Fatten Up Your Skinny Leopard Gecko The Healthy Way
I used to always stress about whether my leopard gecko was too skinny or unhealthy which would lead to sleepless nights. My mind would race as I tried to figure out what the best way to add some weight especially for my rescues. My standards at the time were plump or fat meant normal and happy. I realized how much time I wasted worrying about size and began focusing more on overall health. To my surprise, offering certain feeders improved growth rates and responsiveness when compared to others. Rehabilitating underweight geckos also became easier through these steps.
The first thing to do is get a fecal test done on your rescued or underweight gecko. This is a fairly inexpensive and accurate way to identify if any parasites like cryptosporidiosis are causing your pet to become ill.
Recommended insects for bulking and overall health include superworms, silkworms, mealworms, assorted roaches, and BSFL. This will ensure that they receive the different types of beneficial nutrients for proper growth. Ultimately, we all want our pets to thrive and not just survive in captivity.
I will try my best to walk you through the steps that I took for putting on healthy weight for my pets
Are They Malnourished Or Just Skinny?
Animals with a skinny tail are often a sign of underlying health issues. Plump tails indicate your leo is getting the proper nutrition by storing fat. Be sure to check that cage temperatures are correct (85F on the hot side) as extreme fluctuations can lead to loss of appetite. If all aspects of husbandry are correct, you can follow the steps below to increase body mass.
Starting Off (Avoid Overfeeding)
It’s easy to overfeed when your reptile begins to show interest in a particular prey item. Please remember to go slow and ease your pets into their regiment. This way, you’re adding healthy weight naturally and steadily. Leopard geckos are known to just bite and swallow their prey items especially when excited. This presents a problem in that some bugs can end up undigested or regurgitated. I suggest offering as much as your animal will eat within 10-15 minutes.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae
Also known as repti-worms, Calci-grubs, and Phoenix worms, these high in calcium low in fat miracle bugs are great for adding healthy weight. They are highly regarded as the complete feeder.
These guys contain Lauric acid which is known to kill, prevent, and halt parasite growth in your pets. They also contain natural antimicrobial properties that combat infections and bacteria. Dusting with multivitamins is a good way to add beneficial nutrients.
Because of their high calcium content, they are a great critter for preventing and fighting Metabolic Bone Disease. I give these exclusively to breeding females to avoid burnout during and after a breeding season. The larvae are also great for replenishing malnourished rescues. The darker or black larvae contain high amounts of CA.
BSFL will boost growth of your lizards faster than many insects on the market. The low chitin content makes them easy to digest which is important for rehabilitating animals in poor health. Moisture content often gets overlooked but is vital as it enables the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.
Silkies are another amazing option that will bulk up your pet. They are expensive but with good reason. I personally think they are the best options in the world if you can afford them.
They provide around 60% protein which is an essential building block to your leos growth. It helps replenish your gecko quickly.
These contain the most water content out of all the feeders mentioned. Hydration is so important and often gets overlooked. It flushes and clears toxins out of the system. Be sure to always provide a water source for your pets on top of offering Silkworms for optimum health.
Next up are superworms or king worms. They have a decent amount of protein and a higher fat content. Most will favor these over different choices. Supers will add on weight quickly so be sure to give them in moderation.
They contain moderate to high dietary fat levels but this can be beneficial to sickly rescues in dire need of energy. Typically I will feed these to a stick skinny leo until it has regained some mass then switch off to other options.
Chitin levels are lower than mealworms making them easier to digest. They also contain a decent amount of moisture. All things equal, the less chitin the more room for nutrients.
I’ve noticed that leopard geckos tend to demolish these little buggers. I think it’s due to the higher fat which translates to a better feeding response. They are good for even the pickiest of eaters. They also wiggle and move around quite a bit which aids in stimulation.
Hands down the most versatile buggies available. There really aren’t many downsides to these feeders. I typically only offer 2 different species, dubia and lats. Highly regarded for their meat to shell ratio they give your animal a good balance of fat and protein. Red runners are the size of adult crickets and around the same price range. It takes about 2-3 adult crickets to equate to one Turkestan roach. Moving extremely fast, they entice your animals with ease.
Dubias weigh more than turks so you also do not have to offer as much. Both will have low chitin and thus are easily digested. Whatever you decide, both will make your lizards grow at elevated rates compared to lower quality foods. Being meatier, these will bulk up your pets without risking their well-being. I will discuss the methods of gut loading and dusting further boost the value of your insects.
The process of providing your critters with extra nutrition by giving them foods rich in vitamins and minerals. By doing so, they will transfer the added benefits over to your leopard gecko.Various bugs digest at different intervals. I recommend you gutload for a maximum of twelve hours followed by immediately feeding off for best results.You can use carrots, repashy superload, winter squash, pumpkin, kale leaves, fish flakes, alfalfa, bell peppers, and chicken feed.
Coating your buggies with multivitamins, calcium, and minerals. This is very important and should be done at least once a week for your gecko. The method I use for dusting is a small plastic container (think ziplock) with a couple pinches of multivitamins and calcium powder. I add my insects to the small container and shake lightly for about five to ten seconds or until evenly coated. For red racers, I shake a bit harder which slows them down making them easier to catch.
As stated earlier, be sure to provide your leos with clean water 24/7. They can go weeks without food but days without liquid can surely kill them. I like to switch out their bowls every 3 days to maintain freshness. I also only use purified drinking water although some use tap which should be okay.
I hope my article has helped answer the question of how to fatten up your skinny leopard gecko. These are the tactics that have worked for me and I have confidence they will produce the same results for you. As always, feel free to comment below or email me for any help. Thanks!