I chose to write an article on whether or not it is “OK” to feed pinkie mice to adult leopard geckos. Not only have I had experience with feeding pinkie mice, but I have also contacted herpetoculturist Ron Tremper. Ron Tremper is the former curator of reptiles at the Chaffee Zoological Gardens (Fresno, Ca) and is a world recognized authority on the selective breeding of leopard geckos.
First, I will state that every breeder and or pet owner has the right to their own opinion on whether or not they want to feed their adult leopard geckos pinkie mice.
Pros and Cons of Feeding Pinkies
Below is an example of a one day old mouse. According to Ron Tremper’s books and an e-mail he had written to me, he states:
1)feeding one pinkie mouse a week to laying females helps maintain their body weight and nutrition.
“energy in = energy out”
2)excessive feeding of pink mice often caused intestinal gout and obesity.
Therefore I would suggest if you choose to use pinkie mice please do so with caution and understand the risks. Any time I have fed pinkie mice to my leopard geckos I have always kept an eye on them, making sure they are continuing to have normal bowel movements. I also watch my geckos eat them to be sure they are able to swallow the pinkie mouse without a problem. Normally, you should not have a problem with this, however, it is better to be safe than sorry. I personally would not give my laying females any more than two pinkie mice a month. Ron Tremper does state, though, that it is “OK” to give your laying females one pinkie mouse a week to help maintain their weight and nutrition.
Pinkie mice I have found are also useful not only in helping maintain the weight of a gravid female but also in major growth spurts. I would make sure the pinkie mouse is small enough to allow a young (but large enough) gecko to swallow it without difficulty. Pinkie mice have been found to be too fatty as a staple (everyday) food source. As I stated above Ron Tremper says: “excessive feeding pink mice often caused intestinal gout and obesity.” Several breeders on their web sites have stated that they have seen fatty liver disease as a result of eating pinkie mice.
Other Feeding Alternatives
Some breeders and pet owners prefer to not use pinkie mice at all for various reasons. You can also offer your leopard geckos a large number of different supplements and worms to help maintain their body weight. Waxworms, mealworms, super worms, phoenix worms, silk worms, and horn worms are just a few to mention. I have seen that some breeders like to offer their geckos May Flies. Here is a link to Wikipedia’s information about this insect: Mayfly.
Leopard geckos are insectivores. This means that they mostly feed on crickets, wax worms, mealworms, super worms, and other insects that they may find in their natural environment (the deserts of Asia and Afghanistan, throughout Pakistan and some parts of northwestern India). If the gecko happens to find a mouse nest, they may eat a newborn mouse. Some of the different mice a gecko might eat in Pakistan are the Ward’s Field Mouse, Kashmir Field Mouse, Hotson’s Mouse-Like Hamster, and Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboa.
Above is a close example of a Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboa.
The majority of captive leopard geckos will refuse to eat dead prey. However, I have a few geckos that will eat freeze dried crickets. In fact I have one female that will sit and eat all day long if I leave freeze dried crickets in her cage. If you are able to get your gecko to eat freeze dried crickets you will develop a back-up feeding option in unexpected times when you are unable to obtain live food for them. Crickets are the most common food source to give to leopard geckos as they can hunt them in their cage the way they would in their natural environment. The choice to feed your Gecko pinkie mice is your own.
- Hamper, R. (2004). The Leopard Gecko, Eublepharis macularius, in Captivity. MI: ECO Herpetological Publishing & Distribution. pp. 1–80.
- Bartlett, R.D.; Bartlett, Patricia (1999). Leopard and Fat-Tailed Geckos. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. pp. 26–27. ISBN 0-7641-1119-1.
- Tremper, Ronald (2012). Leopard Gecko.com www.leopardgecko.com
Lead photo property of Maggie Boyle Photography, licensed under creative commons.