Crested geckos, also known as eyelash geckos, are unique small reptiles adorned with distinct crests around their eyes resembling eyelashes. These rare creatures have gained popularity as pets in recent years, originating from their natural habitat in the wild. For those who are intrigued by exotic reptiles or considering adopting a crested gecko, understanding their dietary needs is crucial.

In this article, we will delve into the eating habits and dietary preferences of crested geckos. Gaining insight into their nutritious requirements will not only satisfy curiosity but also ensure these fascinating creatures thrive in their captive environment.

What Do Crested Geckos Eat?

Crested geckos, being omnivores, consume a variety of food in their natural habitat, including insects, overripe fruit, and occasional commercial supplements. Their insect prey consists of a wide range, such as crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, ants, and various worms. Since they are larger than these insects, crested geckos can easily devour them when encountered.

Besides insects, crested geckos enjoy feasting on soft, overripe fruits that they typically find in the rainforest environment they inhabit. Their preferred fruits are those that are easy to chew and digest, including:

  • Mangos
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

When kept as pets, crested geckos can maintain a healthy diet with a combination of insects, commercial pellets, and fruit. It is essential to ensure that their diet is well-balanced to avoid any nutritional deficiencies. Providing them with a balanced diet that closely resembles what they would consume in the wild ensures that your crested gecko stays healthy and happy.

A Comprehensive List of Crested Geckos’ Diet

Crested geckos are known to consume:

  • Insects: crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, waxworms, silkworms, grubs, roaches, ants, flies, spiders, and moths
  • Fruits: mango, watermelon, bananas, figs, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, papaya, pears, peaches, apricots, and citrus fruits
  • Other: nectar and pollen

These geckos typically eat three times a week when in captivity.

Crested Geckos in the Wild

Crested geckos are native to the southern region of New Caledonia, an island owned by France near the northeastern coast of Australia. They are primarily found in three specific locations within the island. These geckos were once thought to be extinct but were rediscovered in 1994 during an expedition led by Robert Seipp. With a size ranging from 6 to 10 inches, including their tail, crested geckos are considered small lizards.

These reptiles are arboreal, which means they spend most of their lives in trees. The dense rainforests of southern New Caledonia provide a suitable habitat for them. Being nocturnal creatures, crested geckos hide and sleep in branches during daylight hours, staying out of sight from predators.

In summary, crested geckos are unique reptiles that reside in the wild rainforests of New Caledonia. Their arboreal and nocturnal nature greatly influences their behavior and dietary habits, involving consumption of various plants and flower nectar.

Who competes with crested geckos for food?

When crested geckos live in captivity, they don’t face any competition for food as they are provided with a consistent diet by their caretakers. These geckos tend to live by themselves and might get aggressive if another tankmate is introduced. As long as they are kept solitary, there’s no competition in captivity.

In their natural habitat, however, crested geckos do face competition for food resources. They often find themselves competing with other geckos, as they share the same dietary preferences, which include soft fruits and small insects. Additionally, crested geckos live in trees to avoid becoming prey for larger geckos while they are feeding on the ground.

One of the most notable competitors for wild crested geckos in recent years has been the little fire ant. Originally not native to New Caledonia, these ants have significantly impacted crested geckos and their food sources. The ants are known for their aggressive behavior, killing and taking large numbers of arthropods (bugs and insects) back to their nests. This reduces the available food for crested geckos and increases competition.

Not only do little fire ants compete for food, but they also prey on crested geckos directly. These ants swarm the gecko, attacking it with stings and bites until it eventually succumbs to the onslaught. Then, they proceed to dismember it and send the pieces back to their nest.

To summarize, some main competitors for crested geckos’ food sources are other geckos, parasites, and spiders, along with invasive species like the little fire ant.

How Crested Geckos Hunt

Crested geckos are known to be nocturnal hunters, whether in the wild or in captivity. In captivity, they often eat crickets or worms left in their tanks, consuming them within 24 hours to prevent mold or bacteria growth.

When hunting in their natural habitat, these geckos catch their prey, usually insects, by biting and squishing them using their mouths. Adult crested geckos prefer insects that fit between their eyes in size to avoid impaction.

Interestingly, climbing also plays a role in their foraging behavior, allowing them to access a variety of food sources. Hatchlings and adult geckos alike may encounter fruit, which they consume without much effort in terms of hunting. This method provides an easy source of nutrition for both hatchling crested geckos and their adult counterparts.

What To Feed Crested Geckos As a Pet

Crested geckos, when kept as pets, require a well-balanced diet to maintain their health. There are three key approaches to feeding a pet crested gecko:

  • Live insects
  • Meal replacement powders and pellets
  • Fruits

Live insects, such as crickets and dubia roaches, can serve as the primary food source for crested geckos. Place the insects in the gecko’s enclosure and allow them to hunt, as they would in their natural environment. If needed, metal tongs can be helpful in feeding the insects to your gecko. To enhance the nutritional value of live insects, use gut-loading and dusting methods. Gut-loading involves feeding the insects a nutritious powder before they become prey, passing the additional nutrients to the gecko. Dusting involves coating the insects with vitamin-rich powder before feeding them to the gecko.

In addition to live insects, meal replacement powders (MRP) can be used as a nutrient-rich option for your crested gecko. Mix the MRP with water and serve it to your pet as a balanced meal. Alternatively, pelletized food can be offered to your gecko.

Fruits can provide a periodic treat or supplement to the primary diet. Although recent findings indicate that wild crested geckos might consume mostly fruit, pet owners are advised to offer fruit to their geckos about once or twice a month. Placing softened fruit near the crested gecko will allow them to consume it at their leisure.

Always ensure that fresh water is available for your crested gecko, and consider providing a calcium supplement, vitamin D3, and minerals to enhance their overall health.

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