Leopard Gecko Supplementation
How To Supplement Your Leopard Gecko
Leopard Gecko Supplementation
Leopard Gecko Supplementation is the process of introducing additional nutrients to your leopard gecko. Many owners don't realize that their leopard gecko isn't getting a complete diet just from the insects they are being offered. This is especially true for those owners that limit the amount of feeder prey to one or two species. Diversity in the selection and offering of feeder prey certainly helps balance out the nutritional intake that the leopard gecko is receiving, but there is so much more that can be done to ensure the leopard gecko is getting all of the vitamins and minerals it would receive if it were wild.
There are 2 ways to supplement your leopard geckos diet. Both of these methods should be practiced regularly to ensure your geckos health is optimal. This section will describe both techniques for supplementing your leopard gecko and the frequency in which your leopard gecko should be supplemented.
Gut Loading Prey
Just about everyone has heard the saying "You are what you eat". Well this is also true for your leopard gecko. Feeding a varied diet, and supplementing your leopard gecko is only a portion of offering your leopard gecko a nutritious diet.
Feeder insects purchased online and at pet stores are fed an unknown diet. We also are not made aware of when they were last fed. As a rule, it is always best to feed the prey you intend on feeding your leopard gecko for at least 24 hours before they are fed. This ensures that the feeder insects are thoroughly gut loaded and contain the maximum amount of nutrients that they can hold. In feeding them nutritious and vitamin enriched foods, those nutrients will then get passed on to your leopard gecko. This is where the term "gut loading" has come into play. Essentially, you are loading the feeder insects gut with vitamins and minerals that will be passed on to your leopard gecko when it is consumed.
The food items used to gut load your feeder insects will be dependant on the species of insect being fed. Waxworms and crickets have different dietary needs as do mealworms and silkworms. As a result, it is important to know the dietary requirements for each species so that you can adequately provide them with a nutritious gut loading prior to feeding them to your leopard gecko.
Rep-Cal Herptivite Multi-Vitamin
Buy On Amazon
Feeder Prey Dusting
In addition to gut loading your feeder prey, you should also be using them as a transport method for carrying your calcium and vitamin supplements to your leopard gecko.
Coating your feeder insects with the supplement you are using is very easy and doesn't take a great deal of time. The simplest approach is to have a small jar dedicated to be used as your supplementation container. Place a small amount of the supplement being used into the jar and simply add the feeder insects. Close the jar and lightly tumble the insects in the container so they become coated with the supplement. Now remove them and toss them in to be fed to the leopard gecko. Coated insects can be placed in a feeder dish or allowed to run around the enclosure. This will be dependant on how you feed.
By dedicating a single jar to be your supplementation container, you can simply close the jar up after the process has been completed and use the jar again at the next feeding which requires supplements. This allows you to conserve any supplements that may still be present in the jar.
I have found that the best formula for supplementation is to combine 1 part vitamin-mineral supplement to 2 parts calcium supplement. Offering an excess of vitamins at too often a frequency can actually cause more harm than good. By offering this mixture of supplements, you will only require a single jar dedicated for this purpose. Those that offer their vitamins and calcium independently and on rotating days are spending more time supplementing than they need to. I prefer the ultra fine powder as it adheres to the prey better than the courser calcium supplements.
I supplement my adults on a bi-weekly basis for 2 feedings. When they are being bred, I alter their supplementation schedule and offer them supplements 2 times a week during the breeding season. Each of my hatchlings are supplemented 3 times a week until they reach 12 weeks of age. At that point, they are cut back to 2 times per week for the next 4 weeks and then begin the bi-weekly schedule the other geckos are on. This has been my routine now for the past 12+ years and it has worked very well for me.
A shallow dish of calcium should be offered at all times. Leopard geckos will intermittently eat the calcium in the dish on an as needed basis. This does not take the place of dusting the feeder insects with the calcium and vitamin supplement. This should always be offered in addition to dusting.
The calcium you use to dust your prey and the calcium you leave in the enclosure should be different. When dusting your prey, you should be using a calcium that contains D3. I prefer the Rep-Cal Pink label for this. The calcium in the dish that remains in the enclosure should not contain D3. I prefer the Rep-Cal Green label for this.
Rep-Cal Calcium - Vitamin D3
Buy On Amazon
Rep-Cal Calcium - NO D3
Buy On Amazon
There are many different supplements available on the market today. It can be confusing for new enthusiasts to decipher which supplements are best or which are the most often used by other enthusiasts. Here is a short list of supplements that are used within the industry. There are more options out there but listing them all is not practical. Each of those listed is linked to Amazon for quick purchasing.
- Rep-Cal Calcium - Green Label (Calcium Dish)
- Rep-Cal Calcium - Pink Label (Prey Dusting)
- Zoo Med Repti Calcium - No D3
- Zoo Med Repti Calcium - With D3
Vitamin - Mineral Supplements
- Rep-Cal Herptivite
- Osteo-Form SA Powder
- Zoo Med's Reptivite - No D3
- Zoo Med's Reptivite - With D3
Ron Tremper, a well known and respected leopard gecko breeder and co-author of The Herpetoculture of Leopard Geckos indicated that he uses Vionate by Rich Health to get his geckos up to 7 inches. He uses Osteo-Form for his sexually mature geckos. [Herpetoculture of Leopard Geckos pg.99]
Author: Richard Brooks