When you start petting a lizard-like Leopard Gecko, you cannot expect it to have its own food. Like other lizards, they need assistance in eating if they are outside their natural habitat. Without any help, they might stay hungry the whole day, which will affect their health. In such case, how to know if your leopard gecko is hungry?
If your Leopard Gecko is mainly seen around the glass at a particular time or becomes more reactive to touch, you can understand that they are hungry. These lizards are primarily active at night, making them hungrier at that time. But if they do not approach the food, it means your Leopard Gecko is not hungry.
If you want to look for more information about your Leopard Gecko’s hunger and food habits, you should stick to the end of this article.
The eating process of the Leopard Gecko is different from other lizards as sometimes they overeat, or sometimes they eat accordingly. To know if your Leo is eating enough, there are some signs that you might need to look for:
- Fat tail and plump body
- More activeness
- Using heat
- Healthy skin
The tail of Leopard Gecko remains plumpy when they are healthy and full from their feedings. The tails basically act like a storehouse of nutrition for them when there is a food shortage. However, the pumping of the tail does not indicate the presence of excess water or food.
Some observations claim that wild Leopard Gecko might have plumping tails more often as they are unaware of their next feedings. The pet Leos, however, do have a feeding schedule which makes the plumping process of the tail slower compared to the wild ones. All in all, it indicates that a fat tail is an indication of a healthy and full Leopard Gecko.
The plumping body can also indicate the same thing, but it might also indicate overeating or egg binding. To know if the plumpy body is due to sound health and enough food, you can hold your Leopard Gecko and try to feel its belly. If it is not irregular in shape or does not feel hard, you may consider it an indication of healthy eating.
In the case of overeating, there might be no visible distinction between their neck and body. A full, rounded bulge plump without these two cases may indicate that your Leopard Gecko is well fed.
When your Leopard gecko is well fed, it will not sit around in a certain place. You will see it moving and playing inside the tank. In the case of overeating, it might not move from one place to another and might become a bit slower while moving than usual.
The heat from sunlight or artificial light in the tank helps your Leopard Gecko digest their food correctly. If you see that your Gecko is absorbing heat from the warm side, it can be because it utilizes the heat to digest its food.
If they do not use any heat or go near the warm side after feeding, it might be because they do not have any food in their system, and it got digested naturally, without heat.
The healthy skin of the Leopard Gecko is another indication of healthy eating. The healthy skin won’t look dry or have any patches. It will also not cause any issues while the shedding and tail remain soft enough. These features will work as an indication of proper feedings.
Leopard Geckos are insectivores which means they tend to consume alive insects. They might also try to eat live creatures if those are in front of their eyes which might be dangerous. Hence there are some specific insects/creatures that Leopard geckos eat:
- Pinkies/ pinky mice
- Mealworms/ Silkworms
Crickets are one of the most common insects that are found and can be fed to your Gecko. Their constant chirping stimulates your Leopard Gecko to follow the sound when they are hungry and eat the crickets.
Crickets are a great source of protein, and it is also inexpensive and easily digestible. Camel crickets are one example of it. Their easy availability, digestible features, and inexpensiveness make crickets an excellent food source for the Gecko.
The number of crickets and their size are important factors before you put them in front of your lizard. If the crickets are too big, they will be challenging to consume for the Leopard Gecko. Moreover, a vast amount can also attack your pet, and overeating can cause serious health issues for your Gecko.
Make sure to choose small-sized crickets and feed them properly so that they don’t feed on your pet’s feces. Which may result in hatching eggs of crickets inside your pet’s stomach.
Around 01 to 05 crickets for baby Gecko and up to ten for adult Gecko (depending on their size) is enough.
An alternative to the crickets would be Locusts, filled with nutrition. But as they are expensive, you have to serve them in fewer quantities, such as 5-8 in total, to your Gecko.
Pinkies/ pinky mice
Pinkies/ pinky mice are another protein source for your Leopard Gecko. These pinkies contain a lot of fat, protein, and essential nutrients that are not advisable to consume daily. Hence these can be given to your Leopard Gecko once or twice a year according to their health condition. Otherwise, it may lead to obesity and other health issues.
Mealworms are considered a staple diet for your Leopard Gecko. These worms cannot fly or jump, hence can be kept at a particular place, and gut loading them with nutrition or protein can be a great help. Consuming them will allow your Geckos to gain the protein or nutrition from the mealworms.
The silkworms are also rich in nutrients and minerals, but they are pretty expensive with a small lifespan. Hence feeding them to your Leopard Gecko is possible only when you aren’t thinking about budget and can serve them in large quantities.
To keep your Leopard Gecko safe from dehydration, make sure a bowl of fresh water is always present in front of them. The bowl shouldn’t be too large or too small but an average size that can make them drink water quickly.
Other sources of nutrients
Apart from insects, there are other ways a Leopard Gecko can consume nutrients. You can either dust vitamin or calcium powders on them, making the nutrients go inside their body. Or you can choose a gut loading process to feed the bugs specific nutrients you want your Gecko to consume. This way, your pet will eat the bugs and gain nutritional value.
When you want to feed your Leopard Gecko, you can either put the appropriate amount of insects in their tank or use your hands to provide them the food. They will come to insects once those are placed in front of the Gecko’s eyes and eat them.
If you use your hands, hold the edge of the live insect and then pass it to your Gecko. Do not jerk off your hands when your pet takes the insect from your hands. It may startle the Gecko, and they may lose their tails too.
If they start overeating, make sure to take the food away from them slowly so that they don’t get aggressive during that time.
Your leopard Gecko might always seem hungry due to their age. The Geckos, which are newborns or just months old, tend to be hungry as they need nutrition to keep growing. The hatchlings do also need insects and other fleshy items to grow properly.
The adult might need less food yet seem hungry when they do not have enough energy to keep themselves activated.
Once you start petting a Leopard gecko, you would definitely need a timetable to provide food to them. Your Gecko’s age and weight are factors to be considered while offering them food.
|Age||Weight||Frequency of feeding||Required food amount|
|Born- 06 months||0-15gm or 15-30gm||Everyday||6-12 insects/ foods that can be finished in 15 mins|
|06- 12 months||30-60 gm||Every other day||12-16 insects/ foods that can be finished in 15 mins|
|12+ months||35-100+ gm||Every other/ every two three days||20 insects/ 02 insects per body length|
Leopard Geckos can go up to two weeks if they are adults. The young ones can survive for 10 days at least, and there are several reasons behind their hunger strikes.
Leopard geckos do go on hunger strikes due to several reasons. Their loss of appetite can leave them unfeed for several days, and they might have health issues and become weak.
There are several occasions when you observe that your Leopard Gecko is not eating properly. The most common reasons are improper tank setup or illness, but there are a few other reasons as well:
- Improper UV light setting
- Difficulty in shedding
- Cold tank
- Poor quality food supplements
Improper UVB light setting:
Setting up proper UVB light setting inside the tank is essential for helping Leopard Gecko absorb and synthesize vitamin D3 and calcium. Exposure to UVB light for 8-12 hours allows the Geckos to utilize vitamin D3, which is essential for keeping their bones strong. Moreover, the calcium also makes the bones denser, helping to avoid metabolic bone disorders.
Without this important source of light, your Leopard Gecko will become inactive and weak alongside suffering from bone diseases.
Difficulty in shedding
The skin peeling or shedding process is very uncomfortable for any reptile or lizard. You might see your Leopard gecko is not eating properly, which is very common during this time. They might rather eat their own skin during shedding as those contain nutritional values required for gaining energy for the process.
This Brumation period indicates when you might see your lizard Gecko being less active all the time. When the temperature falls below 70℉ or during rough environmental conditions, reptiles like the Leopard gecko might go through this phase for a few weeks to several months.
During this period, your Leopard Gecko might not eat or be active. This is also very natural, and to help them out, you can set the temperature to 75℉ and reduce the daylight time by 8-10hours. Thus, your Gecko might start eating again due to the perfect temperature.
If the tank temperature is below 70℉, as mentioned above, your Leopard Gecko might go through Brumation or stop eating food for slow metabolism. In warmer conditions, they can digest food faster, allowing them to eat more and look for prey. But due to the cold tank floor or tank itself, they might not eat properly.
Impaction is the condition when the digestive tract of Leos gets blocked due to different substrates such as sand, dirt, or mud in the tank. This makes their whole digestive system slow down and also causes death. Hence, they do not like to eat, which results in reduced feces, weight loss, and lethargic movements.
Using newspaper or replacing the substrates with reptile carpet might help avoid this issue.
Poor quality food supplements
Living organisms need good quality food, and Leopard Gecko requires the same. If their food supplements do not include enough protein sources or calcium, they might start losing interest in having them. Hence, adding crickets, mealworms, or calcium dusted insects might help your Gecko regain its appetite and energy.
Parasites can be born in dirty enclosures or in the food, and they can attack the blood of your Leopard Gecko. This will lead to disruption in the digestive system and disrupt their appetite as well. If you suspect your Leo to have internal parasites, you may take it to a vet to remove those parasites as soon as possible. This will again help them generally eat within a few days.
It basically depends on the Gecko itself. If the Gecko is very hungry or a lot of food is kept in front of them, they might not stop eating even after they’re full. In this case, you must look at their belly and the distinction between their body and neck. If the stomach seems full, make sure to take the food away from them.
In some cases, however, the Geckos understand when to stop eating when they become full.
A Leopard gecko will never starve itself to a point where they become weak or come closer to death. They may go on hunger strikes or stop eating due to illness or inappropriate tank setup but won’t starve to death. They will try to consume food again when they want energy, or their surroundings become good enough.
Your Leopard Geckos might show certain visible signs at times, which will help you know if your Leopard Gecko is hungry. If you have them as your pet, keep an eye on their behaviors and feed them proper meals according to their size and weight.
If they show any signs of hunger strikes, check the entire tank ambiance or go to a vet. This is how you can feed them when they need and pet them properly.