Crested Geckos are considered extremely low maintenance pets and tend to be the perfect starter pets for first-time reptile owners.
While feeding live vs. feeding powdered food can be a controversial topic amongst the reptile experts around the world, there are many benefits and considerations to make before finalizing your decision on which direction you’d want to go.
A Crested Gecko does not need live insects for them to live a long and healthy life. However, there are some significant benefits to doing so that may sway an undecided mind.
In this article, you will find out why feeding live insects could be beneficial, what live insects they can eat (and the approximate costs associated), how often to feed said insects, and what food to provide if you decide not to feed live.
As stated above, Cresties do not need live insects to survive. Thanks to the modernized pet food industry, there are plenty of options for people who would rather not willingly bring live insects into their homes.
Powdered meal replacements allow crested geckos to get most of the nutrients they need to live a long, healthy life.
However, there are some benefits to feeding live that one may consider that could sway them over to the live insect side of the debate.
One of these benefits is that it gives the gecko more animal protein than they would get via a powdered meal replacement.
Typically, Whey Protein Isolate is used in these powdered replacements.
While it does the job, it is just a supplement for what they would get in their natural habitat.
It has been shown that crested geckos that are not offered insect options do not grow nearly as well as ones that are.
While Crested Geckos are not known for their hunting ability, and can actually be quite clumsy hunters, feeding live insects stimulates that part of their brain.
It recreates how they would eat in the wild, where their diet consists of more than 50% live insects.
When Live Feeding Becomes a Necessity
Live feeding is highly recommended if your crested gecko is not growing as quickly as they need to or seems to be getting bored with its regular diet.
If you notice that the food you give is being eaten less and less, or not at all, that is a big sign that you need to switch the menu up for your gecko.
This can be difficult to tell at times, especially with the younger geckos, because they usually only need a few licks of powdered meal replacement before they are full.
How to Know if your Crestie is not Growing Properly
Most breeders estimate that it can take one to two years for a baby crested gecko to become an adult. Even though the average age to reach adulthood is 18 months, that is not always the case.
There are a couple of different aspects to look at when trying to distinguish between a gecko that is growing appropriately or not growing quite fast enough.
Those factors can range from humidity and heat fluctuations in their tanks (72-75 degrees Fahrenheit and 60-80% humidity is ideal) to how long they were incubated to if they are eating enough.
A baby crested gecko is considered a juvenile until they hit 16 grams which on average takes no more than 18 months- 2 years of age and ends up around 35-55 grams for females and 25 grams for males once they hit fully mature adult status.
If your gecko is not hitting these growth milestones, it may be necessary to introduce live feedings.
The answer to this will vary based on how old your gecko is. Juveniles will need to be fed every day, whereas fully grown adults will only need to be fed live two to three times a week.
When fed live, the insect must be smaller than the space between your gecko’s eyes (too big, and it could lead to impaction) and must be gut loaded and dusted before feeding to your gecko.
All “gut loaded” means is that the insects were fed a nutritious diet to ensure that your pet reaps all the benefits of a well-rounded meal.
They can be bought like this if you decide to buy in small quantities, but they will need to be maintained while you’re keeping them alive.
With meal replacement powders, it is recommended to feed every other day, and this is to ensure that the food doesn’t dry out or go bad.
Insects that a Crested Gecko can eat can be narrowed down into two categories: Staples and Treats.
Five Staples in your Crested Gecko’s Diet
Dubia Roaches: Price ranges between $4.50 and $12 depending on the size of Dubia Roach and the quantity you buy. These can be purchased online and delivered live.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae: Price ranges between $5 and $16 depending on size and quantity. It can also be bought online.
Crickets: Prices range between $5 and $12 depending on size and quantity. It can be bought online or can usually be purchased locally in a pet store.
Super Worms: Prices range between $7-$26. These can be bought in larger quantities, making the price range a bit wider. These can also be purchased online.
Silkworms: Prices range between $7 and $25 depending on quantity.
Four Treats that can be Fed Occasionally
Hornworms: Average cost was around $10 for four worms.
Wax Worms: Average cost is around $10 for 250 worms.
Butter Worms: Cost ranges between $7.50-$15 depending on quantity.
Mealworms: Cost ranges between $6.50-$10 for 250 worms.
A few things to keep in mind before you commit to live feeding are as follows:
You will need to maintain the life of these insects, gut load them, and dust them before feeding.
The mineral or vitamin supplement needed for dusting can cost around $10-$15, depending on which brand you go with.
You will also need to have a separate container to feed your gecko live food to ensure that the insect doesn’t die and rot in your terrarium (which can cause your pet to get quite sick if they get ingested).
This also keeps your gecko from getting too stressed out if they can’t catch all insects from previous feedings.
Feeding in separate, more confined containers also helps ensure that your gecko can actually catch the insects you’re giving them since they are not known to be the most agile of predators, as mentioned above.
There are several well-known, and respected brands of MRP (Meal Replacement Powder) diets out there.
Arcadia has an all-natural Crested Gecko blend that contains the full spectrum of minerals, vitamins, fruits, and insect protein.
Pangea and Rapshed are also both well-known brands of meal replacement powders that have different flavors to keep your gecko from getting bored of its food. These can be easily found online or in your local pet store.
There are many different flavors that you can pick from if you do decide to go this route, and there really isn’t one that will be better than the others.
Whatever flavor you choose would all depend on what your gecko prefers, so feel free to mix it up to see what they like!
You can also get Jelly Pots, but this would be a very last resort as they are mostly just fruit with a sprinkling of Vitamin A and C.
There really is not enough nutritional benefit to these meal substitutes to be very advantageous to your gecko.
On occasion, you can try to feed them fresh fruit, such as mango, banana, strawberry, watermelon, or even sweet baby foods but don’t be alarmed if they don’t take to it.
Much like people, geckos seem to acquire likes and dislikes of different flavors and foods, so again, feel free to experiment from time to time to see what your gecko enjoys the most.
Feeding your crested gecko live food is not necessary for them to survive, but it plays a vital role in their overall happiness and wellbeing.
There are considerable pros and cons that one would need to consider before deciding to go with live feeding or meal replacement powders.
If you don’t mind maintaining a live insect colony in your house, live feeding is the preferred way to go amongst the experts.
Most seasoned crested gecko owners and experts will recommend live feeding in conjunction with meal replacement powder diets to ensure that your gecko is getting everything it needs for a well-rounded regimen for a long, healthy, and happy life.