In our feeding FAQ, we will try to answer some common questions about crested gecko feeding, nutrition and diet.
Why a commercial diet? Isn’t “natural” better?
It’s very difficult to simulate a balanced diet in captivity because of all of the factors we just don’t know about yet. Natural sunlight conversion to vitamin D-3 is probably a big component in natural calcium uptake. There are a ton of microfauna that could be providing calcium to the geckos, mostly provided by clay soils that have a high mineral content. Dart frog hobbyists have been experimenting with a feeding system that requires no supplementation using specific substrates, it’s pretty cool.
In New Caledonia, crested geckos have access to a variety of fruits and wild prey, such as snails. Being mollusks, their shells are made of calcium carbonate. Isopods (small terrestrial crustaceans) and other soil microfauna could also supply calcium and other nutrients. The mineral content in their native substrate could become available to Crested Geckos by licking (some geckos in captivity are known to take in a mouthful of substrate) or via calcium in soil microfauna making its way up the food chain. Larva, mold or other microorganisms in rotting fruit could supply additional nutritional enzymes. Or perhaps fermentation itself provides currently unknown benefits. This unique flora of microorganisms in rotting food are such that we are usually unwilling to propagate in our homes.
I think one of the things that makes crested geckos somewhat difficult to supplement is that they are not obligate insectivores. You can’t just give them dusted crickets – although many seem to do well on them. When you start to add in sugar-loaded and phosphorous-heavy foods such as babyfood and blended fruits it really tilts the balance between a diet they can live on and one that causes extreme MBD.
Something to keep in mind is that wild animals in general are not what we consider “healthy” by hobbyist standards. They usually carry a heavy parasite load, for instance, and are hard-wired to eat rotten, spoiled food at every opportunity because there aren’t bowls of food lying around. Wild animals are adapted to their environment to survive to breed as much as possible and longevity isn’t the #1 concern.
Factors not avaialble in captivity
- Natural Sunlight
- Natural high-mineral soils
- Food chain concentration of nutrients
- High variety of fruit
- High variety of insects
- Natural selection of the fittest individuals
Large outdoor simulated environments may not be out of the question for crested geckos; however, for the home hobbiest, these factors are still a barrier to a “natural” method of keeping crested geckos.
Benefits to captivity
- Complete crested gecko diet available
- Safe, comfortable enclosures
- Veterinary care
- Increased offspring survival
- Longevity for captive population
- Species safe from extinction
Providing a naturalistic environment is a good thing, but this must be taken into consideration on where our limits are in doing so.
Why NOT Baby Food?
Most babyfood is a single-source fruit, usually one with a skewed calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Ca:P ratios are a crucial concern for proper nutrition in crested geckos.
Once baby food is considered “ok” to feed, new users and casual hobbiests especially become complacent, not bothering to supplement every time they feed. They begin to think that dusting the crickets is enough, and don’t bother to provide the variety that is absolutely necessary to keep most crested geckos healthy in captivity. This leads to metabolic bone disease, a very crippling and deadly disorder if left untreated.
Isn’t baby food cheaper than CGD?
No. A jar of baby food will spoil within a few days, so you can expect to use at least one jar of baby food per week, per gecko. Let’s say it’s $1 per week, per gecko. $4 per month. $48 per year, multiplied by each gecko.
Don’t forget the calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin supplements $6, and they go bad after six months. $12 per year.
Now you have to add in crickets to make this a complete diet, probably a dozen per week at $1 if you have a “cricket card” discount. You can go ahead and use the same supplements as for the baby food. $50 per year.
Total cost of a baby food and cricket diet that may not be properly balanced is $112 for each gecko. That’s being generous, it could cost more depending on where you live.
A one pound (16 oz) bag of Crested Gecko Diet contains everything they need to grow and thrive. It will feed a gecko for $20 per year. Crickets optional.
On cost alone, CGD is the winner. There is no benefit to feeding baby food.
If you don’t want to buy online or pay shipping, you could easily contact a local pet store or gecko breeder in your area to order some for you. No excuses allowed!
Why Repashy CGD?
Allen Repashy has created a diet that most closely replicates their natural diet by observing their behavior in the wild, and also by analyzing their poop. Then he has upped the ante by conducting feeding trials to adjust the nutrient levels that will benefit these animals and allow them to thrive in captivity. Over 7 generations of geckos have been raised on Repashy MRP alone. This is why I trust CGD over anything that I could make on my own and why I prefer it over other commercial foods.
Can I dust crickets with CGD?
Although you can dunk crickets in wet CGD, you do not want to rely on it to properly balance out your insects.
Use a product intended for dusting crickets and other insects. We prefer Repashy ICB because it is designed to make insects as balanced as possible in all nutrients, not just calcium.
Repashy Crested Gecko Diet is a whole, balanced meal in itself, with a Calcium to Phosphorus ratio of 2:1 – the ideal ratio for geckos and most reptiles. Every time any animal eats an amount of phosphorus, they need an equal amount of calcium to process that. So a Ca:P level of 2:1 will allow the body to process phosphorus and have some leftover to utilize in bone formation and normal organ functions.
Most feeder insects are very high on the phosphorus side. Crickets, for example, are 1:9 without gutloading and dusting. So if you are feeding undusted crickets you have a bad calcium deficit. If you dust with CGD, you are still not fixing this imbalance because it’s not designed to “correct” insects. It may slow the deficit slightly, but the more often you feed insects dusted this way, the sooner your gecko will start developing MBD and other calcium deficiency related disorders.