Knowing the best time of day to feed your Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is important. Feeding at the wrong time can lead to digestive issues and disturbance of their sleeping patterns. So, when is the best time to feed your Leopard Gecko?
Leopard Geckos are crepuscular. They are active at dusk and dawn, and should be fed during these times. Leopard Geckos should not be fed during the day or in the middle of the night, even if they are awake. Leopard Geckos should be given the opportunity to hunt during dusk or dawn if possible.
That’s the quick answer, but let’s find out more about when to feed your Leopard Gecko and what the benefits are.
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Leopard Geckos Should Be Fed At Dusk Or Dawn
In the wild, Leopard Geckos are crepuscular. This means that they are most active during the changeover periods between day and night. At these times, the temperature is mild, and the light is dim.
Dusk and dawn offer Leopard Geckos the chance to hunt without the intense heat of the sun. The half-light also makes it more difficult for their predators to hunt them.
At dusk and dawn, many insects become active too. As Leopard Geckos are insectivores, this makes dusk and dawn the ideal time to hunt.
Don’t mistake crepuscular for nocturnal. Nocturnal animals become active after dark and remain active throughout the cold night. Leopard Geckos sleep for much of the night as well as the day.
Feeding Leopard Geckos During The Day Disturbs Their Cycle
As a result of living in close proximity with us, our Leopard Geckos may spend more time awake during the day than their wild counterparts. But, even if they are awake and active during the day, it is best not to feed them.
Feeding your Leopard Gecko during the day disturbs their circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a cycle that your body follows. Your body clock. When you have a healthy circadian rhythm, you sleep when you should sleep, wake easily, and have energy during waking hours.
Animals, plants, and even microbes have circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are primarily based on light and darkness. They follow the rising and setting of the sun. But, they can be disturbed by artificial light.
Eating when you should be sleeping also gives your body the wrong signals. It can confuse your circadian rhythm by providing spikes in energy at inappropriate times.
A disrupted circadian rhythm leads to fatigue, insomnia, poor digestion, and imbalanced hormones. These issues can lead to a host of chronic health problems.
To keep your Leopard Gecko healthy, be sure to provide a solid routine of light and darkness. Use a light timer in the tank that your Leopard Geckos live in to ensure that they receive clear messages of when it is day, and when it is night.
If you are able to provide dimmed half-light during dusk and dawn, that’s even better. And, stick to a strict feeding routine. Always offer food when your Leopard Gecko is experiencing dawn or dusk; even if you see your Leopard Gecko awake at other times.
Leopard Geckos Hunt At Dusk And Dawn
When you deliver food at dusk and dawn, allow your pet to hunt the insects if possible. Hunting live food gives them good exercise, and allows them to express natural behavior. This is essential for good husbandry.
Hunting insects also is a form of enrichment. Enrichment is anything that adds variability to your Leopard Gecko’s environment that stimulates behavioral opportunities, such as hunting and exploring. Research shows that Leopard Geckos’ welfare is improved by enrichment.
When you deliver insects to your Leopard Gecko, try not to throw them all in the tank and simply leave them there. Some live insects can be dangerous for your Leopard Gecko.
For example, they can die and introduce bacteria to the habitat. Or, they can even bite at your Leopard Gecko. Read our article on why you shouldn’t leave crickets in the tank to learn more.
The best thing to do is observe your Leopard Gecko hunting, to ensure that they catch all of the insects. Then, remove any that your Leopard Gecko has lost interest in.
Most Leopard Gecko Owners Prefer To Feed In The Evening
Most Leopard Gecko owners choose to feed at dusk, not dawn. At dusk, during the evening, most people have more time to spend at home. They can enjoy their Leopard Geckos, devote time to feeding them, and observe them hunting.
Also, Leopard Geckos do sometimes continue their activity into the early hours of the night. So, they may have longer to hunt than if you feed them when you wake up.
Leopard Geckos are less likely to remain active after the sun comes up. They would be at risk of burning, heat damage, and predation in the wild after sun-up.
Whether you choose to feed your Leopard Gecko at dusk or dawn, just remember to remove any leftover insects before your pet goes to sleep. If you stick to a good feeding routine, your Leopard Gecko will be healthy and its body will run like clockwork.
You can check how well your Leopard Gecko is responding to their routine by monitoring digestion time. Read our article on how long it takes Leopard Geckos to digest food to find out more.