When it comes to keeping any animal, the question of what and how often to feed always comes up. Today we’re going to focus on how often you should feed your leopard gecko, and some common reasons your leopard gecko may not be eating.
Here are two possible reasons you might be asking how long leopard geckos can go without food:
You’re a new leopard gecko keeper and you want to know: How often do you need to feed a leopard gecko?
- You’ve been keeping leopard geckos for awhile now, but one has stopped eating and you’re wondering: Why is my leopard gecko not eating?
Let’s answer these questions by first exploring how long leopard geckos can go without food.
How Long Can a Young Leopard Gecko Go Without Eating?
Young leopard geckos are divided into three categories:
- Babies, or “hatchlings” (0–2 months)
- Juveniles (2–6 months)
- Sub-adults (6–12 months)
As you would imagine, each age has its own dietary needs. Think of it this way: the younger the leopard gecko, the more often it needs to eat.
- Baby leopard geckos should eat daily, but they can go up to 2 days without food.
- It’s best if juvenile leopard geckos also eat daily, but in a pinch they can go up to 7 days without food.
- Sub-adults can go up to 14 days without food, assuming they’re already well-nourished.
When feeding your young leopard geckos, you should give your hatchlings bugs that are no bigger than ⅜” long, and your juveniles can have bugs around ¼” long. Any bigger, and your leopard gecko may refuse to eat it.
How Long Can an Adult Leopard Gecko Go Without Eating?
Adult leopard geckos – leopard geckos that are 12 months and older – are a different matter when it comes to how frequently they need to eat.
Healthy adult leopard geckos can go up to 1 month without food. But hold your horses. That doesn’t mean you can simply not feed your leopard gecko for a month. It just means that if your friendly reptile decides not to eat, you shouldn’t be immediately concerned.
You should offer food to your adult leopard gecko every other day to every three days. Set a timer for 15–20 minutes, throw in some Dubia roaches, crickets, or mealworms dusted with your favorite Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement, and let your leopard gecko eat to its heart’s content.
Pro Tip: The insects you feed your adult leopard geckos should be no larger than the space between their eyes.
If you’re interested in starting your own Dubia roach colony to give your leopard gecko some homegrown food, here’s a helpful article to set you on your way.
Common Reasons Your Leopard Gecko Isn’t Eating
If you notice your leopard gecko isn’t eating, take a deep breath. There can be several reasons for this, and not all of them are cause for concern.
It’s not uncommon for leopard geckos to stop eating during breeding and ovulation seasons. They’ve obviously got more important things – or one more important thing – on their minds at this point.
Another possible reason for a loss in appetite is entering into brumation – that time when your gecko is seeking out its “winter rest.”
And, believe it or not, some leopard geckos are picky eaters! You might have to experiment with which insects to feed your leopard gecko to discover the ones that suit its palate.
Other common appetite reducers to be on the lookout for include:
- A stressful move – Moving into a new home causes all of us stress. This includes leopard geckos. The stress often leads to a lack of appetite.
- Tank is too cold – We humans become more lethargic during the hot summer months. The lack of activity often results in reduced appetite. For leopard geckos, cooler temperatures cause them to become lethargic, and thus lose their appetite. This is easily fixed. Just set your leopard gecko’s habitat to between 75ºF and 85ºF with their basking area set to around 90ºF.
- Stress of cohabitation – It’s often stressful to share a living space with others. Similarly, leopard geckos can get stressed by those who share their habitat. The stress can result in a loss of appetite. Male leopard geckos can also be quite aggressive toward one another. Cohabiting males will usually end in the death of the weaker one. The best solution to this is to keep your leopard geckos in separate habitats.
- Disease or illness – Many diseases cause a loss of appetite in leopard geckos: parasitic infections, impaction, and metabolic bone disease (MBD), even mouth sores and abscesses can make your leopard gecko turn its nose up at food.
So, at what point should you become concerned over your leopard gecko’s loss of appetite?
Fortunately, their tails and bodies are designed to store fat so that they can go more or less lengthy periods of time without eating. However, if you notice your leopard gecko’s tail becoming drastically thinned and its back bones starting to protrude, you have cause for concern. Contact your preferred veterinarian right away.
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