One of the most important parts of raising leopard geckos is having a proper feeding schedule. Consistent feeding will help your gecko live a happy, healthy, and long life.
At first, creating a feeding schedule for leopard geckos may seem complicated! In reality, to know how often you need to feed leopard geckos, all you need to know is their age! Raising leopard geckos for 14 years, I have learned that the best schedules adjust to each individual gecko as they grow.
Keep reading as I break down exactly how often you should feed your gecko to get it on the right track for growing and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Feed baby leopard geckos (<9 months old) once per day, juveniles (9-18 months old) every other day, and adults (>18 months old) 2-3 times per week.
- It is okay to feed babies daily, but doing so with adults can cause obesity.
- When your leopard gecko reaches 1 year old, start feeding every other day.
- Watch your gecko’s weight and adjust his diet as necessary to keep him in a healthy weight range.
- These lizards like to be fed just after dusk, so schedule feeding time in the evening.
How Often Do You Feed Leopard Geckos?
|Age||How Often||How Much|
|New baby (0 – 3 months)||Daily||5 – 6 small crickets or dubia cockroaches|
|Older baby (3 – 9 months)||Daily||6 – 8 small crickets or dubia cockroaches|
|Juvenile (9 – 18 months)||Every other day||5 – 7 medium crickets, dubia cockroaches, or mealworms|
|Adult (18 months+)||2 – 3 times per week (space out feeding days throughout the week)||6 – 7 large crickets, medium dubias, or superworms|
Feed baby leopard geckos once every day until they reach about nine months old. Baby geckos are growing and developing quickly, so they need a lot of high-quality nutrition. At nine months old, you can reduce the frequency of feeding to every other day.
When your juvenile hits 18 months, gradually begin to reduce meals until you’re only feeding 2-3 times each week. I usually stretch this transitional period over 3 weeks to make it easier and less abrupt.
Adult leopard geckos should be fed 2-3 times every week. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on their weight to avoid over-or underfeeding.
Baby (<9 months old)
|Feeding a Baby Leopard Gecko|
|How Often||Daily, in the evening|
|How Much||5 – 6 small crickets or dubia cockroaches|
|Example||Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday: 6 small crickets. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: 4 small dubias and 2 small mealworms.|
When I brought home my first leopard gecko as a baby, I was shocked by how much food he would eat in a week. I felt like I was buying crickets every other day!
Leopard geckos tend to grow fastest in their first few months after hatching, when they put a lot of energy into growing and developing. As a result, baby geckos need plenty of food at frequent intervals to stay healthy.
Baby leopard geckos under nine months old should be fed 5-8 small (¼ inch) crickets or dubia cockroaches daily, preferably in the evening.
I have found that 5-8 small crickets is a good number to feed – not too many, not too few.
Alternatively, feed a leopard gecko two crickets for every inch of its length.
Make sure all of the prey items have been gut loaded with vitamin-rich fresh fruits, vegetables, and a protein source (I use crushed, dry cat food). Every other feeding dust prey with a calcium supplement.
Mealworms have a higher ratio of indigestible chitin to protein, so they should be fed to baby geckos less often than crickets or dubias.
Author Tip: Avoid skipping any meals. At this age, under-feeding your leopard gecko is more of a risk than overfeeding them. While adults can go several days between meals, babies are still developing the fat stores in their tail and will get hungry very quickly.
At the end of each meal, your leopard gecko should start to lose interest in its prey, or at least not attack with as much ferocity. This is a sign that they are getting full. However, this does depend on their personality. One of my babies would continue to strike at crickets when she felt full, while her brother would completely turn his nose up at them after just a few minutes.
Small crickets are fast and good at escaping, so I don’t recommend feeding your baby gecko by putting crickets directly in its enclosure.
To feed a leopard gecko, I usually move them to a smaller, basic “feeding tub” lined with paper towels, then put the crickets in there. This gives them the opportunity to actively hunt, without risking escapes.
I feed more skittish babies in their home tank by holding the crickets by a back leg with tongs (pictured below).
Juvenile (9-18 months old)
|Feeding a Juvenile Leopard Gecko|
|How Often||Every other day|
|How Much||5 – 7 medium crickets, dubia cockroaches, or mealworms|
|Example||Monday: 6 medium crickets, Wednesday: 5 dubias, Friday: 3 mealworms and 4 medium crickets, Sunday: 7 medium crickets.|
Leopard geckos hit the juvenile stage once they reach around nine months old. On average, juveniles measure around 5 inches long and weigh anywhere between 15 and 35 grams. Juveniles should not be fed daily, but they still need meals every other day.
Feed a leopard gecko every other day once they reach nine months old.
Just like babies, juveniles should be fed in the evening when they start to get active. Oftentimes, my hungry young geckos will come right out of their hides and up to the front of the tank, indicating they are ready to eat!
Move them to a separate feeding box for meals (pictured below).
Since your juvenile will be quite a bit bigger than it was as a baby (you’ll be amazed by how fast they grow), you will need to upgrade to larger prey. For a juvenile leopard gecko, I generally feed ½ inch crickets and mealworms and stick with small dubias.
Author Tip: A good rule of thumb when picking insects is that they should be no larger than the width between your gecko’s eyes.
Again, underfeeding is more of a problem in juveniles than overfeeding, but you should still keep an eye on their weight and body condition for signs of obesity. Gaining weight at this age is normal. Juveniles build up fat stores in their tails, so you should start to notice their tails thickening and filling out.
Maintain a regular schedule and pay attention at each meal to signs that your gecko is happy and getting full. You should see decreased interest in prey, or waiting longer between striking each insect.
Most juveniles will stop eating once they are full.
When I first began raising leopard geckos, my veterinarian was a huge help in determining what weight was healthy.
Her best advice was that each lizard is different, so you should tailor a feeding plan to each individual, instead of using a one-schedule-fits-all approach. Just like humans, leopard geckos have slightly different metabolisms from individual to individual.
Adult (18+ months old)
|Feeding an Adult Leopard Gecko|
|How Often||2 – 3 times per week|
|How Much||6 – 7 large crickets, medium dubias, or superworms|
|Example Week A||Tuesday: 7 large crickets , Friday: 5 dubias and 1 superworms.|
|Example Week B||Monday: 2 large crickets and 4 dubias, Thursday: 6 large crickets and 1 superworm, Saturday: 7 dubias.|
Adults are fully grown between 18 and 24 months and should eat less often than babies and juveniles.
You can expect to feed an adult leopard gecko once every two or three days.
Adult geckos often automatically decrease the amount of food they eat, but you should start to switch from a juvenile to an adult diet when they weigh at least 40 grams.
Transition over three weeks from feeding every other day to 2-3 times per week. Gradually increase the time between feedings by a day until your leopard gecko is adjusted to its new routine. I don’t follow a strict feeding guideline during this time; instead, I pay attention to my gecko’s level of hunger and adjust the schedule as needed.
Remember that a transitional period should help keep them from being hungry.
Author Tip: If you notice your leopard gecko is gaining more weight than it should, cut back a bit on feeding. You can try giving 7 large crickets on a Tuesday and 5 dubias and 1 superworm on Friday.
Adults are prone to becoming overweight. The tail of an overweight gecko is as wide (or wider) than their head, and they’ll also have a sagging belly and sausage-shaped arms.
Leopard geckos are naturally chunkier than other pet lizards, but should still have a streamlined, muscular appearance.
There are three main reasons why a healthy adult gecko may not eat:
Gravid (pregnant) leopard geckos refuse food about three days before laying their eggs. They will quickly regain their appetite two days after the eggs are laid and are usually very hungry!
Geckos typically stop eating a day or two before shedding.
In the wild, leopard geckos living in more northern parts of their range go through a period of reduced activity in the winter called brumation. In a heated and lighted enclosure, your gecko will not brumate fully like its wild counterparts. However, seasonal changes in light from windows and cooler indoor temperatures can cause your lizard to slow down in the winter. I have noticed my geckos regularly become a little less active and less hungry from December to February.