You usually see them crawling on your living room walls, and other times they just lay there. They are called geckos. What are they doing on your walls? They are hunting for food.
Yes. Don’t bother chasing geckos. They are there to help. What do geckos eat? Here you’ll get the answers.
Geckos Habits And Biology
Geckos are small, often carnivorous lizards found all over the world other than Antarctica.
Geckos have numerous adaptive features to mislead and escape predators.
The geckos tail has many uses. They aid geckos in balancing their weight as they climb branches. They also assist in the storage of fats. Their tails help them disappear into the environment. And they are mostly known for severing their tails if a predator gets hold of them.
Other species of geckos can change their colors to blend into their environments –this enables the lizard to move between backgrounds of different colors to throw predators off and ambush prey.
Although geckos primarily feed on insects, some may find themselves in challenging situations facing starvation. To survive, they purposefully sever their tails and eat them.
Geckos tails are rich in fat, and hence they provide relief before they can find another source of food. These lizards also feed on their shed skin when food sources are rare.
Despite their numerous teeth, geckos don’t chew their food. Similar to other reptiles, they swallow their food whole.
Geckos use their teeth to seize, crush and kill their prey. The prey is then forced down the lizard’s throats with the aid of their tongues, jaw muscles, and head movement
Geckos are nocturnal by nature, meaning they are primarily active during the night. Some species of geckos are active during the day. These species spend their time feeding on fruits, insects, and nectar.
Did you know that geckos don’t blink? Geckos lack eyelids and hence cannot blink. Instead, they lick their eyes to keep them moist and clean.
Do Geckos Eat Dirt?
Yes. Geckos eat dirt.
Geckos ingest dirt for several reasons. The most common reason geckos indulge in this curious behavior is due to a lack of sufficient nutrients in their diet.
Leopard geckos, for example, need more minerals than they can acquire (get) from their basic insect diet. Therefore, they may attempt to obtain the nutrients from the soil.
Geckos need additional calcium and vitamin D3, among other nutrients than what humans typically provide. If you own a gecko and they aren’t getting enough nutrients, don’t be surprised when you see them eat soil.
A simple solution to this problem is to provide them with gut-loaded crickets. These are crickets fed with a special diet shortly before consumption by a predator.
What Do Geckos Like To Eat Most?
Geckos are mainly carnivorous. However, some species, such as the crested gecko, feed on fruits. Geckos feed primarily on insects, but they may eat small mammals such as mice once in a while.
Geckos in the wild will use their long sticky tongues to snatch unsuspecting insects. Some of the prey items they eat in the wild include:
Though geckos feed on various foods in the wild, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s okay for them to consume any random flying or crawling insect lying outside. Below is a more detailed list of what a gecko diet contains:
- Flies –make a perfect meal for small geckos. They are easy to swallow and digest. They have a good nutritional value.
- Worms –sometimes leopard geckos may feed on worms though it’s not a preferred meal. Worms have low nutrient levels, but their water content is high.
- Crickets –these are at the top of the list when it comes to feeding geckos. They are high in protein.
- Caterpillars –waxworms and silkworms are treats. Some species of caterpillars may be unpleasant to eat or toxic.
- Nightcrawlers –such as earthworms, have little nutritional value; geckos can eat them when no other food is available.
- Pinky mice –breeding female leopard geckos will feed on pinky mice as it helps them build fat after laying eggs. Adult also males enjoy the delicacy.
- Hornworms –are high in protein, fiber, calcium, and phosphorus. They serve as treats to geckos.
- Mealworms –supplement your mealworms with other insects when feeding geckos in captivity.
- Dubia roaches –are rich in phosphorus, calcium, and protein. They are also low in fat and chitin; hence are easily digested.
Other insects geckos feed on include:
- Butterworms –are fed as treats as they are high in fat. They contain bad calcium that causes geckos to be addicted and refuse all other foods.
- Tomato hornworms
- Waxworms –are high in fat and shouldn’t be fed regularly to geckos in captivity.
- Superworms –are high in fat. When consumed often, it can lead to obesity. Insects like superworms and waxworms should only serve as treats.
All prey items fed to geckos should be alive.
Certain species of geckos eat fruits such as papaya or dragon fruit as part of their natural diets. Fruits rich in vitamin A are vital in the proper functioning of the reproductive and immune systems.
In some species of geckos, the female may lay infertile eggs, and in this case, they proceed to consume the eggs.
You often hear or read about how important it is to provide your pet amphibian or reptile with gut-loaded insects. These insects supplement minerals such as calcium and D3 to the diets of the reptile/amphibians.
But how do reptiles obtain these vital nutrients in the wild?
In the wild, reptiles like geckos obtain most calcium from hard-shelled insects such as crickets and beetles. They also receive calcium and licking minerals in the environment. Calcium is crucial for the survival of leopard geckos.
Vitamin D3 is obtained from the sun by geckos living in the wild. Vitamin D3 is essential as it helps the reptiles process the calcium obtained from prey.
Foods To Avoid Feed Geckos
Though geckos consume a lot of foods in the wild and while in captivity, not all are healthy. Some bugs and insects can be toxic or harmful to geckos. Here are some foods you should avoid feeding them:
- Wild-caught insects –may be toxic to geckos of most species kept in captivity. It’s not advisable to feed pet geckos insects you’ve caught on your own. These insects may have parasites, hence may harm your reptile.
- Lightning bugs (fireflies) and other bugs that glow –contain toxins that are incredibly harmful to geckos.
- Processed meat -e.g., beef, pork, or chicken
- Dog or cat food
- German roaches –usually are wild-caught and are generally not healthy.
- Weevils –usually have tough shells and may cause digestive problems, especially for baby geckos.
Geckos shouldn’t consume fruits high in citric acid as they could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach irritation. Fruits high in oxalic acid combine with calcium to form kidney stones, and those that contain persin are toxic to small animals.
These toxic fruits include:
- Citrus fruits –oranges, lime, grapefruit, etc
- Kiwi fruit
Just like some fruits can be toxic to geckos, the same applies to veggies. Some lack enough nutrients required by geckos. These include:
- Brussel sprouts
Gecko species, especially those living in tropical islands, have sweet tooths. Some of them will feed on delicious, fleshy fruits and pollen from flowers and plants. Though it might be okay to feed some species of geckos natural sweets, you should rarely do this.
The above are the main food items you should avoid feeding your geckos, and by doing so, they shall live long healthy lives.
Tips To Feeding Geckos
When it comes to getting a pet gecko, the leopard gecko species serve as the best pet for beginners. This species is suitable because of its gentle character and beautiful color. But taking care of a leopard gecko still requires a little knowledge and a soft touch.
Here are some steps to follow when feeding leopard geckos:
Before feeding your gecko insects, it’s best to cover them in supplement powder. Place the number of insects to feed in a plastic bag containing the powder. Shake the bag to cover the insects in the powder completely.
- When the gecko consumes the insect, it will ingest the supplement as well.
- It is recommended you dust the insect every two to three feedings.
It would be best if you feed your young leopard geckos more. Geckos between the ages of six to twelve months should feed every day. As the gecko grows, reduce the amount of food you give it gradually.
- When you place food in your gecko’s cage, and it ignores it’s because you’ve been feeding it too much.
- Try feeding it after every three to four days to get your reptile more interested in meals.
When feeding your leopard gecko, place the insects in the gecko’s cage. To ensure no insects escape, place them in a food bowl allowing the gecko easy access to its meal.
Lastly, you must supply your leopard gecko with water, preferably on a flat-based dish. It will help if you change the water daily.
At last, you know what those creepy crawling reptiles on your walls are. Geckos make good pets, and if well cared for, can live up to 15yrs. They are very creative when it comes to escaping predators as well as catching them.
If you are looking for an exotic pet, go for the leopard gecko.