FEEDING

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What can you feed your gecko?
 

 Crested geckos have very specific diet requirements, requiring the correct ratios of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin D3 among other nutrients, proteins, and fats. 

Though much of the published literature on Crested Geckos recommends using baby food, I strongly recommend against feeding baby food, as the sugar content in most is extremely high and the nutrient ratios are poor. It was designed for humans NOT reptiles.   Though baby food CAN be properly supplemented, every gecko that has been maintained by an average hobbyist or breeder on a baby food diet has ended up with at least minimal and often severe nutrient deficiencies, and most display symptoms of irreversible Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).

There is no real need to use baby food -   Instead, there are several extensively researched and tested powdered meal replacement formulas on the market, Repashy's Crested Gecko Diet (CGD) and Clark's Gecko Diet being the most well known and respected among breeders. 

Repashy Crested Gecko Diet    Clarks Frugivorous Diet

 

These diets are easy to use- simply mix them with a little water and serve in small dishes.  I strongly recommend that all Crested Gecko hobbyists feed their Crested geckos  one of these two  CGD diets as their staple food, as it is very difficult and takes considerable expertise ensure that a Crested gecko receives the proper nutrition otherwise.  These formulae are complete diets - the crested geckos have everything that they require within the formulae and would need nothing else except naturally some water.

  •  feed every 3-4 days - and watch for mould developing in the feed cup - if mould is spotted remove the feed cup..
  • Please do not overfeed - it is not necessary to feed your animal every day or even every other day. They will only get fat if you overfeed - like all animals that humans own we must monitor their diet - in the wild they would cover great distances to find food. In captivity they mostly just sit still waiting for food. Overfeeding will just ultimately hurt your animal and your purse!

 this does make them one of the cheapest pets to keep and feed!   I currently feed my geckos on Repashy's latest version.

You won't find these diets on the shops on the high street and will probably (more than likely) have to purchase them online - but get say £22 of food and that should last two adult geckos almost a full 6 months!

Another common feeding mistake is to rely exclusively on live insects as a primary food.  They probably do eat insects in the wild but their main diet was observed to be decomposing fallen fruit.  It has been noted that exclusive insect diets for Cresties - even when dusted with supplements - inevitably lead to malnourished animals with nutrient deficiencies and resultant problems.

But they do enjoy insects and so I feed mine some grubs as a treat every 2-3 weeks just as a treat.

When it comes to feeding bugs they can't have just any old insect however.

The insect should be no longer than the Cresties mouth is wide..  And remember a Cresties stomach is not very big - roughly the diameter of one of its eyeballs so the feeder insect has to be of a suitable size.

The most common are young mealworm's (not too many ) small roaches and small soft wingless crickets.

 

 Crested Geckos CAN be fed a variety of  live food as an occasional treat --

I will deal with the most common types one by one below:

 Crickets/ Locusts/ Mealworm's/ Superworms/ Morio worms / Cockroaches/ Waxworms/ Butterworms/ Pachnoda Grubs


Crickets and Locusts : The right size - RECOMMENDED

Crickets come in three varieties: 

 Black  black cricket  Silent 

(make no chirping noises)

 
 silent brown cricket
 Brown  brown cricket  The standard Locust  locust

 Crickets are one of the most common foods for reptiles. Total lifespan for a cricket is roughly 8 weeks. They are easy to house - any plastic container will do although I advise using a fairly tall one and with a bit of sandpaper roughing up the bottom half of the insides of the container and leaving a gap of about 3 cm or more untouched and smooth around the inside of the lip of the container. This enables the crickets and locusts to climb and perch on the sides of the containers but when they reach the smooth section they can go no further and with a 3 cm border if they then jump from there they will fall right back into the container. smileysilver

Locusts are fast becoming an affordable option for feeding your reptiles - if you choose to feed these as an occasional treat - choose the smallest you can find - a young Locust (medium to large from the online suppliers) is more than large enough for a Crestie and their outer skin (chitin) is much softer than that of crickets.

You do need to keep them fairly warm or you will experience die offs in the stock - similarly if it's too hot you can get die offs also. it's recommended that you use no substrate in the container as it makes for easier cleaning and reduces the smell that will build up. Great temps would be about 85ºF - accomplish this with either a heat mat or simply put them somewhere that is suitably warm for them in your house.

Place a few egg cartons or empty loo roll tubes in the container this allows them to hide and also has the advantage of giving more surface area allowing you to keep more than the normal amount of insects in the container than you normally would be able to.

Make sure that they have as source of water too. To avoid spills in the container try a small bottle cap or jam jar lid with a suitable amount of Bug Gel. All this is the fine powder you sometimes see in garden centers for mixing with the soil of young plants. It is a synthetic granule that absorbs water and swells to many times it size and retains that moisture for a long time. The insects will "lick" the gel to receive their required water intake.

Remember you are what you eat! So clean the food container often and provide fresh food daily - discarding yesterdays leftovers. The food the insects eat go into their digestive tracts and consequently right into the Leo's stomachs. So as well as the nutrition provided by the insect itself - its gut contents provide additional nutrition. This practice is called Gut Loading. Always dust before you serve to your Leo's!

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mealworm's (Tenebrio Molitor)  The right size - RECOMMENDED

 mealworm

The mealworm is the larval stage of a beetle. Mini mealworm's are available for feeding to hatching's and then generally you will get standard size ones for feeding to sub adult and adult Cresties. 

mealworm's are best kept in cool conditions as they will last much longer. Warm temperatures speed up the process of pupation and you will get more than the normal amount of pupae in your container that generally have to be discarded as most Leo's tend to turn their noses up at them. This is mainly due to the fact that Leo's hunt primarily using motion detection and the worms are generally always on the move. A pupae however will not move unless it is actually touched or picked up by the head at which point it will wiggle it's body vigorously.

I tried feeding the pupae to my Cresties by holding the heads and getting them to wiggle - they responded but promptly spat them out - I suspect due to the tiny spurs on the side of the pupae body. No great loss as the pet gerbils love the pupae and if you have no rodents - then put them out for the birds who will equally relish them!

I feed my mealworm's on bran or bran flakes (unsweetened is best) also add some supplement dusting powder to the bran - this provides the gut loading!

The mealworm's I would recommend for Cresties would be the medium - roughly about 2-3 mm body diameter - if you get the super large ones - 1-2 would be sufficient for an adult Crestie.

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Super mealworm's & Morio worms: NOT RECOMMENDED

These are not recommended for Cresties they are simply too large and the Morio's especially have much more capable mouthpart's that could easily damage or at the very least give the Crestie plenty of problems when it  comes to trying to eat them.

 The super worm is a regular old mealworm that is treated to prevent pupation and fed for an extra 6-8 weeks to produce super sized versions. Storage and care is the same as for mealworm's.

 superworm

The super Morio worm (real name Zophobus morio) are bred from a different larger beetle (Darling Beetle) than those for mealworm's. They are generally given to larger reptiles like Beardies and the like.

 super morio

 

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Cockroaches: The right size & type - RECOMMENDED

If your Cresties like roaches - you're going to have to try it at least once - then you get a nice cheap source of food and also one that is easy to breed and keep yourself. Here are the main types of roaches you will find available in the UK.

 The Discoid Roach: (Blaberus discoidales)

 A tropical roach from Mexico, Central and South America. Measuring approx. 2 inches in length as adults. Adults have wings but are unable to fly. This is a non-climbing species - unable to climb smooth surfaces so great for keeping in the house for feeding Reps'. Adults have a life span of around 1 year.

Keeping and care is the same as for mealworm's.

Young are the Best choice for Crestie food being smaller and more manageable. Soft exoskeleton is easy for the gecko to digest and swallow.

 discoid roach

 

The Turkistan Roach: (Blatta Lateralis)

 1 inch approx in length as adults. Adults have wings but are unable to fly. This is a non-climbing species - unable to climb smooth surfaces so great for keeping in the house for feeding Reps'. They do not burrow and are dominant reddy brown in colour (males are much redder)and dart about drawing attention to themselves to the joy of the reptile being fed them. Adults have a life span of around 12 - 18 months.

Keeping and care is the same as for mealworm's. If your lizards like these - they are very easy to maintain a breeding colony for a constant cheap supply of reptile food! A good choice for Crestie food being smaller and more manageable. Soft exoskeleton is easy for the gecko to digest and swallow.

 turkistan roach

 

 The Lobster Roach: (Nauphoeta Cinerea) 

 1 - 1½ inches approx in length as adults. Adults have wings but are unable to fly. This is a climbing species - able to climb smooth surfaces and almost anything else for that matter! So be aware if breeding for food for Reps' they will need a secure container! They are a fast moving species. Adults have a life span of around 12 - 18 months.

Keeping and care is the same as for mealworm's.

A good choice for Leo food being smaller and more manageable. Soft exoskeleton is easy for the gecko to digest and swallow.

 lobster roach

 

The Dubia Roach: (Blaptica Dubia) 

 1½ -2 inches approx in length as adults. Adults have wings but are unable to fly. This is a non-climbing species - unable to climb smooth surfaces.

They have a modest speed. Males have long wings and females have stubby wing buds. Adults have a life span of around 1½ - 2 years.

Keeping and care is the same as for mealworm's.

Probably not a good choice for Crestie food as they are fairly large and have a harder exoskeleton. Young Dubia are probably the only size worth trying if you must try them.

 dubia roach

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Waxworms (Galleria mellonella). RECOMMENDED

Waxworms are the grub larvae of the Wax Moth - I have never met a reptile that did not love these grubs!

They are a good treat, but the large fat content will lead to eventual obesity and arterial issues with Cresties especially if over used as a diet treat. They are high in protein and calcium but their large fat content when compared to other food items makes them nutritionally prohibitive.

However the Cresties certainly do love them and they are great as occasional treats. I use them more frequently for the more active female breeders. Gravid (egg laden) females and post gravid females need a bit of a fat boost as they will invariably use up their fat and calcium reserves. 2-4 are plenty every 4-5 weeks.

Keep your waxies in the fridge and don't feed them as they will pupate! Warm them prior to feeding - I do this in the palm of my hand.

 waxworm


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Pachnoda - Fruit Beetle Grubs (Pachnoda Marginata). 

NOT RECOMMENDED

These are the larvae stage of the Sun Beetle. A very attractive beetle and one which can also be kept as a pet. They will arrive on your doorstep in a container in which they will more than likely be in a high peat soil.

They are fat little grubs and don't even consider them as crestie food as they are way too large and have a nasty bite!

Pachnoda are nasty little things and also a bit stupid too. The first thing they will do when picked up is curl up and bite - trouble is they bite themselves! They can give quite a nip !

 pachnoda1

pachnoda 2



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Butter worms (Chilecomadia Moorei). NOT RECOMMENDED

Native to Chile, Butterworms are a food item I wish was much more readily available over here in the UK. They are very high in calcium and have a lot less fat content than Waxworms.

They are soft bodied and do not bite - BUT they are just too large for a Crestie!

Like waxies - they like the fridge and can last for up to 3 months!

 butterworm

 

 





F.Passaro

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