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Leopard Gecko

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Contents

Taxonomy

Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Genus: Eublepharis
Species: Macularius

Introduction

Photo of Fiona by Quig
Photo of Fiona by Quig

Leopard geckos are commonly yellow and white with black spots. Baby geckos start out with a stripped pattern that changes into spot as they mature. Never pickup or grab a leopard gecko by its tail as it will break off.

Before buying your leopard gecko it is advisable to make sure you have all the necessary supplies setup and ready.

Difficulty

Leopard geckos are a great beginner gecko. They are friendly, and require smaller enclosures then some other lizards. They are fairly simple to care for, but do have specific heating needs.

Basic Info

Size

They can reach 8-10 inches in length

Lifespan

With proper care and nutrition, a leopard gecko can live 20 years or longer. The average lifespan in captivity is generally between 15-20 years.

Handling

Do not pick up your gecko from above, this tends to startle them and they will run for it or sometimes even bite. The best way to pick up a leopard gecko is to get it walk onto your hand and lift it up that way. Always be careful not to grab them by the tail, it will break off.

Housing

Either an aquarium or terrarium should be used. The rule of thumb is one gecko per ten gallons of tank. Even with this rule, a ten gallon tank is not recommended for an adult leopard gecko. A 20 gallon long or larger would better suite an adult.

Only one male gecko should be housed per a tank. Multiple females can be housed together. Housing a male and female together will often create stress on the female as the male will constantly pick on her to mate. Leopard geckos mate easily in captivity, so avoid housing a male and female together unless you are willing to deal with breeding and incubating the eggs. A moist hide, a small container with moss or dirt misted daily, helps with shedding. You'll also need a shallow water dish, food bowl, and a calcium bowl.

Substrate

Paper towels, reptile carpet, ceramic tile, or slate are all good choices of substrate. Avoid loose substrate, like sand, as it creates a risk of impaction. Leopard Geckos will often eat the substrate while hunting food, and the substrate is not always digested.

Temperature

You should setup the tank so one side is the "cold" side and the opposite side is the "warm" side. A heat pad should be affixed to the underside of the "warm" side of the tank. Verify the floor of the "warm" side is 88-90 F. A temperature controller is recommended to avoid burning the gecko. Heat rocks or similar products should not be used. They do not heat evenly and can easily burn the gecko.

Humidity

The main environment of a leopard gecko should contain no humidity. They are from dry, arid climates.

A moist hide, which consists of a hide (such as a Tupperware container with a hole cut in it) filled with dampened moss. This is used to aid in shedding.

Lighting

Lighting is not necessary as Leopard Geckos are nocturnal and do not bask in the sun.

Feeding

Diet

Crickets or mealworms are the suggested diet for a leopard gecko. Waxworms are considered a treat and should be feed sparingly. Adult geckos, especially breeding females, can be fed a pinkie mice occasionally. Adults are also large enough to consume superworms, phoenix worms, and other larger species. Blaptica Dubia Roaches are also a good option, and unlike crickets, they don't make any noise. When selecting crickets a rule of thumb is the cricket should be half the size of the gecko's head or smaller. It is recommend to gut load the crickets to provide more nutritional value.

Supplements

Supplements added to the worms and crickets is also recommend. You can coat the mealworms, crickets, etc with calcium by placing them in a bag with a small amount of calcium to dust them. D3 can also be used as a supplement, but should not be used for every feeding, as too much D3 is a problem. Make sure you remove any uneaten food by the end of the day. Insects will sometimes pick on the gecko while it is sleeping, chewing away at their feet or other tender areas.

Advanced

Sexing

Male geckos are larger and have a line of small pores on their belly between their back legs. Females are smaller and lack the pores. The sex can't be determined until the gecko is 5-6" in length. However most leopard geckos sold is stores are females.

Male
Male
Female
Female

Conclusion

References

Websites

Books

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Author

This article was originally written by rwagoner. View other articles by rwagoner. Please note that others may have contributed to this article.

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