The Leopard Gecko is a popular choice of pet reptile because of its gentle nature, longevity, and ease of care. These solitary lizards require an enriching environment that includes a spacious enclosure with few places to hide and access to fresh food and water. Their natural habitat consists of rocky terrain in the desert that should be replicated inside their terrariums. The following tips to care for your pet Leopard Gecko look into the ideal habitat, handling, diet, and behavior of these fascinating creatures.
The Leopard Gecko’s name is derived from the dark spots and bands that cover its body. Pet Leopard Geckos are great for kids and are found in distinct color morphs, from white and orange to dark brown and albino. These small lizards grow between 8 and 11 inches and have thick tails and moderately plump bodies. An interesting fact about Leopard Geckos is their ability to drop their tails when they encounter a threat known as autotomy.
Behavior and Handling
The placid temperament of the Leopard Gecko makes these reptiles easy to tame. Gentle handling will help to socialize these small lizards but should be kept to a minimum to avoid stress. They are vocal creatures known to call when hungry and rattle their tails during the breeding season. Leopard Geckos live solitary lives, only pairing to mate. Hobbyists usually keep males in their own enclosures to avoid aggression.
Choosing a Pet Leopard Gecko
When choosing a pet Leopard Gecko look for clear eyes, discharge-free nostrils, and wide tails. Watery and foamy nostrils, and gasping are signs of respiratory infection in lizards, requiring veterinary care and treatment. Geckos should be plump, but their abdomens should not touch the surface while walking, as this is a sign that they are overweight.
A variety of waxworms, mealworms, silkworms, and small grasshoppers are suitable for Leopard Geckos. As an insectivore, geckos feed on live insects and do not consume vegetables or fruit. Adult geckos are fed every alternate or third day, compared to juveniles, which require daily feeding. A shallow dish of fresh water allows the small reptiles to safely immerse themselves while improving the humidity inside the tank.
The grasslands and rocky habitats of Pakistan, India, Iran, Afghanistan, and Nepal are where Leopard Geckos are found in the wild. They use small caves and burrows to retreat to when under threat. You can recreate its natural environment by including rocks and branches for hiding and climbing.
Setting Up a Tank for Leopard Geckos
A tank for a Leopard Gecko must be a minimum of 24 inches long and 12 inches deep. It requires good ventilation to prevent the growth of bacteria. Arrange the decor in the tank to provide enough space for geckos to move around. Do not use sandy substrates, as geckos consume the small particles and suffer from intestinal obstructions. Preferred substrates consist of special carpets for lizards, topsoil, and excavator clay or wood chips. Position the terrarium away from drafts and add a secure cover to stop them from making their way out of the tank.
Plants for a Leopard Gecko Tank
Adding live plants to a gecko’s terrarium provides protection when they want to hide while replicating their natural habitat. Real plants will improve the humidity levels inside the terrarium and serve as a beautiful choice of decor. Plants that are safe for Leopard Geckos include spider plants, elephant bushes, and aloes. Keep vegetation neat and trimmed so that it doesn’t take up too much space.
Temperature and Lighting
The ideal temperature for keeping a pet Leopard Gecko is around 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening. A reliable heat source, such as UV lighting, can help these spotted reptiles regulate their body temperature. Leopard Geckos are most active when the sun goes down, but despite being nocturnal creatures, they require some UV light exposure. Incandescent lights recreate sunlight and offer basking time for these cold-blooded animals.
A Leopard Gecko enclosure requires frequent cleaning to prevent the formation of harmful bacteria. Feces should be removed daily, and water dishes wiped clean to eliminate algae. Perform deep cleaning 2 to 3 times a month by removing the substrate and disinfecting the glass of the tank. Geckos don’t require frequent bathing, but to help them shed, you can soak them in slightly warm water for 10 minutes. This process can be performed once a week, as it softens the skin.
Caring for Pet Leopard Geckos
Provided with a live insect diet and a clean environment, these beautifully spotted reptiles can reach 15 to 20 years of age. Leopard Geckos are gentle-natured, making them easy to handle and interesting to watch as they explore their terrariums. Creating an enriching habitat that is representative of their natural surroundings will reduce stress and make for happy and healthy geckos.