The popularity of crested geckos has increased significantly in the past five to ten years. This increase in popularity is partly because of their diet, ease of care, and their cuteness. However, there are still questions about the nutrition of crested geckos and what is best for them. So, if you’re wondering what a crested gecko eats, then in this article, we’re going to discuss that.
What Does a Crested Gecko Eat in the Wild?
Studies, such as that done by Saint-Dizier, H. in 2007, have looked into the diets of wild individuals. In the study nearly 50% of the diet of wild individuals was insects, with crickets and locusts being the preferred prey item. In addition, 11% of their diet was smaller reptiles, and 8.68% was also other vertebrate prey, including young rodents.
Therefore, in the wild, it can be assumed that more than nearly 70% of their diet is meat-based. Another part of their diet is vegetarian based, 11.7% of their diet is berries, with 7.5% fruit juices. They also have 1.8% soft seeds and 10.3% pollen aggregates.
How does this compare to the diet we provide crested geckos in captivity?
What Does a Crested Gecko Eat in Captivity?
Generally speaking, many keepers of crested geckos will use a pre-mix of crested gecko food. These foods are a good mix of all the ingredients of a natural crested gecko diet. However, there are two problems with relying on this.
- Wrong mixture
The first of these problems is that crested geckos, like many other reptiles we keep in captivity, love to have hunting experiences. Placing live insects in an enclosure encourages the reptile to hunt and get that thrill of the hunt they like.
The other problem is that many crested gecko meal replacement foods rely more heavily on fruit and pollen. And they tend not to have 70% of the meat common in the natural diet of crested geckos.
And there is another issue, fruits are seasonal, therefore a crested gecko will naturally eat fruit and other elements only during a portion of the year. And this can be one of the hardest issues for crested gecko owners because a gecko might go off their food for some time, especially meal replacement, but it is just a natural process.
Dav Kaufmann has noted that this is a natural process when he visited their natural habitat.
How to Feed a Crested Gecko in Captivity
The US breeders have been working with crested geckos for a lot longer and therefore found better options for feeding their geckos. While meal replacements and powered food do tend to feature in their diet, this is often used in far less quantity than UK keepers tend to use it.
And it can make a significant difference.
In addition, we’ve noticed that American breeders tend to utilize a more insect-heavy diet, especially when they are young. Mealworms are offered by some breeders, but crickets are generally offered instead.
How we Feed our Crested Geckos
We feed our crested geckos crickets two or three times a week with meal replacement options once a week during the winter. During the summer, when fruits are more abundant in their natural range, we reduce the insects to one or two times per week and add more meal replacements.
However, we also monitor uptake. Some individuals will be more appreciative of the live insects, whereas others prefer the meal replacement.
The live insects we prefer to use for crested geckos include crickets and locusts. These are fed a diet of salad and vegetables. You should also dust these insects with a calcium powder.
Final Word: What Does a Crested Gecko Eat?
Crested gecko diets are more complicated than some of the species of geckos that you can keep, such as leopard geckos. That doesn’t mean that you can’t keep them successfully at home. There are plenty of options when feeding crested geckos, but you should try to mimic the natural diet of crested geckos in the wild of mostly insects.
Remember that crested geckos are a great species to keep, but you have to be more careful with the diet as it is seasonal as well. So if your crested gecko is not feeding on the replacement foods, add more insects into the diet. Crickets and locusts provide a more enriching experience.