The Leopard Gecko, Eublepharis macularius
, comes as close to being a perfect pet as a reptile can get. No wonder it is the world's most commonly kept lizard. Leopard Geckos possess distinct personalities, accept handling readily and are easy to breed. Unlike many lizards, they do not require UVB radiation and are content with modestly sized terrariums. "Tangerine", "Jungle", "Lavender" and an array of other unique color phases have been produced. Pet Leopard Geckos have reached 20+ years of age.
Leopard Geckos are classified within their own family, Eublepharidae
, along 29 related species, including the Fat-Tailed and Banded Geckos. Leopard Gecko ears are unusual, you can look in one ear and see right out through the other!
The Leopard Gecko is found in the desert fringes and arid grasslands of South Eastern Afghanistan, Western India, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran. Its habitat is characterized by sand, gravel, rocks, tough grasses and low shrubs. In the course of the year, temperatures may range from 41-104°F.
Leopard Geckos usually take handling in stride, and rarely try to bite. However, they will defend themselves by biting if handled roughly.
Although mainly active at night, Leopard Geckos are nearly always ready for a daytime meal. Reptile night bulbs
are a great help in observing their nocturnal activities.
Setting up the Terrarium
Leopard Geckos will do fine in simple homes, but naturalistic terrariums landscaped with sand
, rocks, wood
make for stunning displays. Aloes, Ox Tongue, Snake Plants and other arid-adapted species may be used.
Leopard Geckos are not overly-active, but should be given as much room as possible. A single adult will get by in a 10 gallon aquarium, but a 15-20 gallon is preferable. A 30-55 gallon terrarium will accommodate a pair or trio.
Large enclosures are necessary to establish a thermal gradient. Thermal gradients, critical to good health, allow lizards to regulate their body temperature by moving from hot to cooler areas.
Leopard Geckos are ground-dwelling but will utilize rocks and stout driftwood. Rocks should always be placed on the terrarium's floor so that lizards cannot tunnel below and be crushed.
Air flow is important for animals native to arid habitats. Your terrarium should be equipped with a screen top
will suffice for Leopard Geckos. You can mix in some stones and dry grass to simulate a semi-desert environment. Although impactions due to swallowed sand are rare, it is best to provide food in large bowls
so that sand ingestion is limited. Gravel bits, if used, should be smooth and too large to be swallowed.
Hatchlings are clumsy hunters, and tend to swallow sand. Newspapers, paper towels or washable cage liners should be used until their skills improve. Adults can also be kept in this manner if you prefer.
Light, Heat and Humidity
Nocturnal lizards such as Leopard Geckos absorb Vitamin D3 from their diet, and do not need a UVB light source.
The ambient air temperature should range from 78-88°F. A ceramic heater
or red/black reptile night bulb
can be used to maintain these temperatures after dark. A below-tank heat mat
or heat bulb
should be positioned so that one corner of the tank is warmer (to 88°F) than the rest.
Low humidity and a dry substrate should be maintained. However, shedding problems will be likely if a cave stocked with moist sphagnum moss
is not provided. A dry hiding spot should also be available. Caves
or homemade shelters can be used.
Leopard Geckos are best housed singly. Females and youngsters sometimes co-exist, but dominant individuals may prevent others from feeding. Males will fight viciously and cannot be kept together. Pairs may get along in a large terrarium, but close monitoring is the rule.
The main portion of your Leopard Gecko's diet should not be crickets, but rather a mix of roaches, crickets, sow bugs, butter worms, waxworms, silkworms, tomato hornworms and other commercially-available invertebrates. Use super and regular mealworms sparingly, and then only newly-molted grubs.
In order to increase dietary variety, try feeding canned grasshoppers and other insects. Wild caught moths, beetles, grasshoppers and many others insects should also be offered as long as you can recognize dangerous species and avoid pesticide contaminated areas. A pink mouse may be offered every 2-4 weeks to females being readied for mating, but they are otherwise unnecessary. Fuzzies should not be used, as hair impactions may result.
Food other than pink mice should be powdered with calcium
. A vitamin mineral supplement
should be used 2-3 times each week.
Adults require 3-4 meals weekly, while juveniles should be fed on a near daily basis.
A shallow water bowl
should be available, but some individuals will prefer to lap water that has been sprayed onto terrarium furnishings.
Daily Care and Maintenance
Check your pet for signs of injury and disease. Things to look for include missing toes, mites, bite marks and white/gray patches of skin.
The eyelids of Leopard Geckos are lined with a thin layer of skin, which is replaced when shedding occurs. If conditions are overly dry, the eyelid lining may stick to the lid and be retained after shedding. Eventually, an infection will set in. The retained skin is thin, but visible, so check your gecko carefully after it sheds. Geckos so affected will blink a great deal, and may rub the area; swelling will occur if an infection takes hold. Retained eyelid liners should be attended to by an experienced veterinarian.
Daily care includes misting with water in the morning and evening and removing feces and uneaten food.
Salmonella bacteria, commonly present in reptile and amphibian digestive tracts, can cause severe illnesses in people. Handling an animal will not cause an infection, as the bacteria must be ingested. Salmonella infections are easy to avoid via the use of proper hygiene. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling any animal. Please speak with your family doctor or veterinarian for more tips on preventing Salmonella, or please read our care guide Cleaning and Disinfecting Recommendations
for additional instructions.
When it comes to your new pet, knowledge is the best way to choose an appropriate addition to your family. Learn as much as you can about your new friend before you bring him home to ensure your pet enjoys a long, healthy life.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our reptile room at 717-299-5691 ext. 1246 or [email protected]