Phelsuma Diet: What Do Geckos Eat?

Updated on May 12, 2017

Diet Is Important, but What Do Geckos Eat?

In setting up the perfect terrarium for your Phelsuma pet geckos and ensuring that the environmental conditions, temperature and humidity are correct, it is easy to forget the importance of a nutritious diet in their long-term well-being.

It is too easy to just assume that they need to be fed crickets, although crickets do form the staple of a day gecko's (and most other reptiles') diet, the crickets must be gut-loaded and supplemented with minerals.

In addition, Phelsuma geckos are omnivourous. In the wild, they hunt a variety of insects, but also supplement their diet with pollen and nectar. In captivity they have a sweet tooth and love sweet fruit; they can be tamed to lick it off your fingers! The captive day gecko's diet is much more restricted than in the wild, so it is simply impossible to reproduce the variety of insects available in Madagascar, and it will not provide all the minerals and vitamins the pet gecko needs. Calcium is of particular importance since crickets are a poor source of the mineral. Without the correct supplementation, important for all Phelsuma, but particularly for growing geckos and egg-laying females, they will develop metabolic bone disease and will not thrive.

Phelsuma klemmeri lapping up fruit puree
Phelsuma klemmeri lapping up fruit puree

Crickets: The Staple Food of Pet Geckos

Although I think day geckos make brilliant pets, they do have most a most inconvenient taste in food, they like it very fresh, in fact live. If you are not prepared to keep live crickets in your house (or at least where you can have access to them several times a week), you will not be able to keep the vast majority of reptiles or amphibians. Crickets are the most convenient food source, they can survive in cricket keepers for 2-3 weeks after buying them. The size of the cricket, depends on the age and species of your pet gecko, it should be shorter than the width of the reptile's head. A good schedule for adults is to offer crickets twice a week, hatchlings should be fed daily. The geckos should be given 2-4 crickets per feeding.

Gut Loading Crickets

The question isn't just what do geckos eat, but also what does the food of the gecko eat. The nutritious value of crickets is greatly enhanced by gut loading, the cricket obtains nutrition not just from the insect but also from the content of its gut, hence crickets should be fed on fruit or vegetables 8-24 hours prior to themselves becoming dinner. Commercial cricket foods are available, but crickets can be fed on apples, greens, squash and carrots. It is best to use a variety of gut loading foods, although I admit that I find carrot to be most convenient, when feeding softer fruits such as apple, you must take care to remove them before they rot. Obviously feeding crickets helps keep them alive longer. Gut-loading is very important, it greatly enhances the nutritional value of the cricket.

Other Insects

Although crickets are the most convenient feeder insect, I imagine it must be quite boring for your Phelsuma pets. Another invertebrate that is easy to culture are fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster. They are the first food I feed to new hatchlings, I don't give them crickets for the first couple of weeks, since I don't have access to pinhead crickets and anything larger is too big for new baby geckos. Geckos love catching the flies and it is very amusing to watch them hunting! Geckos also relish small worms, small waxworm are taken very readily but should only be fed occasionally as a treat since they are very fatty and can cause obesity. Phoenix worms, the larvae of Hermetia illucens, the Black Soldier Fly have become available recently. They are reported to be the only feeder insect that is naturally high in calcium and has the correct calcium-to-phosphorus ratio (2:1), pet geckos seem to love them. I have occasionally had Phoenix worms pupate and turn to flies, which my Phelsuma ate with great appreciation.

One feeder insect that should be avoided are mealworms, their exoskeletons are rich in chitin which is hard to digest and might cause compaction. Although keepers are great believers in sweeping their lawns for naturally occurring insects, I would not recommend that. Although it would introduce variety in the diet, I feel the danger of poisoning the repitle with pesticides or other chemicals is too high.

Fruits and Baby Food

In captivity the nectar and pollen eaten by wild Phelsuma geckos is substituted by pureed tropical fruit or fruit baby food. The latter is more convenient to use and easier to mix with powdered vitamin and calcium supplement. Flavours that are enjoyed by geckos include banana, mango and peach, but you can try other tropical fruit. Some species, such as P. cepediana, gimbui and ornata seem tor require more fruit, feed it twice a week and crickets only once a week. Place the puree in a small dish in the terrarium for the day so the geckos can lick it whenever they want but make sure you remove it in the evening since it goes bad quickly. Fruit should not be the only food fed to geckos, it does not provide them with protein and does not meet their nutritional requirements!

Supplements

It is critical to provide the pet gecko with additional calcium and vitamins in its diet. Failure to do so will result in metabolic bone disease, bone deformities and sick geckos. When yo see the first sign of the disease, a wavy spine, inability to catch insects because of weak jaw and inability to climb, are observed, the deficiency is already advanced and cannot often cannot be reversed. Many dietary supplements for reptiles are available on the market, the one used for day geckos should have calcium and vitamin D3, but not phosphorus. A ratio of calcium:phosphorus of 2:1 is optimal for calcium absorption, since crickets are rich in phosphorus, supplementing the calcium will meet the gecko's dietary needs.

Vitamin D3 is necessary for calcium absorption and is synthesized in the skin, a process that needs UV-B rays. In their native Madagascar and surrounding islands, day geckos spend a lot of time basking in very bright sunlight. Although they are often kept under fluorescent UV-B tubes, these do not produce enough rays and vitamin D3 needs to be provided in supplements. Crickets must be dusted in vitamin and mineral powder (place the crickets in a plastic cup with the powder and shake to coat them) immedately before being fed to the geckos. The powder should also be mixed into the fruit puree/baby food before it is placed in the terrarium.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Gecko Expert 

        4 years ago

        Very informative post, tried to look for what vitamins to feed in www.whatdogeckoseat.com but they didn't have that information.

        Thanks for all your hard work on writing this up. My pet will live on healthy and happy as ever.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)