up with a biting pet reptile!

Check out the video below for an example of how hand-feeding can go wrong.

Regardless of the method that you use to feed your gecko, you’ll want to dust their insects with a calcium supplement. This supplement combined with proper UVB lighting will help prevent metabolic bone disease.

How Do You Know If Your Pet Gecko Is Overweight?

One way you can tell if you’re feeding your gecko too much food too frequently is by its body condition.

Body condition is a scoring system that helps people identify if their pet is over or under the normal weight.

The scores range from 1 -5. A score of 1 is an emaciated gecko that is in bad shape. Their bodies and tail are super thin and fragile looking and have almost no tissue besides skin and bones.

On the other hand, a score of 5 is an obese gecko.  While obese pets can look cute, carrying too much extra weight just isn’t good for them.

A leopard gecko with a body score of five has a thick body but will carry most of its weight in its tail.  An obese gecko has an incredibly thick tail that bulges out from the base.

If you suspect that your gecko is overweight, you should take them to see a veterinarian.  Not only can a veterinarian confirm or deny this, but they’ll also be able to give you a safe plan of action to get your pet’s weight under control.

Final Thoughts

How much to feed your gecko depends on a few different factors. For the most part, adult geckos are few every other day and are fed a number of bugs that they can eat in a 15-minute window.

You can also use a gecko’s length to calculate how many insects to feed them. The best way to ensure that your gecko is getting the right amount of food is to keep an eye on their body weight and condition and make sure they look happy and healthy!