Can a Leopard Gecko Eat Fruit? An Informative Guide

By Frank Miller •  Updated: 09/24/23 • 

In an era where ready answers are just a few clicks away, there’s a lot of misinformation about the proper food and nutrition for leopard geckos. Whether you are a beginner or advanced keeper, you’ve probably debated on whether your scaly friend can enjoy some fruit goodness. That brings us to today’s hot topic: can leopard geckos eat fruit? The short answer is yes, they can.

Leopard geckos “can” eat fruit because they are opportunistic eaters. However, they shouldn’t feed on fruits, vegetables, or any plant materials because they are purely insectivorous, and their bodies cannot break down cellulose. The only exception when you can provide a fruit is if your vet recommends fruit slurry as your Leo recuperates from illness.

Buckle up as we dive into the details of whether leopard geckos can eat fruit. We will also discuss why it is dangerous to feed fruit to your Leo and the rare instances where a vet may recommend making smooth fruit slurry for your scaly friend.

Let’s begin!

Can My Leopard Gecko Eat Fruits?

If your hungry leopard gecko bumps into a fruit, he will likely take a bite. A well-fed pet is likely to ignore the fruit but will gladly feast on bugs.
Generally speaking, leopard geckos can eat fruit because they are opportunistic eaters. Although they are insectivores, most have some carnivorous tendencies and even occasionally eat moss in the moist pit.

But will this do them any good? Absolutely not!

Think of it this way—humans can quite literally eat rocks. But should you be chewing rocks even when hungry or bored? The same rule applies to your scaly friend with regard to eating fruits.

Leopard geckos are native to dry and arid regions where fruits are in short supply, if not virtually impossible to find. Their digestive systems have evolved only to process insects, which are in abundance within their natural environment. Eating fruit will not do your scaly friend any good because his digestive system cannot process cellulose.

Is There an Exception?—When To Give Your Leopard Gecko Fruits

Among the core reasons there’s a lot of misconception about the ability of leopard geckos to ingest and digest fruits is that sometimes, qualified vets can recommend feeding fruit slurry.

Again, such instances are rare, and a vet will only suggest this if your Leo is recuperating from an ailment that caused severe loss of appetite. In this case, you should only feed your pet a handful of fruit meals to help his body regain strength.

Some of the best fruits for making fruit slurry include bananas, apricots, nectarines, mangoes, peaches, papayas, and cantaloupes. Although they still don’t offer the best calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, they contain slightly more calcium than phosphorus.

On the other hand, some fruits can be poisonous to leopard geckos. You must never feed your Leo oranges, strawberries, star fruit, avocados, and rhubarb.

We recommend against offering fruits to your Leo unless under the instructions of a qualified exotic vet. Follow the expert’s orders to the latter to avoid blunders that can lead to grave health problems.

4 Reasons Why Leopard Geckos Should Not Eat Fruits

Geckos are a highly diverse group of lizards, with over 1,500 species spread across six distinctive families. Although most gecko species are insectivorous, some eat meat and plants, like crested geckos, day geckos, mourning geckos, and gargoyle geckos.

Leopard geckos fall under insectivorous gecko species and should feed exclusively on bugs. There are four main reasons why providing fruits to a Leo is a bad idea.

1. Digestive Tract Anatomy

The main reason leopard geckos should not eat fruit is closely linked to the design of their digestive tract. Here are three crucial facts to keep in mind.

Structurally speaking, herbivores and omnivores have a caecum. This is the first part of the large intestines that contains bacteria that help digest plant matter. While herbivores have a generally enlarged caecum, the caecum in omnivores is of intermediate size.

> Recommended Reading: Can a Leopard Gecko eat Vegetables?

Leopard geckos are purely insectivorous and don’t have a caecum. Even if your scaly friend ingests fruits, his tummy lacks the bacteria to break cellulose and make it beneficial to the body.

Moreover, leopard geckos have a considerably shorter digestive tract and an alkaline gastrointestinal system, only ideal for processing simple animal proteins. Both herbivores and carnivores have acidic gastrointestinal systems that help break down tough plant matter. Their longer digestive tracts hold the food longer for efficient cellulose processing and micronutrient absorption.

Feeding fruits or vegetables to Leos will not make your pet healthier because the body can barely absorb nutrients directly from plant matter. If anything, plant matter can cause stomach cramps and hinder proper bowel movements. Bowel impaction is a serious medical concern that can turn fatal if not addressed promptly.

2. Shape and Size of Teeth and Jaws

Leopard geckos lack the biological makeup to eat and digest fruits, which you can tell by merely looking at the shape of their teeth and the size of their jaws.

First, leopard geckos have a small jaw and a weak bite force. Their bite pressure is no worse than a hard pinch. Even if your scaly friend is agitated and badly wants to clamp down on your finger, the force barely registers as much, no matter how hard the reptile tries.

Based on this, a leopard gecko’s jaw can hardly stand the strong repetitive chewing motions needed to grind plant matter before swallowing. It also doesn’t help that the reptile has small, sharp teeth that cannot make fruits mushy enough to allow smooth digestion.

As an insectivorous, a leopard gecko’s jaw and teeth are not designed for chewing food. Their shape, size, and strength only make them ideal for grabbing, killing, and crushing insects. Eating fruit increases the risk of choking.

3. Fruits Have High Sugar Content

Fruits make healthy treats for herbivores and omnivores. However, they are the complete opposite for insectivores. If anything, fruits are a recipe for disaster and can cause a whole cocktail of health problems, from mouth rot to metabolic bone disease.

First, fruits are dangerous for leopard geckos because of their sugar content. The high sugar can quickly cause plaque buildup, ultimately increasing the risk of mouth rot.

Leopard geckos have 100 teeth, and mouth rot is a big deal. Although the disease is treatable, it is highly infectious and can be life-threatening if not caught early. It causes various devastating symptoms, including mouth gaping, yellow plaque on teeth and gums, and visible wounds or dead tissue in the mouth.

4. Fruits Are Low in Calcium and High in Phosphorus

Generally, fruits are not considered the best source of calcium or phosphorus. Still, they contain these minerals in amounts that can affect a leopard gecko’s health. Most fruits can upset the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio your pet must maintain to keep healthy because they contain more phosphorus than calcium.

The ideal calcium-to-phosphorus ratio for a leopard gecko is 2:1. Because fruits contain more phosphorus than calcium, they increase the risk of developing metabolic bone disease (MBD). MBD is a debilitating disease with no cure that can only be managed if caught early.

What Happens If A Leopard Gecko Eats Fruit?

As an insectivore, your leopard gecko may lack a caecum but has robust small intestines designed to digest the tough exoskeletons of insects. This alone gives your pet a 50/50 chance of consuming fruit without any health consequences. Still, you must embrace the 50% chance of things going south.

Eating fruit can cause digestive problems because a leopard gecko’s digestive system cannot fully process cellulose. At first, your pet will try to regurgitate the cellulose. If unsuccessful, you’ll have a case of impaction on your hands.

Impaction will happen if the ingested plant matter forms a mass in the stomach or causes a blockage in the small intestines. Consequently, your pet may experience the following symptoms.

Impaction is a serious health concern that warrants the immediate attention of a vet. If not treated promptly, your Leo will grow weak and eventually die. You can also try soaking the reptile in warm water and adding a drop of mineral oil or olive oil to help pass the impaction. If you don’t find poop in the tank within 24 hours, rush to your vet.

> Recommended Reading: What Does Leopard Gecko Poop Look Like?

Is There A Safer Alternative To Feeding A Leopard Gecko Fruit?

It is easier to prevent impaction than to treat it. If you still want your scaly friend to enjoy some fruit goodness, consider providing dusted or gut-loaded live insects. Supplementation is the safest way to increase the nutritional value of your pet’s meals without taking extreme measures that can lead to health problems.

A Leopard Gecko Eating a Mealworm

A Leopard Gecko Eating a Mealworm

Leopard geckos are okay sticking to a diet of insects alone. Still, you can make meals varied by offering different bugs, including crickets, roaches, and mealworms. Your pet will also enjoy occasional treats such as superworms and butterworms.

Multivitamin powders used for dusting feeder insects contain a careful blend of all the vitamins and minerals your leopard gecko needs. You can also gut-load feeder insects at home by offering them fresh fruit and vegetables 24 to 48 hours before feeding them to your Leo.

> Recommended Reading: A Comprehensive Guide to Feed a Leopard Gecko

Final Thoughts

As a responsible reptile keeper, you want the best for your leopard gecko. You probably use fruits and vegetables to gut-load bugs for your pet and know the link between highly nutritious food and good health. It’s understandable if the question,” Can leopard geckos eat fruit?” has ever crossed your mind.

In a wrap, Leos should not eat fruits because they are not appropriate for their digestive systems. If you are worried about the nutritional value of feeder bugs, it is adequate to dust them with a multivitamin or gut-load them with nutrient-dense fresh produce, including fruits and leafy greens.

When it comes down to feeding your leopard gecko, it’s safer to stick strictly to providing insects.

Frank Miller

Frank Miller is the Founder of Lizard Advisor and owns several pet lizards, from leopard geckos, bearded dragons, crested geckos, chameleons, and others. The mission of this website is to make owning a pet lizard very easy for everyone, but mostly beginners. And each year, he continues to help more people learn more about lizard care and much more.