Foster Gecko

I’m fostering this little lady for a rescue. I own a lot of reptiles but my first gecko and first with any health issues. She lived on a very thick layer of sand with no lights for a year. Wasn’t fed food with calcium. Her legs shake while walking. I’m having problems getting her to eat her food with calcium on it. Any advice would be awesome. Thanks!


If you stroke the bottom of a leopard gecko’s jaw, they’ll open their mouth. You could try placing the dusted bug in her mouth then but I’d imagine she might just spit it out. It’d give her a little calcium tho. Iirc, reptisafe not only dechlorinates water but also adds electrolytes and calcium to it as well. Black soldier fly larvae are also high in calcium. You’d need a uvb light for her to make use of that calcium of course.


Yes she has a uvb but isn’t used to the light so doesn’t want to come out of her hide (yes I know nocturnal but from what I’ve read she’s still not active) I do have calcium with d3 too, would that be better or no? I’ve given her time to adjust. Knowing this is completely new for her also just want to make sure she’s getting what she needs.

You’re supposed to give them a dish of one kind of calcium (I think without d3) and dust their feeders with a different kind (I think with d3). You could try mixing calcium in her water though you have to make sure she is drinking it.


Oh I didn’t know that! Thank you! I’ll be adding to the water and doing the 2 dishes.

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I don’t use a light with my geckos. Under tank heater is best with a thermostat. Mine stay in their hides most of the time. So it is not unusual.
I put calcium with d3 on their food. Whether it is mealworms or crickets.
I will give them waxworms for a treat sometimes. They love those. It is like candy to them. Can’t feed to many. Just as a treat. I get mine large or xl mealworms. I put reptichip or ground up coco dirt for substrate. I have had my girls for a long time. If they are ovulating they will not eat a whole lot if anything for a while. Hope this helps.


Thank you :blush: I give all my reptiles at least a coil uvb bulb. Even my ball pythons. On timers. I try to mimic natural environment no matter what. They have day and night with the sun so I do the same. Amazon is my best friend :rofl:

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You don’t need to dust then…
If your using the UVB.
I use Osteo Form SA and Vionate
1:1 ratio

Dusting is over rated. Your gecko knows if it needs calcium. Plus the light will help with syncing its Cicadian Rhythm. Which in turns helps its appetite


@mblaney do you need to dust their bugs even when using uvb? All the lizards I have learned about that need uvb still need their food dusted (not just for calcium, but d3 and multivitamin every few days).

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The answer to that is complicated. I was trying to keep mum because I disagree with some of what’s been said and I don’t know if I feel up to defending my position as thoroughly as is warranted. :wink: So I’ll totally chime in with my two cents- I just don’t know if my hands will hold up to lengthy debate/if my explanation will be up to par (I have CRPS in both hands), so I apologize for that. I have taken pain meds already today, so I hope I don’t sound loopy.

Basically, (a lot of) UVB is needed to produce vitamin D if it is not given as a supplement. Vitamin D is needed to properly process calcium, true. BUT you need the calcium to be there- vitamin D does not magically produce calcium. So, even if your gecko somehow spends 100% of its time under UVB, if its food doesn’t have the necessary ratio of 2:1 (2 calcium : 1 phosphorus), it will eventually have major medical problems. You also have to provide enough calcium- the calcium has to be there to absorb.

Most feeder insects provide nowhere near enough calcium naturally, and their ratio of Ca: P is incorrect. There are exceptions (e.g., BSFL) though. Now, is there still a possible work-around to provide that calcium…?

The answer is ‘kinda.’ Via gutloading insects, you can affect the quality of nutrients you are providing them. In theory, if your gutload completely corrects the Ca:P balance, AND provides ALL necessary trace minerals, vitamins, etc., AND provides enough calcium total, then, sure, UVB & this theoretical, magical gutload would be sufficient. However, this doesn’t ever work out, long-term:

  • Leopard geckos are nocturnal and UVB has to be directly absorbed. They do not generally spend enough time out during natural daylight hours.
  • This ‘magical gutload’ does not exist. Published research has been done (I’m sorry, I’m not up to hunting down my references today), and multiple commercial ‘gutloading’ diets failed to provide enough Ca total and/or provide a correct ratio Ca:P ratio in crickets.

Bottom Line

  • What to feed: BSFL are the best commonly-used prey item. Hornworms (small ones), silkworms, dubia, and crickets (though these are tricky) are able to be corrected so as to be quality nutrtion. Superworms/mealworms should not be used long term. Butterworms & wax worms should never be given regularly.

  • Gutloading: Gutload them as is species appropriate (this varies A LOT, I am currently working on a leo caresheet, I’ll try to get it done faster.) Best gutload diets = Repashy Superload & Mazuri Hi-Calcium Cricket Diet +/- T-Rex’s Calcium Plus. This should be the only food available to your insects for 12-24 hours before being fed to your leos.

  • Dust: Dust them as is species appropriate. This will vary a lot as well, and is also the most hotly debated thing when it comes to food. For all species of feeder insect, I recommend Repashy Calcium Plus be dusted ~1x/week- this has both vitamins & calcium. Whether to also use a calcium dust with or without vitamin D on other days will vary by species. If you’re going to make an overall, blanket recommendation re: Ca dusting, I’d err on the side of caution and advise calcium given with vitamin D ~1-2x/week, and given without vitamin D 1-2x/week

Random added stuff:

  • Make sure your feeder insects are adequately hydrated. Food moisture content is a vital part of keeping a leo healthy.
  • Gutloading diets should be used for ~12-24h before being fed out, but insects you are raising or keeping for longer than that need to be kept on a maintenance diet- gutloading is only for gutloading, not for keeping insects in general.
  • Do not feed dubia a mantenance or gutloading diet with a protein precentage over 20%, preferably a little lower. Dubia that have been fed too much protein can contribute to gout in the reptiles that eat them, especially if they are not properly hydrated.
  • Excess Ca, (without concurrently giving excess vitamin D) has not been documented as being harmful. It is my understanding that vitamin D must also be given excessively in order for the excess calcium to be harmful.
  • Decent multivitamin with = Reptivite, Repashy Vitamin A are both good general vitamin supplements. Vitamin A in particular is often involved with shedding problems.
  • Hornworms and silkworms are generally more nutritious when fed chow than when fed leaves.
  • UVB has been shown to be beneficial to nocturnal reptiles at times, but it’s not a sufficient, reliable source of vitamin D.
  • Breeders do not usually the same animal for decades, so they are not necessarily good sources of information when it comes to what is healthy in the long-term. Breeders have an interest in boosting short-term production, and do not see the negative long-term health ramifications.
  • Feeding dubia long-term can result in allergic reactions in humans, and uneaten crickets can grievously wound your gecko.

TL, DR: Blanket recommendations that should be tailored to reflect each individual gecko’s husbandry situation:
-Repashy Calcium Plus 1x/week
-Calcium w/vit.D 1-2x/week
-Calcium withOUT vit.D at minimum 1x/week.
-Gutload appropriately 12-24 hours before feeding feeder insects off, every single time
-UVB ok, possibly helpful if creates a natural daylight cycle. Unknown if harmful to the eyes of albino leos, but anecdotally can cause them stress.

I have the feeling that I’m forgetting something, but I hope that helps. Until I finish my leo caresheet, I need to avoid taking the time to write out these long answers, since they take me so bloomin’ long for medical reasons. :woman_facepalming:


This is just incredible…

If I get a Leo at least I will have a good source of knowledge, thanks @mblaney!

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Just to add coil type uvb bulbs are kinda tough to use. They don’t spread out the uvb creating very high uvi which can lead to skin issues. Try led lights for day/ night cycles on your crepuscular and nocturnal animals.

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I’m dusting. My question was more how to get her to eat them because for a year she didn’t have it and is not used to it.

Thank you :blush:

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This is my view about the lighting. I keep my leopard geckos in a room so it gets natural light cycles. I’m copying and pasting from a very well know source and will post link so you can read it first hand to make sure I didn’t alter it.

Lighting - I’ve added this section since there seems to be a lot of confusion around it. Leopard geckos do not require any special type of lighting. That being said, they should be given some low light to replicate a day/night cycle, but that is all that is required. A simple window in the room or low artificial lighting works just fine. UV is not necessary for this species as long as they are supplemented correctly (with D3). I have never kept a leopard gecko with UV and the same goes for most breeders. I have bred many generations of healthy geckos this way with absolutely no issues. In fact. the longest lived leopard gecko in captivity was never given any UV light.

In a vivarium you can add some low light for aesthetics. Make sure that you give extra cover for hiding as the geckos will want to avoid the light. New LED light options have made this a nice alternative to our previous heat bulb options.

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They are in a reptile room that has no windows. So like I said I use a small uvb. I was just asking for help on how to get her to eat with the dust because she won’t and this post has turned into something else. It’s ok though… a vet is adopting her.

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I was just educating. And it was from a well know leopard gecko breeder/ expert. I actually lost a friend on Facebook about this topic. She was 25 and thought she was a leopard gecko/ reptile expert because she was a manager of a pet store that didn’t employ anyone with reptile experience. So when I copied and pasted same information I added it was from a well know breeder and expert . She took offense. Wasn’t a loss to me. I was just informing. People just get their panties in a bunch just like with this post.

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Ok? Again my question wasn’t addressed? A reptile that hasn’t been fed with any dusting that won’t eat with dusting because they aren’t used to it is an issue. I have taken suggestions from others. I’m sorry my light comment got people confused about my question. Thank you.

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you can add liquid calcium to water or get it from a reptile vet and use a dropper and give it orally. I had to give medicine to some of my geckos that way before.

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Have you tried different types of feeders? I’m only asking that because it was not specified. Some of ours prefer certain feeders to others. Also maybe try tong feeding. Some of ours prefer to eat when they feel like they are not being watched so maybe feed at night in a dark room.

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