No matter how hard we try and how many different feeder species we get, we simply can’t replicate the richness of the natural leopard gecko diet.
Try to imagine how a wild leo lives.
- He eats an array of insects and arthropods that is impossible to replicate; these insects also load themselves with wild plants richer in vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients than our veggies.
- He catches an occasional smaller lizard or a baby rodent.
- He drinks rainwater or dew that has trickled down from local rocks and was in contact with the soil, mineralizing itself in the process.
- He can lick various mineral and salty deposits according to his needs.
All of those points are additionally affected by specific climatic, geologic and biotic factors. You simply can’t replicate that in a terrarium.
Luckily, we now have state-of-the-art, specialized vitamin and mineral formulas to help us make up for that.
High-quality supplements will make your leopard gecko care easy and carefree – and yes, it’s a must. Decades of experience in the hobby tell us that they do work.
What Supplements Do Leopard Geckos Need?
Vitamin and mineral supplement powders contain everything your leo needs to stay healthy and active for many, many years. They are a breeze to use, and there is a variety of products on the market. Commonly, a leopard gecko requires 2 types of supplements:
- General multivitamin and mineral supplement
- Pure calcium, or Calcium with vitamin D3 (difference explained below)
Calcium Powder for Leopard Geckos
Calcium is an essential mineral for many metabolic processes, and for ensuring good bone density. In their natural surroundings, leopard geckos can lick mineral deposits and salts if they need extra calcium. In a terrarium setting, you can put a dish with powdered calcium to make up for the lack of a natural source.
However, calcium cannot be absorbed in the gut without enough Vitamin D3, which brings us to the next question.
Calcium With or Without D3?
Opinions on this eternal dilemma in the leo community continue to be divided.
One party says that keeping a Calcium + D3 in the tank at all times carries a risk of a vitamin D3 overdose – especially if you are using a UVB lamp too (which we do not recommend – read more on this below).
The other camp points out that leos are tolerant of higher Vit D3 concentrations and that they can self-regulate when it comes to calcium and D3 that is freely available to them. Many experienced community members claim that they have never witnessed an overdose; on the other hand, cases of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) we see almost daily suggest that it is easier to underdose that overdose vitamin D3.
Still, there are cases of unspecified organ failures in middle-aged and older leopard geckos. While no one has provenly traced these events back to Calcium/D3 overdose, it is a warning that we should be careful.
If you are planning to use pure calcium, Repti Calcium is a classic choice – it offers highly absorbable calcium carbonate with no heavy metals or other impurities from sources like oyster shells.
If you are looking for calcium with Vitamin D3, Zoomed offers Repti Calcium with D3 as well.
Repashy has high-quality calcium supplements with varying levels of D3. For leopard geckos, Calcium Plus LoD (Low D3) should suffice.
You can read more about Vitamin D3 in the next section.
Calcium Deficiency Symptoms
It is important to catch calcium deficiency early. The first signs are:
- Low energy
- Lack of appetite
- Twitched toes
If not treated right away, the deficiency morphs into metabolic bone disease (MBD), a partially-reversible, but essentially incurable condition, which has the following symptoms:
- Bowed legs
- Swollen jaws that can’t close properly
- Spine malformations
- Lumps along the spine, limbs, and jaws
- Lack of appetite
Pro tip: How to Get Calcium off Leopard Gecko Eyelid
These days calcium powders are super-fine, and in most cases, leo will easily manage to lick it off from their eyes and eyelids. Wait for several hours, and if the powder still sticks to the eyelids after the gecko had tried to lick it off, use a well-washed, clean sprayer or a syringe and distilled or filtered water to carefully wash it out of your lizard’s eye.
Vitamins for Leopard Geckos
Vitamin (and mineral) powder contains all the vitamins, minerals and micronutrients your leo needs.
Multivitamins can be with or without Calcium and Vitamin D3.
The versions without Calcium and D3 are used together with a compatible Calcium+D3 product. However, I believe it is much easier to dose just one formula that contains all the vitamins than to juggle a couple of products. Besides, if your leo won’t lick Calcium from their tank, you can rely on the high-quality multivitamin with Calcium and D3 to cover all of his needs.
Calcium To Phosphorus Ratio
Since most leopard gecko feeders are rich in phosphorus and deficient in calcium, using a supplement that has a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of 2:1 is essential to ensure proper metabolism.
Zoomed’s ReptiVite is a complete supplement that offers proper calcium to phosphorus ratio and a full amino acid complex along with the essential vitamins. It is an ideal choice for non-breeding, regular pet geckos.
If you plan on breeding your leos, it is advisable to get a more potent formula. Repashy Calcium Plus Vitamin and Mineral Supplement has shown great results in this respect and is recommended by many breeders.
If you, for any reason, prefer to use Calcium+D3 and Multivitamin as separate products, Repashy SuperVite is compatible with all Repashy calcium products.
Vitamin D3 for Leopard Geckos
Vitamin D3 is a component (actually a hormone) essential for calcium and phosphorus absorption and metabolism, as well as other crucial processes such as immune function. Without enough D3, ingested calcium can’t be processed by the body. In a case of deficiency, the body pulls calcium from bones, which ultimately causes bone.
Vitamin D3 Overdose
Vitamin D3 overdose seems to be rare in leopard geckos, and the proofs of overdoses are scarce and anecdotal. In all the years, I haven’t come across a single case of a substantially proven vitamin D3 overdose.
However, as I said before, organ failures (most commonly liver and kidney) happen from time to time and the exact cause often remains unknown. Vitamin overdose is a possibility, though this remains unproven.
Is It Necessary If You Have a UVB Light?
While some keepers are experimenting with UVB light, it does not appear necessary for the health of your pet. At least, if you provide a well-rounded diet and supplement your pet’s meals properly.
Generation upon generation of leopard geckos have lived in captivity without UVB lights, so it is clearly possible to raise them without these lights. The problems some hobbyists seem to encounter (metabolic bone disease) are likely the result of improper or insufficient supplementation.
So, be sure to utilize a sensible supplementation schedule that provides your pet with Vitamin D3. Also, make sure to visit your veterinarian often, as he or she will be likely to spot the earliest signs of MBD, which will give you the chance to make adjustments before your lizard’s health declines significantly.
How to Supplement Your Leo?
Supplementing Feeder Insects – Gut loading
Leos ingest everything that their prey has in its gut, so what that gut is loaded with is very important.
Gut loading simply means feeding the daily batch of feeder insects some high quality, nutrient-rich, and fresh food 24-48 hours prior to giving them to your leo.
Your leo’s multivitamin supplement, carrot, cabbage, apples, dark greens, and dehydrated dog or cat food are all fine choices for gut loading.
If you are worried that you won’t be able to provide a proper gut loading mix, you can get a pre-made formula such as Repashy Superload.
What Insects Do I Gut Load?
You can gut load all staple insects: mealworms, superworms, roaches, crickets, and locusts.
Insects you shouldn’t gut load are: waxworms, hornworms, silkworms, and black soldier fly larvae.
How Often Do I Need to Dust Feeders?
Opinions on how often you should dust vary and each case is different.
For all age groups of geckos – gut load the insects prior to each feeding and have a calcium tray (with or without D3) available in the tank. If leos won’t touch the tray, a high-quality multivitamin should be enough.
For juvenile leos that are fed every day, opinions are divided – dusting every meal, or every other meal. I’d go for every other day, provided that the diet is varied and that the all-age-groups recommendations above are respected. For non-varied staple diets (e.g., mealworms only) or for youngsters that won’t touch their calcium tray, dusting every meal is better.
For mature leos that are fed every three days or so – dust at every feeding.
For breeding females – dust at every feeding with a potent high-quality supplement such as Repashy Calcium Plus.
How and When To Dust Insects for Leopard Geckos?
All quality modern supplements have a very fine structure, meaning they will stick to the insects well.
The favorite dusting method is “shake and bake:”
- Take a jar or a plastic box with a lid.
- Put the insects and the vitamin powder into a tray, close it, and shake it up and down.
- Pour insects into a feeding tray in the tank.
If you think that your leos are not getting enough vitamins for any reason (not using the calcium dish, beginning signs of MBD, poor appetite during breeding season), spray the insects with water prior to adding them into a dusting tray so more powder will stick to them.
What Happens If I Don’t Supplement My Leo?
If you fail to supplement your pet leopard gecko, he’s at grave risk of getting MBD and other illnesses, and dying as a consequence – after a lot of suffering.
You would think that, because of reliable information just one click away, the malnourishment-related reptile diseases should be a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, MBD and other diseases are still surprisingly common.
Therefore, I plead with you to supplement your pets’ diets properly. Anything else is animal cruelty.
With all the information and products available, supplementing your leopard gecko is quite easy these days. I hope that I have made it even easier for you.
Unfortunately, there are still many novice leopard gecko owners who don’t know how critically important leopard gecko supplements are. Share this article if you think it contains valuable information. Let’s prevent crippling diseases like MBD together!
Do you have anything to add? How do you supplement your leos? Drop a line in the comments and let us know.
20 thoughts on “Leopard Gecko Calcium and Vitamins: What Supplements to Use?”
We have a new lepord gecko baby. We are confused by all the conflicting information regarding calcium and d3. We are dusting its crickets with Zoo Med brand repti calcium with D3. We were doing it every feeding but then read 3 times a week is better and putting a little capful of it in the tank so they can lick it when they want. We didn’t dust the insects today and this thing is eating the calcium with D3 out of the cap tonight like crazy. It has gone go it 4 times. I read people worry about D3 overdose so took the cap out now lol!! What is best?
I completely understand your confusion as there is so much conflicting information online. There are no real set rules with this and every keeper will tell you something different. If you have a UV lamp in your enclosure, this will help to supplement vitamin D3, however, you should still also offer a food supplement. I recommend gut loading your insects before feeding, make sure they have a good meal of veggies before being placed in the tank. I would then dust the insects every other day and leave a small tray of vitamin/calcium powder in the tank. However, if your gecko continues to consume this amount then perhaps alternate the days that you leave the tray/dish in the tank.
I was just given a leo in horrid conditions! his tank dirty…. I think he has MBD! His back legs drag. He was so cold I held him to keep warm until the heat mat got warm. His back left leg tries to move. The back right leg has no movement. He is also going thru a shed. So this guy has been thru hell. I am trying to help him. He drank so much when I put him back in tack with clean bottled water. I just put Repashy Calcium Plus in his water. When he was drinking before that, I also gently rubbed some water on his tail & shed areas. He fell over one time & I had to help him. He looks at the mealworms in the tank, but is not eating, but I am sure after all this stress, plus the shed that is normal. I am going to spray him once a day while shedding, I guess. Then I am getting on gecko fb pages to learn more. I used to work at a zoo & pet stores, but so many things have changed since then. Any suggestions? Can I help this guy get strong again, or is it too late?
The poor little guy sounds like he has been through hell, well done for rescuing him. Place some calcium powder in a small dish and leave it in his vivarium, if he is not eating mealworms I would try something more fatty like wax worms. As he has metabolic bone disease I would place a 2% UVB strip inside his enclosure and have it on during the day. Make sure the temperatures in his enclosure are correct and provide him with a moist moss hide to aid with his shedding. I would also get him checked out by a vet and make sure he doesn’t have gut impaction etc. Good luck, please keep us up to date with how he is doing and feel free to ask any other questions you may have.
We recently got a baby gecko, I was told to get herptivite as a multivitamin as well as rep-cal without D3 and repti calcium with D3. I am really confused on how to give these to the gecko. I do gut load my insects orange cube complete cricket diet. Do I mix there multivitamin with one of the calcium and dust it on his insects or just put it within his tank mixed up? I was not understanding why I needed two calcium supplements? Can you help explain how to use these and how often I should as my gecko is roughly 2 months old and I don’t want to over load him with supplements.
You are doing a great job so far! For the multivitamin, you will want to mix it with one of the calcium supplements and dust it on the insects. You can do this twice a week.
As for the calcium supplements, you will want to alternate between the two. So one week you would use Repti Calcium with D3 and dust the insects with it before offering them to your gecko.
The next week you would use Rep-Cal without D3 and follow the same procedure. You will want to do this until your gecko is around 6 months old and then you can reduce it to once a week.
Hope this helps!
Hi. In a week, I’ll be adding black soldier larvae to my female leo’s diet (9 months old, eats every other day…crickets/mealworms). Right now, I dust every feed…alternating between vitamins, calcium and calcium + D3…I also have a small calcium bowl in her terrarium. I have a very happy and healthy leo and want to keep it that way.
I’ve come to understand that BSL is one of the best foods because of their cal-ph ratio. However, I’ve read conflicting articles on whether to dust them or not. If not, then which of the supplements should I eliminate when it’s a BSL feed day? I guess what I’m asking is…do i miss a calcium dusting or a D3 dusting? And if they fall on a vitamin day…is it ok to dust the BSL with that? Thanks!
It’s great to hear that you’re considering adding black soldier larvae to your Leo’s diet! They are indeed a very nutritious food source.
As far as dusting them with supplements, it really depends on what else your Leo is eating and how much calcium and vitamin D3 they are getting from those other sources.
If you feel like your Leo is not getting enough of either of those nutrients from their other food, then you can dust the BSL with a calcium supplement and/or vitamin D3.
However, if you feel like your Leo is getting enough of those nutrients from their other food, then you can skip the dusting and just feed them the BSL as is.
I just wanted to thank you for all the information shared!! I am currently pet sitting for my family while they are out of town. When I was feeding my sister’s gecko, I could not find where she kept her calcium. I thought maybe I was remembering incorrectly on them needing calcium (I grew up with a leo, and am currently planning for a beardie,) so I looked it up to be sure. This was one of the best sources of information I found! My sister is great in a lot of ways, but just does not think of things like supplements. So, my mother has ordered some calcium powder which will be coming in the day I next feed him. She wants to wait until they get back before buying a multivitamin so she can do her own research as well. But this was very useful, and something I will sending to my sister lol.
She has had her gecko for almost a year, so I am glad I caught this now before it became an issue. Thankfully he is still a lively gecko, and has not had health issues from the lack of supplements.
Hi Mavis, Thanks for the kind words. Glad we could help!
Would you guys be able to touch base on vitamin E deficiency? I think my little guy may have it as he has a rather large head and there’s no reptile vets in my area. I’m unsure if there’s just a multivitamin I should give him or gut load the crickets as we usually just feed them cricket feed and water
Leopard geckos rarely have Vitamin E deficiency and there is no scientific evidence to suggest that vitamin E deficiency causes larger head sizes in leopard geckos. However, it’s possible that a deficiency in vitamin E could cause other health problems that could lead to larger head size. If you’re concerned about your leopard gecko’s health, please consult with a reptile veterinarian soon.
Hi, thanks SO much for the info! We live in Hawaii and have a minimum of 10 gold dust geckos who have moved in. Several are very pushy and insist that we give them mealworms. Which, of course we do! They actually watch us go out of the room to go to the kitchen for the worms, swivel their little heads to follow our movements and wait for us to return upon which we proffer them their treats. This guys are “wild” and they hunt on their own so we assume are picking up the nutrients that they need. That said two questions 1) is it likely that if we feed them 2-4 mealworms each day (on their request!) that they are getting enough natural food with calcium while out hunting or 2) should we supplement their mealworms with calcium dust and 3) can we overdose them if they are getting calcium from both sources ?
Thank you for your question! It’s wonderful that you are looking out for the health of your geckos.
If you are feeding baby leopard geckos, they should be fed 5-7 small crickets or mealworms every day until they reach about 4 inches in size.
In addition, it is necessary to supplement the insects with calcium powder, as this helps ensure proper bone and muscle development.
You will want to use a light dusting of the powder on their food each day, though it’s important not to overdose them. Too much calcium can be toxic, so stick to the general recommendation of once per week. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me. I’m always happy to help!
Good luck with your geckos!
Hello, I have a juvenile leopard gecko, When I bought him I was not told how old he is. I buy the BugBox from PetSmart and it says they are gut loaded and dusted. However I cant find any information on what they are dusted with. I just want to make sure I’m not overdosing or underdosing my little boy. So if they come dusted should I still be using a multivitamin and regular calcium carbonate or no? I hope to hear back from someone soon.
Thank you in advance
Hi Jess, I hope you’ve found your answers by now. Still, here are my five cents on the subject. First, I advise against using the BugBox as advertised – just punching a hole and leaving it in the tank. Trust me – crickets WILL BITE reptiles if left in the enclosure for prolonged periods! And I agree, the info on what products are used to load and dust the crickets is… Well, missing.
Second, I am quite skeptical about the whole “pre-dusted” deal. Insect cuticle (exoskeleton) is smooth and notoriously bad at holding particles, including the supplement. In that respect, crickets are a bit better than, say, completely smooth and cylindrical mealworms, but the powder is still not meant to stick. Many hobbyists, myself included, sometimes moisten the feeder insects before dipping them into the powder. To be clear, I haven’t used BugBox, but how could the vitamin powder hold onto the freely moving cricket for a long time is beyond me.
To sum it up: According to its characteristics, the BugBox can probably offer a more nutritious meal than the regular store-bought crickets served right off the shelf. However, I would only use the product as a short-term solution and would *definitely not* leave the crickets in the tank supervised.
If I were you, I would obtain and eventually raise some mealworms, superworms, and Dubia roaches for the leo and gut load and dust myself. That way, you will have total control of your leo supplementation, which is extra important considering they are young and still developing. Feel free to check in again with your experience!
I’m doing some deep research before I get myself another leopard gecko. It’s been a while having one. I’m confused on the reptivite and reptile calcium. Is it best to have both with D3 or one with and one without? Thanks I’m advance!
I would go with – and have personally used – Reptivite with D3. It’s a general multivitamin and mineral powder that will cover your leo’s nutrient needs. Reptivite without D3 is for setups with UVB lamps and reptiles that bask underneath them at all times, to avoid Vit D3 overdose.
One additional supplement you’ll need in the tank is pure calcium powder.
Alongside supplementation, make sure to gut-load the feeder insects with nutrient-dense food 24-48 hours prior to feeding.
Hello! I don’t have a leopard gecko yet, but I’m getting one after a ton of research. How much calcium should I give my leopard gecko? I know I can overdose D3, but can I overdose calcium? I just put repti calcium with D3 in a dish, right? I’m a little confused, sorry!
I know the whole supplementation deal can be confusing – especially until you get some hands-on experience. But don’t worry, you’ll get a hold of it!
In short – the best way is to have a small tray with pure calcium in your leo’s tank, available at all times. Their needs for calcium tend to fluctuate, and they instinctively know when they need a little extra.
As for regular supplementation, dusting with quality multivitamin and mineral powder in combination with gut-loading feeder insects is usually enough. Some gecko owners and breeders tend to switch between a multi-powder and calcium with D3 powder, but personally, I found no need to do that.