If you’ve researched leopard geckos, you probably learned crickets are a part of their staple diet.
Your gecko might have even been fed crickets from the breeder since it was young, and you have included crickets in your leo’s diet after bringing it home.
But lately, you’ve noticed your pet isn’t eating the crickets you are offering.
So why won’t your leopard gecko eat crickets?
As a general rule, leopard geckos are notoriously picky eaters, and they will forego eating crickets if something tastier comes along. Crickets also pose a hunting challenge because they can jump and move quickly, making them more difficult for a leopard gecko to catch.
Many leos simply do not like eating crickets, whether it’s because they don’t like the taste or because it’s not worth the effort.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at what happens if a leopard gecko doesn’t eat crickets or loses its appetite altogether and explore ways to deal with a picky eater.
Table of Contents
Will My Leopard Gecko Survive Without Crickets?
Yes, your leo will do just fine if its diet does not include crickets.
While an all-cricket diet is packed with nutrients and their jumpy movements stimulate the hunting reflex, many other insect options are available for your pet.
Their quick movements also encourage the young leos to hunt for their food.
Once a leo reaches its adult stage, new insects are usually introduced to its diet.
Some individual geckos decide they prefer other insects over crickets once they have tried them.
Crickets are notoriously smelly, and their chirping is quite noisy and bothersome to reptile owners.
These owners are usually very happy their leopard gecko prefers to go without crickets.
However, other insects may not be as readily available as crickets in certain areas, or some owners insist on including crickets in their leo’s diet even if their pet is not eating them.
How Do I Get My Leopard Gecko to Eat Crickets?
You should never force your leopard gecko to eat anything it doesn’t want.
However, there are ways to stimulate your leo’s appetite for crickets.
The movements of crickets make them ideal for leos who like to hunt for their food.
For older leos with poor eyesight or slow reflexes, this is not ideal.
If crickets are too active for your leo to effectively catch, pulling the back legs off of the crickets will make them unable to jump away.
They can still move around, which will catch the attention of the leopard gecko, and the crickets will be much easier to catch.
You may also use special feeding tongs to feed crickets to your leo.
These tongs have special rubberized tips to prevent any injury while feeding your lizard.
Always offer your leopard gecko live crickets, as it will not be interested in a dead food item or freeze-dried crickets or other insects.
We also have some additional information on how many crickets to feed leopard geckos if you want to learn more on this.
What Are Some Other Insects To Feed My Leopard Gecko?
Do not be alarmed if you have tried these methods and your leopard gecko still will not eat crickets.
Leos are avid insectivores, and there are plenty of other nutritious insect options, such as:
- Dubia roaches
- Small grasshoppers
- Meal worms
- Wax worm
- Phoenix worm
- Horned worm
- Super worms
Dubia roaches are the best choice as a dietary staple to replace crickets, as both of these are feeder insects with similar nutritional values.
The following table illustrates the similarities in nutrition between dubia roaches and crickets.
As you see, dubia roaches are just as nutritious as crickets, and they offer more protein.
A good rule of thumb is to feed your adult leopard gecko two dubia roaches for every 1″ inch of body length.
In addition to dubia roaches, you should supplement your leo’s diet with any of the other listed feeder insects.
Offering up a wide variety of insects keeps your gecko from becoming a picky eater, so be sure to change up the insects you offer regularly.
This helps keep feeding time interesting for your leo and will stimulate its appetite.
While waxworms offer up a lot of nutritional value, especially calcium, they should only be fed sparingly as a treat due to their high-fat content.
Leos find waxworms particularly tasty, and if they are offered too many of them, they will refuse other feeding insects you offer.
Check out our list of best leopard gecko foods and other diet information for a huge list of food you can offer your pet.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Not Eating?
There may be times where your healthy leopard gecko loses its appetite not just for one type of insect and refuses to eat anything at all.
There are many reasons a leopard gecko will go through periods without food, such as:
- Temperatures in the enclosure are too cold
- Upper respiratory infection
- They are going through the shedding process
Cold Temperatures in the Enclosure
Leopard geckos need heat to digest their food properly.
If the environment inside their enclosure is kept too low for prolonged periods, your leo may lose its appetite completely until it is warm again.
Temperatures in the enclosure should never drop below 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
This aligns with their natural environment.
Using a heat lamp and monitoring enclosure temperatures regularly are good practices to keep the environment at the proper temperature.
Further reading: Do leopard geckos really need a heat lamp?
If you notice your leopard gecko is not eating and has not defecated in several days, it may be suffering from impaction.
Impaction occurs when your gecko ingests foreign particles, such as loose substrate, which they cannot digest in their belly.
These particles build up in your leo’s stomach and prevent any food from moving through the digestive system.
Soaking your leopard gecko in shallow, warm water usually relieves impaction.
Still, if this does not work, you should seek veterinary care to rule out the existence of parasites or other health problems.
Your veterinarian will be able to give your leo an enema to help it defecate properly.
Upper Respiratory Infection
Upper respiratory infections are the most common illness among baby leopard geckos and adult geckos, and they will stop eating if they are sick.
Leopard gecko owners need to watch for this carefully.
If you notice any of these symptoms, take your gecko to a veterinarian right away for proper treatment.
Once your gecko is well again, it will resume eating.
Your gecko will refuse to eat if it has any type of injury.
Injuries of the eyes, tail, or toes will cause your leo enough pain to make it lose its appetite.
Once your gecko has received proper veterinary treatment for its injury and the pain starts to subside, normal eating habits will resume.
If you have just brought your leopard gecko home, it will need up to two weeks to adjust to its surroundings.
During this time, your leo may refuse any food you are offering.
Give your gecko enough time to get used to its surroundings.
Once your leo becomes comfortable in your home, it will start eating.
If your gecko isn’t eating and you notice its skin has turned a milky white, your pet is going through the shedding process.
Shedding occurs approximately every 4-8 weeks in adult leopard geckos, with the entire process being completed in about two days.
During this time, your leo may stop eating.
Once the shed is complete, your gecko will start eating again.
And if your pet refusing to eat is a common problem make sure to read our post on why leopard geckos stop eating for help.
How many crickets should a leopard gecko eat a day? ›
Baby Leopard Geckos should be fed 5-7 small crickets or mealworms every day until they reach about 4 inches. Larger food should be offered every other day until they become full grown in about 10-12 months. Adults can be fed 6-7 large crickets or mealworms 2 to 3 times a week.Why is my leopard gecko not eating but very active? ›
A respiratory infection may be causing your leopard gecko to stop eating. In the same way that you may not really feel like eating when you have a bad cold, leopard geckos will often go off their food if they have a respiratory infection.Can leopard geckos be picky eaters? ›
Some leos are simply picky eaters. One may dislike mealworms. Another one won't touch crickets.Why doesn t my leopard gecko want to eat crickets? ›
Your leopard gecko may refuse to eat crickets if there are cage issues, health issues, or cricket issues (too large or inactive). Your leopard gecko might also be addicted to other feeder insects. It is essential to analyze each of these factors, as they can occur concurrently or independently.How long can a leopard gecko go without eating crickets? ›
Many adult leopard geckos can go without food for ten days to two weeks because of the fat storage in their tails. It is completely normal for leopard geckos to go without eating for long periods. Unlike mammals, reptiles do not require food every day to survive, particularly during the winter.Can you put too many crickets in with a leopard gecko? ›
While crickets cannot seriously harm your leopard gecko, they can spread pathogens or start biting your lizard, which can cause an injury and potentially an infection. Be sure to monitor your leopard gecko's eating habits and feed it as many crickets as it can eat and remove the leftovers after that.What can I feed my leopard gecko if I ran out of crickets? ›
The best insects to feed your Leopard Gecko are crickets and mealworms. However, you can also feed him waxworms, butterworms, silkworms, tomato hornworms, beetles, sow bugs and cockroaches. Waxworms and superworms should be fed as a treat as they're high in fat.How often should geckos be fed crickets? ›
An appropriate diet may consist of commercially-raised crickets with smaller numbers of silkworms, roaches, mealworms, superworms, waxworms, and other live insects. Juveniles should be fed every 1-2 days and adults 2-3 times per week.How do I get my stubborn leopard gecko to eat? ›
Try feeding your gecko some of the following foods to stimulate its appetite: Safe insects include crickets, mealworms (not for the main diet because of lack of nutrition and hard exoskeleton), waxworms (treats only, very addictive), silkworms and dubia roaches.How can I tell if my leopard gecko is dehydrated? ›
- Dry, wrinkled or puckered skin.
- Loss of skin elasticity and flexibility.
- Sunken, receded eyes.
- Weakness and lethargy.
- Sticky or dry membranes.
- Flaky skin or trouble shedding.
- Constipation or infrequent defecation.
Do leopard geckos get tired of eating the same food? ›
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, although leopard geckos are insectivores, they're still built to eat a variety of different foods. If you've been feeding your gecko the same one or two types of feeder insects for a while, it's possible that they've simply become tired of getting the same-old-same-old.Do leopard geckos like to be hand fed? ›
Treats. Like other pets, leopard geckos enjoy treats. Hand feeding (or tweezer feeding, technically) can be great for bonding. Use fatty worms, like waxworms, superworms, and butterworms, for special snacks.Can I feed my leopard gecko anything other than insects? ›
Unlike some other common pet lizards, leopard geckos will eat live insects only. They won't accept canned or dried reptile food or meat. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are very uncommon. Feeder insects are bred in captivity to feed pet reptiles and some birds.Why is my lizard not eating crickets? ›
The most common reason that a bearded dragon or other lizard will stop eating crickets is simply because they have gotten tired of crickets. If you've been feeding your pet crickets for a long time, and it's always accepted them before suddenly rejecting them, then this may be your issue.How many crickets should I put in my leopard gecko tank? ›
A great rule of thumb for gecko feeding is: 2 appropriately-sized bugs per 1 inch of your leopard gecko's length. Generally, this amount can be consumed in 15 minutes. Juveniles should be fed daily, and young adults fed every other day/every 3 days. Adults whose tail is fatter than their neck can be fed every 5 days.Can leopard geckos survive without crickets? ›
Crickets are a viable option for many people, but for those who do not want to deal with the smell, noise, and other disadvantages of crickets, a mealworm-exclusive diet may be the way to go! As a quick fact, the majority of leopard geckos who hold longevity records have been fed nothing but mealworms!How do I know if my leopard gecko is in Brumation? ›
- Less active than usual.
- Loss of appetite.
- Hiding for weeks at a time.
- Preferring the cool side of the enclosure.
What is this? A leopard gecko may refuse to eat mealworms if the gecko is still feeling full, not interested in dead prey, or if the mealworms are too large. A gecko may also have a low appetite if they are shedding, if the tank temperature is too low, or if they are unwell or stressed.What is the feeding schedule for leopard geckos? ›
It's easy to remember how much to feed your gecko: Offer 2 appropriately-sized bugs per 1 inch of your leopard gecko's length, or however much they can eat in 15 minutes. Juveniles should be fed daily, and young adults fed every other day/every 3 days.What should I do if my leopard gecko won't eat? ›
The number one reason why leopard geckos stop eating is that they are too cold. Perhaps your heat bulb burned out, perhaps the heat mat stopped working, perhaps there's a draft going into the cage, or maybe you never had a heat source for your leopard gecko and now it's just gotten too cold.
How do I keep crickets alive for my leopard gecko? ›
The two biggest factors to successfully keeping your crickets alive, are humidity, and feeding. High humidity kills crickets very, very rapidly. It is entirely possible to wipe out a colony in less than an hour by leaving them in a high humidity environment.Is it OK for leopard geckos to eat dead crickets? ›
Feeding leopard geckos dead crickets is not recommended for several reasons. Dead crickets have little to no moisture or nutritional value. Besides that, dead crickets attract parasites and bacteria that can harm your gecko's health.How do you force feed a leopard gecko? ›
You can do this by holding the insect a few inches from its mouth and waiting for them to come for it. Alternatively, you can hold your leopard gecko with your non-dominant hand and hold the insect near its mouth using the dominant hand.Will a leopard gecko starve itself? ›
A leopard gecko will not starve itself to death. It might refuse to eat when it has stored enough energy in its tail but will start eating again when that energy is used up. Leopard geckos that refuse to eat even though they are starving are usually sick or suffering from an incorrect tank setup.How often should leopard geckos eat? ›
Leopard geckos feed primarily on live, moving insect prey. An appropriate diet may consist of commercially-raised crickets with smaller numbers of silkworms, roaches, mealworms, superworms, waxworms, and other live insects. Juveniles should be fed every 1-2 days and adults 2-3 times per week.How do I know if my leopard gecko is impacted? ›
Signs of impaction may include loss of appetite, reduced activity, swelling of the abdomen and vent prolapse. Dehydration due to inadequate fluid intake, lack of a moist hide or insufficient environmental humidity also contributes to gut impaction.Should I leave bagged crickets in my leopard geckos tank? ›
While crickets cannot seriously harm your leopard gecko, they can spread pathogens or start biting your lizard, which can cause an injury and potentially an infection. Be sure to monitor your leopard gecko's eating habits and feed it as many crickets as it can eat and remove the leftovers after that.What time of day should I feed my leopard gecko? ›
The best time to feed a gecko is in the early evening (7-9 pm) when it becomes active after its daytime snooze. Feeding can typically take 10-20 minutes - the gecko will know when to stop and will not 'over indulge'. For some owners, this is the most rewarding part of having a leopard gecko as a pet.Can you overfeed a leopard gecko? ›
It is possible to overfeed a Leopard Gecko, but less easy to do than with some other reptiles as they don't tend to overeat so readily. Feeding a Leopard Gecko too much food, or too many calories, can cause health issues such as impaction, obesity, and hepatic lipidosis. That's the basic answer.How do you gut load crickets? ›
Gut loading is when you feed your crickets a lot nutrient-boosting foods. These foods are typically fresh vegetables, whole wheat breads, and grains. Then, you allow the crickets about 24 hours to absorb the vitamins and minerals from this healthy meal. And then, you supply those gut-loaded crickets to your pet.
Why do I have to hand feed my leopard gecko? ›
Hand-feeding your Leopard Gecko is a positive way to build a trust relationship and work on handling. It is also necessary to aid Leopard Geckos who are sick or blind. But, hand-feeding is not as enriching as allowing your Leopard Gecko to hunt and deprives them of exercise and natural behavior.How can I make my leopard gecko happier? ›
HOW TO KEEP YOUR LEOPARD GECKO HEALTHY, HAPPY AND SAFE! mist the hide box substrate daily. provide low level UVB light. As a nocturnal animal, leopard geckos may be adapted to low light intensity, and thus may require lower levels of supplemental UVB light in captivity than many other reptiles.