A Comprehensive Guide to Feed a Leopard Gecko

By Frank Miller •  Updated: 10/05/23 • 

What should I feed my leopard gecko? Do geckos need a varied diet? How about supplements? Is supplementation important for leopard geckos in captivity? These are perhaps the most common questions reptile keepers ask their vets. As we learn more about the relationship between diet and health, we must base pet dietary choices on good information.

Leopard geckos need a proper diet in tune with their nutritional needs. Because they are purely insectivores, provide dusted or gut-loaded staples like crickets, roaches, and mealworms. Also, occasionally provide fatty treats like waxworms, superworms, and butterworms. While you should feed hatchlings daily, feed Juveniles every 1 to 2 days and adults 2 to 3 meals weekly.

Buckle up as we dive into the details of what to feed a leopard gecko. We will also analyze the supplements your pet needs and how to dust or gut load your feeder insects.

Let’s begin!

How Often Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko?

The ideal feeding frequency often depends on a leopard gecko’s life stage. Hatchlings and juveniles grow rapidly, hence the need for more food than adults. Ideally, you should feed baby geckos daily to ensure they have sufficient nutrients for a healthy foundation.

Juveniles also need sufficient nutrients, proteins, and calcium for proper development. Still, it is imperative to start introducing short hunger strikes and only feed your Leo every other day. This will make it easier for your pet to adjust as an adult and begin taking 2 to 3 meals weekly.

To keep your Leo happy and healthy, ensure he is well-hydrated. Provide constant access to clean drinking water in a shallow bowl. Getting into a good dietary routine and providing meals in a predictable pattern is also crucial.

As a general rule, you should feed your scaly companion in the evening after sunset. Geckos are most active between dusk and dawn; this is when their counterparts in the wild hunt. Most Leos are not interested in hunting and eating during daylight hours because this is when they rest.

0 to 6 months (Hatchling)Daily
6 to 12 months (Juvenile)Every 1 to 2 days
12 months+ (Adult)2 to 3 times weekly


> Recommended Reading: How Often Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko?

How Much Should I Feed A Leopard Gecko?

Sometimes, leopard geckos can jog up quite the appetite. Feeding one or two extra insects occasionally is not likely to cause any problems. However, while underfeeding can lead to malnutrition, frequent overfeeding can cause obesity.

Obesity in leopard geckos is detrimental to their overall health. Those extra pounds often lead to health concerns that can negatively impact your pet’s longevity. You can tell that your Leo is overweight if the tail is wider than the neck.

Ideally, you should choose the number of feeder insects to feed based on your pet’s age and overall size. Generally, feed only two insects per inch of your reptile’s length. Therefore, if your leopard gecko hatchling is 3 inches long, feed 6 insects daily.

Moreover, you should be careful when picking the size of feeder insects to avoid the risk of impaction. Ensuring the bugs are no bigger than half the size of your pet’s head is crucial. Give your pet 15 minutes to eat and remove any uneaten insects.

Here is a simple chart showing the recommended food amount based on your pet’s life stage.

0-4 Weeks3 Inches6 Insects
1 Month4 Inches8 Insects
3 Months5 Inches10 Insects
6 Months6 Inches12 Insects
9 Months7 Inches14 Insects
12 Months8 Inches16 Insects
18+ Months10 Inches +20 Insects

What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?—7 Staples For Your Pet

Leopard geckos are insectivorous. Those in the wild enjoy a full menu of various bugs, including grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, roaches, flies, and crickets, just to mention a few. These reptiles can also be opportunistic and feed on newborn rodents or other small lizards they bump into during their hunts.

In captivity, Leos mainly eat insects widely available in online or land-based pet stores. These pets are happy to survive exclusively on insects, provided they are dusted or gut-loaded to cater to their nutritional needs.

Here are some of the common feeder insects that leopard geckos enjoy.

1. Mealworms

Mealworms are a staple for leopard geckos in captivity. They are readily available in most pet stores and contain roughly 12% fat and 20% protein. Unfortunately, they don’t provide sufficient calcium levels, so dust or gut load the worms before feeding them to your scaly friend.

Leopard Gecko with Mealworms in Feeding bowl

Leopard Gecko with Mealworms in Feeding bowl

If you buy mealworms for your pet, you must refrigerate them. These are worms in the larva stage, and heat allows them to proceed to the pupa stage before turning into beetles. Mealworm beetles have a hard shell that increases the risk of impaction if fed to leopard geckos.

2. Crickets

Crickets are also a staple for leopard geckos and a great source of proteins. They contain 21% protein and only 8% fat. As such, they make a healthy meal you can include in your pet’s everyday diet.

Unfortunately, crickets are noisy and expert escape artists. You’ll need to polish your cricket husbandry skills, especially if you intend to buy the bugs in bulk. On the bright side, leopard geckos love crickets because they hop around trying to escape. Their movement will spark your pet’s natural hunting instinct. See how many crickets to feed a leopard gecko.

3. Dubia Roaches

Dubia roaches offer excellent nutritional value and are easy to breed. Unlike other cockroach species, they are slow and can hardly climb walls, which reduces their risk of escaping. Also, they have a good appetite that makes gut loading a breeze.

Nutrition-wise, these bugs contain 23% protein and 7% fat. They also contain higher amounts of calcium, making them more nutritious than mealworms, and crickets.

4. Phoenix Worms

Phoenix worms are another excellent food choice for leopard geckos. They are soft-bodied and easy to digest for Leos in all life stages. Most importantly, these worms are high in calcium and contain 17% protein and only 9% fat.

Besides having an almost perfect calcium: phosphorous ratio, phoenix worms can help boost your pet’s health. The worms can help keep metabolic bone disease at bay or reverse its effects. Furthermore, they contain lauric acid, which prevents viruses and can help boost your scaly friend’s overall well-being.

5. Silkworms

Silkworms are a welcome addition to your pet’s diet. These worms are high in moisture, calcium, and protein. Moreover, they contain only 1% fat, making them ideal bugs to feed your leopard gecko regularly.

Unfortunately, housing and feeding silkworms to create a sustainable food source for your Leo can be burdensome. The process requires time, space, and effort, not to mention that it can be expensive. Although these insects make a good staple, most keepers only provide them as occasional treats.

6. Hornworms

Leopard geckos can eat hornworms. They don’t mind munching on them occasionally, and most find them quite tasty. Hornworms are a healthy food source that contains 10% protein and only 3% fat. Unfortunately, they grow too fast and become too thick and hard for hatchlings to chew or swallow.

My Leopard Gecko Eating a Hornworm

If your Leo has a full appetite, it is best to avoid these worms, especially once they grow large and hard. An overly excited leopard gecko risks choking or developing digestive issues if he eats too fast. If you must buy hornworms, only buy them in small amounts and feed them to your pet before they grow too big. We have an informative guide on can leopard geckos eat hornworms?

7. Locusts

Last but not least on our list of good staple feeder insects for leopard geckos are locusts. We have listed them last because shipping locusts into the USA is illegal. They became such a menace in 2014 that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) declared them a Regulated Invasive Species.

Locusts have an almost excellent nutritional profile because they are rich in protein and provide good amounts of fat and fiber. Moreover, they offer a better calcium-to-phosphorus ratio than common feeder insects like crickets and mealworms.

8. Other Feeders

According to research, there are over 900 thousand different insect species in the world. Understandably, many of these insects can make tasty meals for leopard geckos, but they are not easily available.

Still, the following bugs are readily available in pet stores but should only be used as occasional treats.

Hands down, these insects are incredibly attractive to leopard geckos. However, they are rich in fat and are only ideal when offered as a special treat.

For instance, superworms, also known as Morio worms or King worms, should only be offered to adult leopard geckos. They contain 18% fat and 17% protein, which may be too much for a hatchling or juvenile leopard gecko. Generally, they make a tasty treat because they contain more meat and can be fed more frequently to Leos struggling to add healthy weight.

Furthermore, butterworms and waxworms are like junk food for leopard geckos. While butterworms contain 29.4% fat, waxworms have over 22% fat, which is too much if offered to a gecko daily. Additionally, leopard geckos find these insects overly tasty and addictive. If you feed them too often, your pet may refuse to eat other bugs.

What Supplements Do Leopard Geckos Need?

To keep your leopard gecko healthy and happy, you must provide a diet rich in all the nutrients and minerals available in the wild. The easiest way to do this is to fortify staple foods with priority micronutrients and try to replicate the inherently nutrient-dense foods wild Leos eat.

Here are the three main essential supplements your leopard gecko needs.

1. Multivitamins

Multivitamins are dust supplements formulated to offer a gecko-friendly combination of vitamins. They contain both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins to ensure your pet’s health.

Fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D3, E, and K can be stored in a Leo’s fat reserves at the tail’s base. Your gecko’s body can retrieve and use these vitamins when needed.

On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins like Vitamins B and C cannot be stored in the body. You must ensure you regularly supply these vitamins in your pet’s food.

So, how do you ensure your pet gets the correct balance of vitamins? This is where multivitamin supplements come in.

Multivitamins contain a careful blend of micronutrients, including the vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids your leopard gecko needs. Some products even contain calcium and Vitamin D3, but you can opt for one without, especially if you want more control over your pet’s diet. In this case, you must serve calcium and vitamin D3 supplements separately.

2. Calcium Supplements

Calcium supplementation is crucial for leopard geckos living in captivity. Their counterparts in the wild derive this nutrient from streams rich in mineral deposits and salts.
Your pampered scaly friend enjoys a more constant food supply than his wild peers. As such, pet geckos grow faster and bigger, which increases their body’s calcium demands to support proper bone development.

Unfortunately, most feeder insects are a poor source of calcium. Calcium supplementation can help ensure the formation of strong bones and the maintenance of healthy bone density. Calcium also helps with many metabolic processes and can help keep Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) at bay.

Within the vivarium setting, you can ensure your scaly friend has a sufficient supply of this mineral by placing a calcium supplement in a shallow bowl.

Check the chart further down in this post for the proper supplement feeding schedule.

3. Vitamin D3

Your Leo’s body cannot absorb calcium or phosphorus without vitamin D3. The vitamin is also crucial for efficient metabolism and other critical processes that help sustain strong immune functions.

Leopard geckos in the wild can access sunlight, which helps them synthesize vitamin D3 for efficient calcium absorption. In captivity, Leos have little access to direct sunlight because it can cause drastic temperature changes in the tank. As such, you must provide a Vitamin 3 supplement in the enclosure even if you have UVB lighting.

How Do I Feed Supplements To My Leopard Gecko?

As a responsible leopard gecko keeper, you are probably worried about ways to feed supplements to your pet without risking an underdose or overdose. Fortunately, the markets have a wealth of reptile-specific supplements to make your work easier.

We recommend choosing a quality multivitamin and administering calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements separately. Irrespective of the supplement, there are two main ways to feed them to your

Leo to enhance the nutritional composition of live feeder insects.

1. Dusting

Dusting involves coating feeder insects in powder supplements before feeding the bugs to your leopard gecko. This improves their total quality as a food source. Ideally, you should dust the feeder insects right before feeding them to your pet.

Dusting feeder insects is quite easy and merely involves dipping the bugs in the supplement. Pour your product into a plastic tin with a lid, put the insects inside, and shake the box with left-right and up-down motions. Voila! The feeder insects are ready. You can serve them to your scaly friend.

2. Gut Loading

Gut-loading involves force-feeding feeder insects with the supplements your leopard gecko needs.

The idea is to fill the bugs’ gastrointestinal tracts with a rich blend of nutrients 24 to 48 hours before you serve them as your reptile’s next meal. Some of the best feeder insects for gut-loading include mealworms, locusts, superworms, roaches, and crickets. We have a detailed guide on how to gut load mealworms.

Gut Loading Mealworms in A Plastic Cup

Gut Loading Mealworms in A Plastic Cup

Like dusting, gut loading also boosts the nutritional composition of feeder insects. Some reptile keepers opt to raise feeder bugs and feed them highly nutritious food throughout their life cycle.

Although the process seems complicated, it is not because the markets are rich with products specifically formulated for gut loading.

Here is a detailed chart showing the ideal frequency of providing supplements based on your leopard gecko’s life stage.

0 to 4 monthsVitamin D3 & Calcium3 times/week
Multivitamin1 time/week
5 to 18 monthsVitamin D3 & Calcium2 times/week
Multivitamin1 time/week
18 months+Pure Calcium1 time/week
Vitamin D3 & Calcium2 times/week
Multivitamin1 time/month

> Recommended Reading: How Big do Leopard Geckos get?

Can Leopard Geckos Eat Fruit and Vegetables?

Leopard Geckos are purely insectivorous. Their bodies are not equipped to digest fruits or vegetables. Because of their shorter digestive tracts and lack of a functional cecum, any cellulose from fruits and vegetables that enters their digestive systems can cause impaction.

Furthermore, leopard geckos have alkaline digestive tracts. Although having a few bites of a vegetable will likely not cause any harm, it is not good for your pet either. Herbivores that eat meat and vegetables have higher gastric acid levels that help break down plant materials and remove any foodborne pathogens that can cause disease.

What Foods Are Toxic To Leopard Geckos?

To keep your leopard gecko healthy and happy, you must also know the foods that can be toxic to your pet. Besides fruits and vegetables, here are other foods you must avoid.

Final Thoughts

You are what you eat. This concept applies to all living creatures, and your leopard gecko is no exception.

Leopard geckos need a range of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fatty acids to survive. We have provided in-depth information about what to feed your beloved pet, the supplements to include, and the recommended daily or weekly allowances based on your pet’s life stage.

Now, you are well-equipped with in-depth information to make educated and healthy dietary choices for your scaly companion!

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.