What Can My Gargoyle Gecko Eat?
(photo credit Jonathon's Jungle Roadshow)
There are only very few reptiles where it should be advocated for the main part of the reptile's diet to be made up by a commercially available pre-prepared products over fresh food. Usually, fresh food is a much better option as it's generally healthier, and a lot of the commercial products contain additives and fillers that can be detrimental to the reptile's health.
However, as is with the case of the New Caledonian or Gargoyle Gecko, there has been extensive research done on formulating a type of product that has been proven to fulfill their nutritional needs and enable them to thrive in captivity. The Gargoyle Gecko is one of the species that we have been unable to learn a lot about their diet in the wild, so we have had to go off of what we do now and trial and error over the time they have been in captivity. Thanks to some intelligent researchers and nutritionists, they have determined what we can do best to maintain their health. See here for our gargoyle gecko care sheet for more general information on their care.
Powdered Gecko Diets
The powder needs to be mixed with water until it is a thick smoothie-like consistency; the instructions should be clear enough (usually around two to three parts water to one part of the powder mix) and offer in small disposable feeder cups. Since they tend to prefer eating off the ground, you can use a suction cup ledge to put the cups up higher for them and hold the bowls in place.
How Often Should My Gargoyle Gecko Eat?
- Hatchling (0 - 12 weeks) - Fresh food 2 - 3 times per day
- Juvenile (12 months – 18 months) Fresh food once time per day
- Subadult (12 – 24 months) Fresh food once time per day
- Adult (24+ months) Fresh food every other day
Since the food is somewhat messy, they can often get this all over themselves, and this can dry on their paws and skin, and if left, it can cause problems with stuck shed and just general sanitary issues. So be sure to keep an eye on your gecko and clean them off with warm water and a q-tip if you need to, this is important to do as soon as you notice it to avoid any potential issues.
See below for some suggested powdered gecko food mixes you can use, there are a few available on the market, and not all are the best for them. The best are recognized brands from reputable suppliers. Crested gecko diet can also be used for gargoyle geckos since they are so similar in dietary requirements.
- Zoo Med Complete Gecko Diet Watermelon
- Zoo Med Complete Gecko Diet Tropical
- Repashy Gecko Meal Replacement Powder
- Pangea Gecko Diet Fig & Insects
- Exo-Terra Day Gecko Pre-Mixed Food
Many keepers have had a lot of success with sticking to the same food that the gecko was raised on if you can find out what that was. However, it is best to keep a range of types and flavors on hand, not just to keep them interested but also to provide a variation of the kinds of nutrients and ingredients that are given to your gargoyle gecko.
Can I Use Baby Food Instead?
Unfortunately not, baby foods can contain a lot of preservatives and additives, as well as artificial colors and flavors. Baby food is supposed to be for humans, so the nutrients contained in the baby food isn't prepared for reptiles, as opposed to the prepared gecko foods which have been formulated for your reptile.
Can I give my gecko fresh fruit?
Certain fruits can be offered to your gecko as an occasional treat, as well as certain homemade smoothie mixes made from the correct fruits. Do not provide fruit too often, or you can risk malnutrition, over-hydration, which can lead to diarrhea, you can also ruin their appetite for the diet powder that gives them the best balance of nutrition. The correct fruits that are able to be fed to gargoyle geckos are high in calcium and low in phosphorous. You will often find that fruit tends to be the opposite, and the over-consumption of these can cause calcium deficiency over time.
Certain fruits should be fed very rarely or better yet just avoided completely. Citrus fruits are generally not very palatable for reptiles and are also very acidic, which can hurt their stomachs. Starfruit is high in oxalates and should be avoided, as is rhubarb, which can be deadly to them because of the high oxalate levels. Avocado should be avoided as it is poisonous to them.
Can I Feed My Gargoyle Gecko Insects?
Certain pre-prepared powders already contain dried bugs (Pangea Gecko Diet Fig & Insects), technically if you are using these, then you do not have to feed your gargoyle gecko live feeders). But live feeders do make a great source of enrichment for your gecko; they can help fatten your gecko up should you need to, and they make for a fun way to interact with your gecko and help them to trust you and see you as a source of food.
When using a pre-prepared food mix as their main diet, offer insects two-three times per week for all ages of gecko, just ensure that they are size appropriate. Baby geckos should have x-small/small size bugs, juvenile small/medium bugs and adults can have medium/large bugs.
Safe feeder insectsStaples (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)
You should NEVER feed your gecko any wild-caught bugs; these can be contaminated with pesticides, be riddled with disease, and also be infected with parasites that can be passed onto your gecko. This includes any bugs that you may have found in your house.
Supplementation is an essential part of your gecko's diet if you are feeding live bugs; they should be dusted with calcium and calcium plus D3. Since you are not going to be feeding your gecko bugs that often you only need to dust one bug feeding per week, one week with calcium, then the next week dust with the calcium plus D3 supplement. You only need to use a pinch of supplement per feeding. Overdoing it can lead to over-supplementation, which can be harmful.
Our favorite calcium supplements for gargoyle geckos are:
- Repti-Calcium without vitamin D3
- Exo-Terra Calcium Powder without D3
- Exo-Terra Calcium Powder Plus D3
- Zoo Med Calcium Powder Plus D3
Some places will tell you that if you are using a UVB light, then you don't need to supplement with D3. But you should ALWAYS be using a UVB light for your reptile regardless. See our care sheet on gargoyle geckos for more information on their general setup and lighting.
Gut-loading is another critical aspect of gecko care should you be feeding live insects. Gut-loading is the process of feeding your live bugs with items that are safe and nutritious for your gargoyle gecko a couple of days before feeding them off to your reptile. You can use fresh greens such as collard, mustard, and mustard greens, various squash like butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squash. The best way to gut-load your feeders would be to use a pre-prepared product such as the ones listed below.
Can Gargoyle Geckos Eat Small Animals?
Yes. One of the primary differences between gargoyle geckos and leopard geckos is that in the wild, gargoyle geckos are known to eat small prey such as baby lizards. This means that they can be offered small prey once in a while as a part of their overall diet. The only thing that you can use in captivity is pinkie mice. These are small newborn mice that have not yet developed bones or hair so that they can be digested. You can offer them a pinkie mouse once or twice a month as a rare treat. This is particularly useful if you have a gecko that is needing to be fattened up for some reason, such as if they have just been gravid and are lacking fat in their diet. You need to be very careful that you only offer these rare, or they can contribute to your gecko becoming obese or having other weight-related health issues.
Giving Water To My Gargoyle Gecko
Gargoyle geckos can easily be offered water in a bowl, unlike some other species. Simply offer them a bowl of water alongside your prepared gecko mix bowl, and they will drink out of it as and when they need to.