Leopard and African Fat-Tailed Geckos, Part 2: Eating

A very important and common question: “What do they eat?” I wish the answer was “fruit” or “leaves” or at least “raw meat”.

Sadly for me, the answer is crickets and they have to be alive and well fed. It is not that I do not like crickets. I it just I am an animal lover, and any kind of cruelty towards any type of them is absolutely out of the question. No matter how big or small, they are live beings and they deserve respect. It is important to understand that all of us exist in nature for a reason and millions of years of evolutions have place each creature in its place. There is no reason for cruelty even though I am not very fond of insects, most of them, as you know, carry a bunch of unwanted bacteria on their feet and are usually appear uninvited, and some… well, they are just really ugly. There are a few that are pretty and some of them, as crickets that are totally harmless.

A Typical Diet

Most Leos and Fatties`s favorite are spiders, however there is not place near me that sell them. I would not recommend grabbing wild insects to feed the geckos, basically because there is no way of knowing if it is healthy and clean or if it has eaten something that might be harmful for the geckos. Remember this kind of geckos would not normally live in cities. The best is to buy or grown them yourself, this way the risk is less, plus you can have the satisfaction of knowing that the insect was grown to be fed to the geckos.

They also eat mealworms and waxworms. Apparently these two can even be kept in the freezer and this way they can be kept for longer time. From my point of view, worms are really nasty things and they have a horrid smell. I love my geckos so much that I have been willing to overcome these feelings, if only they are happy and healthy. Lucky for me, I have tried several times to feed Jupiter and Nova with them, but they reject them. They just smell the worms and walk away. This happens everytime and I will not for force them, even though they should eat and like them. So since they do not like them and I do not like them then worms are simply out of the menu.

I also know geckos should like dubia roaches as much as children like cotton candy. It should be a treat for them and give them a lot of calories. Dubia roaches are better looking than normal cockroaches, but still very nasty. A few months ago I found a place to buy them, and while swallowing my disgust for this repulsive, black creatures, brought a few home. Nova walked away immediately when she saw it and did not even cared to try it. Jupiter, however, stayed there trying to figure out what was the new thing in front of him. Going back and forth a few times, as if he had not make out his mind yet but then finally he just went for it. Baam! One bite and the ugly thing was gone. But the story is not over. After swallowing, Jupiter raised his eyes looking at me a little frightened. I understand now that it was because he was feeling something in his stomach that he had never felt before and then he just walked away refusing to eat another. A few moments after saw he had thrown up. Dubias are, as well, out of the menu.

A fat tail is a healthy tail, besides it looks so gorgeous and magnificent. Why not fatten it up? Many people recommend pinkies that is,baby mice. Wait, whaaaaaaaaaaat? There is no way I am going to sacrifice a baby mouse to my geckos, as much as I love them, that seems cruel to me. Besides, what will I do if they do not fancy it and just leave it half dead? No way! I could never do that.  And so goes the 4th thing out of the menu.19178089843_0463728291_o

That leaves me with crickets and only crickets. They are not very unpleasant, no deadly smell and feeding them to my geckos does not feel inhumane. The most important thing is that both Jupiter and Nova fancy them.

Preparing the Crickets

Whenever I go to the pet store for crickets I ask for small sized ones. Ideally crickets should not be larger that 2/3 of the gecko head. Sweet little Nova eats up to 2 cm ones and mighty little Jupiter up to 3 – 3.5 cm. People in the pet shops are usually nice, but sometimes they reluctantly chose the crickets for me. Either way I do not want to be a nuisance and since I need about 20-30 crickets two or three times a week I ended up catching the crickets myself. They used to make me nervous, but now we are just like old pals.

The crickets are kept in a small cage with sufficient ventilation. Some suggest placing carton or paper for the crickets to feel more comfortable.The problem I see with this, is that they will eat it and my geckos will end with a  bunch of cellulose in their bellies.

Everyday I spray water on the walls of the cage, I do not place a bowl of water for they are likely to drown in it. As for the food, let’s not forget that crickets are the only thing that my geckos eat, so I need to gut load them properly so they obtain as many nutrients as possible. The success in a healthy diet is variety, but crickets are very small and they die very easily, so I cannot feed them with watery food or things what will rot very quickly, such as watermelon or papaya. Usually, I just cut few pieces of carrot, apple, lettuce, cucumber or similar food. Also, some grains and cereals are good. They dryer the food is the easier it is to clean after.  Just recently I found out that it is possible to feed the crickets with dry dog or cat food and since the they seem to like it, I included it.

After feeding the crickets, it is important to wait a couple of hours before the geckos delight. Once or twice a week I powder the crickets with a mix of calcium and other minerals. These two are sold in the store, and they have their own little measurement spoon, so I normally take one spoon of each of them into a small plastic bag and them mix it. Then I take a few crickets and shaked them inside with the powder. Jupiter and Nova trust me and seldom complain about the powder but sometimes they just want the bare cricket and they will refuse to eat other way. They are a little prince and a little princess, so why not give them their own way once in a while.

I keep a record of the quantity of crickets they eat, this way I would know how many crickets to bring home and It will be easier for me to realise if one of them gets sick.

Beverages and other Foods

There is a bowl of water in their house at all times and it is always in the same place. I change the water, without miss everyday. It is not only a matter of throwing the old water away a pouring clean one. It is imperative to fully wash the bowl, the reason is because it will usually be slimy on the bottom.  The smile is nothing more than baterias, mostly from their tongues.  So this way it is possible to know if they have been or not drinking water plus hygiene is always best. We do not want to end with a colony of well developed baterias at the bottom of the 19803782811_b34ee6b06c_ogeckos water bowl.

Water is not the only thing they drink. Wit my time with them I have discovered that they really like watermelon juice, milk, chamomile and green tea. Sometimes I experiment with different kind of thing they might like to eat, but I will remark that I would not ever offer them anything that might contain irritant or harmful substances. I do not suppose I need to elaborate on that, but lets say that anything spicy, sour, or bitter is not up for a test, and of course, any type of stimulants.

Even though they are likely to take anything I put around their mouths, I found out that they are not banana, grapes or berries lovers. On the other hand, besides of what I have mentioned before, they enjoy mangoes, peaches and pears. They do not take much vegetables unless it is on baby food. By they way, they love chicken flavored baby food  so much that there are times that they have an entire teaspoon of it. It is really entertaining watching them eat it. But let us not forget that what they really love is crickets.