What Do Geckos Eat? Is Their Favorite Food French 'Flies'?

Joan Agie
Feb 29, 2024 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Nov 05, 2021
Cute leopard gecko eats cockroach on a white background
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.9 Min

Like other lizards, gecko lizards are also predatory animals while in the wild, which means gecko foods should be similar in captivity too.

Wouldn't you like to know what geckos eat or what these species of reptiles eat so that you can take good care of your new pet? Read to the end, and let us help you feed your gecko the right food.

Geckos keep a good check on insects, which is why they are also considered a beneficial visitor. Usually, geckos are best bred in tropical regions, but even so, if you want to adopt one, make sure you give it a warm atmosphere at home. Geckos require less maintenance than some other reptiles and are friendly, cuddling pets. So, before you welcome one, prepare your pantry with the right food by reading the remaining article.

After reading all about what geckos eat, make sure that you check out how long do crested geckos live and African fat tailed gecko.

What do common house geckos eat?

Wild geckos eat a variety of small insects, which they can easily overpower as they are small. You can feed your house gecko a variety of foods, which are more or less alike. Usually, house geckos prey on small insects near their light source, like a bulb or a tube light. Because they are small, they are easy targets.

A variety of small prey items should be offered to house geckos. Fruit flies, worms (like silkworms and mealworms), and other insects (like crickets) make up the majority of their diet, as they provide good nutrition. This helps in taking good care of their health by feeding them healthy food. Their diet is important; you need to make sure that your house gecko has a balanced and nutritional diet that consists of vitamins as well as other nutrients available in foods. It's important so they can reach their full life expectancy and maintain good health.

Fruit flies, worms, other small flies, silkworms, waxworms, occasional mealworms, crickets could be added as main ingredients in a house gecko's food platter. Besides this, gut loading is best prior to feeding your gecko. Gut loading is a method by which you first feed the insect and then serve that insect to your pet, in this case, your gecko. Gut-loaded insects are a good source of nutrients for your gecko. Aside from feeding geckos with gut-loaded prey, dusting them with calcium and vitamin supplements two to three times a week, and giving the prey a dusting of multivitamin supplements once a week is important.

In the case of roaches, worms, and crickets, these treats should be provided only on rare occasions and not every day. When you give these foods to your gecko, you will notice that it is happy and healthy.

A substrate is a base on which an organism lives (in a tank or a cage). Reptile carpet, excavator mud, or coconut husk are the finest substrates used for leopard geckos in a tank or a cage. If you're on a tight budget, you can also use paper towels as a substrate in their tank. Despite their origins in dry desert environments, they require drinking water to survive just like any other living creature. Leopard geckos drink water and should always have a dish of fresh water nearby in their tank.

What do geckos eat besides bugs?

Geckos eat a variety of insects and bugs which they can easily overpower, like mealworms, silkworms, waxworms, and mosquitoes. Unlike other species of geckos, which depend upon a healthy diet, the leopard gecko is one such species that feed on live insects.

It's true that leopard geckos need a variety of live insects as their food but do not ever feed them with any kind of fresh fruits or vegetables. Wild leopard geckos feed upon a wide range of insects that they can easily hunt; however in captivity, geckos eat a variety of commercially available insects like crickets, super worms, mealworms, waxworms, spiders, and roaches. Remember to feed a prey insect 24 hours before you feed it to your gecko with high-quality food. This way, you will give good nutrients to your gecko. Also, after feeding geckos with live insects, remove those left uneaten immediately.

How Much And When To Feed Your Gecko

Now that you're sure about what your gecko loves to eat, different people might confuse you with different food measurements. We know you want your house leopard gecko to stay healthy and live a long life, and that's why we're here to help to decide how much to feed it as well as when to feed it.

If geckos are below one year old, they are referred to as baby leopard geckos and should be fed one meal every day.  However, geckos over one year old are referred to as adult leopard geckos. Adult geckos can be fed every other day. As for the quality, there's a hard and fast rule about the diet of adult geckos. You surely would not want to overfeed your leopard gecko, and so feed leopard geckos two insects per inch. Leaving the tail, measure from its nose tip to the base of the tail and then calculate respectively. Once you've measured the length of your leopard gecko, you'll be able to feed your leopard gecko appropriately as your lizard grows. Although these reptiles consume water through condensed water droplets, you can also keep a shallow tray filled with fresh water in which they can soak.

Leopard gecko standing on a rock.

Foods That Geckos Should Not Eat

Feeding your pet animals with the right kind of food is a must. When it comes to feeding geckos, they already have a not-so-common dietary habit. Feeding animals such as geckos with the wrong food might lead to serious health issues. In general, these reptiles should not be fed with plant-based food items or insects caught in your backyard or garden.

Common house geckos or leopard geckos are insectivores and thus do not have any mechanisms or enzymes to digest plant-based foods like vegetables or fruits. What you can do instead is to gut load the prey with vegetables or fruits and let your pet lizard digest them. This way, they get those nutrients indirectly through their prey's bodies. Geckos or leopard geckos feed upon insects, but they should not be fed with insects caught from your garden or backyard. Insects caught at home might contain parasites or insecticides which might harm your gecko. If you've got no shop nearby which supplies reptile food, you can order reptile food online, but in any case, refrain from feeding geckos with insects caught in the garden.

What size food should I feed my gecko?

When it comes to feeding geckos, you can feed them with insects from pet shops. Not all lizards should eat the same size of insects. Let's find out what size of insects geckos can eat.

Since baby geckos are tender, they should be fed with crickets that are around 0.25 in (0.63 cm) in size. However, you can feed juvenile geckos with crickets of a slightly bigger size. For juvenile geckos, the optimum size of cricket to feed them is 0.5 in (1.27 cm). If geckos are older than a year, they are referred to as adult geckos, and you need not follow many rules to feed them. From small adult-sized crickets to adult crickets, the rule is not to feed adult geckos with insects larger than the distance between their two eyes. If you've adopted a gecko in the baby stage or in the juvenile stage, make sure that you feed them appropriate-sized crickets. Some hours before feeding any bug to your gecko, feed that insect a nutritious diet. This will deliver all the nutrition to the reptile directly.

Can geckos eat fruit and vegetables?

If you're bored of feeding your gecko with insects and mealworms and want to know if it can eat fruits and vegetables, let's help you out. In this section, you'll get to know why it is not suitable to feed geckos or leopard geckos with plant-based food items.

Common house geckos or leopard geckos are insectivores and should not be fed with fruits and vegetables. The reason behind this is that their body structure and functions are not customized to digest the cellulose and nutrients directly eaten from vegetables or fruits. Many people show that geckos or leopard geckos can eat fruits and vegetables but, if you plan to pet a gecko for a long time,  it is recommended for you to refrain from feeding it with fruits and vegetables. Some people also believe that their jaw structure has evolved in such a way that they can only feed upon insects. A gecko's digestive tract is smaller and alkaline, so it cannot digest plant-based nutrients. Due to this, there's no reason to feed them fruits and vegetables. Hence it is best for common house geckos or leopard geckos to eat insects as their regular diet. You can gut feed the prey with fruits and vegetables!

What food is toxic to geckos?

While a common house gecko or leopard gecko is becoming more common as a pet, it's necessary to understand its feeding habits. They are loving pets to have, but you have to be careful about toxic gecko food while giving them treats. Once you understand what to feed,  how to feed, and when to feed your pet gecko, you won't ever find it hard to do so. As already discussed, there are some things that should be fed to them and some things that should not be,  but there are also some things and insects which really are toxic and poisonous to your gecko.

Although common house geckos and leopard geckos feed upon insects and bugs, there are bugs with a bioluminescence function in their bodies which are highly poisonous for this lizard pet. Bugs that light up have a special chemical in their bodies, which, if fed to your gecko, might be venomous for geckos. Besides flies like fireflies and lightning bugs, insects caught in the wild can be dangerous. There are two views on this.  Some believe that wild-caught bugs and insects are a good source of nutrients. There are people who do not recommend feeding geckos with insects caught in the wild. The reason is that they may contain certain traces of pesticides or parasites that are harmful to geckos. Even so, if you want to feed them with wild-caught animals, make sure you have in-depth knowledge about the bug or insect and whether it can be fed to your gecko.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestion's for 'What do geckos eat? Is their favorite food 'French flies'?' why not take a look at 'What do garden snakes eat?', or 'What do flies eat?'

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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