We know how frustrating it can be to find a healthy, varied diet which is suitable for your crested gecko. We also know that crested geckos love a variety of fruits, as this is a common food source they eat in the wild. But is a crested geckos love for fruit the same for vegetables? One of the most common vegetables which is fed to many animal species is lettuce. So it’s no wonder you’re looking for an answer to the question, can crested geckos eat lettuce?
Introduction – Can Crested Geckos Eat Lettuce
As humans, we think of lettuce as a healthy food source. It’s classed and identified as one of our recommended 5-a-day foods which helps us to create a healthy, staple diet. However, not all foods which we believe to be healthy are healthy for other animal species. Some species live solely on a meat diet, with some that live solely from a vegetable and plantation diet. Every living species has different dietary needs and requirements, so it’s foolish to assume what’s good for you is also good for your pet.
Being a responsible reptile owner, you must ensure that you know exactly what you can and can’t feed your crested gecko. You need to know what sources of food compliment a crested geckos diet, and those which don’t.
It can be hard to take in so much information and to know which information is reliable or completely useless, so we’ve put everything you need into one article for reader convenience.
Through this article we will delve into the advantages and disadvantages which relate to the question ‘Can crested geckos eat lettuce’. We will also highlight some healthy alternative vegetables which we believe have the best nutritional values for your crested gecko.
Let’s get started!
Can Crested Geckos Eat Lettuce – The truths?
This is a common question which is answered very differently wherever you look. After doing some background research into what other websites say about lettuce, they all seem to have something different to say, and this became very confusing.
Many people and websites say that lettuce can not be fed to crested geckos at all, but this is extremely vague information which is not very well presented. This is because ‘Lettuce’ in general is very vague.
Think about it…
A lettuce isn’t just a singular food. Like many other foods, there are varieties of lettuce which all have different nutritional values. And this is what most websites DO NOT tell you.
There would be no need to harvest different varieties of lettuce if they didn’t have varying nutritional values. There would literally just be one lettuce, in the whole world. So why would you assume (or believe) that all lettuce is bad for your crested gecko, just because someone has categories all lettuce as being the same?
Let’s start by breaking ‘Lettuce’ down into subcategories which we can then highlight more suitable information which can answer this question of ‘Can crested geckos eat lettuce’.
Varieties of lettuce
There are many different varieties of lettuce which you could potentially choose from to feed to your crested gecko. In any local superstore across the world, you will most likely find these 5 main choices of lettuce;
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Leaf Lettuce
- Romaine Lettuce
- Boston Lettuce
- Gem Lettuce
These five varieties of lettuce can most likely be found in the majority of stores across the world. Although there are more varieties of lettuce, these are the main five. All five of these lettuce varieties have different nutritional values, some of which are good for your crested gecko, and some which are bad.
Lettuce’s You CAN’T Offer
We’re starting off with Iceberg Lettuce as we feel this is the singular most important lettuce which you should know about. Iceberg Lettuce SHOULD NEVER be offered to your crested gecko. Iceberg lettuce is the culprit for giving lettuce, in general, a bad name.
The Iceberg Lettuce variety contains the highest levels of water across all the six varieties we have covered here. For this reason it should never be offered to your crested gecko as a form of food. Crested geckos get most of their water from the foods they eat, however it doesn’t take much for them to over consume water.
This may sound a little contradictive, but too much water can cause a lot of health issues for crested geckos. When a crested gecko takes on too much water, it will most likely cause severe diarrhoea. The watery stools will flush out any foods and nutritional goodness from inside the stomach. In turn this leaves your crested gecko feeling lethargic due to the lack of nutritional intake.
Gem Lettuce is very similar to Romaine Lettuce however it as sizeably smaller than its cousin. It’s commonly half the size or smaller than Romaine Lettuce which means the water contents is usually much higher. Although still not as high as Iceberg Lettuce, we would recommend staying away from this variety of lettuce.
Gem lettuce is also fairly high in fibre in comparison to its cousin varieties, so this may also aid in watery stools which isn’t good for your gecko.
Lettuce’s You CAN Offer
Leaf Lettuce is commonly split into three groups, these being; Red, Green and Oak.
Red leaf lettuce is the one we’ll be focusing on as it contains a high amount of Vitamin A in comparison to the other two groups. A serving of Red Leaf Lettuce commonly contains 42% of daily Vitamin A intake.
Only a small amount of Red Leaf Lettuce should be offered to your crested gecko once or twice a week as too much Vitamin A can have adverse effects. Your crested gecko will also benefit from small amounts of Vitamin C and Iron, without the high level of water contents.
Whilst Romaine Lettuce contains water (like all lettuce will), the amount is much lower than its Iceberg cousin. As a rule of thumb, the greener a lettuce is, the less water it contains. This is why Iceberg lettuce is a very light green colour, almost white in fact.
Romaine lettuce has lush, dark green leaves which usually get lighter the closer it gets to the stalk. For this reason you should only offer the darker half of the lettuce, as the water levels will be reduced. Romaine lettuce contains solid amounts of minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Plus it has high levels of Vitamin K and Beta Carotene.
Boston lettuce is commonly much dryer then the other lettuce varieties, and the leaves will feel a little more leathery also. This is due to its low water contents which makes it a great choice for your crested gecko. Its leaves are dark green in colour which is exactly what you should be looking for with lettuce options.
Boston Lettuce contains great levels of Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron, which your crested gecko will no doubt benefit from.
Our Top Choice
Our top choice of lettuce which we believe you should be offering your crested gecko is the Romaine Lettuce.
Romaine lettuce has the lowest water contents out of all the lettuce varieties, and for this reason alone it takes the crown as our top choice.
Water contents are a huge factor which should always be at the forefront of your mind when trying to think of new exciting foods to offer your crested gecko. Crested geckos are used to being fairly dehydrated and can survived on very low amounts of water. Too much water can cause some serious health issues, which will be unpleasant for both you and your gecko.
Like we mentioned before, the darker the the lettuce leaves, the less water contents it should hold. Therefore, when you’re out shopping, always buy the lettuce which is darkest as this will reduce the possible health related issues that could occur.
What Other Lettuce Can Crested Geckos Eat?
These next choices aren’t exactly from the lettuce family, however they are very similar in the fact they are green leaves essentially. So they are kind of from the same family of foods.
When choosing greens to feed to your crested gecko, you always need to keep in mind their nutritional values. Healthy greens must be rich in certain nutrients such as Calcium and Vitamins, however they should also be low in an anti-nutrients such as Oxalates and Giotrogens.
The best alternate greens you can offer your crested gecko are;
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Bak Choy
All of these alternatives are very low in water contents, but high in other nutritional values which your crested gecko will benefit from.
Dandelion leaves are great because you should be able to from these in your garden from spring, all the way through summer too. Any patch of grass area is likely to have dandelion leaves grown from somewhere, so these are easily accessible.
The dandelion flower itself can sometimes look appetising to a crested gecko due to its bright yellow colour, so you can also offer the flower too.
Watercress, ironically, doesn’t contain much water and have very dark leaves. Watercress is cram-packed with nutrients such as Vitamin A, C and K, Calcium and Manganese, which all aim a crested geckos digestive system. Watercress is also very easy to grow yourself and doesn’t need much looking after. This means that you can become self sustainable for greens which keeps costs down to a minimum.
Mustard Greens is another great all-rounder as it has moderate levels of most nutritional values. They contain levels of Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fibres and Sugars, which are all very good in small amounts and moderation. Another great benefit is that mustard greens contain Vitamin B which many other greens do not.
Well there you have it, everything you need to know on ‘Can crested geckos eat lettuce’.
Remember that lettuce is very generic, and that all lettuce varieties have different nutritional values. Make sure you fully understand the difference between each variety before offering it to you crested gecko. Lettuce is commonly high in water content which is why you will see a lot of websites saying NO to all lettuce varieties, but this isn’t entirely true.
Also remember the rule…
“The darker the lettuce leaves, the less water content they contain”.
This will help you to determine the best possible lettuce for your crested gecko, however if you take our advise from our Top Choice of lettuce, we recommend the Romaine Lettuce, which can also be known as a Cos Lettuce too.
Only ever offer your crested gecko Romaine lettuce once or twice a week, any more than this and you could be putting your gecko in harms way unintentionally. If you notice your crested gecko has watery stools after eating lettuce, then we would recommend you stop feeding them it altogether.
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