Take the right approach to leopard gecko care will ensure that your
gecko lives a long and healthy life. Never house two male geckos
together since they will fight. When two Geckos are put together, make
sure they are the same size. When a male and female are put together,
there is a high likelihood that they will breed. The Gecko will
grow to an easily managed 10" in length and are recommended for
children age 10 and higher with adult supervision.
Leopard Gecko's are considered one of the best lizards for new
herpetoculturists (lizard enthusiasts). When bred in captivity and
handled by humans as a baby, they will eventually get used to being
handled without becoming stressed. The lizard's are nocturnal, but will
become diurnal or awake during the daytime if frequently handled during
the day. Leopard Gecko care is relatively easy given their small in
size. They are also is relatively inexpensive to care for
when compared to the costs of maintaining other lizards.
Leopard Gecko Care Begins When
Selecting the Pet in the Store. They are the Perfect Lizard for
Source: Best West Pet Foods
Buying a Leopard Gecko
Geckos can be purchased at Reptile Expos, From Breeders or from a local
Pet Store. We do not recommend capturing a Gecko in the wild since they
are not used to being in captivity. Geckos in the wild are also
more likely to have lizard health problems.
If buying a Gecko from a pet store, an easy way to check health is to
ask the clerk to drop a live cricket into the cage. Buy the lizard that
walks over and eats the cricket.
Signs of good health include:
Runs around the cage
No discharge around the nose or eyes
No skin or gums swelling
No red marks (sign of malnutrition)
How Long will a Leopard Gecko Live?
With proper Leopard Gecko care, the lizard will live as long as
20 - 27 years in captivity. The average Leopard Gecko lifespan is 19 to
Daily Leopard Gecko Care Checklist
The easiest way to remember a pet leopard gecko care routine is to
make a checklist. Daily tasks include:
Provide clean fresh water
Mist the gecko cage
Leopard Gecko Cage
The leopard gecko comes from a desert environment where it is used to
living in a low humidity environment with features such as rocks and
small crevices as hiding places. When decorating a gecko terrarium,
consider the natural environment when choosing any furniture, decor and
substrates. Since a desert is a simpler environment, items in a gecko
cage can be kept to a bare minimum while still providing the required
level of leopard gecko care.
The habitat should be a 10, 15, 20 gallon or 30 gallon cage (30 in. x
12 in. wide x 12 in. wide). Double the size for two Geckos. Some
pet stores recommend a 10 gallon minimum, but since this type of lizard
tends to stay on the ground, more room is better than less.
Leopard Gecko cages can be simple or fully decorated. For example, one
Gecko can be kept in a 10 gallon terrarium with paper on the floor.
Substrates: The preferred gecko cage substrates are materials that cannot be ingested (avoid
ground walnut shells, corn cobs, alfalfa, sand) or that will cause eye
damage. Suggestions include:
old bath towels
Furniture and Decor: A typical
setup will include small climbing limbs, and two hide boxes. Place one
hide box in the hotter end of the cage and one in the cooler end.
Inside the reptile hide box on the warmer end, place vermiculite or
damp peat moss mix inside to aid shedding. If using a smaller 10 gallon
tank there may only be room for one hide box. The hide box should
be kept moist via daily water spraying. If only one box, place it at
the center of the lizard cage.
Water: Providing fresh clean water is an important part of your leopard gecko care routine. A shallow water bowl
that is not easily tipped should be provided, with the water changed
every day. Do not clean the water bowl with anti-bacterial soap to
avoid harming your lizard. Mist the cage (avoid cold water) to
encourage the drinking of water droplets. Water also helps the
Gecko to shed.
Leopard Gecko Cage Temperature:
Lizard basking area
72F - 80F (22C - 27C)
Heat Source: To warm the
basking area, a thin heat mat is recommended. Avoid hot rocks
(heated rocks) since these can burn and harm the Gecko.
Lighting: Geckos do not need
UV lighting like other types of lizards since they are nocturnal. To
observe these nocturnal lizards consider a red or black light.
Keep the gecko cage out of the direct sunlight or any cold drafts.
Potted Plants: Plants can add
to the look of any gecko terrarium. Be sure to check with the pet store
to make sure they are safe for your gecko. Popular plants are snake
plants and fig plants. These have leaves that can withstand
climbing by the gecko.
Leopard Gecko Care and Cage
Remove any visible feces every day. Geckos are clean creatures and like
to go to the bathroom in the same spot every day. Once you identify the
spot, one tip is to place paper towel over the spot. This way
feces and urine can be easily absorbed by the paper and disposed
of. See below for information on hatchings.
Leopard Gecko Diet
Like other aspects of Leopard Gecko care,
feeding is also a straight forward process. This lizard is an
insectivore, which means that the primary source of
nutrition are insects. As a nocturnal lizard the best time for feeding
is at night. Babies or juveniles require two small feedings.
It is best that the type of insect is varied, which can include
crickets, waxworms, waxmoth larvae, locusts, mealworms and night
crawlers. The preferred approach is to only feed crickets or mealworms,
and when an adult, provide an occasional wax worm. The wax worm has
lower nutritional value since they are fatty. Gut load any crickets or
other insects (feed the insects) no more than 24 hours before they are
fed to your gecko to maximize the nutritional value of the insect.
Supplements area an important component of Leopard Gecko care. Provide a calcium powder and vitamin supplement for added
nutrition. This is needed since the insect diet doesn't provide all of the required
nutrients. The supplement can be provided in a dish or bottle cap low enough for
the gecko to lick the powder.
The lizard will learn the Leopard Gecko care routine, and will learn to come running at dinner time each night.
Leopard Gecko Skin Shedding
The Gecko will shed 4 times per year. Don't be surprised if the lizard
eats the shed skin. Sometimes the shed skin does not immediately
fall from the toes. This is normal and will dry out in a few
days. Soaking the feet in warm water at the end of the shedding
cycle will help the skin to fall off.
Do not handle the lizard until it grows to 6
inches in length. Be careful when handling a Gecko since dropping them
can cause injury.
Introduce a Gecko to being handled slowly. At first, simply touch the
Gecko with a finger when the lizard is inside the tank. Then scoop it
up and when on the floor of a room, allow the Gecko to climb through
the fingers and over the hand. In about a week the Gecko will get
used to being handled.
The Leopard Gecko tail can break off. It it does, don't panic as
it will grow back in about 40 days.
Leopard Gecko Breeding
Leopard Geckos are one of the easiest lizards to breed. Geckos being
bred should be fed crickets every other day. Provide added calcium and
vitamin D3 supplement in a corner of the habitat in a shallow dish so
that it is accessible to the gecko and can be consumed as needed.
Females can be bred after age 9 to 10 months. In nature, Geckos
breed from January to September. To stimulate breeding, after a female
is one year old, gradually cool the gecko cage to 74F to 78F for a 4 to
6 week period. About 10 days before the lower temperatures, do
not feed the geckos to allow the gastrointestinal system to clear. Only
provide clean water. This cooling will stimulate a hibernation period.
If you observe any signs of illness, such as a puffed out pouch at the
throat, then slowly warm the gecko and stop the breeding procedure.
After you complete the cooling period, over a few days slowly raise the
temperature back up. Once normal temperatures are restored, resume feeding.
This will signal to the gecko that it is time to breed.
To be sure that a female gecko has eggs, turn the lizard upside down.
The eggs should be visible to the naked eye through the skin vent on
the sides of the body. When you see eggs, be sure to put in place the
When a male and female are together, the male will go through a ritual
which involved waving the tail. After eggs are deposited in the egg
box, cover the shoe box, plastic Tupperware or plastic cup, adding pin
sized air holes. Separate the eggs by 1/2 inch each, slightly
burying them into the moist substrate. If the eggs are not smooth, then
the water content of the substrate is too low. It is important to
make sure that the egg box does not get dry.
Leopard Gecko egg incubation lasts for 35 to 89 days. Interestingly,
cage temperature will affect the sex of the gecko babies.
80F-86F degrees results in mostly females
88F and higher results in more males
85F-88F results in a mix of sexes
Hatchling Leopard Gecko Care
Raise any hatchlings separate from the parents in a 12" x 6" x 4" cage.
They need to be kept separate until they grow to 7". The gecko cage
temperature in the heated and hide box size of any habitat should be
90F. Cooler areas should be 73F. Keep the substrate simple such as
paper towels. Baby leopard gecko food is 1 inch mealworms. Place
5 to 10 in a jar lid every other day.
Leopard Gecko Health and Diseases
Any time you notice unexplained changed in your pet lizard, go to an
experienced veterinarian for the needed Leopard Gecko care. You can ask
our Vet a question for free, or
if you can't wait at least a week for an answer, we suggest this online
veterinary service that is available 24 hours a day. Visit
to find an experienced lizard veterinarian in your neighborhood.
Note that a Gecko can go without food for weeks. Be sure the Leopard
Gecko is drinking and eating. Before, provide a place for the female to
lay her eggs. This should be a shoe box or even a cut out plastic
solo cup covered with a substrate such as vermiculite or perlite. Make
sure the material is moistened with water equal to the weight of the
After copulation takes place, eggs will be laid 16 to 22 days later.
Groupings of eggs are called a clutch. Each clutch will get
larger in size over time. Each female gecko can produce 80 to 100 eggs
over their lifespan.
Signs of gecko illness include:
Loss of appetite
Swollen skin or gums
Discharge from the nose or eyes
Leopard Gecko Care Health Related Problems and Solutions
Low Energy, Lethargic
Check thermometer. If
temperature is below 75F (24C) adjust heat levels.
Moisture, No rubbing objects in
Gently soak lizard body in warm
water. Provide rocks in gecko cage for lizard to rub against
Cold temperature, illness,
doesn't like food
Check temperature. Try a
different food. Visit veterinarian to check for illness.
See a veterinarian.
Swollen limbs, deformities, lethargy
MIneral and vitamin deficiency
See a veterinarian.
Labored breathing, bubbles around mouth and nose
Check cage temperature. Consult veterinarian.
Leopard Gecko health concerns include digestive tract problems that
come from ingested obstructions, mouth infection caused by poor cage
hygiene and respiratory infections that are from a gecko cage that is
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