It can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what type of insects to feed your leopard gecko. Leopard geckos can only eat certain types of insects as others can make them sick or even kill them.
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Why You Should Not Feed Your Leopard Gecko Ants
Leopard geckos should not be fed any type of ant, as ants could make them sick, or even kill them. Leopard geckos must eat only live food, and live ants given to a leopard gecko can bite and injure them as well before your gecko has a chance to eat them.
While there are certain gecko species like those of the Pristurus genus who are adapted to eating mainly ants (called myrmecophagous geckos), most gecko species cannot and should not eat ants. Luckily, there are some steps that you can take if your gecko does eat an ant.
What To Do If Your Leopard Gecko Has Eaten An Ant
You may find that your leopard gecko has caught and eaten a stray ant either in the house (if you let them out of their vivarium) or in their vivarium. Here is what you can do if your leopard gecko has eaten an ant or ants:
Either put your leopard gecko back in their vivarium, or move them from it to a safe, ant-free container – preferably another vivarium.
If there are more ants that you can see, try to catch a few of them to show the vet. This may help when treating your leopard gecko.
Keep an eye on your gecko for symptoms of poisoning or illness, for example lethargy, stumbling, not eating or showing interest in food, and not drinking any water.
If you see any of these symptoms, get your leopard gecko to a vet as soon as possible.
Your leopard gecko eating an ant is not all that could happen. On some occasions, you may find that ants want to take up residence in your leopard gecko’s vivarium.
These ants could even attack your gecko in some circumstances and not just cause them illness if fed upon. It’s therefore extremely important to get rid of the ants immediately.
What To Do If There Are Ants In Your Leopard Gecko’s Vivarium
If you find that ants have started a colony in your leopard gecko’s vivarium or they have been attracted by some “leftovers” from a meal, you need to act immediately. It is imperative that you don’t leave the ants there thinking that your leopard gecko will have a buffet anytime it wants.
There are various ways to deal with the ants that are living in or feeding in the vivarium. Here are some of the ways that work best and that are safe to use around your leopard gecko.
- Put petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) around the outside of the vivarium. This can be either at the bottom of the vivarium or around the top. This layer will keep the ants from entering.
- Stick double-sided tape around the outside of the vivarium, also either around the bottom or the top. Try to use broad tape or a few rounds of thinner tape. A few of the ants may become stuck, but they mostly avoid stepping on the tape at all. You can also put some of the tape around any cables leading to the vivarium. Warning! Don’t use double-sided tape close to heat elements. In these cases, use insulation/electrical tape with the sticky side up.
- Cinnamon or peppermint oil has also been used to keep ants away from vivariums and is a green solution if you don’t want to or can’t use some kind of ant poison. Use it only outside the vivarium, though.
- The cinnamon will kill the ants’ scent trails that they leave. You can also use vinegar to wash your floors and windows to clear away the scent trails. If you have carpets, sprinkle cinnamon where the ants are, leave for an hour or two and then vacuum the cinnamon. Ant trails gone! Follow this up with some double-sided tape just in case.
- Ant poison or traps should be your very last resort. Warning! Don’t use poison if there are any ants or an ant colony inside the vivarium! You could inadvertently poison your leopard gecko in this way when you return them to the vivarium. You must also keep any other pets away from the poison.
Now that your leopard gecko is in a safe place and the ants have been taken care of, it’s time to clean the vivarium. This must be done extremely thoroughly to ensure that all the ants are gone. You can take the same steps to keep ants away from your leopard gecko’s food.
How To Clean A Vivarium Infested With Ants
If you have a vivarium that’s been infested by ants, you need to clean it thoroughly inside and out before placing your leopard gecko back into it.
Here is what you should pay careful attention to while cleaning the vivarium:
First, remove everything from the vivarium to clean. Substrate, plants, hides, the works. It’s a good idea to have two work surfaces; one on which to place the ant infested items, and one to place the items on after you’ve cleaned them.
Bag and dispose of the substrate. Don’t try to remove the ants from it — not only will you invariably miss some, it will also retain the colony’s smell. You could get another infestation in a flash.
Now, wash and disinfect the vivarium inside and out using a suitable vivarium cleaner and disinfectant. This should also destroy any lingering scent trails. The same goes for the mesh cover.
Next you need to thoroughly wash any food and water dishes, toys, hides, etc. that was in the vivarium. Do this with soapy water and a toothbrush to get into any cracks and crevices where stray ants may be hiding.
This will also serve to remove any traces of the ants’ scent. Let the items dry completely before placing any of them back in the vivarium.
Finally, take care of the plants that was inside the vivarium. (Or you could also go all-out and replace the plants as well.) Remove as much of the soil as you can from the roots of the plants as there may be ants hiding in the roots.
Wash the leaves and stems thoroughly with clean water, making sure that there are no ants hiding in the folds of the plants.
Now you can place everything in the vivarium with a new layer of substrate. If you do decide on putting double-sided tape around the outside of the vivarium, you can do it now.
Before moving the vivarium back into place, be sure to clean the surrounding area thoroughly with vinegar to get rid of any scent trails and also to make sure that there are no other ants still hanging around.
To keep ants from going into the vivarium again, you should always make sure that you remove any pieces of insects that your leopard gecko hasn’t eaten. Ants seem to be especially fond of cricket leftovers.
You should also make sure that your leopard gecko’s food is clear of ants. This will ensure that you don’t place any ants in the vivarium when you’re feeding your gecko.
By following these steps, you can keep your leopard gecko safe and their vivarium ant-free, which also means that they won’t eat an ant by accident.
Also, we recommend having a look at our article here – it explains why you should clean a Leopard gecko tank very often, no matter if you have an ant problem or not.