Leopard geckos are insectivores, meaning they can eat just about any insects ranging from crickets to grasshoppers as long as they are alive. Grasshoppers make a tasty meal for pet geckos, serving the required nutrients needed to keep your pet healthy and strong. As a breeder, here are some of the things to consider first before placing this insect inside your leopard gecko’s tank.
Can leopard geckos eat grasshoppers?
Farm raised grasshoppers are best for your leopard gecko as wild caught are likely to be toxic due to milkweed diet. It is also hard to tell if wild caught insects have parasites or any traces of pesticides. Feeding your pet gecko wild caught grasshoppers puts them at a higher risk of illness.
Leopard geckos are adaptable insectivores that will eat whatever they can catch or find. They will however, try to eat any animal small enough that fits in their mouth.
Grasshoppers make a nice meal for geckos and provide the required nutrients but are calcium deficient like most insects. Before feeding your gecko grasshoppers or other insects, you should supplement the insects with calcium.
Leopard geckos have a heightened sense of smell and can spot prey easily with their sharp eyesight making them great hunters. These primary insectivores should be fed on prey that is 100% alive.
When feeding your gecko grasshoppers, ensure the insect is not too big for him. You can do this by estimating the size of your pet’s mouth comparing it to the size of the insect. Baby geckos are fed on much smaller insects as adult geckos are able to eat a larger sized grasshopper. Pick the right size insects for your gecko to avoid giving them a hard time eating.
Geckos naturally store fats in their tail and if not well monitored, the pet can easily become obese from excessive feeding. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to regulate the amount of food given to the reptile in order to prevent obesity.
Leopard gecko’s tail should always be bigger than its body with a flat stomach unless after a full feed.
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Nutritional value of grasshoppers
A well-balanced meal with proper nutrition keeps your leopard gecko healthy and energetic throughout their life.
Insects and worms vary in nutritional value, some have more than others while others have almost none. The main nutrients value to consider while feeding your gecko are proteins, fat, fiber and ash. Here are each of the important nutrient’s grasshoppers have:
Protein has important nutrients for body building, maintaining muscles and is a top requirement in leopard gecko’s diet. The reptile geckos require protein in their diet not only for body building but also for energy and organ functioning. Protein in grasshoppers help injured geckos heal and including it in your pet’s diet also helps in repairing of cells and maintenance.
Grasshoppers have a 20% protein level which makes the insects a good fit to include in your pet gecko’s diet.
A diet with high fats is unhealthy for leopard geckos because the fat as a nutrient gives your reptile very high energy. Grasshoppers have 2 % of saturated fat making them ideal for your reptile. You should not completely exclude fat from your pet’s diet since the gecko require fats for:
- Absorption of vitamins such as A, D and E
- Maintaining internal body temperature
- Fat stored is used during the brumation period when leopard geckos stop feeding
- Geckos also use fats for egg laying
- Geckos’ internal organs are cushioned by fats
Fiber or carbohydrates
Fiber comes from the exoskeletons of insects known as chitin. Fiber in insects is normally in high amounts which leads to digestion problems when fed in excess and often. Grasshoppers provide 5% of fiber in gecko’s meal.
Insectivores such as leopard geckos digest higher levels of chitin compared to other animals but should not be fed on a regular or in large amounts. This might lead to future digestion complications in your gecko.
It is important to also note that chitin is not measured by the softness or hardness of the insect’s skeleton.
Ash consists of the parts of the insect that are not fat, fiber or proteins. Ash is grouped as the minerals, metals and salts of an insect. There is 1% of ash content in grasshoppers which is just about right for a well-balanced meal for your pet gecko.
How many grasshoppers to feed your leopard gecko
When choosing what feeder insects to use, variety is key. Feeder insects vary in nutritional value where some contain more fats while others contain more proteins.
It is recommended to feed your gecko 6-8 grasshoppers a day and ensure the size of the grasshopper is not too big for your gecko. The grasshoppers should be farm-raised to avoid possible illness from wild caught grasshoppers.
Pet geckos, when fed excessively or insects with a lot of fat content, easily gain weight because of their low activity levels and in their tanks. As a breeder, you should research on the best food for your leopard gecko and feed them on a schedule.
Hatchlings and baby geckos normally grow faster than adult geckos due to frequent feeding. Baby leopard geckos do eat a handful of insects and have a very high metabolism. Due to their rapid growth and development, they need to eat more often than the adult geckos, preferably per day.
Generally, juvenile baby geckos should be fed as many insects as they can eat to aid their rapid growth. Feeding time should not take more than 10 minutes and any food remaining food should be taken out of the tank.
Food should be given late in the day as geckos are active during this hour while a normal eating schedule for your geckos should be:
- 0-6 months gecko, everyday feeding
- 6-12months gecko, skip a day of feeding
- Over a year, every 3-4 days of feeding.
- Sickly geckos should be fed at least every once a day until they regain their strength.
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