Despite their stoic appearance and love of insects, gargoyle geckos are actually very fond of fruit. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the options, and plenty of owners are rightfully cautious of feeding their geckos the wrong thing.
So, what fruits can gargoyle geckos eat?
Gargoyle geckos are able to eat a wide variety of fruits, such as papaya, apples, and watermelons, but fruits with a high phosphorus to calcium ratio, such as bananas and plums, should be limited. Acidic fruit, avocados, and seed pits should not be offered at all due to their negative health effects.
In this article, we’ll cover which fruit can and cannot be eaten by gargoyle geckos in depth, and the reasons why gargoyle geckos can benefit from eating fresh fruit.
What Do Gargoyle Geckos Eat?
Wild gargoyle geckos take full advantage of the biodiversity of New Caledonia, having a highly varied diet. In particular, ecological observations of gargoyle geckos have revealed that they heavily feast on arthropods, but also eat a variety of flowers, nectar, fruits, mollusks, and even the occasional vertebrate prey.
Although some gargoyle gecko owners feed their pets a base diet of different fruits, it is difficult to provide your gargoyle gecko with the sort of variety that they would receive in the wild. The complex balance of nutrients and micronutrients a gecko requires to thrive is very specific, and even the minute differences between commercial diets have been proven to directly impact gargoyle gecko growth.
Rather than potentially risking malnutrition, most veterinarians and scientists recommend sticking with a specifically formulated powdered diet and supplementing with dusted or gut-loaded insects.
What Fruits Can Gargoyle Geckos Eat?
When it comes to feeding gargoyle geckos fruit, the question is more of what kinds of fruits they can’t eat. Wild gargoyle geckos inhabit the rainforests of New Caledonia, where they are exposed to a massive variety of plants and animals.
As a result, they are able to feast on several species of flowers and fruit with few natural limits. Tropical fruit such as papaya, mango, and more are all excellent dietary staples or supplements for this species and are likely to be encountered by them. Truthfully, not very many human-safe fruit are toxic to gargoyle geckos, and wild geckos can eat almost any soft fruit.
However, due to their differing environments, captive gargoyle geckos have a few dietary restrictions that wild geckos do not. Issues such as calcium deficiency or even obesity are not the primary worries of wild geckos, but they are of chief concern to gecko owners.
We’ll cover a few key things to watch out for below.
Fruit to Avoid Feeding Gargoyle Geckos
Gargoyle geckos are able to eat almost any human-safe fruit, but there are a few limitations in the form of toxic fruit and those with the wrong nutrient balance.
Fruits With a High Phosphate to Calcium Ratio
Reptiles such as gargoyle geckos are very sensitive to calcium intake, and hypocalcemia is a common and serious occurrence.
Typically, this is an issue of poor diet or husbandry, but even gargoyle geckos fed proper amounts of calcium can still face issues. Phosphate is an important mineral in a gargoyle gecko’s diet that relies on calcium to be digested. When a gecko eats roughly twice as much calcium as they do phosphate, they are able to digest phosphate and have plenty of calcium left over.
On the other hand, foods with a high phosphate to calcium ratio– which can be found in feeder insects and other common reptile foods– directly leech calcium out of your gecko’s bones to aid with phosphate digestion. Over time, excessive consumption of these foods can potentially lead to metabolic bone disease .
Consequently, fruits that have a high ratio of phosphorus to calcium are not recommended to be fed to gargoyle geckos in high amounts. Instead, using them as small treats or avoiding them altogether is a better option. These fruits, along with their calcium to phosphorus ratios, include:
- Passion Fruit (1:5.7)
- Plums (1:3.5)
- Bananas (1:3.1)
- Peaches (1:2.2)
- Blueberries (1:1.6)
- Apricots (1:1.4)
- Cherries (1:1.3)
- Pears (1:1.2)
It is worth noting that some of these fruits–namely bananas– are often a major ingredient in formulations for gargoyle geckos. As this would indicate, the phosphorus to calcium ratio found in these fruits is not acutely toxic by any means, but it is easy to create an improper balance unless intake is limited.
Fruits High In Oxalic Acid
Oxalic acid can have a similarly detrimental impact on calcification, but for a different reason. Oxalic acid readily binds to calcium, forming a compound known as calcium oxalate. Calcium is unable to be absorbed by the intestine in this form and instead is filtered out of the blood stream and passed through the gecko.
This can lead to low calcium levels, which has a variety of negative impacts. Although the phenomenon has not been studied in geckos, eating excessive amounts of oxalic acid has been known to cause kidney issues and the formation of kidney stones in humans.
Raspberries are incredibly high in oxalic acid, with a whopping 48 milligrams per cup. Kiwis, dates, and most citrus fruits are also considered major sources of oxalic acid, making them a poor choice to feed geckos.
Overly Acidic Fruit
Gargoyle geckos and other reptiles have a natural body pH of around 7.5-7.7, and their bodies work hard to maintain this ratio. Feeding a gecko a lemon, with a jarringly low pH of only two, can dramatically disrupt their balance or even chemically burn their throat.
In addition to their high oxalic acid content, oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruit are not recommended to be fed to gargoyle geckos due to their high level of acidity. Other acidic fruit to avoid include pineapple (3.6), cranberries (2.5), pomegranate (3), and plum (3).
Fruit Pits and Seeds
While pumpkin seeds and watermelon seeds may be a tasty treat for humans, it’s best to avoid fruit pits and seeds altogether when feeding gargoyle geckos. In particular, the seeds of apples, pears, and similar fruit contain a chemical compound known as amygdalin. When digested by humans and animals, amygdalin is converted into hydrogen cyanide, a potentially fatal toxin.
The pits of stone fruit– that is, fruits with a large pit in their middle, such as peaches and apricots– also contain this dangerous chemical.
Although the small amount of amygdalin found in these fruit isn’t enough to kill a human unless you eat a large amount of seeds, animals that tend to max out at 70 grams only need a single seed to kill.
Avocados are a healthy, tasty treat for humans, but it’s quite a different story for most pets, including gargoyle geckos. The leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark of avocado plants contain a chemical known as persin, a fungicide which is generally harmless to humans.
In non-human mammals, however, this toxin causes vomiting, diarrhea, and mastitis among other symptoms. In birds, close relatives of reptiles such as geckos, persin is known to cause acute and often fatal heart and lung issues.
There have not been any studies or reports regarding the pathology of persin consumption in reptiles, but there’s certainly no reason to make your gecko the first case study on the topic.
Fruit Toxic to Humans
It probably goes without saying, but any fruit that is poisonous to humans is not good to feed your gargoyle gecko. While there are some species differences in what toxins are dangerous to different animals, many poisons overlap, and what causes illness in human doses can cause death in such a small animal. When in doubt, don’t feed it to your gecko.
It’s important to note that the compounds in the fruit themselves aren’t the only potential toxins. Most fruit (especially the infamous dirty dozen) are exposed to pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and more. In fact, many fruits are covered in artificial wax! If you can’t afford organic fruit, take care to thoroughly wash your produce, or better yet, remove its outer layers.
5 Best Fruits to Feed Gargoyle Geckos
After all those guidelines on what fruits to avoid feeding your gargoyle gecko, you may be wondering which fruits are best for your cold-blooded friend. Below are some particularly stellar options.
Papaya is one of the best fruit to feed gargoyle geckos for a variety of reasons, and is often a major ingredient in formulations for geckos. For a start, it has an incredibly high calcium to phosphorus ratio of nearly five to one, and it is also considered a low-acid fruit with an average pH of 5.6.
This nutritious fruit is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, boasting particularly high levels of vitamin C, a major antioxidant. Additionally, the soft yet sturdy texture of papaya is easy for geckos to eat. Be sure to not let your gecko eat papaya seeds, however. Although they may be a safe snack for humans in small portions, the trace amount of carpine that papaya seeds contain can be deadly to small animals.
With a sweet and tart flavor, blackberries are a popular snack for many gargoyle geckos. These fiber-filled berries are rich in vitamin A, C, and K, as well as several minerals. As with papaya, blackberries are considered a good source of calcium, with a ratio of roughly 1 part calcium to 0.6 parts phosphorus. Blackberries are also considered a low oxalate food, with only 4 milligrams in an entire cup.
And while the process may be a bit messy, the drupelets of blackberries are easy to portion out so that your gecko can easily eat an appropriate amount.
As with any other nutrient-dense fruit, there is some truth to the mantra that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples are a crisp and sweet treat that are readily accepted by many gargoyle geckos (even picky ones!), albeit in small portions due to their sugar content.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of this pome fruit, however, is that compared to papaya or mango, apples are easy and inexpensive to get ahold of. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus found in apples is certainly not ideal, at about 1 to 1 depending on the cultivar, but it can certainly be integrated into a healthy diet. Plus, apples are low in oxalic acid and a sliced apple can be easily dusted with calcium powder.
Like apples, mangoes have a 1 to 1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus, making them a tasty treat, especially when dusted with calcium. This soft, tropical fruit has the texture of what a gargoyle gecko may eat in the wild and is frequently used in gecko formulations due to its beloved flavor.
Despite not having a distinct pit like a peach or cherry, mangoes are technically stone fruit. As such, their seeds contain notable amounts of amygdalin and should therefore be avoided when feeding gargoyle geckos. Instead, feed them the supple outer flesh just beneath the skin.
As an arboreal animal, wild gargoyle geckos aren’t known to climb down and drink water from puddles or dishes on the ground. Instead, they typically lick water off of leaves or get water from the fruit they eat. Most adult gargoyle geckos gladly lap water from a small bowl, but wild-caught youngsters are known to struggle with the concept at times.
Watermelon is an excellent food to feed gargoyle geckos, as its mix of low calories, high antioxidants, high electrolytes, and rich water content makes it an excellent way to rehydrate.
Plus, contrary to popular belief, watermelon seeds are not dangerous to eat. So while your gargoyle gecko probably won’t go out of their way to munch down on seeds, it’s not dangerous to miss picking out a seed or two. The slightly higher ratio of phosphorus to calcium in watermelon, meanwhile, does mean that you should either dust it with calcium or limit portion sizes.
Do Gargoyle Geckos Need To Be Fed Fruit?
Depending on what exactly you mean by this question, the answer is yes or no. Gargoyle geckos DO need fruit in their diet, but this fruit can be found in their powdered diet. Feeding your gargoyle gecko fresh fruit is not required, but it’s still a good idea.
Not only is fresh fruit an excellent treat, but it’s also a great way to provide your gecko with enrichment and supplementation to their diet. That said, care must be taken to avoid feeding the incorrect fruits, as described above. Additionally, you shouldn’t give your gecko too much fruit, as they may eat these sugary snacks instead of their properly formulated main diet.
With such a broad natural diet, it’s no wonder captive gargoyle geckos will gladly eat all sorts of fruit. When it comes to feeding your gecko fruit, it’s important to remember that it is impossible to feed your gecko the sort of variety they would have in the wild. As a result, feeding your gecko safe, calcium-rich fruits as a treat on top of a well-formulated diet is an excellent way to keep your gecko healthy, happy, and enriched.