As you probably know, wild crested geckos eat a varied diet consisting of different types of insects, overripe fruits and nectar. It stands to reason then that they would enjoy a similar menu at home, but does that mean that it’s safe to share your favorite fruits with your scaly little friend?
First and foremost, yes, crested geckos can eat bananas but they shouldn’t be given to your gecko regularly as they can lead to nutrient imbalances that can cause health issues such as Metabolic Bone Disease, or MBD. These sweet treats should be just that – a treat, and should only be fed to your gecko occasionally to reduce the chance of any negative impact.
But Bananas Are Healthy, Right?
On the whole, bananas are a great choice for us humans – they are full of nutrients and fiber, they taste great, and come with a host of health benefits like improving digestive health and helping to manage blood pressure.
Bananas are well known for their high potassium content (around 10% of a person’s recommended daily intake), but they are also surprisingly high in vitamin C and B6, providing between 15 and 20 percent of your daily requirement of these vital nutrients too!
Throw in the high water and fiber content and you’re basically looking at a bonafide superfood (which probably explains the bright yellow costume they wear too!). Dietary fiber is well known for helping to improve digestion and bananas contain a healthy dose of fiber, along with resistant starch and something called pectin
Resistant starch, which is found in unripe bananas, acts as a prebiotic which feeds the good bacteria in your gut and pectin, also found in higher quantities in unripe bananas, is a special type of fiber that helps prevent constipation and keep your stools at the right consistency.
Are Bananas Good For Crested Geckos?
Sounds good right? And as a caring and considerate gecko owner surely you want to share some of these health benefits with your Crestie Bestie?
Well not so fast, crested geckos have a very different digestive system than you or I (duh!) so they don’t necessarily enjoy the benefits of a banana banquet and can actually react quite badly to them.
When deciding on what to feed a crested gecko you need to be aware of the calcium to phosphorus ratio (the Ca:P ratio) of the food in question – calcium is very important to crested gecko health but phosphorus less so. This means that ideally, you want to shoot for a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus where possible, but bananas tip the scale way over to the other side with a ratio more like 1:4. To put it another way, bananas have around 4 times as much phosphorus as calcium.
Calcium:Phosphorus In Crested Geckos
Maintaining healthy calcium reserves is a key component in your crested gecko’s long term health. Along with other potential vitamin imbalances, not having enough calcium in their bones can leave crested geckos vulnerable to Metabolic Bone Disease, or MDB, a painful condition where the bones become weak and prone to fractures.
It’s important to note that a lack of calcium or an abundance of phosphorus isn’t the only cause of MDB but it’s certainly a factor and is a relatively simple one to control so it’s a good idea for gecko owners to keep an eye out for any signs of an imbalance.
As with humans, a lack of calcium reserves can make bones brittle and weak which leaves them increasingly prone to fractures. High levels of phosphorus can make the problem even worse by increasing the amount of calcium absorbed by the body, further depleting calcium levels.
If your gecko starts to show signs of lethargy on a consistent basis or you feel like they are starting to ‘waste away’ this could be a warning that there’s a nutritional imbalance that needs looking into. Just as you would with any other concerns about your gecko’s health, you should talk to your vet as soon as possible but if you think the culprit is your geckos diet you can consider dusting their food with calcium and vitamin D3 or adding a nutritional supplement to the menu.
How To Feed Banana To Crested Geckos
If all of the above hasn’t scared you off and you still want to share some sweet yellow snacks with your gecko here’s how you should go about it.
First, wash the banana to remove any pesticides, bacteria, and anything else that may have found its way onto your banana during its travels to the store.
Next, peel the banana as the outer peel is likely too tough for your crestie to get through. I know, I know – what was the point in washing it if you’re just going to peel it anyway? You’d be surprised how easily something nasty can transfer from the peel to your fingers and from your fingers to the banana pieces that end up in your gecko’s mouth so better safe than sorry I always say!
Now you have a choice – you can either thinly slice the banana or mash it up into a kind of banana paste. Which one you pick ultimately comes down to preference and which one your gecko prefers.
Slices are easier to prepare but might be a little overwhelming for your gecko. Given the size of a banana slice and the size of an average crested gecko’s head it would be a bit like you or me trying to eat a whole pizza with no hands (yes we’ve all thought about it but I wouldn’t want to eat like that every day, would you?)
A better option would be to make a banana puree and offer this to your gecko in a small pot or mixed in with other foods such as insects or other fruit.
How Much Banana Can I Feed To My Crested Gecko?
Probably less than you think! Bananas are a great source of quick energy for humans and don’t feel particularly filling so it’s easy to think that you (or your gecko) can eat more than you should.
Always keep your gecko’s size (and the size of its stomach) in mind when preparing a portion of banana. One or two thin slices (or thin slices mashed up into a puree) should be plenty, this is a sweet treat after all and shouldn’t be treated like a main course.
Be sure to remove any uneaten banana before it starts to spoil, and definitely don’t leave it overnight or it’ll quickly turn into a mushy brown mess and start attracting unwanted visitors like flies and ants.
Along with the amount of banana you prepare, keep in mind how often you are giving bananas to your gecko. Keep this to a weekly treat at most and ideally less frequently than that due to the potential of causing vitamin and nutrient imbalances in their overall diet.
While bananas are certainly not the best snack you can give to a crested gecko, they can be given to them sparingly on occasion as a treat. There are plenty of other fruits that make a better choice nutritionally for your gecko (apples, watermelons, pears for example) but if you enjoy bananas and want to share the love, or your gecko just enjoys bananas themself, then they are fine as a treat, just don’t overindulge or make it a regular occurrence and you’ll be fine.