Can a leopard gecko eat too many crickets?

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible for a leopard gecko to eat too many crickets. Leopard geckos are insectivores and crickets make up a large part of their diet in captivity. However, there are some potential risks associated with feeding too many crickets. These include:

– Nutritional imbalances if crickets aren’t properly gutloaded. Crickets themselves are not very nutritious.

– Potential for obesity if too many calories are consumed.

– Risk of impaction if the gecko eats parts of the cricket like the exoskeleton.

– Exposure to parasites or pesticides if crickets are not from a reputable source.

As long as crickets are gutloaded, from a reputable source, and fed in appropriate amounts, they are a healthy staple feeder for leopard geckos. Use variety and moderation when feeding crickets.

Leopard Gecko Diet in the Wild

In the wild, leopard geckos are insectivores, meaning they eat insects and other invertebrates. Their native habitat is the rocky deserts and grasslands of southwestern Asia and parts of the Middle East and Afganistan. Their diet consists primarily of:

– Crickets
– Mealworms
– Roaches
– Moths
– Spiders
– Scorpions
– Centipedes
– Beetles
– Grasshoppers
– Caterpillars

So in their natural environment, leopard geckos consume a wide variety of insects and invertebrates. Crickets make up a large portion of wild geckos’ diets.

Leopard Gecko Diet in Captivity

In captivity, the leopard gecko diet tries to mimic their diverse wild diet. Recommended feeders include:

– Crickets
– Mealworms
– Superworms
– Roaches
– Waxworms (in moderation, high in fat)
– Hornworms
– Silkworms

Crickets are a staple feeder because they are readily available, nutritious when gutloaded, enjoyed by geckos, and mimic a large part of their wild diet.

In addition to insects, it’s important to provide:

– Calcium powder to help with bone development and prevent metabolic bone disease. Calcium should be provided 2-3 times per week.
– Vitamin powder once a week that provides Vitamin A and D3
– Water in a small dish, changed daily

How Often to Feed Leopard Geckos

Leopard gecko feeding frequency depends on the gecko’s age:

– Hatchlings (under 6 months): Feed daily
– Juveniles (6-12 months): Feed every other day
– Adults (12+ months): Feed 2-3 times per week

Number of insects also depends on the size and age of the gecko:

– Hatchlings: 5-10 small crickets per day
– Juveniles: 5-15 medium crickets every other day
– Adults: 10-20 medium/large crickets 2-3x per week

Keep in mind that normal feeding amounts vary by gecko size and activity level. Monitor weight and adjust feeding up or down as needed.

Can Leopard Geckos Overeat Crickets?

Yes, it’s possible for a leopard gecko to eat too many crickets. Here are some of the potential problems:

Nutritional Imbalances

Crickets themselves are not very nutritious, containing mostly protein, fat and chitin (fiber from exoskeleton). They lack sufficient vitamins and minerals on their own to meet a gecko’s needs.

Wild crickets eat a varied diet of plants, fruits, vegetables, etc. But most commercial crickets are fed a grain-based diet that is deficient in nutrients.

This is why gutloading your feeder insects is so important. Gutloading means feeding the crickets a nutritious diet before feeding them to your gecko. This allows the gecko to obtain more vitamins and minerals.

If feeder crickets are not properly gutloaded, a gecko eating too many crickets could develop vitamin or mineral deficiencies over time. Common deficiencies include vitamin A, calcium and phosphorus.

Risk of Obesity

Crickets are high in protein and fat. Eating too many crickets could lead to a gecko taking in excess calories and becoming obese over time.

Obese geckos have an increased risk of health problems like:

– Fatty liver disease
– Cardiovascular disease
– Difficulty shedding
– Decreased activity and lifespan

To prevent obesity, pay attention to your gecko’s body condition and weight, and adjust feed amounts accordingly. An overweight gecko should be fed less frequently and in smaller amounts.

Impaction Risk

Eating parts of the cricket like the exoskeleton (chitin) can increase the risk of impaction if large amounts are consumed. Impaction is when an indigestible material accumulates and blocks the digestive tract.

Symptoms of impaction include:

– Difficulty pooping
– Swollen belly
– Lethargy
– Loss of appetite

Impaction can become life threatening if not resolved. To reduce the risk of impaction from crickets, avoid feeding too many at once, feed crickets that are not too large for the size of the gecko, and feed a variety of insect feeders like mealworms and roaches in addition to crickets.

Parasite and Pesticide Exposure

Crickets and other feeder insects may carry parasites internally that can infect leopard geckos. Common examples include pinworms and coccidia. Crickets from large chain pet stores are more prone to carrying parasites.

Crickets may also have pesticide residues if not from a reputable breeder that avoids chemical pest control. Exposure to high levels of parasites and pesticides could make a gecko sick.

The best way to avoid these risks is to purchase feeder insects from trusted specialty breeders. Many reptile online retailers and shows offer quality feeders.

Gutloading Crickets for Optimal Nutrition

To make crickets a more nutritious feeder insect, it’s essential to gutload them before feeding to your gecko. Here’s how:

– House crickets in a container with shelter and egg cartons. Provide adequate food and hydration.
– Feed crickets a high quality diet 24-48 hours before feeding to your gecko.
– Good gutload diets include fresh produce like oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, greens, etc. Quality commercial gutloads are also available.
– Supplement with calcium powder according to product directions.
– Avoid lettuce and moisture-rich fruits that can cause diarrhea.
– Always remove any dead or uneaten crickets from the habitat to prevent spoilage.

Properly gutloaded crickets contain more nutrients and can make up a healthy part of a varied leopard gecko diet.

Here is an example of a simple gutload recipe:

Ingredient Nutrition Provided
Sweet potato Vitamin A
Carrots Vitamin A
Mustard greens/collards Calcium
Broccoli Vitamin C
Calcium carbonate Calcium
Vitamin powder Vitamin A, D3

Providing Variety in the Leopard Gecko Diet

While crickets are a good staple feeder, variety is important to ensure optimal nutrition. Rotate in different feeder insects like:

– Mealworms
– Superworms
– Waxworms
– Roaches
– Hornworms
– Silk worms
– Fruit fly cultures

Different feeders provide different nutritional profiles. For example, mealworms are higher in fat than crickets. Hornworms are softer-bodied and good for hydration. Roaches are also nutritious and rich in protein and calcium.

Variety ensures well-rounded nutrition and helps prevent your gecko from developing a taste preference for only one feeder insect.

Supplementing the Leopard Gecko Diet

In addition to gutloading insects, leopard gecko dietary supplementation is vital, including:


– Needed for strong bones and egg development. Prevents metabolic bone disease.
– Dust insects with calcium powder 2-3 times per week.
– Use calcium without Vitamin D3 for geckos with proper UVB lighting.
– Use calcium with D3 for geckos without special UV lighting.

Multivitamin powder

– Provides essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, D3 and phosphorus.
– Dust insects with vitamin powder once a week.
– Use a reptile-specific vitamin product.

With proper supplementation, leopard geckos can get all the nutrients they need to thrive, even when eating a diet heavy on crickets.

Monitoring Your Leopard Gecko’s Health

To ensure your gecko stays healthy when feeding crickets, look for the following:

– Healthy body weight and condition, not too thin or overweight
– Regular appetite and normal feeding behavior
– Active and alert, not lethargic
– Firm, full tail base
– Solid muscle tone
– Regular hydration and urination
– Normal sheds with no retained skin
– Regular bowel movements without difficulty
– No signs of nutritional deficiencies like bone deformities or eye issues

Weigh your gecko monthly and make feeding adjustments as needed. Seek veterinary care if you observe any signs of illness or deficiencies. With attentive care and husbandry, leopard geckos can thrive on crickets as a dietary staple.


Crickets make up an important part of the leopard gecko diet in captivity. While they can eat too many crickets, this can be avoided through proper gutloading, supplementation, and variety. Feed crickets in moderation along with other nutritious insects. Monitor your gecko’s health and weight, making changes to prevent obesity and nutritional imbalances. With attentive care and husbandry, leopard geckos can safely enjoy crickets as part of a balanced, nutritious diet.

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