What to Feed Your Leaf-Tailed Gecko

All Uroplatus are obligate insectivores, which means that the ideal leaf-tailed gecko food is BUGS. Offerings of meat or plant matter will be rejected or—if eaten—can make the gecko sick.

Juveniles should be fed daily; adults can be fed every other day. Offer as much as they can eat in one night. The female U. sikorae I worked with did well on 5-6 large crickets every other night. However, other keepers have documented feeding adults daily, with one “fasting” day per week. Conclusion: do what keeps juveniles growing and what keeps adults’ weights stable, which means that weekly weighing is required.

All feeders should be no larger than the space between the gecko’s eyes. Offer them in the evening, after misting so you don’t accidentally wash off calcium powder.

Good Feeder Insects

  • Crickets*
  • Grasshoppers*
  • Snails*
  • Dubia roaches
  • Discoid roaches
  • Hornworms
  • Black soldier fly larvae
  • Silkworms
  • Waxworms
  • Mealworms

Crickets, roaches, and snails are the most popular leaf-tailed gecko food, whose hunting instinct is triggered by motion, especially prey capable of climbing into their arboreal territory. The exception to this rule is snails, which are a natural prey for wild Uroplatus.

Do not be concerned if your gecko ignores or rejects worm feeders. Offering a variety is nice, but sometimes Uroplatus have very specific preferences. For example, all of the U. sikorae I worked with would only eat crickets.

Avoid the use of feeding dishes. Uroplatus like to dive from leaves/branches to catch their prey, and like solid substrates, hard dishes can cause injury. If you must use a feeding dish, line the floor of the dish with a sponge for the gecko’s safety.

Hatchling Uroplatus lineatus with a cricket - leaf-tailed gecko food

Hatchling U. lineatus feasting on a cricket. Photo by Sean Scardino.

Gut Loading

Because leaf-tailed geckos rely on insects for all of their nutrition, it is especially important to gut-load feeder insects for at least 24 hours before offering. 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.

Dusting

Feeders should also be dusted with calcium powder for every other feeding. A common symptom of over supplementation in Uroplatus is weight gain, so look out for fat stores accumulating under the jaw and in front of the rear legs.

If you are using a UVB bulb, use a calcium powder without D3. If you are not, calcium with D3 will be required to keep the gecko healthy.

Our favorite calcium supplements are:

**Note** U. sikorae and U. phantasticus are particularly sensitive to over-supplementation, so calcium should only be offered every other feeding or even just once a week, depending on the state of their calcium sacs. U. henkeli, on the other hand, need a lot of calcium, and it may be wise to provide a bottle cap-sized dish of calcium powder (without vitamin D3) on a ledge outside of insect feedings.

A Quick Note about Water

Although they prefer to lick water off leaves and the walls of their enclosure, Uroplatus do seem to benefit from a relatively large, shallow water bowl no deeper than .5-1” (1-2 cm) at the bottom of the enclosure. Replace the water every other day or whenever it becomes soiled.


Next → Understanding your leaf-tailed gecko’s body language