Leopard Gecko Care Sheet
Looking for a gecko that is as pretty as it is easy to care for? confused about how to take care of it? I have compiled a Leopard Gecko Care Sheet so you can easily know all the essentials for your new family member.
So what is a Leopard Gecko? known as the Common Leopard Gecko due to the fact that they are the most popular geckos in the world. This is because of their cute appearance. They are also the only geckos to have eyelids which is what makes them look cuter.
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Leopard Gecko Basics:
The scientific name for the leopard gecko is Eublepharis Macularius. The term Eublepharis is Greek for Good Eyelid, pointing at their unique trait while the word Macularis comes from Latin meaning spots, which is a direct reference to their spotted bodies.
The natural habitat of the Leopard Gecko is rocky, dry grassland and desert. They mostly prefer places with little humidity and loads of insects so they eat, relax (and pee?). They are naturally found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and India.
These animals are cathermal reptiles which means they are more active during dawn and dusk. They don’t prefer temperatures that are too hot or too cold.
These animals are solitary and are not found with members of their own species. They also undergo brumation to escape hot or cold temperatures.
Where Can You Find Them In Captivity?
In captivity, leopard geckos can be found in pet stores, reptile shows and even on the Internet. They are the first lizards to be tamed, hence they are very popular. Their eyelids give them a sort of pretty look which has proven to be quite popular with kids.
You can find rare looking geckos at a collector’s market too, where they usually sell at very high prices due to their unique features.
Roughly How Much Do They Cost?
Leopard geckos can range from $20 all the way to $300. They are usually cheaper when found in pet stores and online. However, chances are they were not bred correctly or were not cared for properly.
You want a gecko that will live for longer. This is only possible with reputable and professional breeders. However, these will be pricey. You can also get rare geckos at auctions, however, their prices are normally sky-rocketing.
How Long Do They Typically Live For?
Most leopard geckos live a long life when compared to other reptiles. They can live anywhere from 6-10 years. However, when taken care of properly, they can reach even 20 years.
Caring for A Leopard Gecko:
What Is The Best Size Vivarium?
To consider the size of the vivarium, you should probably consider the size of the geckos first. Most adult females range from 7 to 8 inches while the males measure anywhere from 8 to 10 inches and few can even reach a foot.
So, you might consider a 10-gallon tank for a single leopard gecko while for two, you can use a 20-gallon one.
If you use tanks that are too small, they might not be able to get a proper temperature gradient along the tank. Also, the geckos might not be able to get enough space for exercise.
However, if you were to get a larger tank, that would mean that the gecko can easily stray away from the warmer side. It could also mean that your tank would have cold spots that can prove to be a danger to the gecko.
You can use a cage as well. However, ensure that the cage is about 1 foot tall. And that it has a secure screen at the top for a lighting fixture. Also, ensure that your tank is well-ventilated.
What Is The Ideal Heating Conditions?
The leopard geckos need about 88 to 90 degrees F in the day and about 70-80 degrees F during the night. The ambient air temperature in the place where they have been housed should not be lesser than 73 degrees F.
If the temperatures are too cold, they might not be able to survive. At colder temperatures, most lizards tend to get inactive and if it gets below 50 degrees F, they might freeze to death.
At too hot temperatures, the geckos might get dehydrated. This means that they need a moderate environment where they can survive easily.
One major reason is that these leopard geckos are cold-blooded. This means that their body temperature changes with the temperature of the environment.
So, this is why the temperature and heating are so important. Also, you need to ensure that your heating devices are at one corner of the tank.
This would develop a temperature gradient across the tank where one end of the tank would be hot and the other would be colder. So, the gecko can choose for itself.
Do They Need UV Lighting And Heat Lamps?
You can use a heating pad or a tape underneath the tank for the best heating conditions. These are available at any kind of pet stores. Be sure to put this at only one corner of the tank.
As we explained before this creates a temperature variation and the gecko can choose the best-suited temperature for its body.
Do not use heat rocks as they can become too hot and geckos can often burn themselves on it. Since leopard geckos are nocturnal creatures, they do not need specific UV lighting to bask under.
However, to help them distinguish between night and day, you can use a low wattage lamp hung above the cage. Turn this on for only 12 hours a day.
If you do choose for a UV light, ensure that you place a 2 to 5 percent UVB bulb. This is necessary for making Vitamin D for their body. If you do not, then do remember to feed them calcium supplements.
What Items Do They Need In Their Tank, Substrates, Etc?
One of the most important things when keeping a leopard gecko is imitate its natural environment as much as you can. TO do this, you will need to provide the gecko with a ton of hiding places.
This includes placing logs, rocks, cliffs, and even a pile of pebbles through which it could scurry and hide. You should also include low plants with strong and sturdy branches for climbing.
Of course, you can try for natural plants. However, they call for some extra maintenance so you
might want to stick with plastic ones that are non-toxic.
Another thing you might need is a substrate to maintain the humidity and temperature inside the tank. However, ensure that the substrate is natural, otherwise, your lizard could swallow it and go through a process called impaction.
This means that the substance cannot be dissolved by the stomach and eventually blocks the passage. So, using sand and beech wood would not be recommended.
You can use newspaper, flat stones, mulch, grains etcetera as a substrate. Also, do not use any commercial soils as those might be loaded with pesticides and fertilizers that may harm your gecko.
What Do Leopard Geckos Actually Eat?
Geckos are insectivores and love to munch on crickets. They do not eat plants or veggies as they can upset their stomachs. They normally east invertebrates such as mealworms and crickets. You can also use waxworms or super worms.
They normally need a protein-rich diet. You can try gut loading your insect (click here to see how and why you should be gut-loading superworms). This means you can feed them with a nutritious protein powder and then feed It to your gecko a day later. These can include chickpea powder etcetera.
This ensures that your gecko gets as much protein as possible. You can further dust your insects with calcium or other supplements to ensure that your gecko does not become deficient. Simply place the dusting powder in a bag and place the insect with it. Shake them gently to coat the insects with the powder.
You can also place open powder in a dish as geckos are known to eagerly lick up the powder.
However, ensure that you do not dust too much. Talk to an expert about what the right serving size of these powders is. Feed them every one day. An adult sized gecko should normally eat double the amount of insects as his size (in inches).
If the geckos are juvenile, they should be fed every other day so as to complete their nutrition.
Can Leopard Gecko's Swim?
Leopard geckos, like any other geckos, cannot swim! This is because they have no other breathing mechanisms and are not accustomed to holding their breaths. You might see a tonne of videos showing them how to swim. But these are mostly shallow water.
The water bowl should be very shallow as well. If not, they could end up accidentally drowning themselves. However, in cases there is impaction or the gecko is shedding their skin, you want to put them in a bath as it can often ease the whole process. All you have to do is take a shallow water dish with warm water. Ensure that the water is not too hot, nor too cold. It should be just mild.
Hold the gecko by its back and dip it gently into the water. Ensure you do not put them in too deep. Just dip them until their shoulders. You can even try creating soaps with gentler reaction to help geckos in shedding their skins.
Where Is The Best Place To Get Them?
Since the leopard gecko is wildly popular due to its beautiful eyes and vibrant colors, they are available in a wide variety of pet shops all across the US and many different countries. These pet store leopard geckos are already tamed, hence they will be easier to deal with. However, we still recommend buying from a very reputable breeder as they know how to care for them and can teach you as well.
You can buy baby geckos as well, but keep in mind that they are much harder to deal with than adult geckos. They require extra attention and any accidents can cause the pet its life. Also note that although they might be tamed, they are still not prepared for your touch. You need to make them accustomed to your touch and socialize with them. This can down by allowing the gecko to run over your hands 5-6 times a day. Do not grab it until after 5-6 days have passed.
If you do not follow the process, you gecko might become stressed.
Are There Any Known Health Problems That They May Develop?
Yes, there are a number of health conditions that can land your pet with the vet. One of the most serious conditions is Metabolic Bone Disease. This can happen due to the deficiency of Calcium and Vitamin D. This is why even though you do not come out in sunlight, they still need a UVB lamp at lower powers to fulfill their Vitamin D Needs. They can be a result of not providing your pet with not enough or no Calcium supplements at all. This disease can cause spine and limb deformities which can cause them a lot of pain.
They are also known to be a victim of gastroenteritis which is a bacterial infection. The common symptoms are watery stools and a shrunken tail. It can be fatal, however, it is easily treated if caught early.
They can also develop dysecdysis which can be due to insufficient moisture or undernourishment. They can get a dry skin which will affect their vision and their shedding period.
Furthermore, they are known to be prone to different respiratory infections. Most common symptoms are wheezing or mucus bubbling around the nose. In this case, take your pet gecko to a vet immediately.
Can Leopard Geckos Live Together (Sharing A Tank)?
As with all other geckos, a male and female pair can live quite happily together with as little fights as possible. Similarly, female geckos can be housed together as well as male and multiple females.
However, do note in that these cases, the male will mate with the females and they might become egg bound and lay their eggs. If you do not want to breed your leopard geckos, ensure that you provide a separate tank for them.
For males, you might be able to keep them together. However, there is a very real chance that they continue to fight over territorial disputes. A common way to find out whether they are intimidated by each is other ‘tail waving’.
Most leopard geckos wave their tail when they feel threatened and are about to attack. Separate them instantly or they might bite each other.
Whatever the case, if you are keeping two leopard geckos together, ensure that there is sufficient space. If you do get hatchlings, separate them right away as the adults might harm them.
What Is Their Behavior Like?
You need to tame the gecko before you can start handling them. Otherwise, they might be too intimidated and try to run away. These are normally nocturnal and ground dwelling.
They are mostly inactive and easy to tame. These geckos do not climb walls. They do not bite and move very slowly. They tend to be vocal too. This is a great way to communicate with them as they can easily tell you when they’re hungry.
Leopard geckos are tail rattlers as well. If they rattle their tails, this either means that they are excited and want to eat or mate. You should never hold them by their tails as they can self-amputate if you touch them. This is because they are extremely defensive animals and usually use this method to protect themselves from any predators.
Are They Good Pets For Beginners?
Leopard geckos make for exceptionally good pets for beginners as they are easy to care for and do not require a lot of attention. They are also docile and you can easily handle them. They do not bite unless provoked.
This is why kids love them so much. With other geckos, you cannot pick them up because they are either too sensitive or they bite if picked up. These are the perfect lizards for beginners.
All in all, leopard geckos are extremely popular (Click to see if they are good for kids pets) in the reptile community. Ask anyone and they will surely say they started off with a leopard geckos. They make great pets for beginners and you can pick them up and play with them, without harming them. We hope you are ready for your first ever gecko!
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