I have a new/first leopard gecko and am feeding mealworms as that is what the breeder fed. I have left some mealworms in a dish for her but she will not eat them. I’ve had her for over a week now and she is in a Bioactive enclosure. She will eat though if I put a dish in front of her. She just does not seem to look for or find a dish with a few that I leave for her. Is this normal? My second question is should I be feeding crickets? I am gut loading my mealworms with carrots and dust them with calcium and vitamin D supplement (Fluckers). Thanks for the help!
I would definitely provide more than just mealworms. They’re basically French fries for geckos and are better left as treats. Gutloaded crickets are good, I also recommend dubia roaches and black soldier fly larvae
It sounds like you need to do more research in terms of appropriate husbandry. Everyone here who keeps leopard geckos will have different answers to the questions you asked. It’s important that you read recommendations from many different sources and make your own decisions once you have educated yourself.
First- read all of these. Ideally seek out more on your own as well. All of them have their own bias:
- A care sheet from a very reputable hobbyist source
- A care sheet from a reputable exotics clinic
- A care sheet from a reputable breeder
- A care sheet from a big feeder insect company
- A care sheet from a large breeder of leopard geckos
- A care sheet from a hobbyist magazine
Second- give us enough details to answer your question. Surface temps on hot & cold sides, heating source, how you read your temps (probe, gun, etc.), humidity, cleaner crew you have in there, substrate, cage set up, diet & schedule, lighting, caging used, etc.
tl;dr : (1) No, it’s not normal, something is probably wrong with your husbandry. (2) Crickets that are appropriately gut-loaded (not just powdered) can be acceptable, but should never be left uneaten in the tank, as they can eat your gecko.
edit: I forgot to add that you should search this forum and read through the many times similar questions have been answered.
I have the Biodudes Leopard gecko kit. So it is his subrstate, plants, 2x cork flat hides, 1x plastic hide to give variety of hides, the leaf littler, etc. a UTH heater on a thermostat set to 90 degrees and a CHE as well both on the same side. Hot side is 88-90 degrees - temp Gun and thermometer. Humidity 10-35%. Cool side is 70-75 degrees. Sphagnum Moss under hide on cool side misted daily. 20 long glass aquarium. Misted daily. Isopods and Springtails for clean up crew. Led light on timer 12 on 12 off. Husbandry was well researched before gecko came and seems spot on according to numerous resources such as the ones you provided. And although most of those resources recommended crickets I did come across one that stated the breeder quit feeding crickets and went to mealworms exclusively. So that is why I asked that question here - to see if others followed that same way of thinking.
I’ll get some crickets tomorrow. Since I just got her I wanted to get her eating what the breeder fed before switching her over. I will also get some black soldier fly larvae. Haven’t heard too much about that until now and will research a little more but a quick google search has me liking the thought of feeding it. Again, I’ll do a little more research first but thanks for the suggestions!
Your husbandry definitely sounds good- my guess is that she’s eating the isopods. Is she defecating normally? Any signs of regurgitation of any prey? It would look munched and gooey, but chitinous shell probably still intact.
In terms of the best diet for leopard geckos, black soldier fly larvae (BSFL- also sold as ‘calcium worms’ and ‘phoenix worms’) are the best. However, some geckos find them unpalatable & require a diligent effort to get them switched over. Since she’s a baby & new to you, I wouldn’t stress too much if she does not readily accept them- you can work on swapping her out later.
Another good prey item would be silkworms (on the small side for her) or hornworms (very very small hornworms only). Chow-fed is more nutritious than when fed from leaves alone. I get most of my feeder insects from Mulberry Farms.
Sometimes some geckos won’t eat mealworms because they don’t move much. Perhaps, in her new environment, the cues that she’d normally get (like a sound of rustling or a smell or something) that prey was present are somehow being impacted.
Crickets are great for stimulating prey drive, but I have seen them eat into the body cavity of a sleeping gecko, so make sure there aren’t any left in her tank after she’s eaten. Another option that might help stimulate her prey drive would be very very small dubia roaches (as in brand new nymphs), but that might be tougher to handle for a first-time leo owner, as they can cause allergic reactions in humans who work with them over time, so protective equipment should be used.
For crickets or dubia, I’d use Repashy Superload or Mazuri High-Calcium Gutload for the amount of time indicated on the label (I always get it wrong, with regards to which species need 12 hours versus 24 versus 48). Before that, make sure they are fed a non-gutloading diet designed for insect health & maintenance. I like RoachWorld’s diet, as well as Bad Ass Bugs’ Roach diets (mine like the berry one better than the honey one) for maintenance.
Make sure you never feed your gecko with any feeders that might have ingested moldy food- it can kill geckos, especially babies.
Great suggestions! Thanks so much! I’m betting that she is eating my Isopods! I will look through her enclosure for feces even though I am not sure what it looks like! With all the substrate and leaves, sphagnum Moss, etc. nothing really stands out at the moment but I will find something I’m sure. Really appreciate the help!
And I’ve been trying to not disturb her much so that she does not get stressed which is why I haven’t looked for feces, etc… For the most part I mist, water, feed, and leave her be. But now that it’s been a little over a week I plan on handling her a bit and will definitely look over her cage more.
Thanks, that is kind of what I suspected. Only found one little bit. She either isn’t defecating much or the clean up crew is really good at doing their job!
Well, I think that she may have just been taking a while to adjust. I had handled her yesterday for a little bit and she did really well. Later I caught her out and about for the first time as well. I showed her a mealworm and dropped it into her food dish and she ate a couple right away, then went into a hide. I left 4 or 5 mealworms in her bowl for her to find later and to my surprise I found her in her bowl this morning! I think we are definitely making progress!
I had something similar recently with one of my newer geckos, Taffy. I feed my geckos with tongs a lot. I feed a lot of hornworms right now- they require way more thought in terms of supplementation, but are good for keeping geckos hydrated. When I got Taffy, it took months to train her to accept anything off the tongs, or to accept hornworms, silkworms, BSFL, or dubia in general. But, one day, she finally seemed to put two and two together, and has been almost perfect since then. The change was definitely pretty abrupt and very exciting!