What Can’t Leopard Geckos Eat? Leopard Gecko Foods to Avoid



Leopard geckos are popular pets and are easy to care for.  However, it is important to choose the right type of food for your pet. Offering your leopard gecko the wrong food could cause serious health problems.  In general, do not feed your leopard gecko plant-based food or insects caught in the wild.  

Let’s go into more depth and explore some common questions about what leopard geckos can eat (and what they shouldn’t eat at all!)

Can Leopard Geckos Eat Lettuce?

No. Leopard geckos are not equipped to digest lettuce, vegetables, or plants. Leopard geckos lack the digestive enzymes to break down the cellulose contained in plants, and simply cannot digest plants they may have eaten.

While lettuce may be a healthy part of a bearded dragon or iguana’s diet, even if your leopard gecko would eat lettuce, they wouldn’t be able to digest it.

Can Leopard Geckos Eat Fruit?

No. Just like lettuce or any other plants, leopard geckos do not eat and cannot properly digest plant matter.  While fresh fruits are tasty items for some reptiles, though your leopard gecko will likely have no interest in fruit.  You should not feed your leopard gecko vegetables or any kind of plants.

Can leopard geckos eat vegetables?

While they may be a staple in the diets of lizards like bearded dragons and iguanas, vegetables and greens should not be offered to leopard geckos.

Vegetables like carrots or potatoes may be used to gut load feeder insects (crickets, mealworms, etc.) prior to feeding the insects to your gecko.  The gecko will get the nutritional content from the insects, without directly ingesting the vegetables.

Can a leopard gecko eat wild insects?

Technically, they can, though you should not offer your pet leopard gecko wild insects.  Insects you catch may carry parasites, disease, or pesticides that can harm your gecko. You don’t know what these insects may have been crawling in or around (fertilizer, oil spills, etc.) or what they may have ingested.  

Your lizard may eat wild insect given the chance, though most owners would rather not take the risk when there are safer food sources readily available.

You can readily find feeder insects specifically intended as pet food at most pet shops.  If you don’t have a pet store near you that sells insects for reptiles, you can order mealworms, superworms, crickets, dubia roaches, and more online.

If you’d like to source your own insects, you can easily breed them yourself.  Check out our breeding guides for mealworms and superworms.

Can a leopard gecko eat ants?

Ants can easily crawl out of most food bowls, and would not be a good source of food.  Ants left in your gecko’s tank may bite or injure your gecko, especially smaller juvenile or hatchling geckos.  

Can a leopard gecko eat stink bugs?

Stink bugs have a bad taste and smell, which will deter a leopard gecko from wanting to eat it.  A stink bug’s odor is such a deterrent they don’t have natural predators.

Can a leopard gecko eat spiders?

Again, it’s not a great idea to offer your pets wild caught insects. Even small house spiders are not the best food source.  Your leo may be enticed, though the risk of parasites or pesticides generally isn’t worth the potential health consequences.

Can a leopard gecko eat beetles?

If you leave mealworms out long enough, you’ve probably noticed they will pupate and turn into beetles.  What happens if your leo eats a beetle?  

Brown superworm beetle after moulting - Zophobas morio
New Beetle

Related post: Check out our info graphic explaining the mealworm life cycle

An occasional beetle won’t hurt, though the chitin in the beetle’s exoskeleton is much harder to digest and shouldn’t be a regular part of a leopard gecko’s diet. 

Generally, they don’t show much interest in beetles, so this wouldn’t be an issue.

Again, please don’t catch beetles in the backyard and feed them to your pet.

What food is toxic to leopard geckos?

Fireflies (lightning bugs) an other bio luminescent insects are toxic to leopard geckos.  If it glows, it’s a no go!

(And after reading the section above, you know that insects from your backyard should not be fed to your pet gecko.)

What should I feed my leopard gecko?

A mix of mealworms, crickets, superworms, and dubia roaches, from a trusted source are the best choices for a healthy diet and proper nutrition.

Also make sure you provide a fresh water source and have the correct heat sources and temperature in your geckos’ environment. Supplements like calcium powder are also important. Please check out our leopard gecko feeding guide for more in depth information on diet and feeding.

Do not offer food items that are too large.

Even if you choose the right insects, you need to make sure that your leopard gecko doesn’t bit off more than it can chew, so to speak.  This is especially important for hatchling or juvenile geckos. 

If you feed them an insect that is too large, your leopard gecko may not be able to properly digest it and may cause impaction. This means their digestive tract becomes clogged.

A general rule is to not offer insects larger than the space between your leopard gecko’s eyes.

Are Leopard Geckos Omnivores?

No. Omnivores eat both plants and meat. Leopard geckos are insectivores, and should be fed only insects like crickets or mealworms.

Wrap up: What food is bad for leopard geckos?

Leopard geckos are insectivores, and should be fed a variety of insects for a balanced diet.  Feeder insects from pet stores or that you’ve bred yourself are the best sources of food.

They cannot digest plant matter, so please don’t feed your leopard gecko fruits or vegetables.

Check out our full feeding guide for more information on leopard gecko diet and feeding needs.

Keep track of your leopard geckos eating habits with our free feeding log:

hevanmiller

H. Evan Miller is the founder of the Leopard Gecko Habitat. Like many young boys, he developed an early fascination with dinosaurs, and by extension, reptiles. He’s been keeping reptiles as pets since he was a kid (we won’t count the decades) and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge on the topic. You can read more about his ongoing adventures with science, technology, and a couple of curious kids over at https://STEMtropolis.com.

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