Crested geckos are small geckos known for their rarity and their unique appearance. Sometimes referred to as “eyelash geckos,” the small crests around their eyes give them the appearance of having voluminous eyelashes. The crested gecko has become a popular pet in recent years, although it was originally found in the wild. For anyone curious about rare reptiles or looking to own a crested gecko, it’s essential to know what they eat. Let’s take a look at what crested geckos eat and discover a bit about their diets and habits.
What Do Crested Geckos Eat?
Crested geckos eat crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, fruit, and worms. In captivity, pet crested geckos eat insects, pellets, and fruit.
Crested geckos are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals in the wild. Crested geckos eat a variety of insects and bugs, overripe fruit, and commercial substitutions from pet stores. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the diets of wild crested geckos haven’t been intensely studied, but there are plenty of sources that explore food sources for pet crested geckos.
As a lizard, crested geckos can eat nearly any bug that it’s substantially larger than. While in the wild, any bugs that a crested gecko comes across are likely to be dinner. Often, crested geckos will eat crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, ants, and all sorts of worms.
In addition to bugs, crested geckos also eat fruit. While the conditions have to be suitable for a gecko to eat fruit, it’s a common supplement to their diet, especially since they live in the rainforest. The main prerequisite for a crested gecko to eat fruit is its softness. Soft and overripe fruits are a tasty treat for crested geckos, and they commonly find these fruits in the wild. Crested geckos eat mangos, bananas, grapes, figs, strawberries, and watermelon.
A Complete List of Foods Crested Geckos Eat
Here is a complete list of common foods that crested geckos eat:
In captivity, crested geckos eat about three times a week.
Crested Geckos in the Wild
The crested gecko originates from New Caledonia, a French-owned island off the north-eastern coast of Australia. They have an extremely small range, only being found in the southern region of the island, and even then only in three locations. The species was believed to be extinct until an expedition by Robert Seipp was launched in 1994, where they rediscovered viable populations. They are rather small lizards, growing between 6-10 inches, including a tail.
An animal’s habitat always influences its dietary habits, so it’s important to understand where an animal comes from to provide proper care. Crested geckos are arboreal, meaning they live in trees for most of their lives. Their native region, the southern tip of New Caledonia, is covered in rainforest. Additionally, they are nocturnal and will spend light hours hiding and sleeping in branches, away from predators.
Who competes with crested geckos for food?
In captivity, there isn’t competition for food as human caretakers maintain steady diets. Additionally, crested geckos are solitary in the wild and can become aggressive when paired with a tankmate. In captivity, there is little to no competition if proper tank rules are followed and crested geckos are left to be solitary.
In the wild, however, competition is common. Crested geckoes often compete with other geckos for food, as well as to not be eaten themselves. In fact, one of the main reasons crested geckos are arboreal is to hide from larger geckos who would like to prey on them when they come down to feed. Most geckos have the same diet and feed on soft fruits and small bugs, making competition between other reptiles extremely common.
Recently, the biggest competitor for wild crested geckos has been with the little fire ant. These invasive species of ant were introduced to New Caledonia in recent years and have threatened and competed with crested geckos ever since. As fierce competition, fire ants sweep through the undergrowth and trees, killing and returning mass amounts of arthropods (bugs and insects) to their nests. Aside from competing with crested geckos for food, little fire ants prey on geckos as a food source as well. Swarming the gecko, the ants repeatedly sting and bite until the gecko dies and is promptly pieced apart and sent back to the nest.
How do crested geckos hunt?
Crested geckos are primarily nocturnal hunters, even in captivity. For captive geckos, it’s common for owners to place crickets or worms in the tank and allow them to sit for 24 hours. During that time, the crested gecko will have likely eaten the insects. If any remain, they can be removed as not to cause mold or bacteria.
In the wild, crested geckos hunt by simply biting their prey and squishing it with their mouths. When it comes to insects, they primarily prey on anything that can fit between their eyes in size. Anything more than that, and they risk impaction.
Additionally, they will stumble upon fruits and simply eat to their content. This method has very little “hunting” involved.
What To Feed Crested Geckos As a Pet
Pets and wild crested geckos often have different diets. The most important thing to keep in mind when caring for a captive crested gecko is its diet. There are three things main ways to feed your crested gecko:
- Live insects
- Meal replacement powders and pellets
When it comes to living insects, you can feed your gecko crickets and dubia roaches as a primary food source. Simply place the insects in the tank and allow the gecko to hunt as it would in the wild. If it needs help, a pair of metal tongs can be useful. Additionally, gut-loading and dusting are methods of providing extra nutrients to your gecko. Gut-loading is when the crickets are fed nutritious powder and then fed to the predator, transferring those nutrients down the line. Dusting is the process of dusting the insects with vitamins (similar to enriched rice) so that ingestion of the insect means ingestion of the vitamins.
Meal replacement powders (MRP) can be bought and mixed with water. They are then fed to your gecko as a meal containing all of the essential nutrients it may need. Additionally, pellets are pelletized food that can be fed to geckos much like any other food.
Finally, fruit can be used as a meal supplement or treat. Although some data is showing that wild crested geckos eat primarily fruit, most pet owners will do well to give their gecko fruit once or twice a month. Place a little softened fruit near your crested gecko, and they do the rest.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/ajbulla
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