Live feeding alternatives (for leos & AFTs)

I have been sitting on this info for over a year, as I kept putting it off until I had time to do it justice with a long-ish post/thread. But now I have realized that I just need to jump in and share the info, as I think it’s important and the perfect time to work on things never seems to arrive.

So, here’s the scoop: all of my geckos (I think I have 21 right now, with 7 geckos 19+ years old) have eaten mostly non-live food for almost 2 years. Yes, I know that sounds insane. And I definitely think my practices will not work for most keepers, I’ll give as much detail as I can until my hands give out (health issue).

There are 3 products I’ve investigated thus far:

Repashy’s Grub Pie (sorry for lack of pictures, but the link shares ingredient info)

Gargeer’s ‘Leopard’s Bite gel mix:’

Hikari’s ‘Leopa Gel:’

What exactly I’ve fed and how often have varied a bit depending on the gecko being fed, but I’d say (generalizing) 80% of the time I have used Repashy’s ‘Grub Pie,’ 17% Gargeer’s ‘Leopard Bite,’ 1% Hikari’s ‘Leopa Gel,’ and 2% various live insects.

Both ‘Grub Pie’ and ‘Leopard Bite’ are made more or less like jello, ultimately forming a dense, smelly gel you cut into appropriate bug-sized pieces and keep in the fridge. ‘Leopa Gel’ can be used right out of the squeeze-pouch, (you sort of yank a piece off, not difficult).

I really wanted to get into a more detailed nutritional comparison, but my hand pain won’t permit. The summary is this:

  • they are all extremely nutrient rich and generally (but not always- varies by gecko) should be fed less frequently than insects. Most of my geckos get fed once a week (yes really), but some require 2x/week
  • When comparing the first ingredient of each, BSFL > mealworms in terms of nutrition, which is why ‘Leopa-Gel’ is my ‘backup’ food for if I accidentally run out of the others and insects
  • Repashy is a reputable company, thus why I use ‘Grub Pie’ the most vs. ‘Leopard Bite’, as they both have BSFL as their first ingredient

Other notes:

  • All three need to be tong-fed. Most of my geckos will not go after the crumbs dropped/recognize it as food once it’s immobile on the ground. In a freak incident, my 19 year old gecko Nimbus bit the very end of her tail and dropped it (just the very very end) while eating up crumbs from the floor, so I recommend not leaving crumbs on the enclosure floor for geriatric geckos or geckos with neuro issues.
  • All three need to be made somewhat in bulk, then cut into pieces and stored in bags. (Despite the warning on the ‘Leopard Bite’ not to freeze), I store those bags in the freezer, then defrost as needed before feeding off. This has been working fantastically for me
  • Initially, about 60% of my geckos required diligent effort to get switched over to accepting these foods, but ultimately I was able to switch every single one over by 3 months time.
  • Different geckos will have their own preferences re: which they like better
  • Feeding these solid gel diets has made my life a lot easier and saved me hundreds of dollars. It’s more difficult to get prey insects in extreme weather, and (because of my disability) it is VERY hard for me to drive to get them from pet stores.
  • I have a couple elderly geckos that were having trouble subduing typical prey items, but now every single one of my geriatric geckos appears to be thriving. Nimbus (19 yo) and Owen (17 yo, neurologic disorder) may have passed by now without me having switched over, as they refuse most insects. Nimbus will exclusively eat the prepared diets (with an exception being made for silkworms, as they are apparently delicious).
  • For a few geckos (males and elderly, reproductively inactive females), the supplement level is a bit too high if you feed the prepared diets exclusively. Those geckos require feedings with less nutrient-dense foods (I prefer hornworms) mixed in. Keep track of their ‘armpit bubbles,’ as increased signs may indicate the gecko is being over-supplemented.
  • Variety in diet is important. I do not recommend feeding exclusively one brand of prepared diet, and I do recommend occasional live feeders if your geckos will eat them.
  • One if my geckos developed a vitamin A deficiency over time. In her case, I think part of the culprit might be early kidney issues, which can affect metabolism, etc., in the body. Her vitamin A issues are easily addressed with regular supplementation with Repashy’s Vitamin A Plus supplements.
  • The gel pieces can crumble a bit while feeding, with ‘Grub Pie’ staying intact better than ‘Leopard Bite.’
  • ‘Grub Pie’ is also a great powder to mix into a liquid with water, then feed via syringe to geckos that need nutrients but won’t eat off the tongs. For me this is most common with females in discomfort during the breeding season.

edit- I forgot:

  • I generally do not dust the gel prior to feeding, but every now and again I will, alternating vitamins, Ca w/D3, Ca w/o D3, Repashy’s Super Pig, and vitamin A.
  • Because I have a lot of geriatric geckos, I mix some glucosamine and chondroitin into the powder that I use to make their gel, and have not noticed any issues

I think those are the main points, feel free to ask any questions and I’ll get to them when I can. :slightly_smiling_face: If needed, I can try and film a feeding to show how the feeding process goes.


This is a very useful thread and well-written. I don’t think I’ll do this as a main feeding, but it’s a viable option and I’m considering getting some as a backup and for variety.
Do you think the grub pie would be good for very young (<6mo old) geckos due to it being nutrient dense or do you think it would be better to stick to just insects or use a mix? How long does a container of grub pie last before it’s used up?


Thanks! :blush: The containers last much much longer than I thought they would, it’s saved me a massive amount of money.

I think it would be great to use as part of a diet for juvenile leos, but it might not work out. It takes awhile to train some geckos, and you want to make sure babies eat everyday, so it might not work for some individuals. You’d have to play it by ear. Nutrient-wise, I think it would probably be super beneficial. I would feed live insects at least some of the time fit little babies, so that the gecko learns how to handle it.


Ive used Grub pie. Its nice to keep around in case…All my geckos liked it fine.
I wouldnt feed exclusively though…


Share your reasoning?


Thank you so much for posting this! I have a young male leopard gecko who’s been absolutely refusing any and all food for almost a year, so I’ve had to switch to force feeding with this type of insect replacement in a syringe. He’s been to the vet repeatedly, had many expensive tests done, had his husbandry verified by them, and they can find no reason he won’t eat.
This post really just assures me that it’s okay to feed him the only way that’ll work so I feel less like a failure :upside_down_face:


Welcome to the forum, and I’m glad to help! Feel free to make a post in the Introductions section if you have the time- we all love meeting other herpers! There is definitely something going on with your little guy, but taking him to an exotics vet was definitely the best way to address that.

Unless you’ve kept a lot of other leopard geckos before, my guess is that the root cause of the anorexia is something that keepers only learn to recognize easily after working many years with leos specifically, know what I mean? Like whether drafts of circulating air are leeching heat out of an enclosure , knowing the palatability of different prey items, etc. My vote goes that he’s too cold, as that’s almost always the culprit with prolonged anorexia in male leos; heat guns are the only reliable way to verify temps.

There are many, many opinions about what diet is best, but I’m pretty sure he’d especially benefit from variety in his youth. He should also be able to handle live prey. It’d be too off-topic on this thread, but feel free to make a new thread to discuss your little guy’s situation if you want additional opinions. Best of luck with your little man!

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Oops! Sorry I forgot to tag you @lusinightshade :woman_facepalming:

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