If you are thinking about purchasing a leopard gecko, you will want to know what to feed it. You’ve probably heard of a lot of lizards that like to eat fruits and veggies. So, you may think that leopard geckos can eat these too. Do leopard geckos eat fruit?
Leopard geckos are insectivores, meaning they only eat insects. They cannot adapt to eating things like fruits and vegetables, and they can make them quite sick.
Keep reading and we’ll go over why leopard geckos can’t eat fruits and what you should feed them instead.
- 1 What Is A Leopard Gecko?
- 2 Can Leopard Geckos Eat Fruit?
- 3 What Fruits Can Leopard Geckos Eat?
- 4 What Problems Can Fruit Cause Your Leopard Gecko?
- 5 What To Do If Your Gecko Ingests Fruit
- 6 What Should Leopard Geckos Eat Instead Of Fruit?
- 7 Conclusion
What Is A Leopard Gecko?
Leopard geckos are one of the most popular lizards to be kept as a pet. They are fun to watch, and are nice to look at. They have vibrant coloration like that of the leopard they’re named after. Their bodies are usually a light yellow or cream color covered in dark spots.
Leopard geckos are desert dwelling reptiles found in warm, arid regions. They can be found across Asia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq.
Because they live in deserts, they are land-based reptiles. They lack the sticky toes that many arboreal lizards have. Instead, they have small claws on their toes that help them to run through sand.
Can Leopard Geckos Eat Fruit?
We’ve established that leopard geckos shouldn’t eat fruit. But you may be wondering, can a leopard gecko eat fruit?
Leopard geckos cannot eat fruit. This really comes down to the physiology of their bodies. They can’t process fruit or vegetable matter. Instead, they are purely carnivorous.
They Are Insectivores
Unlike other lizards who eat fruits and veggies — like the crested gecko — leopard geckos are unable to digest plant matter.
Instead, they eat insects and worms. In some regions, they will also eat scorpions, and even other lizards. Insects are full of lots of nutrients that leopard geckos need to survive on.
If you plan to keep a leopard gecko as a pet, you’ll need to be prepared to feed them live insects. Some geckos will eat dead insects, but it’s not common. We’ll cover what some of their favorite insects are in a bit.
They Don’t Have A Cecum
A cecum is a pouch that is connected to the small and large intestines. The way the cecum works is that it absorbs fluids and salts that are left over after digestion. These fluids and salts may remain after the intestines have digested the food. The cecum will absorb the fluids and salts and mix them with a lubricating material to form mucous.
There are enzymes inside the cecum that aid in fermentation and the breakdown of cellulose. Cellulose is the main component in the cell wall of plants. Animals are not able to produce cellulose.
Because leopard geckos don’t have a cecum, they cannot breakdown cellulose. Because fruits and veggies are primarily made of cellulose, leopard geckos cannot digest them.
Short Digestive Tracts
It takes a longer time to digest fruit and veggies, even with a cecum. Because of the composition of fruits, breakdown requires acid.
Leopard geckos have short digestive tracts. Even with a cecum, they wouldn’t have enough time to digest the plant matter.
The digestive juices of leopard geckos are also alkaline, meaning that they are unable to break down plant matter. This contrasts to the digestive juices of humans which is acidic. Humans have a cecum, have long digestive tracts, and have acidic digestive juices. Unlike leopard geckos, we are able to digest plant matter.
Leopard geckos have very tiny mouths, and their jaws don’t open wide. Because of this, they would be unable to eat fruits and veggies in the wild. They wouldn’t be able to bite off chunks or chew them well.
Instead, their jaws are designed specifically to chew meaty insects.
In captivity, this is less of an issue. Fruit and veggies can easily be pureed into small enough pieces for geckos. This is common practice among owners of crested geckos. Still, just because you can create small pieces of fruit for your leopard gecko doesn’t mean you should. As we covered above, they can’t digest it.
Also, if you were to attempt giving solid pieces of fruit or veggies, your gecko could choke. Their bodies simply aren’t designed to eat fruit and veggies. The skin of fruit is tough which can cause it to get stuck in the throat.
What Fruits Can Leopard Geckos Eat?
Leopard geckos should never, under any circumstances, eat fruit or veggies. It is very detrimental to their health. In the long-term, it can lead to serious complications, disease, and death. In the short-term, it can cause sickness, or even death if your gecko chokes.
What Problems Can Fruit Cause Your Leopard Gecko?
Leopard geckos cannot digest fruits and veggies. If they do so, it can lead to some serious health complications.
It’s Not Healthy
The only time a leopard gecko will consider eating fruits or veggies is if they’re starving. If there is nothing else available, they will try to satiate their hunger by eating what’s available.
Even then, the fruits and veggies won’t help them. Because of how their body is designed, leopard geckos don’t get any nutritional value from fruits.
They have evolved over the years to need nutrients specifically provided by insects. Although fruits and vegetables have great nutrients, leopard geckos simply don’t need them.
Even for lizards that can digest fruits, they shouldn’t be given too much. Veggies are always better. This is because fruits are high in sugar content. This can be an issue for any creature eating fruit. Still, it’s even more of a problem for an animal that can’t digest fruits.
Rather than breaking down, the sugar in the fruit will build up in their body. Over time, this will create plaque build-up. If the plaque build-up becomes too severe, it can result in Ulcerative Stomatitis.
Ulcerative Stomatitis leads to painful blisters and ulcers in the mouth, making it hard to eat. The ulcers appear on the sides of the mouth, the gums, and the tongue. It can last for year and is not very treatable.
Animals don’t fully understand what’s happening when they’re sick. If a leopard gecko develops painful ulcers in the mouth, they’re likely to stop eating. If they go several weeks without eating, they will eventually starve to death.
Because this disease is not very treatable, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
If the excess sugar doesn’t somehow lead to Ulcerative Stomatitis, it can still lead to other complications. Your gecko may develop diabetes and/or become obese.
You can know if your gecko has gained too much weight by observing its stomach. When your gecko has not eaten in awhile, the stomach should be flat. If it’s not, then it has gained too much weight.
Like most reptiles, it’s important for leopard geckos to ingest more calcium than phosphorous. If they have more phosphorous in their body than calcium, it can lead to severe health complications.
The ideal calcium to phosphorous ratio for leopard geckos is 2:1.
Unfortunately, many fruits contain more phosphorous than calcium. This will lead to a mineral imbalance that can be very dangerous for your gecko.
When there is too much phosphorous in the body and not enough calcium, the bones will become damaged. A depletion of calcium can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease. This disease doesn’t allow the bones to form correctly.
It can lead to limbs being bowed or swollen. The spine may become arched, or bumps may form along the spine. Their jaw may also swell and soften. This disease is very painful, and once they’ve developed it, it can’t be cured.
Too many fruits and veggies can cause hypo or hypervitaminosis. This is when the body gets too many or too little of a certain vitamin. Eating fruits may give a gecko too much of a vitamin it doesn’t need. It may also leech essential vitamins from their body.
Therefore, they should never be given fruit. Too much of a mineral deficiency or overload can eventually lead to death.
Most fruit bought from the supermarket will come covered in pesticides and insecticides. This is why it’s so important to wash fruit before you eat it.
This is more of a non-issue than the others because fruit can be washed. Many people with other lizards — like crested geckos — feed their animals fruit without an issue. They simply need to take extra care to clean the fruit.
Still, if you’re not careful enough, they can cause stress to the metabolic processes of your leopard gecko. Too much chemical contamination can even kill your gecko.
Upset Stomach & Regurgitation
So, we’ve established the reasons why you shouldn’t feed your leopard gecko fruit on a long-term basis. However, even the occasional fruit can cause problems. Although your gecko will likely recover from it, fruits will still make them quite sick.
Because they cannot digest fruit, it goes without saying that their stomach will become upset. You may notice some diarrhea, and your gecko will likely be in some pain for awhile.
If your gecko eats something it’s unable to digest, it’s body will try to rid itself of the item. Lizards can vomit and regurgitate food if it doesn’t agree with them. This can help them avoid stomach upset and other problems. However, vomiting or regurgitating too often can cause damage to the esophagus.
What To Do If Your Gecko Ingests Fruit
Accidents happen. Maybe you didn’t know that your leopard gecko shouldn’t eat fruit. Maybe a friend or family member was trying to bond with your pet and offered a piece of fruit. Maybe your gecko stole a piece of fruit from another pet.
Either way, you’ll want to know what to do to help your gecko.
- If you have multiple geckos, separate the sick one. This will allow you to focus on your sick gecko and observe their behaviors better. We’ve covered some signs to look out for if your gecko has ingested a piece of fruit. Look out for any symptoms of gastrointestinal or respiratory distress.
- Contact a vet. They will be able to give you guidance and let you know if you should bring in your pet to be evaluated.
- If your gecko has only eaten a small piece of fruit, they will likely be fine. Just be sure that they haven’t choked and that the fruit has passed safely through their esophagus. From there, the most you can usually do is wait it out. Still, contact a vet to be sure. They can tell you whether your gecko is exhibiting signs that it needs to be evaluated.
Signs Your Gecko May Need To Go To The Vet
When your gecko is happy and healthy, it will be active. If your gecko is sick, they will become lethargic and not want to move much. They will lose their appetite and not eat. They may also make loud noises, suggesting they’re in discomfort.
You may also notice that your gecko is making odd, jerking motions. They may also keep their eyes closed at all times because this helps them feel less discomfort.
What Should Leopard Geckos Eat Instead Of Fruit?
Leopard geckos simply cannot digest fruits or vegetables. As we’ve covered, fruits and veggies offer no nutritional value, and they can make your gecko very sick.
Leopard geckos are strictly insectivores, so the only thing they should eat is insects and worms. Insects contain all the right nutrients and vitamins that your gecko needs to stay happy and healthy.
Here is a list of a proper leopard gecko diet. Fruit is not included:
- Dubia Roaches
There are plenty of other insects and worms you may feed your gecko, but they might be less nutritious. Here are some good insects to feed your gecko as a snack:
There are some insects that you shouldn’t ever feed your gecko. They may be too dangerous and harm your gecko:
- Wild Insects
There is a lot that goes into picking the right insect for your leopard gecko. For some guidance on what to feed them, read our more in-depth article here.
Although there are a lot of reptiles that can and should eat fruits and veggies, leopard geckos aren’t one of them. Not only do fruits lack nutritional value for leopard geckos, but it can make them very sick.
Leopard geckos lack the body parts needed to properly digest fruits and veggies. Because of this, eating them can make them very sick. If fed over a long period of time, consumption can lead to serious health problems and death.
Keep your leopard gecko safe and healthy: don’t feed it fruits or veggies.
Want to learn more? Find all our guides to geckos here or read why leopard geckos shouldn’t eat vegetables here and how often they should eat here. You can also read our full guide to what leopard geckos should eat here.As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.