If you have recently taken on a leopard gecko, then you are going to need to be well versed in their dietary needs and nutritional requirements. For instance, how regularly do they need to be fed and how long can they go between meals? Here is what you will need to know.
So, how long can leopard geckos go without food? Wild leopard geckos can survive for up to 2-3 months without food, although this is not optimal. Pet and captive leopard geckos should be fed more frequently in accordance with their age and their size. Baby and younger leopard geckos require daily feeding, whereas adults should not go longer than 4-5 days without food.
Compared to many other species of lizards, leopard geckos are very low maintenance.
They are super easy to care for, an excellent selling point if you are considering purchasing one for a pet.
Although you do not need much in the way of knowledge to keep your leopard gecko healthy and happy, you will certainly want to know all about feeding and what is normal.
Let us now take a closer look at some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding the leopard gecko diet.
We will cover if it is in fact normal for a gecko to refuse food and why they may do this, how often you should be looking to feed them, how much, and when.
So be sure to keep on reading to get all the information you need!
Is It Normal For A Leopard Gecko To Not Eat?
There are certain times and certain situations where your Leopard Gecko may decide that they do not want to eat. Some of these reasons are perfectly normal, where others could be signs of a serious illness in your pet.
Because they are such easy creatures to take care of, it can become concerning when you notice that your Leopard Gecko is turning up their nose at food.
While this is not an immediately dangerous condition if it has only been a few days, you will still want to figure out the reason why.
The number one reason that a Leopard Gecko will stop eating is that their environment is too cold.
There could be several reasons for this, including the bulb in the heat light burning out, the tank may have a drafty area, or their heat mat is no longer working.
Since Leopard Geckos require a certain temperature to thrive, it is a good idea to check every couple of days to ensure that everything is as it should be.
Many Geckos will lose their appetite during the colder seasons of winter and late fall. The simple solution to this problem is to give a boost to the temperature in their environment.
Worth mentioning is that the heat mat in their tank does not warm the air so all Leopard Geckos will also need a heat lamp unless the ambient temperature of the room they are housed in is above 80 degrees.
Another reason for decreased appetite occurs when your pet has a fecal impaction.
This happens when they have recently consumed hard bedding material, an inappropriate meal, or an overly large meal.
If you notice that your Gecko appears to be constipated, you can try soaking them in warm water.
The water level should be high enough to cover their hips. Gently rub their tummy when they are under the water.
You can do this twice per day until the obstruction passes. If this process does not work, you will need to take your Leopard Gecko to the vet right away for an enema.
Lizards are prone to getting respiratory infections due to an insufficient tank environment.
Carefully check their tank for any signs of drafts and to make sure their heating elements are working.
Your Leopard Gecko may also stop eating if they have suffered an injury or if they are in pain.
Common injuries that would stop your pet from eating include tail injuries, abscesses, toe injuries, or injuries to the eyes.
Eye injuries can also cause vision problems which may make it difficult for a Gecko to see their food properly.
If you believe that your Leopard is in pain or that they have injured themselves, take them to your vet and have them decide if there is anything seriously wrong.
Females of breeding age will also slow down on the eating during ovulation, a process that lasts between 1 and 3 months.
This is perfectly normal, and you can attempt to give them some food every 2 weeks or so. Just make sure that they have constant access to fresh, clean water.
Oddly enough, overfeeding can also cause your Leopard Gecko to stop eating.
Finally, there are a few more common reasons why your pet may have stopped eating and none of them are cause for concern.
Changes in temperature or their environment have been known to make Leopard Geckos stop eating.
They will also shy away from food when they are starting their shed cycle. Their appetite should return to normal after the process is complete.
Stress can also make them unwilling to eat. One of the easiest ways to see if this is causing their lack of appetite is to move their tank into a room away from all the hustle and bustle in your home.
How Long Can A Leopard Gecko Go Without Eating?
Leopard Geckos may be able to survive for several months without eating. So, if you were to notice that they have taken a break from their food; they should be safe for some time.
This happens because when they are in the wild, food sources become scarce during the colder months, so their bodies have learned to adapt to a lack of food.
They can also go for several weeks without water.
Check your Leopard Gecko for any signs of illness or injury and check their tank to be sure that conditions are optimal.
If everything is as it should be, don’t become overly worried – your Gecko will eat when they are ready.
How Often Should You Feed A Leopard Gecko?
The biggest factor in determining how often to feed your Leopard Gecko is their age.
If you have a Gecko that is less than a year old, it should receive a meal once per day.
Because they are still growing at this point, they need the extra nutrients to help them grow into their proper adult size.
If your Leopard Gecko is older than one year, you can start to feed them every second day.
Adult Geckos that receive too much food can quickly become overweight and suffer some related illnesses.
However, if your Leopard Gecko is under the weather, go back to a daily feeding schedule until they are well again.
Is There A Best Time Of Day For Feeding Leopard Geckos?
These small lizards are nocturnal so it stands to reason that they would prefer to eat their meal after dark.
One of the best habits to get into is feeding your pet before you head to bed for the evening.
Not only will this ensure that you never forget since you are making it part of your routine, Leopard Geckos also like privacy and quiet when they are consuming a meal.
If your pet does not want to eat right away, leave a small dish of food in with them overnight and remove it in the morning.
How Much Food Should Your Leopard Gecko Get?
The amount of food that your Leopard Gecko should get is based on their size.
It is an interesting process to feed your Leopard Gecko. With most members of the lizard family, the general rule of thumb is to give them as much food as they will consume within a 15-minute period.
However, all the insects are left at the end of the 15 minutes will need to be caught by you and removed from the tank.
Deciding how much food your Gecko gets is far less complicated.
The only thing that you need to know is the length of your Leopard Gecko. The rule of thumb here is that your pet should receive 2 insects for every inch of length.
This means that if you have a 6-inch Gecko, their meal should consist of 12 insects.
What Kind Of Food Should I Be Providing To My Leopard Gecko?
To feed your leopard gecko properly, you are going to need a steady supply of insects and worms.
You want to make sure that your Leopard Gecko is getting the appropriate diet and most of them love a little bit of variety.
The most commonly fed insects and worms are mealworms, wax worms, superworms, crickets, and Dubia roaches.
Thankfully, you will be able to find these relatively easily – either in your local pet store, bait shop, or online.
Many owners swear by getting their insects and grubs on Amazon; due in part to the excellent prices and range of sellers:
Your Leopard Gecko will only eat living food, so it is vital that you keep them alive until it is time to feed your pet.
Also, any insect that you feed to your Gecko needs to be gut – loaded. This simply means that the bugs need to be fed 12 to 24 hours before they are fed to your Gecko.
You may also need to supply some additional nutrition in the form of calcium or vitamin supplements.
The quickest way to do this is to put your insects in a bag with some supplement powder. Shake the bag quickly and then immediately release them into your Gecko’s habitat.
How Long Does It Take For A Leopard Gecko To Starve To Death?
It takes a very long time for a Leopard Gecko to starve to death – many months, on average
Because their bodies are adapted to going without food, your Leopard Gecko could randomly stop eating for a couple of months.
As long as they always have access to fresh water, they should come through this self-imposed fasting with no lasting effects.
If they have gone more than a couple of weeks without drinking as well as not eating, this could be a dangerous situation and you should take your Leopard Gecko to the vet right away.
Your vet will do a thorough exam and run some tests to see what the problem is and then begin a course of action to get them healthy again.
Leopard geckos are low maintenance and can go for an extended time without food.
While this does not mean you can, nor should forget to feed them, it does mean that if they have stopped feeding – there is no need to immediately panic.
You should find that their appetite returns in a couple of days, or in some cases, a couple of weeks.
But if you are in doubt, or want to be sure, speak with a vet.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.