Can Crested Geckos Eat Watermelon?
Peak watermelon season is rapidly approaching. There will be plenty of opportunities to treat your pet to the sweet, refreshing crisp of this summer fruit.
But is it safe? Can Crested Geckos eat watermelon?
Yes, Crested Geckos can eat watermelon. In fact, watermelon is a great source of hydration for these lizards. Geckos can get all the moisture they need from watermelon and they love the taste! Watermelon is perfectly fine and may even bring some health benefits to your amphibian friend.
You can safely feed your Gecko watermelon as part of a balanced and varied diet. I’ll teach you how to do exactly that in this article!
But first, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of watermelon for Cresties.
Benefits of Feeding Watermelons to Crested Geckos
Watermelon is safe, nutritious, healthy, and delicious. The list of perks goes on and on. What I’m trying to say is— watermelon’s the perfect summer treat for your Crested Gecko.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this fruit’s amazing benefits!
1. Good For Hydration
Let’s start with the obvious. It’s called watermelon for a reason. The average watermelon contains anywhere between 91-96% water.
That’s more than any other fruit I can think of. Obviously, the high water content makes watermelon a great choice for hydration.
Compared to straight-up water, this fruit also contains trace amounts of minerals. These minerals also double as electrolytes, so they help your Gecko’s body absorb the hydration better! Win-win!
2. Good For Digestion
Watermelon contains small quantities of fiber. It doesn’t have so much fiber to cause bloating and digestive issues.
But it’s just enough to push things through if you know what I mean.
Watermelon also contains low quantities of simple sugars (fructose). These are easier to break down than complex sugars like sucrose. It’s also low in harder-to-digest macronutrients like protein.
Combine all this with the high-water content, and you’ve got a very easy-to-digest fruit!
If your Crestie’s dealing with an upset stomach or constipation, watermelon is a better choice than the more fibrous fruits like apples or berries.
3. Low In Sugar and Fat
Because watermelon is nearly 100% water, there’s not much room left for anything else. Watermelon contains virtually 0 fat and very low quantities of sugar.
One ounce of watermelon contains just 1.7 grams of sugar. In comparison, one ounce of an apple contains nearly twice the total sugar (3.0 grams).
As you can see, watermelon is both healthy and non-fattening. It provides little energy, but lots of nutrients and flavor.
It’s a great choice for both normal weight and overweight Geckos alike. It’s harder to go overboard with a lower-calorie fruit like watermelon.
4. Good For Eyes, Skin, And Bones
The most abundant nutrient in watermelon is vitamin A. This vitamin is present in the plant form “beta-carotene”.
It acts both as a micronutrient and as an antioxidant. Vitamin A is a crucial nutrient for your Gecko’s eye, skin, and bone health.
Adequate intake of vitamin A helps improve night vision. This is pretty important, considering Crested Geckos are nocturnal animals. They’re most active during the night hours. Good night vision is crucial for hunting and feeding in such settings.
The beta-carotene also improves your Gecko’s ocular light sensitivity for daily light exposure.
Vitamin A helps keep the skin healthy and supple and aids the shedding process. Beta-carotene in particular, because it’s a plant pigment, might even help your Gecko improve its skin color.
Finally, vitamin A is crucial for building strong, healthy bones. Many Gecko owners focus on vitamin D and calcium, which is great.
But providing your Gecko with adequate vitamin A can also contribute to your pet’s skeletal health.
5. Appropriate Phosphorus Content
As you may already know, Cresties have special dietary needs. Your pet requires a well-balanced micronutrient intake.
This applies specifically to calcium and phosphorus. The ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio in your pet’s diet should be as close to 2:1 as possible.
The amount of calcium should outweigh the amount of phosphorus in the diet. This is very important for calcium absorption and bone health.
Too much phosphorus leads to insufficient calcium uptake. In the long run, this can lead to lower bone density and frailty in Crested Geckos.
The good news is that watermelon has moderate calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1:1. This sounds sub-par on paper. But overall, watermelon has a low phosphorus and calcium content, to begin with. So, its mineral content shouldn’t throw off the overall Ca:P ratio of the diet.
6. Low In Oxalates
Oxalates are another nutrient of concern. Oxalates impact the absorption and usage of important minerals, especially calcium. Too much oxalate in the diet will lead to lower bone density and kidney stones.
And unlike in the case of phosphorus, there’s no ideal ratio of calcium to oxalate intake. You’ll have to keep the oxalic acid content in the Gecko’s diet as low as possible.
This is why fruits like avocado, oranges, and dates are not recommended for Geckos.
But that’s where watermelon comes to the rescue! Watermelon is among the lowest-oxalate fruits you can get! In fact, your Gecko would need to consume one entire slice of watermelon to get 1 mg of oxalic acid.
Even safe fruits like figs, peaches, bananas, strawberries, and pears contain more oxalate by weight.
Risks Associated with Feeding Watermelons to Crested Geckos
Watermelon is great for Crested Geckos! It has a suitable macronutrient profile and it’s full of micronutrients. However, there are also some downsides to consider.
Know that these issues aren’t inherent to watermelon though. You can easily avoid these problems by prepping and feeding the fruit properly.
Here are the risks you should be aware of:
1. Pesticide exposure
Pesticide exposure and ingestion are dangerous for your Gecko. This risk applies to all fruits sold at grocery stores and markets, not just watermelon.
Buying organic is also not a guarantee that your watermelon is pesticide-free.
Still, watermelon is often included on the clean 15 lists, alongside mango, cantaloupe, and honeydew.
That’s because we throw away the pesticide-laden rinds when consuming these fruits. The fruit pulp itself is clean because it’s protected from pesticide exposure.
This doesn’t mean the fruit is completely safe, especially when prepped wrong. You must wash the watermelon thoroughly before cutting and serving.
Otherwise, you’ll transfer whatever’s on the skin to the fruit pulp. This defeats the purpose of buying “clean” fruit.
2. Harmful bacteria
Melons in general are notorious for causing nationwide cases of food poisoning. Seriously, look it up. Melons grow close to the ground and come into contact with all sorts of nasty bacteria like salmonella and listeria.
These bacteria can lead to infection, vomiting, dehydration, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, and even death.
All the more reason to wash and scrub that watermelon like your Gecko’s life depends on it! Remember, whatever’s on the skin, you’ll transfer to the fruit pulp when cutting the watermelon.
You and your Gecko might not be eating the skin, but you’ll still be exposed to the bacteria on the rind.
Don’t be fooled by the fruit’s shiny appearance. Watermelon is often cleaned only superficially.
There’s no telling how many invisible bacteria are still left on the skin. Always play it safe and wash the fruit first.
3. Food addiction
Finally, let’s talk about potential food addiction. Your Gecko’s watermelon fix might turn into an obsession. Sounds hard to believe, but it’s true!
Cresties can become very picky when you spoil them with good food. And few foods are as sweet and refreshing as a watermelon!
Offering watermelon too often might alter your Gecko’s taste buds. Your pet could develop a sweet tooth and refuse other foods.
That’s why variety is key! You should alter between watermelon and other fruits, and keep the serving frequency to a minimum.
How Often Should Watermelons Be Fed to Cresties?
How often you feed your Gecko watermelon will depend on its overall diet and what other fruits you offer. Ideally, your Gecko’s diet should focus on commercially-prepared food blends.
This will provide all the vitamins and minerals that your pet needs. In this context, you can feed your Crestie watermelon up to twice a month.
A balanced Crested Gecko diet includes fruit 2-4 times a month. And remember, you must alternate between different fruits!
You can feed watermelon once or twice a month, in combination with other fruits. You can rotate between different fruits every month.
Keep the portion size down to what you’d regularly feed your pet.
How to Prepare Watermelons for Feeding to Cresties?
There are very few risks associated with feeding watermelon. You can prevent all of them just by preparing the fruit correctly.
So, how do you do that? Here are some quick and easy steps to follow:
1. Wash the watermelon thoroughly.
This is by far the most important part. Giving the watermelon a thorough cleaning will get rid of pesticides and bacteria. You don’t want to skip this step.
Wash your hands before and after handling the melon. Place the watermelon under cool running water.
Scrub the rind with a clean brush to remove bacteria and dirt.
Once done, wipe the watermelon with a clean cloth. You don’t need any special fruit washes for this. Just plain water and brushing will do the trick.
2. Cut the watermelon open and remove the seeds.
Use a clean knife to slice the watermelon. If you bought a seeded watermelon, remove all the seeds when prepping the fruit. Crested Geckos can’t chew or digest watermelon seeds.
These large and tough seeds represent a choking hazard. Not only that, but they might even cause intestinal blockages or ruptures once swallowed.
Use the tip of the knife to scoop the seeds out. Don’t just stop at the surface! Sometimes, there might be more seeds hidden in the fruit flesh.
3. Chop the fruit into small pieces.
Most fruits you’ll want to mash up with a fork before feeding. This makes them easier for your pet to eat.
But mushed-up, soupy watermelon ruins the whole experience. Besides, watermelon is soft enough to chew, especially when ripe.
So, you won’t have to mash the watermelon. Instead, you’ll have to cut it up into small bits. Bite-size portions are the easiest and safest for your Crestie to chew.
The fruit pieces should be no larger than the distance between your Gecko’s eyes. You can always go a little smaller, too.
4. Offer chopped watermelon onto a small dish.
And voila! After all the washing, seeding, and chopping, the watermelon is ready to serve! You don’t have to do anything special for this step.
Just put the watermelon in the serving dish you normally use. Step back, and let your Crestie enjoy the feast.
5. Remove any uneaten leftovers.
If your Gecko doesn’t eat everything, remove the leftovers from the enclosure. Fruit attracts nasty troublemakers like ants and flies.
You don’t want these insects close to your pet, as they might carry diseases and bacteria. Ants might even become aggressive with your poor Gecko.
What Other Fruits Can Crested Geckos Eat?
Variety is the spice of life. It’s always a good idea to surprise your Gecko with something new.
There are plenty of other tasty and healthy fruit options besides watermelon. You can feed your Crested Gecko any low-oxalate, low-phosphorus fruit.
Some examples include:
- Peaches (high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and potassium)
- Apricots (fiber, vitamins A, C, copper, and potassium)
- Plums (fiber, vitamins A, C, and K)
- Figs (fiber, B-vitamins, and potassium)
- Apples (fiber, boron, vitamin C, and potassium)
- Pears (fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and copper)
- Mango (fiber, vitamins B6, A, C, folate, copper, and potassium)
- Blueberries (fiber, vitamins C, K, copper, and manganese)
- Strawberries (fiber, folate, vitamin C, and manganese)
- Raspberries (very high in fiber, vitamins C, K, and manganese)
- Cherries (fiber, vitamin C, potassium)
- Grapes (B vitamins, vitamin K, copper, and potassium)
- Banana (fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, copper, magnesium, and potassium)
- Papaya (vitamins A, C, and folate)
- Melons (vitamins A, C, B6, folate, and potassium)
Watermelon is a safe and tasty fruit you can include in your Crested Gecko’s diet. The low fat, low sugar, and high vitamin content make this fruit both nutritious and healthy.
Watermelon boasts many benefits, including good hydration, improved digestion, better eye, skin, and bone health, and low phosphorus and oxalate content.
The only downside to being aware of is the risk of pesticide and bacteria exposure.
With proper preparation, you’ll avoid these issues easily. Finally, watermelon might trigger your Gecko’s sweet tooth. It’s best to alternate between watermelon and other fruits like peaches, apples, and berries.
Keep the serving frequency down to a couple of times a month.