Feeding - Offering Prey
Feeding - Offering Prey seems trivial to some, but for others it is an issue that needs to be addressed. One of the most common questions regarding prey has to do with quantity and frequency. Enthusiasts want to ensure they are offering the correct prey items, in the proper quantities, over the correct time period. This section will hopefully answer those questions for you.
Prey Items - Feeding - Offering Prey
The following items are commonly used as feeding prey for leopard geckos.
For many enthusiasts, crickets and mealworms make up the basis for their primary diet. In some cases, one or both of these insects are all that is used as a prey item. While both of these items can be used alone as solitary feeder prey, it is always best to offer a diverse selection of insects to your leopard geckos.
By offering different types of feeder prey, you are offering different nutrients as well. None of the feeder insects listed above have the same nutritional content. The varying degrees of calcium, fat, moisture, minerals, and trace elements will help create a balanced diet. (You should also be using quality vitamin and calcium supplements.)
The different insects also have different ways of getting around, and can be offered to your leopard gecko in different ways as well.
How Often - Feeding - Offering Prey
I am in the habit of feeding my geckos daily. In fact, I typically have a dish of mealworms in with my leopard geckos at all times. It has been my experience that a leopard gecko who is allowed to eat when they are most comfortable, opposed to following a schedule I dictate, grow faster. I also like to use superworms, waxworms, and crickets to supplement my leopard geckos diets. Unlike the dish of mealworms, these prey items are not offered daily. Instead these insects are often introduced to the leopard geckos during the evening, and in limited numbers. I will use a supplementing insect at least once a week but often find myself offering prey every three to four days.
How Many - Feeding - Offering Prey
The dish of mealworms I offer always has mealworms in it. There is no set number of mealworms that I will add. The supplementing insects on the other hand are limited. Waxworms have a higher fat content and I typically limit the consumption of these insects to three or so per introduction. Superworms are also limited to three per introduction. Crickets have no limit. With crickets I will typically toss in one or two and wait for them to be consumed. Once consumed I will toss in a third. I will continue tossing in crickets until the leopard gecko stops eating them. The average intake is five crickets.
Feeding Methods - Feeding - Offering Prey
There are several ways in which to offer feeder prey to your leopard gecko. The most common methods of introduction are with feeder dishes, tongs, and the simple grab and drop.
Mealworm dish with sliced carrot for moisture and gutloading.
Feeder Prey Dish - Feeding - Offering Prey
I like to keep my feeders contained. Small insects are capable of hiding in places where leopard geckos can't reach them. The feeder dish prevents this from happening.
I typically use a dish that is roughly 1.5 inches deep, that I surround with rocks for easy access. This keeps almost all types of prey contained while still offering complete access to the prey for the leopard geckos. Any shallow dish can be used. Ideally you want a smooth surfaced container such as glass, ceramic, or smooth plastic dishes. This will make gripping the side more difficult for the insect.
By using a feeder dish you can acurately keep track of what and how many insects your leopard gecko is consuming. It will also let you know when it is time to add additional feeders to the enclosure.
Tongs - Feeding - Offering Prey
Tongs are a great way to offer treats and softbodied prey to your leopard gecko. Waxworms, butterworms, and silk worms are easily offered using tongs. Some enthusiasts, to keep track of them, even offer crickets by means of tongs.
Grab - Drop - Feeding - Offering Prey
This is the simplest and most common method that enthusiasts use to offer prey. As the section suggests, this is when you grab the feeder insect and drop it into the enclosure. This method of offering prey has some drawbacks to it. It is much more difficult to keep track of consumed prey, insects are given the chance to hide, substrate is consumed (pending you are using a loose particulate substrate), and adult crickets not offered food of their own will nibble on sleeping geckos. (Which can lead to infection.)
Prey Size - Feeding - Offering Prey
The rule of thumb is to offer prey that is no larger than the space between the eyes. Prey that is slightly larger can be offered if that is what you have. It is safest however to follow the stated rule.