Generally speaking, prepared diets are not the best way to feed a reptile. The ingredients are typically full of fillers and they don’t provide a balanced diet.
In the case of crested geckos, I make an exception. Thanks to the exhaustive efforts of some really smart people, there are nutritionally-complete prepared diets on the market ready for your gecko to chow down. Who made the cut?
All 3 are high quality brands with a range of flavors to suit your individual gecko’s preference.
Mix the powdered diet with water to a ketchup consistency and offer in a condiment cup or bottle cap. Most cresties prefer eating up off of the ground, so invest in a wall-mounted feeding ledge like these. Or, if you prefer something more colorful, C3 Ledges sells cute alternatives on Etsy. Offer fresh food every 24 hours for juveniles, and every other day for adults.
How do I know which brand and/or flavor to get?
Generally speaking, geckos prefer the food that their breeder raised them with. This is not always the case, however—my male crestie was raised on Pangea With Insects, but we accidentally offered Repashy Grubs N’ Fruit once and he’s been hooked since. Moral of the story—find what your gecko likes best and stick to it.
What about other brands?
Developing a trustworthy prepared diet requires generational testing, precise nutrient ratios, high quality ingredients, palatable flavor, and popularity among experts. So far only Repashy, Pangea, and Clark’s Diet have passed the test. Diets offered by other brands like National Geographic, Exo Terra, etc. should be left on the shelf.
If you are feeding your gecko a prepared diet that already has bugs in it (Pangea With Insects, Repashy Grubs N’ Fruit), technically feeder insects are not necessary. But they make a good source of enrichment, and they help juveniles grow faster, as well as fatten thin adults.
If you use a prepared diet that doesn’t contain a protein source, then insects need to be offered 1-2x weekly to maintain a balanced diet.
Good feeder insects are:
Waxworms can be offered occasionally as treats, especially for thin geckos. Take care not to offer anything too large—while worms have soft bodies that are easy to chew and digest, feeder roaches should be no larger than the space between the gecko’s eyes.
Avoid mealworms and super worms. These are high in chitin, making them difficult to digest, leading to impaction in some cases.
All insects should be dusted with a calcium supplement to correct the Ca:P (calcium to phosphorous) ratio.
Our favorite calcium supplements for crested geckos are:
Note: All feeder insects should be gutloaded for at least 24 hours before feeding. Ideally, they should come pre-gutloaded from the breeder. If they weren’t, or you buy your feeder insects in bulk, the easiest way to keep them fed and gut-loaded is with Repashy Veggie Burger or Grassland Grazer powder. Note that if you give your insects a dry gutload, they will need a source of water. Gel water crystals work perfectly for this purpose.
Is baby food okay?
No. Baby food typically contains preservatives, and artificial colors/flavors. Additionally, since it’s formulated for humans, the nutrient ratios are off, and your gecko can get sick.
Can I give my gecko fresh fruit?
As an occasional treat, yes. Appropriate fruits include bananas, mango, apricots, papaya, and berries. (For more information, visit Moon Valley Reptiles.) Keep in mind that if you offer fruit too often, the gecko may reject prepared diet, risking malnutrition.
Can crested geckos drink water from a bowl?
Contrary to popular belief, YES — crested geckos can see, recognize, and drink water from a bowl. Most feeding ledges have space for two condiment cups, so provide CGD in one of them, and fresh water (not distilled or reverse-osmosis) in the other. Your gecko will still drink after you mist the enclosure, but in case they get thirsty between mistings, they won’t have to wait.