Feeding Giant Geckos
Rhacodactylus leachianus is a frugivorous species. A frugivorous diet consists mostly of fruit. Another large part of the leachianus diet in the wild is live prey which can consist of insects, small mammals, and even reptiles that it can fit in its mouth. In captivity, we have options such as crickets, roaches, and occasional hairless baby mice also referred to as "pinkie mice." There have been many breakthroughs in the reptile industry and the most notable breakthrough is the complete meal replacement powder such as Crested Gecko Diet.
I offer one of the available diets such as Pangea Fruit Mix, Repashy or BPZ to both Grande Terre and Henkeli every other night leaving the remaining food in the enclosure until the next feeding. The "Complete" formulas are a nutritionally balanced diet specifically formulated for geckos and contains the proper calcium and vitamin D3.
I offer live prey of appropriate size at least once a week. All live prey is dusted with Repashy Calcium Plus or ZooMed ReptiCalcium. Some hatchling to juveniles will not take crickets or roaches immediately. Offering one cricket at a time will increase the appeal of the live prey. I generally offer a more robust prey (but still no larger than the space between the eyes) item. You may also consider tong feeding for adults who tend to be on the lazy side.
|Adult Cricket||Adult B. Dubia Cockroach|
Transition from poor baby food diet
This is not as common as it was seven years ago when I wrote this article but I am keeping it because it's great information and still applicable in some instances.
Some geckos become accustomed to a certain diet and although they devour the food it does not mean that the food is nutritious. It can be difficult to change diets after an animal becomes accustomed to the diet that they are on. If your animal was not fed a complete formula then you can do a gradual introduction of the diet while still offering live prey. Starting with the food they are accustomed to change 25% of the food with the complete formula for the first week. The next week incorporate 50% of the complete formula with the original. On the third week mix, 75% of the complete formula with the original and by the fourth week your gecko should be enjoying the new food without the original. Try to keep with the same flavors that your giant gecko is accustomed to. Try to choose a flavor of diet that will have a similar flavor as the previous food.
It is also appropriate to note that while changing the diet, breeding or changing enclosures it is a good idea to document weight and eating habits. An electronic scale that measures in grams is the best method to document weight. While changing diets there should be a little drop in weight but it should balance and stay steady keeping the appearance of a healthy gecko.
Health by Appearance
A giant gecko will show a couple of signs of poor health. It is very common for a hatchling to have a zig-zag tail right out of the egg. This is thought to be a lack of calcium during incubation and is easily remedied with live feeders dusted with calcium that contains vitamin D3. The tail kink can return at any age. Providing full spectrum lighting will help and has been shown to improve color. It should be noted that Giant Geckos, with their baggy skin, can be difficult to tell if they are dehydrated. Anytime you provide added calcium you should have adequate water available. Provide a water dish with fresh water at all times and mist regularly. The eyes are a very good indicator of dehydration. They will appear sunken in.
Hip bones and ribs should never be visible. If the gecko in question exhibits these signs then take into consideration the food being fed, the routine and I always recommend a fecal with a vet visit.
Note: Zig-Zag tail is a number of kinks throughout the tail from tip to the base and is common with all hatchling leachianus. Added calcium supplementation, a good diet, and proper hydration will remedy the zig-zag tail in a short period of time.
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