All About Leopard Geckos


Summary

A popular beginner’s reptile, the leopard gecko comes in a variety of colours and is an easily handled, small lizard. Leopard geckos are nocturnal, ground-dwelling geckos that can be found in desert environments in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and parts of India. They are generally docile and easy to tame. They do not have the sticky toe pads like other geckos, so they do not climb walls, but unlike other geckos, they do have eyelids.
Adult size:

  • • Leopard Geckos generally grow to between 18 to 28cm (7-11 inches) in length

Life span:

  • • Leopard Geckos with proper care will usually have a life expectancy of 15-20 years. So they are certainly a long term commitment.

Considerations Before Purchasing

  • • Who will look after your new pet if you are away?
  • • Can you provide fresh food for your pet?
  • • Are you prepared to take on an animal that could live for 10 years?
  • • Is the rest of the family happy to live with a lizard that eats live insects?
  • • Can you afford all the equipment necessary to keep your pet happy?
  • • Have you done your research on Leopard Geckos and their relevant care?

Enclosure

Leopard geckos are best kept singly to avoid confrontations. A single adult Leopard Gecko can comfortably be housed in a two-foot-long (60cm) enclosure. Bigger is better though and a vivarium 90cm x 45cm x 45cm (36″ x 18″ x 18″) would allow more space for a leopard gecko to run around in. Being a nocturnal species, it is essential that they are offered hides; place two hides on the warm side of the tank and keep one lined with moist paper towels, Eco earth, or sphagnum moss underneath it. This is called the “humid hide” and the flow will need to be moistened regularly to allow the gecko to shed easily. (Keeping this on the cold side is not recommended due to the risk of respiratory infection.) Place a third shelter on the cooler side of the tank and keep it dry.

                                                                          

Heating

Leopard Geckos are cold-blooded reptiles, so they rely on the heat from their external surroundings to regulate their body temperature. In order to this correctly, known as thermoregulation, access to both a “warm” and a “cool” area must be provided with a specific temperature gradient emulating their natural habitat. Ideally, the “cool” area of a leopard gecko’s enclosure should be between 23˚C-26˚C 24 hours a day. This “cool” area temperature is often simply the ambient temperatures required by these animals, the “warm” area should be between 28˚C – 32˚C. The temperature of the “warm” area can be maintained using a heat mat in conjunction with a thermostat and monitored with an accurate thermometer, or by fitting an appropriate ceramic heater or basking spot lamp with a dimming thermostat.

Substrate

The substrate that is used for a leopard gecko should be non-abrasive and non-irritating to their sensitive skin. It should be something that you can easily clean and replace, and it should not create any type of dust. At Pets Corner, we use cage carpet as it is a very safe substrate, recommended by specialist reptile vets. Many people use sand substrates like Reptisand and Calci-Sand, but there have been some substances of problems, including ingestion of the sand and sand in stools. If you choose a sand-based substrate and see any problems developing, switch substrates immediately.

                                                                   

Lighting

As they naturally sleep throughout the day, Leopard Geckos do not require any specific lighting. However, it is beneficial to offer a maximum of 12 hours per day of exposure to UVB radiation to facilitate dietary calcium absorption. UVB can be provided by fluorescent lighting such as strip lights, or compact bulbs of tropical strength – 5.0%

Feeding & Water

Leopard Geckos are insectivorous, and as such require live insects as their staple diet. The length of the insect to be fed should be equal to the distance between the lizard’s eyes. Crickets are a suitable insect for promoting hunting activity in Leopard Geckos, but other insects such as locusts can be offered as a treat for variety. Lightly sprinkle the insects with a calcium carbonate supplement such as Calcidust every meal. Also on alternate days, the insects must be lightly dusted with a vitamin D3 supplement such as Nutrobal. Feed as many insects as your lizard will consume overnight and then remove any uneaten insects from the enclosure the following morning. Provide a shallow water dish. A wide, shallow water bowl is best, to allow the gecko to drink and bathe without a significant risk of drowning. Keep this on the cooler side. Refill it every day.

Handling

Leopard Geckos can tolerate handling but they can be nervous and jumpy so please be patient. If they are terrified then they can drop their tails as a defense mechanism. The tail will grow back, but never look perfect and the process is very stressful for the animal. Children should always be supervised with any animals and care should be taken to avoid dropping your Leopard Geko whilst handling. Be aware that they can become too cold if kept out of their enclosure for a long time in cold weather. Do not handle your Leopard Gecko for at least 24 hours when you first take them home to allow them to settle in to the new surroundings.

It is important for hygiene reasons to wash your hands with an anti-bacterial hand wash before and after handling your Leopard Gecko.

Final Remarks

Leopard Geckos can make friendly long-lived additions to your family if they are provided with their essential care requirements. Pregnant women, young children and people with weakened immune systems should consult a doctor before exposure to any reptile. Please ask a friendly member of staff for advise if you require further assistance.

Check List

  • • Secure enclosure
  • • Heat source(s)
  • • Thermostat(s)
  • • Thermometer(s)
  • • Water bowl
  • • Hides
  • • Reptile disinfectant
  • • Food
  • • Substrate
  • • Lighting
  • • Décor
  • • Hand Sanitiser
  • • Sprayer
  • • Moss
  • • Leopard Gecko book
  • • Supplements