The leopard gecko is a popular beginner’s reptile. It is a small, easy-to-handle lizard from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northwest India.
They need very little care compared to other lizards. They are lively and have quirky personalities.
Their movements can be pretty fascinating to watch. Leopard geckos are often yellow-white and sometimes spotted with black spots.
The stripes of the hatchlings gradually give way to a spotted appearance. There are many morphs and variations available.
Some colors are rarer and more valuable, but the most common wild-type or standard coloration is readily available and cost-effective.
COMMON NAME: Leopard gecko
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Eublepharis macularius
ADULT SIZE 8-10 inches, including tails
LIFE EXPECTANCY 20+ years in captivityback to menu ↑
Leopard Gecko Temperament and Behavior
The leopard geckos are affectionately known as leos and are easy to care for. They don’t require much maintenance and are very forgiving of poor conditions.
Leopard geckos, ground-dwelling geckos, and nocturnal geckos are easy to handle.
They don’t have sticky toe pads, so they can’t climb walls like other geckos. However, unlike other geckos, they have eyelids.
Leopard geckos don’t bite and are generally slow-moving. They can be vocal, incredibly when hungry, and make chirps or squeaks.
You can socialize with your leopard gecko when you bring it home. Your leopard gecko will accept a small amount of contact, but you should not overdo it, or they may become stressed.
To communicate, geckos use their tails. Keep an eye out for tail-waving if you have more leopard geckos in your enclosure.
It is a slow, back and forth motion. It is also raised by the gecko quite often. This signifies that a leopard gecko feels threatened and is about to attack. Separate them immediately.
Like rattlesnakes, leopard geckos are also tail rattlers. If your leopard gecko shakes its tail fast, it is eager to eat and mate.
Like many other lizards, Leopard geckos can also self-amputation their tails when they feel threatened.back to menu ↑
Leopard Gecko Housing
For leopard geckos, old fish tanks that aren’t holding water still work well. Two to three leopard geckos can be housed in a 15- to 20-gallon aquarium.
However, you should limit the number of males per habitat and keep females and males separate if you are interested in breeding.
Half logs can be used as climbing and hiding space. You can also use simple cardboard boxes or commercial reptile caves. You can also help reduce shedders by using a damp hide box.
To get rid of feces, you should clean the cage at least once daily. To reduce bacteria buildup, clean the cage once per month.back to menu ↑
To provide heat during the day, you can use a regular white incandescent heat lamp. You can also use a red, blue, purple, or ceramic heat bulb to provide additional heat at night.
Although under-tank heating pads are effective in heating, they might not be as efficient at controlling your gecko’s temperature.
An under-tank heating pad can cause burns if your gecko burrows below the tank’s glass surface. Never use hot rocks.
Reptiles are coldblooded and need to regulate their body temperature. Snakes need a temperature range or thermal gradient to hold their body heat.
The temperature ranges from 70 to 75 Fahrenheit (21-24 Celsius) at night. A daytime temperature of 88°F (31°C) and a thermal gradient of 75°F (around 24°C) are ideal.
Keep your gecko away from drafts and doors or windows.back to menu ↑
Leopard geckos, which are nocturnal, are more active at night than other animals and don’t require much UV light.
These creatures can also be seen at sunrise and sunset in the wild and are exposed to UV light during those hours.
A small amount (2% to 7%) of UVA or UVB light can help leopard geckos stay healthy and reduce their risk of developing metabolic bone disease.
To mimic sunlight, your lizard will require incandescent lighting and heat. They should get about 14 hours of sunlight per day in the summer.
In winter, they will require 12 hours of light. You can automate your cage lighting by setting a timer to make it easier.back to menu ↑
They are desert lizards and do not require a humid environment. The humidity level should be between 30% and 40%. This is the same as the humidity in your home.
The gecko may have difficulty shedding if the humidity drops below 20%. You can use a regular screen top and a heat source to keep the environment dry.
A humidity gauge or hygrometer can be used to check the humidity in the cage.back to menu ↑
Even if the substrate is calcium sand, young leopard geckos should not be kept on it. The sand could cause intestinal obstruction, and they may inhale it.
The absorbency of paper is easy to replace, as well as indoor/outdoor carpet.
No matter what substrate you choose, ensure your gecko does not ingest it. Avoid wood shavings as they can cause a severe injury to your gecko’s feet. Wood shavings can irritate due to volatile oils.back to menu ↑
Water and food
Leopard geckos are insectivores. You can feed them various insects, waxworms, and, in moderation, mealworms.
You can give your gecko food in an empty tank to ensure it doesn’t ingest any substrate. You can occasionally provide a pinky mouse or two to an adult gecko.
Each day, juveniles need to be fed multiple crickets. Adults may skip feedings for several days. You must ensure that the insect’s gut is well-loaded before giving them food.
Before giving your lizard the insects, ensure they are coated with a calcium/vitamin-D3 supplement. Put the worms and crickets in a ziplock bag that contains some powder.
The bag should be shaken quickly before placing the insect in the tank. The calcium/vitamin supplement is required for hatchlings and juveniles at all feedings.
Adults only need it at the last feeding.
Always provide fresh water for your leopard gecko. A gecko can soak in the water bowl voluntarily. Your gecko will enjoy the water bowl’s humidification effect and drink from it.back to menu ↑
Common Health Problems
Metabolic bone disease is one of the most severe conditions that can strike leopard geckos.
A poor appetite and tremors characterize this disease. Geckos can become sick just like humans if they don’t get enough vitamin D and calcium.
These are normal and not dangerous signs that your gecko has problems with its armpits. These are signs that your lizard may be storing something.
These bubbles could contain fat, vitamins, or protein. They are also common in overweight geckos. These bubbles usually disappear when the lizard regains its healthy weight.
Gingivitis, caused by a bacterial infection, can also be a problem for leopard geckos.
Gingivitis can be a sign of watery stool or shrinkage in the tail. This condition can be fatal, but it is possible to treat if caught in time.
Dysecdysis can also occur in leopard geckos, just like other lizards. This can cause the gecko difficulty shed and may affect its vision.
Additionally, leopard geckos can be susceptible to pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Your leopard gecko may be suffering from respiratory issues such as wheezing and bubbles in its mouth or nasal passages.
These conditions should be treated by an exotics veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.back to menu ↑
Choosing Your Leopard Gecko
Because leopard geckos are long-lived lizards, you should be prepared to take care of them for longer.
Although these popular pets are readily available, it is best to buy geckos from a trusted breeder.
They can range in price from $20 to $40. Rare morphs can cost as high as $100. A reptile expo near you might have a great reptile breeder.
Look at the tail when choosing a pet. It should be as long and plump as the gecko’s shoulders. It should have clear eyes and a clean mouth.
The vent, the opening that allows you to urinate and defecate, should be clear and not swollen.