Leopard geckos are not very big reptiles, but they can make some serious demands when it comes to food. These lizards will eat almost anything!
Many people have made leopard geckos part of their collection by letting them feed on insects or other invertebrates in captivity. This is great as you get some cool pictures and knowledge, but it may need some extra care for safety.
In this article we will talk about how long a leopard gecko could go without eating before becoming sick or even death due to hunger. Due to their small size these lizards can become ill from lack of nutrition quickly, so take time to give your lizard a good meal every couple hours. Also, know what symptoms leopards with poor diets develop to help identify if your gecko needs medical attention.
What are signs that my leopard gecko is hungry?
It is important to be aware that leopard geckos do not show much appetite until several hours after they have been given food. This is because they store most of the nutrients they ingest in their soft tissue and fat reserves.
These reserves slowly use up energy, leaving less available to function normally. Most species of lizards enter diapause (a state of temporary dormancy) around winter to conserve resources. Diapausing lizards don’t grow or breed, but they survive just like normal non-diapaused animals.
Definition of a gecko
A gecko is a lizard species that can survive solely on its food source or diet depending on what it sees fit to eat. They are also known as Earth lizards due to their habitability anywhere they may roam.
Geckos get most of their nutrients by absorbing some through their skin, mouths, and paws. When they need more nutrition than that, they go in search of something else to ingest.
A gecko’s digestive system isn’t very efficient so he/she must consume enough food to ensure adequate nutrient intake. However, like any other animal, a gecko will know when he has had enough!
If you notice your leopard gecko looking less active or sluggish, try giving him/her an extra few hours before checking for signs of hunger.
Reasons leopard geckos need food
As mentioned before, lizards are ectothermic — they rely on their surroundings to regulate body temperature. When food is not available, they will try to use any of their other systems to stay warm.
Some strategies include eating your own fat or muscle, breathing more air than needed, and/or having longer hairs which can be used for heat regulation.
Leopard geckos are no exception! If you check out our leopard gecko nutrition tips, you’ll see that they need at least 2–3% cholesterol content in their diet to survive.
However, some individuals may find that their lizard does not eat for several hours after being left without food. This could be due to the fact that these geckos do not feel hungry, or they are too busy exploring and moving around to find enough food.
If this happens to your reptile, he or she should look healthy and weighty. If they appear limp with fur thinned out, it’s important to bring them back into the feeding situation immediately.
It’s also helpful to play soft music to help distract them. Try putting a light layer of soil under the pot so that when they sit down to eat, they don’t have to work as hard to get nutrients.
What does it mean when a lizard is “fasting”
When lizards go without food for too long, something can happen to them. Sometimes they will become sick or even die if they don’t eat for enough time.
A few years ago, an individual leopard gecko named Kita was identified as being hungry. He would pace back and forth across his enclosure looking very determined to get some food soon.
His owners noticed that he seemed less active than normal and he wasn’t eating. So they took him to the vet where they found out that he didn’t seem to have any energy.
The doctor thought maybe Kita was suffering from giardia, so she gave him a de-wormer medication and waited two days before checking again. When she did check however, she couldn’t find him anywhere in the enclosure!
She called her local reptile rescue organization and asked if anyone had heard anything about missing lizards. They said they hadn’t, but promised to look into it.
How to tell if a lizard is hungry
When lizards need to eat, theyll go through an activity phase called active eating. During this time, they will actively search for food by moving around and exploring their surroundings.
If you notice changes in your geckos behavior, such as becoming more animated when chasing or stalking bugs, then they may be looking for lunch!
Active eating usually lasts for about twenty minutes of every hour. After that period, the lizard will either find something to eat or give up and assume it will not get anything to ingest today.
You can help your gecko out by letting him know how much food he has left. Most species are able to recognize how many meals they have eaten by tasting their own fecal matter or saliva.
Feed your lizard properly
If you notice your geckos looking thinner or even noticing their belly hanging out, it may be time to give them an extra meal. As mentioned before, geckos need at least eight cups of food per day, so if they are not eating enough, they will eventually starve to death.
Geckos usually eat insects, worms, and other small animals that grow tall enough for them to swallow. They also enjoy drinking water! Make sure these things are available for your gecko daily so that she does not have to go hungry.
If possible, try giving her a few bites of whatever item she is already eating. When she seems full, let her rest for a little while before offering more foods, otherwise she could get sick due to nutritional deficiencies.
Give it food
Leaking geckos can sometimes be tricky to deal with, but never mind that when your leopard geko is hungry! Luckily, they are very intelligent animals and usually recognize their need for food. If you notice signs of sluggishness or lack of movement, try rubbing its nose or cheek area to see if she will grab her own face. If she does, offer her some food so that she knows it’s available and she should eat it.
It may take a little bit of time until she gets the hang of this, but don’t give up! Hopefully, she’ll get the idea soon enough and start eating again.
Reminder: Never force feed a lizard! Only ever offer them food if they ask for it themselves. Also, make sure any food you put in front of her isn’t poisonous or contaminated as this could hurt her.
Carefully monitor your gecko
As mentioned before, leopard geckos will eat at any time of the day or night! They do not need much food, however, it is important to make sure they are eating enough for their size.
It may seem weird, but when geckos go without food for too long, they can become hungry again very quickly. This could be due to them being sick or lacking nutrients in their diet, or because they ran out of food and must sleep soon.
Any of these situations can cause your gecko to lose weight rapidly.
How long can a leopard gecko go without eating
As mentioned before, leopard gekkos are omnivorous reptiles that enjoy consuming both plant and animal matter. However, how much they eat depends on their size!
Larger species require more food to meet their nutritional needs. Therefore, if your gecko is acting hungry but there’s nothing for it to eat, you may have to take it out of its tank so it can look for foods elsewhere.
If this happens during diurnal time (daytime), try placing some crickets in the room or outside so it can find something else to feed on.
Alternatively, you could also give it some cooked meat such as chicken thigh or beef steak, sliced up into small pieces. Both of these will need to be refrigerated until it is eaten otherwise they could get spoiled.
Never force any kind of diet on an individual reptile unless it becomes clear that it is unable to function properly due to lack of nutrients.