Leopard geckos, scientifically known as Eublepharis macularius, are one of the most popular pet reptiles. Among hundreds of different species of geckos, Leopard geckos are the most popular and readily available pet geckos. They have been captive-bred for over three decades in the United States.
Leopard geckos soaring popularity among pet reptiles is often attributed to their hardy nature and minimal care requirements. They make a great choice for first-time pet reptile owners, as they are easygoing and docile. Leopard geckos not only fascinate viewers by their exciting dotted patterns but also by their spunky nature and interesting movements.
Geckos, including leopard geckos, are lizards—but they have several distinctive traits. Leopard geckos belong to an incredibly diverse family of lizards called Gekkonidae, which includes over 800 different species of geckos, including Leopard geckos. All these species of geckos, i.e., Mourning geckos, Leachie geckos, are different from one another.
Each gecko species might look superficially the same, but at a detailed level, they all are unique. Before we dive into the details of Leopard geckos, you should take a quick look at their species overview.
Classifying Leopard Geckos
Geckos are reptiles belonging to the class Reptilia. In the class Reptilia, they are placed in order Squamata, in which they are grouped with snakes, lizards (Sauria), and worm lizards. But as we move further down the classification tree, we find out they are different from snakes and worm lizards and are thus placed in suborder Sauria (lizards). In the infraorder Gekkota, they are placed with night lizards and pygopods. But further subdivision clarifies that Leopard geckos are different from pygopods and night lizards; they belong to the family of all geckos—Gekkonidae.
While family Gekkonidae includes all species of geckos, Leopard geckos belong to a special subfamily, Eublepharinae. Only those gecko species that have real functional (moving) eyelids are placed in this class. Iranian fat-tailed geckos and banded geckos are placed in the subfamily Eublepharinae as they also have functional eyelids and are thus often called eyelid geckos.
All other species of geckos have transparent and fixed eyelids, known as spectacle, like snakes—their eyes always remain open. All geckos, for instance, Satanic Leaf-Tailed gecko, Baby Crested gecko, and Mourning gecko, with fixed transparent eyes can clean their eyes with their tongue.
Geckos belonging to the sub-family Eublepharinae have the genus name Eublepharis, meaning eyelid. Here, all the geckos having true eyelids are grouped together. Further, the species name macularius specifies that the respective gecko is Eublepharis macularius—Leopard gecko.
Popular Varieties of Leopard Geckos
There are five officially recognized subspecies of Leopard geckos, but not all of them have common names. Only two of the five subspecies have common names—Eublepharis macularius is commonly known as Leopard gecko, and Eublepharis m. afghanicus is known as Afghan Leopard gecko. Where Leopard gecko was first discovered in 1854, Afghan Leopard gecko—present in south-eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan—was discovered only in 1976.
Leopard gecko subspecies that don’t have a common name are a) Eublepharis m. smithi described in 1981, b) Eublepharis m. fasciolatus described in 1864, c) Eublepharis m. montanus discovered in 1976. While Smithi can be found in the north-western part of India, fasciolatus and montanus are native to Pakistan only.
|Scientific Name||Common Name||Discovered in||Native to||Distinguishing Features|
|Eublepharis macularius||Leopard gecko||1854||Desert regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northwest India|
|Eublepharis m. afghanicus||Afghan Leopard gecko||1976||South-Eastern Afghanistan (along Kabul River and its tributaries)|
|Eublepharis m. smithi||No common name||1981||Pakistan and India|
|Eublepharis m. fasciolatus||No common name||1864||Pakistan range|
|Eublepharis m. montanus||No common name||1976||Pakistan range|
In addition to the above discussed five officially recognized Leopard gecko subspecies, Eublepharis Fuscus is often called a subspecies of Leopard geckos and is thus also known as West-Indian Leopard gecko. They are considered the largest member of the Leopard gecko family, but as of 1997, they have been elevated to full species status. But they still belong to the genus Eublepharis as they also have true eyelids like the rest of the members of the genus. Eublepharis Hardwickii (often confused as a fat-tailed gecko) are also from India—Eastern India.
Leopard Gecko Colors, Patterns, and Morphs
Today, Leopard geckos are available in a wide variety of stunning color combinations and patterns due to the over three decades of selective breeding in captivity. The average Leopard geckos are yellow in color with dark brown to black spots, but the color and pattern are extremely variable due to selective breeding. The number of Leopard gecko morphs has been increasing rapidly as new morphs keep coming to the fore, with many herpetoculturists selectively breeding them as a hobby.
At present, there are over 100—according to some resources, well over 150—different morphs of Leopard geckos present across the world. From the enormous variety of morphs available, we have discussed a few of the most common Leopard gecko morphs.
1. Albino Leopard Gecko
Also known as amelanistic, albino Leopard geckos have cream-colored skin with slightly darker markings and pink-colored eyes. This morph has been created after years of selective breeding. Crossbreeding albino Leopard geckos with others would result in the creation of many new interesting patterns like albino stripes and albino snow with pure white skin lacking spots, banding, or stripes.
2. Albino Patternless Leopard Gecko
These are also known as amelanistic patternless Leopard geckos and are created by the crossbreeding of albino Leopard gecko with patternless gecko.
3. Circle Back Leopard Gecko
Circle back geckos have an interesting black circle made out of connected dots resembling bull’s eye on their back, hence their name.
4. High Yellow Leopard Gecko
As the name suggests, these geckos have bright yellow-colored skin with dark brown or black spots. These high yellow geckos are widely considered standard Leopard geckos. The number of spots on their body varies—some have more spots; some have fewer. That said, high yellow geckos with fewer spots are in higher demand and thus expensive.
Did You Know?The fewer the spots on high yellow Leopard gecko, the higher the demand and price.
5. Jungle Leopard Gecko
Jungle geckos have black spots on the yellow background scattered in a broken, random pattern on their body and tail. Due to the irregularity of the pattern, no two jungle Leopard geckos have the same pattern.
Did You Know?No two jungle Leopard geckos have a similar pattern as their black spots are connected in random and irregular patterns.
6. Lavender Leopard Gecko
Lavender Leopard geckos have hues of lavender—light purplish-pink—in the white areas of their skins. These lavender geckos are produced after years of selective breeding. Today, we have lavender Leopard geckos with larger and brighter lavender areas.
7. Leucistic Leopard Gecko
These Leopard geckos have pure white skin with dark eyes. They are quite rare to find and could be very expensive. However, as their numbers increase, their prices will drop as well.
8. Melanistic Leopard Gecko
These Leopard geckos are almost completely black with little to no visible pattern. These melanistic geckos have been developed by retaining darker colored geckos over successive generations. One such dark black gecko is the Black Night Leopard gecko, which has full black skin with no pattern whatsoever. They are also termed hypermelanistic Leopard geckos.
9. Patternless Leopard Gecko
These patternless Leopard geckos actually have spots and bandings at the times of birth, but with age, the dark pigmentation fades. They lose all the pigmentation as they reach adulthood and are all yellow—some darker yellow, others lighter. These geckos are often confused with leucistic Leopard geckos.
10. Striped Leopard Gecko
Striped geckos are one of the most stunning Leopard gecko morphs and are widely sought after. But as producing stripes is quite tricky, striped Leopard geckos are very rare and thus expensive. These fascinating Leos have a light-colored stripe running along their body—starting from the top of their head to the tip of their tail. This light-colored stripe is outlined by thin black lines on both sides.
In addition to the above-discussed Leopard gecko morphs, many other morphs/phases are also available today.
Below we have listed many of the Leopard gecko morphs available today.
|Firewater||Dreamsicle||Enigma||Godzilla Super Giant|
|Lemon frost||Ember||Nova||Red Stripe|
|Raptor||Snow||Carrot tail||Mack Snow|
|Phantom||Hybino||Lemon frost||Halloween Mask|
Leopard Gecko Care
Many people are afraid to bring home a gecko as they think that it would be pretty difficult to care for an exotic pet reptile. But it is not the case, especially not with Leopard geckos. Leopard geckos are easygoing, hardy, and generally easy-to-care-for reptiles.
However, before you bring one home, you should know: How to care for a Leopard gecko? How to house them and provide for their nutritional and grooming requirements? Do they like to be held?
If you are worried about Leopard gecko care, you should continue reading as we are going to discuss all about it—from housing to feeding and common health issues.
Housing Leopard Geckos
Leopard geckos are hardy creatures and won’t complain if something in their environment is not perfect. That said, your Leopard gecko will be the happiest and healthiest if you house them in a Leopard gecko tank that would mimic their natural habitat.
Here’s all you need to know about housing your Leopard gecko.
Leopard Gecko Tank Size
A 10-gallon aquarium would be just fine for a single adult Leopard gecko, but your little bud would really appreciate it if you put it in a 15 to 20-gallon tank. If you have a smaller tank, you can still make the enclosure larger (from the gecko’s perspective) by increasing the vertical space. This can be done by using driftwood and rocks to create shelves and ledges.
Similarly, if you have a pair or trio of Leopard geckos, you should get at least a 29 or 30-gallon tank. You should also make sure that there is only one male Leopard gecko per habitat. That said, housing two female geckos or one male and two female geckos would be no trouble.
Leopard Gecko Tank Thrifty Tip!An old fish tank that has been rendered useless as it could not hold water anymore can work perfectly to house your Leopard geckos.
Leopard Gecko Tank Setup
You cannot simply put your Leopard gecko in an empty tank; you will need a few things in addition to the tank as well to make the tank a natural habitat for your Leopard gecko.
Below we have listed some of the basic things you will need for the Leopard gecko tank setup.
Unlike other geckos such as Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko, Leopard geckos do not have sticky toes, so they cannot climb glass. This makes many owners think that they don’t need to put a screen lid on top of their Leopard gecko tank as their gecko does not stand a chance to climb to the top of the aquarium. But you never know your little friend may reach the top by scrambling up on the cage decorations and vertical space you may have created for your Leopard gecko.
So, you should always make sure that your Leopard gecko tank is securely fastened. This will not only keep the gecko safe from other pets, if you have any but would also dissuade your children from becoming too friendly with the gecko.
The screen lid you use should be all metal and not plastic-framed type as it may melt when basking light stays on for longer periods.
Leopard geckos should not be kept on the glass floor of the aquarium—it would make it pretty hard to clean without having to transfer your Leopard gecko to another habitat. Therefore, essential flooring called substrate is used to comfort your gecko and make the gecko tank setup more appealing.
Many Leopard gecko substrates can be used for the flooring of the tank.
Substrates for Leopard Gecko Tank Setup
|Good to Go With||Try to Avoid|
|Paper towel||Sand (including calcium sand)|
|Reptile carpet||Wood shavings|
Best Substrate Options
Paper towel is the best substrate for your Leopard gecko tank and is a go-to option for commercial gecko breeders. Paper towels not only provide secure footing but also are good absorbent and can easily be discarded and replaced when soiled.
To give your Leopard gecko tank a bit natural look, you can use reptile carpets—apart from imitating their natural habitat, they are also easy to clean. A cheaper and safe Leopard gecko substrate would be a newspaper—they are fairly absorbent and can be easily discarded and replaced.
Before You Use Sand Substrate
Sand has been one of the most popular substrate choices, but today many experts are advising against using sand, even calcium sand, as a substrate. They argue that geckos may ingest sand with their food, which can block their digestive tracts.
On the other hand, some experts argue that where some reptiles and amphibian species experience problems with sand as substrate, Leopard geckos do quite well when kept on sand; after all, they are desert-dwelling geckos—rocky deserts, to be precise.
However, as our mantra “it’s better to err on the side of caution,” we advise that you try to avoid using the sand substrate. If you are going to use sand as a substrate, you should check it with your vet first.
Substrates to Avoid
You should avoid all those substrates that have a threat to injure your Leopard gecko’s tiny feet. For instance, sharp-edged gravels and wood shavings should never be put in a gecko’s habitat as they may cause a skin injury. Wood shavings may also have essential oils that your Leopard gecko may find irritating.
Leopard Gecko Substrate Safety Tip!Whatever substrate you choose to use, make sure it neither injures your gecko’s tiny feet nor gets ingested with food.
Basking Light and Heating Pad
Unlike most lizards, who are active during the day and must be provided with ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B light in captivity, Leopard geckos are nocturnal and get their vitamin D from their diet and thus don’t necessarily require ultraviolet lights. However, light is essential to stimulate the day and night cycle. In the wild, Leopard geckos are also active during the dawn and dusk and thus get some exposure to scant sunlight in those hours.
The overhead basking light would not only warm the floor substrate but also the air. Keep in mind that your Leopard gecko might not directly bask in the light, but they might use the residual heat even after the light has been turned off.
You should place the basking light on one side of the cage. This side of the cage will be warmer, and the other will be cooler. This will allow your cold-blooded Leopard gecko to maintain their body temperature by moving to the warmer and cooler side accordingly.
As Leopard geckos don’t require full-spectrum lighting, you don’t have to get an expensive reptile bulb—an incandescent bulb would work just fine as basking light.
As far as the wattage is concerned, it is dependent on the temperature of the room and the size of the gallon. If you have a 29-gallon tank and the room temperature is 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius), a 40 to 60-watt bulb would work perfectly. It would warm the side of the tank where the bulb is placed to about 85 Fahrenheit (29 Celsius) and the other side to about 75 Fahrenheit (24 Celsius), just the thermal gradient that Leopard geckos love.
At night, you should turn off the light. It is fine for tank temperature to drop between 68 to 72 Fahrenheit (20 to 22 Celsius). But if you think your room gets way colder at night, you should place an undertank heat pad to maintain a minimum temperature.
To keep track of the temperature of the Leopard gecko tank, you can place two thermometers in the tank, one on the side where there is light and the other on the cooler side. Below we have listed some useful tips to help you provide the best Leopard gecko lighting setup for your Leo.
Instead of basking light, you can also use undertank heating pads to keep the floor warm. Where the light would be warming the floor and air, the heating pad would only provide a warm floor. More so, if your gecko was to burrow down to the glass surface of the vivarium, the heating pad may burn it. Therefore, it is best to use basking light instead of heating pads.
Leopard Gecko Tank Humidity
Leopard geckos come from dry areas—desert to arid grasslands—so one would assume that they don’t need high levels of humidity, but it is not the case. No doubt, Leopard geckos are desert-dwelling reptiles, but they spend most of their day in burrows below ground where there is a high level of moisture.
So, the high level of humidity is very crucial for geckos to stay in their best health and to complete their shedding process. If the humidity is way too low, Leopard geckos experience difficulty in their shedding process.
They may fail to shed all of their skin. And the leftover patches of unshed skin cause necrosis—the death of the underlying skin layer. The skin covered by unshed skin will turn black and becomes infected. Tiny toes of geckos are more susceptible to incomplete skin shedding. Unshed skin on toes acts like a tight glove, blocking the blood flow to the respective toes. This will cause the toe to die and fall off, leading to the development of a fatal infection.
This can easily be avoided by placing a humid hide in the Leopard gecko tank. You can fill this hide with sphagnum moss, peat moss, or damp soil to maintain its humidity at around 70 to 80 percent. Your Leopard geckos can move to these hides when they have to shed their skin.
Problems Caused by Improper Humidity
|Low Humidity Levels||High Humidity Levels|
Conversely, if the humidity level of your Leopard gecko tank is regularly too high, it may affect the long-term respiratory health of your Leopard gecko. Regular high humidity levels may also increase the risk of fungal and bacterial growth in the vivarium.
Decorating a Leopard Lecko Tank
Your Leopard gecko tank can be a window to another world—a wild paradise for your Leopard gecko. You can add decors that will make the gecko tank resemble its natural wild habitat. You should only use those things that are found in their natural environment.
As Leopard geckos come from dessert and arid lands, you can add small succulent plants that would survive in a dry environment and maybe use some rocks to make the cage look interesting for your Leopard gecko.
Adding Plants to Leopard Gecko Tank
You can add artificial plants as well as small natural succulent plants. You can put any small succulent plant that doesn’t have any spines or thorns like aloe and haworthia. Living stones can also make a great addition to your gecko vivarium.
You should avoid plants like euphorbias that may exude toxic sap and spiny plants like cacti. More so, if you choose to place living plants in your gecko’s vivarium, you will have to provide high levels of light using a full-spectrum fluorescent light.
Leopard Geckos Love Heavily Planted Tanks!People often think that by adorning the tank heavily with plants, they won’t get much to see of their Leopard gecko activities. But interestingly, it is quite the opposite—heavy planting would increase the viewing opportunities. Geckos are more active and happy in the overly planted tank as it would make them feel safer and thus confident in moving around.
Adding Stones to Leopard Gecko Tank
In addition to living stones, you can also place rocks in your gecko’s vivarium. You should make sure that the rocks you are stacking up in the tank are properly glued and secured. This would help prevent a rock falling and your gecko from experiencing an injury or death. You can use epoxy or silicone as an adhesive.
But make sure you carefully follow the product instructions. Don’t add any pointed or abrasive rocks, which could injure your geckos as they rub against them.
No Hot Rocks For Geckos!Hot rocks are a great way of thermoregulation, but unfortunately, our geckos don’t always know when to move away, so they often end up burning themselves. It is best that you don’t put them in your gecko tank.
Adding Tunnels and Caves
You can also add tunnels and caves to your Leopard gecko tanks. You can put the caves in such a way that you can view your geckos when they are sleeping in their caves. You can get commercial reptile caves or tunnels. You can also make them yourself by using plaster-like material. You can use dyes to make the caves and tunnels match your substrate.
Tip!You should arrange caves and tunnels in such a way that you can remove feces or leftover food insects from there. Adding a removable roof would make this easier.
Cleaning Leopard Gecko Tank
Cleaning Leopard gecko tanks is not much of a hassle as their stools are dry and can be easily scooped out using an old spoon. You don’t even have to worry about the Leopard gecko pee creating an odor in the tank. Because Leopard geckos urine is excreted along with the feces in the shape of dry white urates. Just like their dry poop, you can easily collect their urine—dry white urates. In addition to removing the defecated material from the tank, you will also have to check for dead food insects that may have eluded your gecko.
You should also have to remove and clean Leopard gecko water and food bowls now and then. This is easy, but you have to be careful about the potential Salmonella risk. You should wash the gecko bowls in your bathroom or in a sink that is not used for kitchen purposes. After having washed the gecko dishes, you should thoroughly wash the sink as well.
You can clean the glass walls of the tank inside and out with a wet paper towel, but if there are stains, you can use vinegar solution (20% vinegar in the water) instead of simple water.
If the substrate seems to have dried out, you will have to spray water on it. More so, as some substrate is removed with feces and dead insects, you will have to top off the substrate now and then.
Leopard Gecko Diet
Leopard geckos are insectivorous. In the wild, Leopard geckos eat a host of live insects and sometimes even prey on small invertebrates such as spiders, lizards, small mice, and snakes, etc. They also often eat other geckos, mostly just the tail. Sometimes, they become prey to snakes as well.
a. What Can a Leopard Gecko Eat?
As said above, Leopard geckos can eat whatever they can get their paws on in the wild. However, when in captivity, they are fed live insects that are commercially available such as crickets, wax worms, mealworms, butter worms, silkworms, and locusts. Leopard geckos should be provided with a wide variety of insects to stay healthy.
b. What Not to Feed Your Leopard Gecko?
When offered a new insect, Leopard geckos get very excited. To treat their gecko with a different insect, many pet parents try feeding them wild-caught insects, which most often might not agree with their stomach. For instance, butterflies, cockroaches, moths, and fireflies are some of the insects you should never contemplate feeding your gecko.
Similarly, fruits and vegetables are also not recommended for your geckos.
No Mice For Leopard Geckos!While in the wild, geckos often prey upon mice, in captivity, we should not offer them any mice—pink mice or pinkies. Eating a diet high in pinkies, your gecko may develop eye problems and deposit fats around their tiny organs. To fatten up your breeding female gecko, you can offer pinkies once every month or so with great care.
c. How to Feed Your Leopard Gecko?
There are different ways of feeding a Leopard gecko. While some keepers prefer to always make feeding worms available in the gecko food bowls all the time, others like to drop several mealworms into their gecko’s habitat at a certain time—at night, when they turn off the basking light. Where keeping the worms in bowls make sure they don’t elude gecko and die in some crevice, the latter way of feeding allows you to watch your Leopard gecko prey on the insects.
Be Careful While Feeding Crickets to Leopard Geckos!While other insects evading and hiding won’t hurt your gecko, an escaped cricket may. They are hungry insects and can feed upon geckos when they are asleep. Cricket bites could lead to the development of an infection. Therefore, before dropping crickets in your gecko’s tank, you should remove their rear legs by slightly pinching on them—this will keep them from escaping.
d. How Often and How Much You Should Feed Your Leopard Gecko?
The answer to “how much” and “how often” is codependent. As far as newly hatchlings and juvenile Leopard geckos are concerned, you should feed them every day as they have the most nutritional needs to grow properly. Similarly, young geckos should also be allowed to eat as much as they can so that they can grow fully.
While feeding your Leopard gecko, you should be mindful of their vitamin and mineral supplementation. If you have baby geckos in the same tank with their parents, you should make sure that baby geckos get their share. If not, you should feed them in a separate tank.
As your Leopard gecko reaches adulthood, you can gradually decrease the feeding frequency to around 3 meals per week. While the number of worms per meal would vary depending on the size of worms and eating habits of your gecko, on average, you can feed 3 to 4 crickets, 3 to 4 waxworms, and 2 to 3 super worms to your gecko.
|Juvenile Geckos||Every day|
|Adult Geckos||3 meals per week|
|Sickly Geckos||Every day until they get better|
Many gecko keepers love feeding their gecko, so they wonder if they can feed their Leopard gecko daily.
Well, you can feed your Leopard gecko daily, but you will have to reduce the number of worms per meal. Depending on your gecko’s life stage, metabolism, and weight gain or loss, you can feed them smaller meals every day. Similarly, if your schedule demands less frequent meals, you can simply increase the number of worms per meal by reducing the number of meals per week.
Leopard Gecko Feeding Tip!A meal of several smaller insects is better than fewer insects of larger size.
The great thing about feeding Leopard geckos is that you can always experiment. Leopard geckos have a large tail in which they store fats, and when not fed properly, they consume the fats stored in their tail to fulfill their nutritional needs. So if you feed them a little more, they will store it in their tails, and if fed a little less, they will compensate by expending some of the fats stored in their tails.
e. Leopard Gecko Feeding Chart
To make things easier for you, we have composed a Leopard gecko feeding chart by sourcing some information from Oddly Cute Pets. This chart will give you an idea about how much you should be feeding your Leopard gecko.
|Age||Length||Weight||Quantity of Food||Supplement Coating||Frequency|
|Hatchling||3 inches||2 to 5 grams||6 insects||Each meal||Every day|
|1 month||4 inches||15 to 20 grams||8 insects||Each meal||Every day|
|3 months||5 inches||18 to 40 grams||10 insects||Each meal||Every day|
|6 months||6 inches||25 to 60 grams||12 insects||Each meal||Every day|
|9 months||7 inches||40 to 90 grams||14 insects||Twice a week||Every other day|
|1+ years||8 inches||40 to 100 grams||16 insects||Once a week||Every other day|
|18 months||10 inches||40 to 100 grams||20 insects||Once a week||Every other day|
You can take help from the above Leopard gecko feeding chart but keep in mind that much is dependent on your Leopard gecko. Overfeeding could lead to obesity in Leopard geckos, so we must be very careful about their meal size and frequency.
Healthy, well-fed Leopard geckos should have a proportionate body—not showing any bones. And it should have a healthy weight—no hip bones should be visible. If bones are visible, you should increase the number of insects per meal. Similarly, if your Leopard gecko appears to be putting on some weight, you should cut down the number of insects per meal and perhaps frequency as well.
f. How Long Can a Leopard Gecko Go Without Food?
Where adult Leopard geckos can go around 10 to 14 days without food by consuming the fats stored in their tails, young geckos have smaller amounts of fats stored in their tails so they can survive a maximum of 10 days without food.
g. Feeding Calcium Supplements to Leopard Geckos
Calcium is the most vital mineral in the Leopard gecko’s diet. A regular supply of calcium is crucial for the proper growth of geckos, especially for strong bones. Moreover, breeding females also need a regular supply of calcium supplements in captivity. Otherwise, they will be expending the calcium in their bones to develop eggs. Because of this reason, gravid Leopard geckos often suffer from calcium deficiency. You can simply avoid calcium deficiency in your gecko by providing calcium supplements—you can either coat feeder insects with calcium or can leave calcium powder in a small dish in your gecko’s tank.
Where you should coat every meal of juvenile and breeding female Leopard gecko with supplements, for adults, once a week supplement coating would be just fine.
For the proper absorption of calcium, your gecko is also going to need some level of vitamin D3 in its diet. Most commercial brands of calcium supplements have an added safe amount of vitamin D3.
How to Gut Load Crickets for Leopard Geckos?To make sure that the crickets that you are feeding your Leopard geckos are rich in desired nutrients, gut loading is practiced. In gut loading, you feed crickets nutritious food, so they become a nutritious meal for Leopard geckos.
Leopard Gecko Common Health Problems
Our Leopard geckos are overall hardy pets, and if kept with proper care—humidity and temperature are kept in normal ranges, and nutritional requirements are met—they will experience very little illness and injuries. But they still may be prone to certain diseases.
Below we have discussed some of the most common health issues that your Leopard gecko may experience.
|Digestive Tract Obstruction||Ingestion of something indigestible||Little to no eating and drinking|
Listless and unresponsive
|Calcium deficiency||Inadequate calcium in the diet||Shaking, tremors, rubbery lower jaw twisted limbs|
|Injuries from fighting||Housing two male geckos together||Tail loss, skin injuries|
|Prolapsed sexual organs||Everting of hemipenes (internal male sex organs)||Drying and necrosis requiring amputation|
|Runny or bloody stool||Bacterial infection or parasitical infestation||The stool is runny and has blood in it|
|Mouth infection||Injury or unsanitary conditions||Swelling around the mouth area|
|Respiratory infection||Too cold environment |
High levels of humidity
|Labored breathing |
Mucus bubbles on nostrils
i. Digestive Tract Obstruction
This only occurs when geckos ingest something indigestible and gets stuck in their digestive tract. This happens when geckos accidentally ingest sand or gravel while capturing prey. In this situation, your gecko would stop eating drinking and would move very little. If your pet seems to be unresponsive, you should get him to a vet.
ii. Calcium Deficiency
Though preventable, calcium deficiency is quite common among fast-growing juvenile Leopard geckos and breeding female geckos. In case of severe calcium deficiency, your gecko will experience shaking tremors, and its lower jaw will become rubbery.
If left unaddressed for a long time, your gecko may experience twisted limbs and other deformations. The best course of action is to provide calcium supplements to your Leopard geckos.
iii. Injuries From Fighting
Leopard geckos don’t do well in groups—they fight. When two male Leopard geckos are placed in the same habitat, they will fight. Sometimes, even female geckos can be seen having a dispute.
Housing Two Male Leopard Geckos is Always a Bad Idea!You should never put two or more male geckos together in an aquarium as male Leopard geckos are aggressive to geckos of the same gender. If you put them together, they would become territorial and fight, resulting in injuries.
While most gecko keepers won’t keep two males together, when juvenile, it is hard to determine their sex. So keepers often end up housing multiple males together. If you have been housing multiple juvenile Leopard geckos together, you should keep an eye if one of them is getting bullied and picked on by others. If so, you should house them in a separate tank.
Sings of a Healthy Leopard Gecko
Like most wild animals, Leopard geckos try to hide their signs of sickness as it would make them an easy target in the wild. While this would be good for geckos in the wild, this may keep them from getting optimum care in captivity. Therefore, gecko keepers must familiarize themselves with the signs of a healthy and happy gecko so that when their gecko is not healthy, they can tell.
Leopard Gecko Breeding
Just like it is quite easy to care for a Leopard gecko, it is also easy to breed them in captivity. Many people are breeding Leopard geckos as a hobby. However, before breeding Leopard geckos, you should make sure that you can provide for the Leopard gecko babies that will be hatched—you should have a plan to house all potential babies.
If you keep male and female Leopard geckos in the same tank, there might be accidental breeding. After copulation between the male and female, the female Leopard gecko would lay two eggs. Often for the first time, Leopard geckos may lay only a single egg.
After mating, you should periodically check for eggs in the egg box. If left unattended, they may get dehydrated, and the gecko growing inside won’t be able to survive. Once you have collected the eggs, incubate them for around 7 to 10 weeks.
Hot or Cold?Temperature determines the sex of gecko hatchlings. If it’s cold (around 80 degrees), hatched baby geckos will be female and if it’s hot (around 90 degrees), hatched babies will more likely be males.
Once hatched, you should not put them with adults. Instead, they should be kept in a separate tank. They will first eat the egg yolk, and within the first week, they would have shed their original skin and would be able to hunt small insects.
Interesting Facts About Leopard Geckos
- Leopard gecko species has existed for centuries but was only described in 1854 for the first time by Edward Blyth.
- Leopard geckos are the most popular pet gecko, with crested gecko being the second most popular.
- Leopard geckos are nocturnal, but in captivity, they can adapt to their owners’ daytime activity and routine.
- They are ectothermic—they cannot fully control their body temperature, and it changes with changing environmental temperature. When they get too hot, they go under rocks or in shady areas to cool down.
- They have real moveable eyelids. Some geckos don’t have eyelids at all, and some have clear (see-through) eyelids. Because of their eyelids, many recommend that they be placed in a taxonomically separate group and not geckos.
- Leopard geckos have simple hole-like ears on either side of their head. If your Leopard gecko stays still, you may be able to spot their eardrums and look even beyond that.
- Where most geckos have sticky pads on their feet, Leopard geckos have claws on their feet. They can dig animal burrows with their paws.
- Leopard geckos are clumsy climbers—they can climb, but since they don’t have sticky pads, they are not good at it.
- Export and import of wild-caught Leopard geckos is illegal in many countries, including the U.S. but not in Pakistan. Pakistan is the only country that allows the export of wild Leopard geckos.
- Leopard geckos are terrestrial lizards, and they hide in small caves, rock cervices, underneath rocks, and animal burrows.
- Male Leopard geckos can live well beyond 20 years. There is an over 27 years old male gecko still breeding.
- Leopard geckos have Jacobson’s organ in their mouth that allows them to have a special sense of taste. It is located on the roof of their mouth. They often extend their tongues out of their mouths to learn more about their environment by smelling and tasting the chemical molecules in their surroundings.
- Geckos often eat their shed skin to compensate for the nutrients and energy expended in the creation of new skin.
- Leopard geckos are born with stripes that gradually change to spotted appearance.
- Loopard geckos have around 100 teeth. But they are small and incapale of penetrating the skin even when they bite.
- They swallow their food and do not chew. They use their teeth only to hold or crush the insect if it’s large.
Leopard Geckos Tail Facts
- Fat tails of Leopard geckos act as an energy reserve (fat store), allowing them to live off it when no food is available.
- Leopard gecko often wave their tails—move it back and forth when they feel threatened. This is known as Leopard gecko tail waving.
- Leopard geckos rattle their tails just like rattlesnakes do when they are excited, looking for a mating partner, or hunting for food.
- They can self-amputate their tails. Tail loss in gecko is also called autotomy. They drop their tails to distract predators who might be onto them. This way, as the predator focuses on the tail, geckos flee away.
- After having separated from their bodies, the detached Leopard gecko’s tail continues to wriggle for as long as 30 minutes and distract the predator.
- When the threat has subsided, Leopard geckos return and eat their detached tail to compensate for the lost fat supply—they store fat in their tails.
- Some geckos may bite other geckos’ tails, bullying them to drop their tail so they can eat it.
- Leopard geckos regenerate their tail, but the new tail is never the same as the original one—they are smaller and bulbous.
- The tail of a healthy leopard should be wider than its neck. If it’s narrower, you should take your cue and take your little friend to a vet.