Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) are lizards that are native to Asia. They live in rocky deserts and sparse grasslands. These reptiles are nocturnal in the wild, hiding from fierce daytime heat in burrows and under rocks.
A popular beginner’s reptile, the leopard gecko comes in a variety of colors and is an easily handled, small lizard. In captivity, they will burrow when overheated and shy away sometimes from bright lights.
In this video, we share some of the basics you may want if you would like to care for a Leopard Gecko.
Leopard geckos are commonly yellow, white and spotted with black dots There are several color and pattern (e.g. jungle) variations called morphs which include almost every color of the rainbow. Certain colors are more highly desired and valuable while the common wild-type or normal coloration is readily available and very affordable. Leopard geckos are nocturnal, ground-dwelling geckos that are generally docile and easy to tame.
These lizards do not have the sticky toe pads like other geckos so they do not climb walls but unlike other geckos. Leopard geckos are not prone to biting but if they do it doesn’t hurt for the most part. In fact, they are usually slow-moving compared to an anole or racerunner.
Housing Leopard Geckos
A 10- to 20-gallon aquarium houses one or two leopard geckos from hatchling to adult size. Larger tanks tend to cause the geckos to stray away from their proper heat and hide box.
The best way to heat your leopard gecko is by using an undertank heating pad or tape. Be sure to have a secure screen top on your gecko cage that will support a light fixture and provide good ventilation.
Although visibility is reduced, many people use plastic storage boxes as housing. Any cage you choose should be at least 1 foot tall.
Regardless of housing you choose, use a simple low-wattage light overhead on the screen-cage top and left on 12 hours a day.
Because leopard geckos are active at night (notice their vertical pupils), they do not need to bask under a special UVB light Live or artificial plants can be added for a nice decorative touch depending on your bulb choices.
Add a hide box filled with moist moss or vermiculite is needed, so your leopard gecko can shed its skin properly. This safe set up is also needed for egg laying if you plan on breeding geckos.
Newspaper, pea gravel, artificial turf, flat stones or no floor covering are OK. A young or debilitated leopard gecko might consume sand or fine-particle products on the cage floor, and this could lead to intestinal impaction.
Heating one end of the cage is best. This allows for a temperature variation that your lizard needs. Heat rocks tend to become too hot for leopard geckos and should be avoided due to the risk of burns.
The daytime temperature of a leopard gecko habitat should be between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The nighttime temperature can be about 10 degrees lower.
Feeding Leopard Geckos
Leopard geckos love live food. The best items to use are mealworms or crickets, but you can treat your pet to waxworms or superworms once a week if you wish.
Avoid feeding leopard geckos pinky mice. All insects must be first given a nutritious powdered diet for at least 12 hours before being fed to your leopard gecko.
This process is called gut loading,” and it is very important to the health of your pet. We gut-load our insects with fruit and vegetables. Ensuring the most in nutritional value.
Dusting your insects is one way to deliver important vitamins and minerals to your leopard gecko. Insects and the dusting powder can be placed in a plastic bag or deep tin can and shook gently to coat the insects’ bodies.
When adding the dusted insects to the cage, be sure not to let the powder get into a gecko’s eyes. Another way to give the extra powdered supplements to your gecko is to keep a small jar lid filled with vitamin-mineral powder at all times. The gecko knows how much its body needs, and it will lick up the powder accordingly.
A meal every other day is fine. Therefore, a 4-inch-long gecko would receive eight mealworms three to four times a week. It is normal for leopard geckos to eat their shed skin.
The Tale Of A Gecko Tail…
- The Leopard Gecko usually grow to about 10 inches long, although half of this is tail.
- They can break their tails off like most other lizards. This is usually caused by poor handling or by fighting with other geckos. The tails will grow back, but they will be shorter, thicker, smoother and less colorful.
- Geckos store fat and metabolic water in their tails.
Other Interesting Facts…
- The temperature of their eggs determines the gender of the hatchlings. At 80 degrees, most will be females; at 91 degrees most will be males.
- They have moveable eyelids, allowing them to blink and close their eyes during sleep.
- These geckos will clean their eyes with their tongues!
- This reptile is carnivorous and will stalk prey like a cat.
- Leopard geckos actually have a “bathroom” in one corner of their cages, and that area can be spot-cleaned without disrupting the entire system.