What Can Crested Geckos Eat?
Crested Geckos are one of the more popular pets available when it comes to reptiles. One of the reasons for this is that they have a relatively easy-care level making them ideal for newbie owners and experienced owners alike, and one of the reasons for this is their pretty simple diet compared to other reptile species. These geckos are omnivorous animals; when they are in their natural habitat, their diet contains both plant-based food in the form of various fruits, and protein in the form of insects. However, there hasn't been a lot of research done on them while they are in their natural environment; the research is mostly based on what can be determined by their behavior in captivity and what we can deduce, for example, since they are nocturnal. We can assume that since they are insectivorous, they will eat bugs that come out at night, such as roaches, moths, and spiders. We have also been able to observe that they will consume fruit and flower nectar as part of their regular diet. Since being in captivity, research has determined what the best diet is comprised of for them at this point, as time goes on research may change however we know what we can offer them to give them a long and healthy life, read on to find out what to feed your pet gecko.
Live Feeders For Your Crested Gecko
Dubia roaches are one of the best live feeders for your crested gecko; they should be your primary feeder. You can also feed crickets which are nutritionally acceptable for them, just ensure that you source them from a reputable supplier to avoid getting crickets that are infected with parasites. You can also feed your crested gecko super worms, nutrigrubs, mealworms, wax worms, and silkworms to supplement your staple feeders. Be careful with the size of the insect you feed; they should be no bigger than the space between the eyes for insects with high amounts of chitin like superworms and mealworms, for softer feeders like hornworms and wax worms they can be a little bigger. If you feed insects that are too big, you risk impaction for your crested gecko.
When choosing the appropriate feeder insect for your gecko, it's vital to take into account the nutrients that each insect contains and what that nutrition can do for the long term health of your gecko. Staple bugs can be fed every feeding, while treats can be fed once or twice a week. See below for a list of insects for your gecko.
Staples (2-3 times per week):
Treats (Once per week):
- Hornworms (high in nutrients but also high in hydration, can cause diarrhea)
- Waxworms (Well rounded nutrition but very high in fat)
- Butterworms (High in fat)
- Mealworms (Hard chitin)
NEVER feed your crested gecko wild-caught bugs, they can be contaminated with pesticides and carry nasty diseases and be infested with parasites. Always source your live feeder insects from a reputable supplier.
Some keepers forgo a diet of live insects for their gecko altogether. As we mentioned above, the diet of the crested gecko in the wild hasn't been studied all that well, yet a diet plan has been determined that gives them optimum health pertaining to their needs. The primary diet of the crested gecko consists of a pre-made commercial product powder mix called "complete gecko diet," for the sake of this article, we will refer to this as "CGD." The best diet for your gecko should include both live feeders as well as CGD, but some crested geckos are known to live healthy lives, just consuming the complete gecko diet formula.
CGD has been designed to provide all the nutrients that your crested gecko requires. This includes fat, protein, and also vitamins and minerals needed to sustain your crested gecko's health and longevity. A few CGD products exist on the market from which to choose. You need to ensure that you get the "complete gecko diet," not a product meant to supplement their diet in some other way, some are simply used in conjunction with other parts of their diet to add nutrients that they may be missing. Some of the products contain dried bugs; these are recommended to provide a product that meets their dietary needs, but there are plenty without dried bugs which are just as good.
Your crested gecko needs feeding the CGD by adding it to a small bowl and leaving it in their enclosure three or four times a week; CGD by itself can provide a healthy diet for your Crested gecko, and they can survive on it alone. See below for some options for different CGD products.
- Pangea Fruit Mix w/Insects CGD
- Pangea Apricot Fruit Mix CGD
- Pangea Fruit Mix Watermelon Mango CGD
- Pangea Fruit Mix Banana Papaya CGD
Gut loading your feeder insects is a necessary part of any reptile's diet to keep them healthy and to help them live longer lives. Gut-loading is the process of feeding your insects with safe salad items you would choose to feed your gecko so that the nutrients are passed onto the gecko through the insect of choice. Ensure that you gut-load your feeders for at least 2-3 days before feeding them off to your gecko. A more effective way to gut-load your feeders is to use a pre-made product formulated for this purpose, see below for suggestions on products you can use to feed your insects and gut-load them.
Your live feeder insects should be supplemented using a high-quality calcium supplement; unlike other reptiles, this is the only supplement you will need for your crested gecko. You should lightly dust every other feeding when using live insects. Alternatively, if using CGD, you can also leave a small bowl of the calcium supplement inside your gecko's enclosure for them to consume the powder as needed. Most geckos will regulate the amount they need themselves; however, if you notice that they are showing signs of over-supplementation such as their urate being chalky, then you should take the supplement out of their diet until things return to normal. See below for high-quality calcium supplements for your gecko.
Crested geckos do not readily recognize standing water sources like a bowl within their tank. Instead, they hydrate themselves by licking droplets from the sides of their tank and also from the various items within their enclosure. For this reason, you should mist their enclosure daily to ensure there is always water on offer for your gecko. You can use a regular hand spray bottle, or you can opt for a pressurized spray bottle such as gardeners use. You can use regular tap water, although some areas may be cleaner than others, and if you are unsure whether your water may be safe, then you can use a dechlorinating agent to treat your water first. See below for a high-quality product to use for treating your crested gecko's drinking water.
Why Is My Crested Gecko Not Eating
Crested geckos are usually voracious eaters, so if they are not eating, then there may be a severe problem, and it is essential to figure out what could be going on. Here are some reasons your gecko may have a reduced appetite or no appetite at all.
As with all reptiles, geckos need the correct temperature gradients in their enclosure to be able to digest, and if these are not correct, this will lead to digestion issues and, in turn, will affect their appetite. Temperature is an easy problem to rectify and will just require you to adjust their setup and lighting accordingly. Generally, their temps should be kept between 68°F-80°F, and anything higher or lower may cause problems. See our guide on how to care for your crested gecko for more detailed information on their setup and care.
Since geckos are primarily captive-bred, parasites are not as common a problem as they can be with some other reptiles. However, any reptile can always be affected. If your gecko has a reduced appetite, is acting lethargic, their stools are funnier than usual, messy, unformed, and/or unusually smelly, then this can mean that your gecko has parasites. If you suspect that this is the case, then you will need to get this diagnosed by a vet to determine the correct course of medication for your reptile. You mustn't try and treat this at home, or you could end up doing more harm than good. Your vet will want to see a fecal sample, so if you can make an appointment for a fecal exam, obtain a fecal sample from your pet within 24 hours of the appointment by saving the stool sample in a sealed baggie and placing it in the fridge. Then you will need to bring this to your vet at the time of the appointment.
A bacterial infection will make your pet feel unwell and can easily affect their appetite. Poor hygiene practices usually cause these, so always ensure to keep your reptile's enclosure as clean and sanitary as possible and always make sure that you wash your hands before and after handling your reptile. The symptoms of a bacterial infection are similar to that of a parasite infection, and they will also need the help of a licensed vet to determine what the problem is and the course of treatment necessary.
High Stress Levels
Stress can cause any animal to stop eating, including your crested gecko. To try and reduce stress levels for your gecko to ensure that they are housed correctly, temperatures and lighting are on point and that you're not handling your gecko too much. Always ensure that your gecko has plenty of places to hide in their enclosure and reduce handling if your gecko is showing signs of stress. Geckos can also be stressed by the presence of another gecko, which is why they should be housed separately.
Geckos can refuse food if they are getting ready to secure a mate or if they are developing eggs. Your male may be more interested in trying to seek out a potential female to breed with if you suspect this is the case, then just leave them be for a few days, and he should calm down. If you have a female and they may be gravid or preparing to be, they can also refuse food, again this should resolve itself within a few days.