Length: 18 to 28 cm
Life Expectancy: 15 to 20 years
Leopard geckos are indigenous to many countries, including Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran. In nature, leopard geckos live in dry and sandy areas.
They have a few uncommon traits, which make them stand out from other species. Leopard geckos cannot walk on vertical surfaces, unlike most geckos. Moreover, they have eyelids, whilst other geckos don’t.
Leopard geckos are popular pets since they are docile and mild-natured. They are not outwardly aggressive unless they feel threatened. These species are quite hardy too, which makes them highly adaptable. New and experienced pet owners will enjoy having Leopard geckos around as pets.
Leopard geckos have a relatively long lifespan that can reach up to 15 to 20 years. Providing them with proper shelter, healthy food, and a peaceful environment will greatly help in prolonging their lives. Regular vet visits are necessary to ensure that they are of optimum health.
Where do leopard geckos come from?
Leopard geckos are mainly found in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, southeastern Afghanistan, and western India. They can be found in arid grassland and semi-deserts. Their usual habitats are coarse grasses, hard clay, rocks, sandy gravel, and drought-resistant shrubs.
What are the different types of leopard geckos?
The entire common leopard gecko subspecies used to be classified as one, until taxonomists started sorting reptile species into subspecies. This occurred during the 1970s to early 1980s. There are five known leopard geckos subspecies:
- Leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius)
- Afghan leopard gecko (Eublepharis m. afghanicus)
- Eublepharis m. fasciolatus
- Eublepharis m. montanus
- Eublepharis m. smithi
What does a leopard gecko look like?
Leopard geckos have two distinctive traits that set them apart from other gecko species. They are the only ones that have movable eyelids as most gecko eyelids are fused by a spectacle. The leopard geckos genus name translates as ‘true eyelid,’ whilst the species name means ‘spotted.’
Needless to say, they can blink and sleep with their eyes closed. Other gecko species without eyelids have their eyes permanently open. Since they cannot blink, they must lick their eyes to keep them from getting dry.
Another trait that only leopard geckos possess is their lack of lamellae or adhesive toe pads. Unlike other species of geckos, they can’t climb walls. Experts speculate that the reason why they do not have sticky footpads is that they have no use for them. Toe pads would be ineffective in the dry and sandy places that they inhabit in the wild.
Leopard geckos are large in size with wide heads and chubby tails. In general, the species have rough skin and smooth underbellies. Their base colour is yellow, and it is covered with black leopard-like spots.
Wild leopard geckos have darker coloration, whilst their captive-bred counterparts sport various patterns and skin colours. The breeding of this species started many years ago. Thus, breeders were able to create numerous types of leopard gecko morphs or colour and combination patterns such as:
- Albino leopard gecko
- Tangerine leopard gecko
- Patternless leopard gecko
- Carrot-topped and -tailed leopard gecko
- Blizzard leopard gecko
- Jungle leopard gecko
- Giant leopard gecko
- Supergiant leopard gecko
Do you want a leopard gecko as a pet? Find the right one for you here.
How big do leopard geckos get?
Leopard geckos are mid-sized reptiles that can weigh around 45 to 65 grams once fully matured. Adult males are approximately 20 to 25 cm in length, and females are around 18 to 20 cm in length. However, large leopard gecko morphs such as giants and supergiants can reach a length of about afoot. They can weigh as heavy as 160 grams.
Do leopard geckos have teeth?
Leopard geckos have at least one hundred teeth when they are born. Their teeth undergo the constant cycle of falling out and getting replaced. These occur every three to four months.
Smaller replacement tooth grow right next to every full-grown tooth. So, once an old tooth comes off, there is already a new tooth ready to replace it.
What are the essential things needed in a leopard gecko setup?
Choosing the right enclosure is important to ensure that your pet is comfortable in his new home. Pick a leopard gecko vivarium that is well ventilated and light can easily pass through. Consider getting a shallow and long glass enclosure with a wire mesh top than one made out of wire, which can cause injuries. The leopard gecko tank should be at least 60 cm long, 40 cm high, and 30 cm deep.
The enclosure should contain substrates that are safe for geckos. Ceramic tiles, reptile carpets, paper towels, and artificial turfs are good options. Avoid using sand, sawdust, cedar, cat litter, hardwood chips, and corncob bedding. These types can irritate their respiratory systems, which can lead to health problems.
The vivarium should have three parts: a basking spot, a hiding area, and places where your pet can explore. Decorate his home with artificial plants, rocks, and logs. Be careful not to place any pointy rocks as it can inflict wounds on your pet.
Resinous woods, including pine and cedar, must be avoided too as they are poisonous for him. Do not forget to provide a big and shallow water dish. This will not only keep him hydrated but also help in maintaining the humidity of the tank.
Place one heat lamp at one side of the tank whilst the other area should be kept cool. This is necessary as they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. Your pet lizard’s basking spot should not go over 82 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the mornings.
Meanwhile, the cool side of the vivarium should stay at least 75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the heat lamp in the evenings. Use a ceramic heat lamp or a heat mat to keep the temperature from dropping below 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a thermostat will help you in regulating the temperature of the tank.
Set up lighting that closely mimics the natural light cycle for leopards geckos. Keep in mind that they are nocturnal. Thus, there should be fourteen hours of light during the summer days.
Afterward, there should be ten hours of darkness. When it’s winter season, the periods of light and darkness need to be slowly adjusted. Each should last 12 hours.
Red lamps and black heat lamps are ideal choices for lighting. Get a 2% to 5% UVB light as well since leopard geckos need a small amount of UV rays. These are essential for the production of vitamin D inside their body.
There should be balanced humidity levels in your pet gecko’s tank. If the humidity is too low, he may suffer from skin problems. A high level of humidity, on the other hand, can cause respiratory illnesses.
Measure the humidity of the vivarium with a hygrometer. The levels should not go beyond 30 to 40%.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your pet lizard must be provided with a moist box. These will help them shed easier. To create this humidified shelter, you need to line a box with damp substrates such as sphagnum and peat moss.
How often should you clean the vivarium?
Every-day waste, shed skin, dirt, and dead insects should be removed. Ornaments with faeces should be washed and disinfected. The same applies to water bowls. It is a weekly task to clean and sanitise the whole vivarium.
Make sure to use cleaning products that are safe for reptiles. It is advised to clean his tank early in the morning or at dusk. That’s because these times will not disrupt his natural sleep cycle and will prevent him from getting too stressed.
How often do leopard geckos shed?
Young leopard geckos shed between one and two weeks. On the other hand, adults shed once every four to eight weeks. The shedding process should be dealt with within twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
The humidity level must be high once their shedding starts. Spray water into the vivarium at least two to three times a day. This will prevent accidents such as dead skin cutting off the circulation on their toes, making them fall off.
Inspecting leopard geckos after shedding their skin should always be done. Sometimes, there is leftover dead skin that can injure or cut them. To remove dead skin, lightly spritz it with water and gently rub it off with a Q-tip. Using a shedding aid spray will also help in getting rid of the dead skin.
How to sex a leopard gecko?
It is difficult to determine the sex of juvenile leopard geckos. They need to reach at least six months old before you can tell their gender. Males have prominent anal pores.
These are characterised by a small V-shaped row of dots found on their vents. Females have anal pores, but they are less conspicuous compared to males.
Another indicator of a leopard gecko’s sex is the hemipenal bulges. These are two small bumps located behind the vent on both sides of the base of the tail. Males have hemipenal bulges, whilst females don’t. Keep in mind not to house male and female leopard geckos unless you want to breed them.
Are leopard geckos good pets?
These commonly kept lizards have a hardy and agreeable nature. These make them relevantly easy to care for. They are great pets for both beginners and advanced reptile enthusiasts.
Most gecko species are not big fans of being handled. However, leopard geckos seem to have a high tolerance for human touch, and others even enjoy it.
Just make sure to avoid handling your pet gecko roughly or excessively to prevent him from getting stressed or aggravated. Avoid pulling on his tail too since it will drop as a form of defence mechanism. It will naturally grow back, but in some cases, the new tail may be deformed.
Do leopard geckos bite?
They are not inherently aggressive pets, but if the situation requires it, they will bite. This commonly happens if they feel threatened or provoked. If your pet doesn’t feel like being handled, do not force him, or else he might bite you.
Biting also happens when territorial aggression occurs. In this case, separate the geckos immediately to avoid any of them getting injured.
Age has to do with biting too. Baby leopard geckos and juveniles have a higher tendency to snap at their owners. Fortunately, as they grow older, this behaviour subsides.
Biting is an indicator that your leopard gecko may be hungry. He might mistake your hands for food. For this reason, always feed him before handling.
Nutrition and Feeding
What do leopard geckos eat?
Commercially sold crickets are an excellent food staple for leopard geckos. Mealworms, superworms, and waxworms are great options as well. But do not feed them waxworms often as they are high in fats.
Keep in mind to feed these insects before serving them to your pet lizard. This is to ensure that they are a good source of nutrients for him.
Make sure to dust his meals with a calcium supplement before feeding. Never give him random wild insects that you can catch outdoors. These are often hosts of parasites and are contaminated with pesticides. Freshwater should be available in his tank throughout the day so that he is well-hydrated.
How often should you feed leopard geckos?
Juvenile leopard geckos require daily feeding. Meanwhile, adult geckos can be fed once every other day. Mealtimes should be early in the morning or late afternoon to mimic their natural feeding schedule in the wild. Always offer them a variety of food to keep them from becoming picky eaters.
How long can leopard geckos go without food?
Adult leopard geckos can go without eating for ten days to two weeks. Some may even refuse to consume food for a month. The fat storage in their tails prevents them from going hungry.
However, juvenile leopard geckos can only go a week without eating. That’s because they lack enough fat storage. If your young leopard gecko does not eat food for more than a week, get him checked by the vet right away.
How long do leopard geckos live?
The average leopard gecko lifespan is between fifteen and twenty years. There were even records of some reaching the ripe age of twenty-eight and forty!
Practising proper leopard gecko care is essential in keeping your pet healthy and extending his life. Thus, provide a stress-free environment, nutritious meals, and a clean and safe home for him. Regular check-ups are also a must to ensure that he is free from diseases.
Are leopard geckos prone to health problems?
Leopard geckos are hardy pets, but they are still susceptible to health issues. These include parasite infection, gastroenteritis, nutritional and metabolic disorders, dysecdysis, and pneumonia.
Be alert for any signs of diseases in your pet. Changes in appetite and behaviour such as lethargy, drooling, appetite loss, and mobility problems are indicators that he is unwell. If he is showing these symptoms, seek veterinary care right away.
Are leopard geckos nocturnal?
This is a common misconception about leopard geckos. No, they are not nocturnal animals. Leopard geckos are crepuscular species since they are active at dawn and dusk, whereas nocturnal animals stay awake at night.
Cost of Ownership
How much is a leopard gecko?
Getting a leopard gecko costs from £40 to over £100. The total cost for purchasing a whole vivarium setup may amount to approximately £220. This includes the tank, heat mat, substrate, infrared lamp, and thermometer.
Costs of food for your leopard gecko may vary. The price for five hundred crickets is around £1.88 to 1.99 for 60 g of mealworms and £8.21 for a tub of 250 waxworms. If you opt for pet insurance, you will need to pay at least £4 every month.
The gender of leopard geckos is determined according to their incubation temperature. If it is around near 80 degrees Fahrenheit, most of the eggs will be female. Meanwhile, eggs that are exposed to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit will be males. A temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit will produce nearly an equal number of males and females.
Leopard geckos have sharper eyesight compared to other gecko species. Their vision rivals that of felines.