If you have brought home a crested gecko to keep as a pet, then you surely must have done a lot of research about the eating habits of crested geckos.
And in that, you must have gained the knowledge of how in the wild, crested geckos hunt and eat insects like crickets and roaches, and worms like silkworms and mealworms.
This may leave you a little confused as to figuring out whether you absolutely HAVE to feed live food to your crested gecko.
The confusion is understandable, especially if you are new to the pet keeping of crested geckos.
The good news, however, is that crested geckos in captivity do not have to eat live food. They can do pretty well on the commercially available prepared diet mixes.
In fact, it is also recommended to new crested gecko pet owners to stick to a prepared diet until they get a hang of how to feed live food to their pets.
What is Considered Live Food For Crested Geckos?
For crested geckos, the following insects and worms are considered as live food:
- Black crickets
- Brown crickets
- Stick insects
- Banded crickets
- Dubia roaches
- Turkistan roaches
- Lobster roaches
- Domino roaches
- Banana roaches
- Discoid roaches
- Butter worms
- Calcium worms
Now, what is important here is to note that some of these insects and worms are high in fatty components.
And eating too many live insects can actually make your pet crested gecko obese. So, it is better to stick to a routine of feeding that balances prepared diets and live food so as to keep the weight in check.
Do You HAVE To Feed Crested Geckos Live Food?
No, you do not have to feed a crested gecko live food as a mandate. A crested gecko in captivity can live a very healthy and comfortable life on the feeding schedule of prepared diets.
Now, what is a prepared diet?
In the wild, a crested gecko eats a combination of fruits, nuts, seeds, and insects.
So, in captivity, a prepared diet for a pet crested gecko is one that combines all these food items in a balanced manner so that the nutritional requirements of the pet crested gecko are met properly.
For beginners in pet keeping of crested geckos, it can get difficult to get a properly balanced preparation of the mix of these foods.
To make it easier for them, there are commercially available prepared diet mixes that have most of the nutrients in proper amounts and take less than a minute to prepare.
With this wide variety of diet mixes that are available commercially for pet crested geckos, you do not have to feed live food to your crested gecko.
It is, however, recommended that you include live food every now and then as treats for your pet.
After all, it is a part of natural foods for crested geckos. They like eating insects. And there is nothing wrong with giving treats to your pet every now and then.
Benefits of Feeding Live Food To Your Crested Gecko
There are two major benefits of feeding live food to your crested gecko:
Benefit 1 – Feeding Live Food Promotes Natural Behavior
While making any kind of arrangements for crested geckos in captivity, we should not forget the behaviors, lifestyle, and idiosyncrasies that a crested gecko would tend to have in its natural, wild environment.
This holds true not just for the environment you create for your pet crested gecko in its enclosure, but also for the feeding habits that you try to inculcate for proper caretaking of your pet.
So, while there isn’t much nutritional value in insects, and you should exercise portion control to reduce the risks of obesity, you should not completely remove insects from the diet of your pet crested gecko.
Nutritionally speaking, the commercially available diet may be sufficient for the health of your pet.
But including live food such as its favorite insects and worms will help nurture the natural behavior of your pet, such as hunting, ambushing the insect, and predating over it.
This will also keep your crested gecko physically active and mentally enriched.
Benefit 2 – Live Food Does Add Some Extra Nutrients In The Diet
Now, if there is one thing that is said about live food, it is that it does not contain ALL the nutrients that may be required by a crested gecko.
As true as that is, it cannot be denied that even live food does have some nutrients.
Nutritionally speaking, insects and worms are mostly proteins and lipids (fats). The reason why you need to exercise portion control is that on average, an insect or a worm consists of about 58% to 60% fats.
However, the remaining 40% to 42% of the live food is proteins.
So, while you do need to regulate the number of insects and worms that you give to your crested gecko, giving them as treats once in a while will actually provide them with additional proteins.
Alternatives To Live Food
Some alternatives to live food could be:
Canned Or Freeze-Dried Insects And Worms
Instead of feeding live insects and worms, you can also go for canned or frozen insects and worms.
The major advantage behind this is that canned and frozen insects and worms have a higher shelf life than live foods.
Meal Replacement Powders
This is again one of the best ways to ensure that your pet crested gecko gets all the nutrients it requires in the correct proportions. Some meal replacement powders that you could consider for your pet crested gecko are:
- Zoo Med Crested Gecko food
- Exo Terra Mix
- Pangea Fruit Mix
- Repashy Crested Gecko Food Mix
- HabiStat Crested Gecko Diet Mix
- Komodo Crested Gecko Diet Mix
There is a wide variety of prepared mixes available for you to choose from. Have a look at the ingredients and nutrient values, and choose what works best for your pet crested gecko.
Live food such as insects and worms are a part of the natural diet of crested geckos in the wild. In captivity, however, you do not need to feed live foods to your pet crested gecko.
The main reason behind that is the lack of nutritional value in the proportions required by a crested gecko to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
So, you do not HAVE to feed live food to your crested gecko. There are many prepared diet mixes that are commercially available and are sufficient for your pet in terms of the required nutritional balance.
However, it is recommended that you inculcate live food in the feeding schedule once in a while to promote the natural predating behaviors of your pet crested gecko.
Include live foods as a treat and make sure to exercise portion control because insects and worms are 60% fats and only around 40% proteins.
So, if you feed too many insects to your pet, you will put it at risk of becoming overweight and suffering from lifestyle diseases caused by obesity.
The key with live foods is that while they are not a need for your pet crested gecko, they surely are a treat that your pet will absolutely love!
So, with proper portion control, there is nothing wrong with treating your pet every now and then with its favorite foods from the wild.