If you have a Leopard Gecko you may be wondering what food is best for him. But what about freeze-dried crickets, are they a good idea?
Can I feed my leopard gecko freeze-dried crickets?
Yes, you can feed your Leopard Gecko freeze-dried crickets. However, this is not ideal and should be offered occasionally rather than their staple. Live insects are a better option for Leos. This is more natural for them and in line with their hunting instinct.
Now that you understand that these dried crickets are ok, but not ideal, let me continue to explain why live insects are a better idea if you can simulate live behavior in dried crickets and so much more. Keep reading.
Why are live bugs better for your Leo?
Earlier I mentioned that live crickets is a better choice thank freeze-dried. But, you may be wondering why this even makes a difference, right? Well, here are the main reasons:
- Preference for moving food
- Invokes their natural hunting instinct
One of the benefits of live food is these insects will naturally feed themselves to survive. This means that right up until they are fed to your Leo they a packed with nutrients.
Gut loading is a method used to force nutrients, basically pe-feeding the insects with vegetables, before feeding them to your Leo. When they are freeze-dried this can happen (more on this later), but only up until the point they were dried and frozen.
With live food they can eat right up until the point when your Leo consumes them, are you with me?
Preference for moving food
You may find that many Lepard Geckos will not even want to eat anything that is not Live. This is because it is their natural instinct to eat live insects. There are ways to help trick them into eating freeze-dried crickets (more on this later). But, it is not guaranteed for all Leos.
Invokes their natural hunting instinct
Leos are natural hunters. The movement of crickets will catch their attention and make them feel compelled to attack and prey on them. Feeding them these Live insects will keep them practiced on hunting and keep in line with their natural instincts.
Can you simulate Live behavior from Freeze-dried crickets?
Earlier I mentioned that you can trick your Leo into thinking that the dried crickets are moving. This is an attempt to entice them to eat the freeze-dried version.
Basically you can use some tongs or another item to hold the cricket. The idea is to make it seem that the cricket is moving. Some Leos will go for this. But, to be honest it may be hit and miss. Some might, some won’t.
Why do crickets need to be dusted?
Earlier I explained why gut loading is used, as a method to pre-feed crickets with nutrients. However, many Leopard Gecko owners are encouraged to dust their pets, but why is this even necessary?
This is because gut loading only helps with part of the puzzle. Many experts have acknowledged that these insects may not meet their entire calcium and vitamin requirements.
So, they will need some supplementation to help to meet this need. This is where dusting comes in. This supplement is brushed onto your Leo to boost its calcium and/or vitamin needs.
There are other methods to get calcium into the crickets (Click here to check the availability on Amazon) and some owners prefer this method.
Is gut loading necessary for crickets?
Earlier I explained why and how gut loading is used to pre-feed crickets and other insects, prior to feeding them to your Leo. But, is it really necessary?
Yes, gut loading the crickets is necessary. If you think about the natural cycle of insects in the wild, what happens? They eat, grow and multiply, right?
This natural urge to eat is nature’s way of providing your Leo with food. Because they are next in line in the food chain. In a domestic pet setup, we are obviously leading an artificial version of nature. Therefore nature should be emulated as much as possible, right?
So, this is why gut loading is done. It keeps the insects alive and well. And, in turn, provides your Leo with a nutritious meal.
How many crickets should I feed my leopard gecko?
The amount of crickets required for your Leo heavily depends on their age. While they are young and growing, you will need to keep them regularly feed. But this will slow down as they get into their adult years.
As a guide, while they are hatchlings, they may consume up to seven crickets each day. They can also consume larger food items a few times a week.
However, as they get older, over 12 months roughly, they may only consume up to seven crickets up to three times a week.
What time should I feed my leopard gecko?
So far you have learned about the viability of freeze-dried crickets and how they stand up when compared to live crickets, etc. But, with that being said, when is a good time to feed them? Just anytime, or is there an optimal time for this?
The best time to feed them is after their day time sleep. Ideally around about 8PM. This is because Leos are active about this time and like to eat when they rise.
Do you like to eat breakfast when you rise? Exactly, the same concept for Leos. This is why this time is ideal for them. And, increases the chances of them eating all the crickets that you have provided for them.
Can you offer a combination of Live and Freeze-Dried Crickets?
Yes, you can feed your leopard gecko a combination of live and freeze-dried crickets. But, if this the direction you wish to take, you should make live food a priority.
The reason for this is for the same points stressed earlier. It is more nutritious, in line with their natural instincts and keeps their hunting instincts sharp, are you with me?
Just understand this, you may still need to entice him to eat the freeze-dried option using the same tactics I mentioned earlier.
Why do you need to remove live crickets after feeding?
You may have heard before that it is not a good idea to leave insects in the enclosure after your Leo has eaten. But, you may be wondering why this is even such an issue, right?
Well, it’s actually quite important for the following reasons:
- Crickets can start to feast on your Leo
- Their supplementation starts to wear off
Crickets can start to feast on your Leo
Once your pet has finished eating its fill of crickets, some novice owners will just leave the live insects to roam around. But, this is not a good idea. Why? Because these crickets are feisty and will start to nibble on your Leo.
As you can imagine, this is not good for your Leo and open wounds can also lead to other infections, which intern, will result in you having to pick up the costs.
Their supplementation starts to wear off
Earlier I explained why dusting these crickets is required. Now, this is all well and good if your Leo eats them in a timely manner. Basically, right away. But, if you leave them roaming around, this will start to wear off them.
On a one-off occasion, this is fine. But, on a regular basis, this can lead to deficiencies.
Are freeze-dried Crickets gut-loaded?
Earlier, I explained the benefits of feeding your Leo live insects, instead of freeze-dried versions. But, it is important to say that some of these freeze-dried variants are actually gut-loaded as well.
For example, some of these crickets are gut loaded with calcium supplementation (Click here to check the price on Amazon) They are typically gut loaded with this, along with any other offerings before they are dried and frozen.
The idea is to lock in the nutrients at the point of freezing. It makes sense, but it is unlikely to match the benefit of live crickets.
In this section, I will answer some questions related to Leopard Geckos, crickets and their feeding habits. If you have more questions that need to be answered, feel free to drop a comment below.
Can leopard geckos eat lettuce?
No, Leopard geckos should not eat lettuce. This is because they are insectivores. They get their nutrients from the insects directly. This is the reason why it is important to supplement the insects when they are kept domestically. This is to ensure that they get their required nutrition.
Can leopard geckos eat ants?
Yes, Leopard Geckos will eat ants. In fact, they will eat almost any insect they can get their hands on, which is the right size for their consumption. Crickets are one of their staples, but ants will definitely be eaten by them.
To give you an idea of the different types of insects they will consume, they have been known to eat flies, beetles, butterflies even wasps have been tackled.