Proper Diet For Frugivorous Geckos
All species in the Rhacodactylus genus are frugivorous. A frugivorous diet consists of ripe fruit and insects. Insects are easy to come by and with the introduction of balanced diets, the feeding of a frugivorous gecko is simple and easy.
Feeding Babyfood to Geckos
For years baby food was believed to be a suitable diet for geckos. A mixture of added vitamins, calcium, and other dietary supplements added in an effort to turn a human product into gecko food. Unfortunately for the majority of geckos on this diet they formed diseases that were never documented while in the wild. These diseases included Floppy Tail Syndrome, Obesity, and the most critical Metabolic Bone Disease. Metabolic Bone Disease along with Obesity were the two most common factors since baby food did not provide a nutritionally balanced calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin supplement. Most cases of Metabolic Bone Disease do not return to proper health and either live their life out with deformation or die.
Feeding Frugivorous Geckos
In recent years balanced diets that require only adding water and mixing to a semi-thick consistency have been introduced into the hobby. These diets, such as Repashy Superfoods, can come in different flavors to appeal to even the pickiest of geckos. In more recent years Pangea Reptile has released their Pangea Fruit Mix Compete with a great feeding response.
I feed the frugivorous diet three times a week and leave the remaining food in the enclosure until the following night. This allows the gecko to feed at any point that it may become hungry. In nature, these geckos feed on ripe (not spoiled) fruit which naturally occurs on the second evening that the diet is available. Giant Geckos will feed on 2+ ounces a night and crested geckos may feed on a half ounce. I like to offer a little more than what they are capable of eating. For my breeder cages of Crested Geckos that have one male and up to two females I will offer 1.5 ounces and for my Giant Geckos with one individual gecko in the enclosure, I offer a full 2 ounces. These figures are average for summer months and will become less if a cooling period during the winter months is provided.
Calcium, Mineral and Vitamin Supplements
All species in the Rhacodactylus genus are nocturnal. Unlike Diurnal lizard species, Rhacodactylus can not process Calcium naturally, and supplementing calcium with vitamin D3 is necessary for most nocturnal captive reptiles. The diets are formulated with the necessary amounts of calcium and D3 but live feeders are not. All live feeders will need to be balanced with the right calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3 amounts. Applying supplements is simple as using a plastic bag, (provided when crickets are sold at pet stores) adding a small amount of supplement to the bag with the crickets inside and shaking the bag until crickets are finely coated with the supplement.
Calcium supplements available today are sold separately from vitamins and minerals. Generally, a company will supply two products. A Calcium product with or without D3 and a vitamin-mineral product. Companies will offer these three products as a way to select the right calcium product for your diurnal or nocturnal pet and then later mix with the vitamin and mineral product. If you use ReptiCalcium by Zoo-Med then you will want to add a vitamin/mineral supplement such as Repashy SuperVite. Calcium Plus, by Repashy Superfoods is formulated to be a calcium and vitamin/mineral supplement product that balances the nutritional value of a cricket to an appropriate meal.
All geckos from New Caledonia will feed on live insects during some point of growth. Crested Geckos and Mossy Prehensile-Tailed geckos will feed on insects throughout their life while Gargoyle Geckos tend to only feed on insects from Hatchling to Juvenile and just prior to their adult years. Giant Geckos are the pickiest of eaters when it comes to live prey.
Giant Geckos reach a point where they are no longer stimulated by the appearance of crickets and at this point offering roaches once a week or hairless baby mice once every two weeks may be more appealing. Gargoyle Geckos may not eat live feeders and can solely consume the frugivorous diets.
On days that I offer live feeders I have not offered the diet and allowed the geckos to digest and absorb the required nutrients. I dust the live feeder with either Repashy Calcium Plus or Zoo-Med Repti Calcium with D3. This way I know the gecko is getting the right nutrition from the supplements and the chances of offering too much Calcium/D3 or not enough has been drastically reduced.
Something most people overlook is “gut loading”. Gut loading consists of feeding your crickets, roaches, or other live prey a nutritional meal prior to being offered to your reptile as food. The idea stems from the food chain. In nature the cricket will feed on a number of available foods and predators will feed on the cricket also consuming the stomach contents of the cricket. Considering the life cycle offering a proper Insect Gut Load the stomach contents of the cricket will have a greater nutritional value. I recommend Gut Loading three days prior to feeding or on a consistent basis.
Weekly Feeding Schedule
At the start of the week, on Monday, I offer the Crested Gecko Diet leaving the food in the enclosure until Wednesday when I refresh the diet and allow for it to be available until Friday again repeating the process but removing the diet on Saturday. At this point, the food has been offered fresh three times during the course of the week. The remaining food has been in the enclosure, ripe, for two nights and continued to be consumed at a greater rate. I do not feed the geckos on Saturday but offer live feeders on this day or Sunday. Each gecko will be offered enough crickets to be consumed in that one feeding.
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