The short answer is: Yes Crested Geckos can eat lettuce but you shouldn’t feed it to them because lettuce has high water content and low nutritional value.
It’s unlikely that your gecko will suffer any ill effects from eating a little lettuce here and there but it certainly shouldn’t become a staple in their diet. As well as that, lettuce doesn’t really taste great (or taste of anything if you ask me) so there’s every chance that your gecko will simply ignore it if you offer them some.
What Do Crested Geckos Eat?
Crested Geckos can eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and as a caring gecko owner, you’ll no doubt want to give your gecko the best, tastiest, most nutritionally complete menu you can. Most types of lettuce don’t meet any of those criteria though (we may or may not be a little biased about the taste due to traumatic childhood mealtimes!) and should probably just be avoided altogether.
Some species of geckos, like the Leopard Gecko, are strictly insectivores which means they absolutely cannot eat anything other than insects without getting sick.
Crested Geckos, on the other hand, are omnivores (animals that can eat both plant and animal matter) so they can, and do, enjoy a much more varied diet than other geckos.
In the wild, crested Geckos will mostly survive on a diet of insects but will supplement that with other foods, usually fruit that they find on the floor. Their natural habitat, New Caledonia, has a tropical climate so the forests are absolutely packed with an abundance of different animals, insects, and plants for crested Geckos to feast on.
What Should Be Included In A Crested Gecko Diet:
While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to replicate the variety of foods a wild gecko would have access to, it’s important to mix things up at mealtimes for your pet to make sure they get all of the nutrients they need to grow and stay healthy.
You can buy ready mixed, complete gecko diet mixes to feed to your gecko that essentially contains everything they need in their diet. These are a great option for the sheer convenience they offer but they don’t exactly mimic the stimulation your gecko would receive from finding and hunting their prey in the wild.
To keep your gecko active and stimulated it’s a good idea to offer them live food a couple of times per week.
Crickets are a staple for most gecko owners and they make a great choice for Cresties too. Your gecko will enjoy the thrill of catching its own meal and it makes for a good show for the owner too!
You can also, but not too often, give your gecko some fruit as a treat. Bananas and peaches are good choices here as they are sweet and soft like the (usually overripe) fruit your gecko’s wild cousins would be likely to find on the forest floor.
Because they are omnivorous, crested geckos can also be offered a variety of vegetables but you should really try and stick the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can find and that doesn’t usually mean lettuce!
But Isn’t Lettuce Good For You?
It’s certainly not bad for you but lettuce is hardly a nutritional powerhouse like some other green veggies. Considering the almost complete lack of flavor and low nutritional value you would be much better off picking something else if you want to offer your gecko some greenery.
Vegetables generally have a high water and fiber content which leaves less room in there for nutrients. This is part of the reason that people switch to eating salads when they are on a diet – an average bowl of salad might contain as little as 13 calories so you can imagine how much you would need to consume to overeat on a salad diet!
Because vegetables should only make up a small part of a crested gecko’s diet, you really need to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition and that means most lettuces don’t make the cut.
Types Of Lettuce You CAN Feed Your Gecko
Oak leaf lettuce is your best bet when it comes to the lettuce family. It’s the variety that probably packs in the most vitamins and minerals and has 6 times more vitamin A and triple the vitamin C content of iceberg lettuce.
Red leaf lettuce is another (relatively) good choice too and tends to have a higher concentration of phytonutrients than the green-leafed alternatives.
Arugula/Rocket is not strictly a lettuce but it’s close enough and acceptable for crested geckos because it’s a good source of calcium and vitamin A.
Types Of Lettuce You CAN’T Feed Your Gecko
Iceberg lettuce is one of the most popular kinds of lettuce for humans but it’s also the worst one you could give to your gecko. It’s all water and no nutrients so it’ll just fill them up, leave them bloated and do absolutely nothing for their health.
Romaine (or Cos lettuce depending where you live) is also not a good choice because, although it has a lower water content than iceberg lettuce, it’s still higher than other varieties. Romaine does have a fairly high amount of vitamin A though which is something of a saving grace here..
Alternatives To Lettuce
These bitter, peppery green leaves are packed with calcium and vitamin A & vitamin K. Granted, the flavor isn’t for everyone but once you get past that you’re left with a pretty impressive nutrient profile.
Dark green and loaded with calcium, potassium, and vitamins A & C. Mustard greens are not only a good choice for your gecko but would make a great addition to your diet too!
Ironically, watercress actually has a relatively low water content which makes it a good choice for your gecko. It’s another vitamin-packed snack that beats lettuce on pretty much any front.
Lettuce really isn’t a great choice for crested geckos but if you must give them some, pick a variety with a lower water content and it should be fine.
Even though it’s unlikely to do any harm, you should keep the amount to a minimum to make sure your gecko doesn’t get too full and skip other meals as this could lead to them missing out on vital nutrients and negatively impacting their overall health.
At the end of the day though, it’s probably not going to matter too much – if you were offered lettuce over a tasty cricket or mashed banana would you pick the boring green leaf?