What is it about the leopard gecko that makes many people fall in love with this curious reptile? Its beauty? The simplicity of its care? Or maybe it’s the sociability that results with human beings? We tell you everything you need to know about these adorable geckos.
Types of Leopard Geckos
The leopard gecko, in its natural habitat, is usually yellow and white, stained with black spots. Once adopted as a mascot, breeders dedicated themselves to obtaining new, much more colorful, and less common patterns and colors known as morphs or phases. Today there are more than 100 types of morphs of leopard geckos, which include virtually all shades of the rainbow.
Normal & High Yellows
Giant & Super Giant Morphs
Hypo/Hyper Melanistic Morphs
What is a leopard gecko?
The leopard gecko is a nocturnal ground-dwelling reptile. Is native from desert areas of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and northern India. Its scientific name is Eublepharis Macularius, and it is one of the most popular exotic reptiles, due to its beautiful coloration and gentle temperament.
In the wild, these beautiful creatures thrive in extreme environments. They live in deserts and dry grasslands, with rocky terrain and extreme temperatures as their natural habitat. These reptiles have adapted to their harsh living conditions. They have become nocturnal animals, spending most of their day in caves, cracks, or underground and at night they go out to look for food. To protect themselves from the cold desert nights, they usually burrow and enter a state of semi-hibernation. In the wild, they live in colonies of between 50 and 100 individuals.
The Leopard gecko is a small animal. Baby Leopard Geckos are 3 to 4 inches long. After 5 or 6 months, they become juveniles. At this stage, the male is usually bigger, with a wider head, making easy the sexing task. The adult leopard gecko usually gets between 8 and 10 inches and weighs between 1,8 and 2,7 oz. The exception of the rule is the giant bloodline. In their supergiant trait, they can reach a foot long.
How does a Leopard gecko usually behave?
This nocturnal gecko that lives on the ground is usually obedient and simple to domesticate. They do not have sticky pads on their toes, so they do not scale walls. Also in contrast to other geckos, they do have eyelids.
If you have more than one leopard gecko pet on a terrarium, watch out for the possibility of wagging their tails. This means they feel threatened. If this happens, you need to separate them immediately. Leopard geckos also rattle their tails, like rattlesnakes. The crunching of the tail means that your leopard gecko is angry, or hungry. And like many other lizards, when they feel at risk, leopard geckos can self-cut their tail as a defense mechanism. It would be rare to see this in captivity, but it is one of the peculiar behaviors you can see in a leopard gecko.
These reptiles are docile, move slowly, are not prone to biting, and are easy to tame. They are very eloquent, especially when they are hungry. The most common warning signs and stresses are the hiss of the tail and the small scream they emit. This means that a leopard gecko feels threatened and is about to attack. The leopard geckos are very territorial, you should not accommodate two males in the same terrarium. They can bite each other and cause serious injuries and even kill the opponent.
How long does a Leopard gecko live?
Leopard geckos have been raised in captivity in the United States for over 35 years. They are one of the most popular pet lizards today. Leopard geckos are long-lived pets compared to other animals. On average, you can expect your gecko to live 6 to 10 years. Life expectancy for males is usually double that of females, with males lasting 10 to 20 years. This is due to the wear and tear the female leopard gecko suffers when laying her eggs in contrast. Males have much more vitality, in size, patterns, colors, and fertility. There is evidence of males reproducing after the age of 15 years.
How do you know if a Leopard gecko is male or female?
To find out if a leopard gecko is male or female, it is recommended to wait until they are at least 6 months old or have reached 5 inches. Then you should look at the gecko’s genitals. Male leopard geckos have two distinct bulges behind their vent on both sides of the base of the tail. This is where the male reproductive organs are located. These bulge house two penises inside the sides of the tail and pop out on either side of the vent during breeding.
But other guidelines help you know the sex of the gecko.
Male leopard geckos have a very distinct v-shaped row in front of their vent, called pre-anal pores. It is the opening that the fecal matter comes out of. Females have a similar row of very small pores but they are barely noticeable.
For example, females are usually small and duller in color, while males have a larger body and brighter colors. Males tend to be more aggressive and territorial than females.
The Terrarium, how does it have to be?
The terrarium, the home of your leopard gecko, can’t be just any old thing. You have to buy a terrarium that is of good quality, after all, it will be where the reptile lives for the rest of its life.
Let’s start with the size. It is often said that “the bigger the better”, but there is also no reason to “go for the big one”. For a couple, for example, the terrarium would have to be 24 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 12 inches high (20-gallon terrarium). So for the case of a single terrarium, it should be 20 inches long and 12 inches high, 10 inches wide (10-gallon terrarium). But the best thing is that it should be one designed for two geckos because that way the leopard gecko has enough space to explore. Also, terrariums always have accessories and decorations inside, so the tank ends up being small.
The shape of the terrarium is just as important as the size. It should not be square, as leopard geckos do not climb. A low rectangular terrarium maximizes the useful area and saves us some money. It should also not be a cheap terrarium, as they are mostly made of plastic, are not very durable, and do not keep the temperature well. So, the best option is a rectangular terrarium with glass walls and metal top mesh.
The terrarium should have a front door for easy and safe water, food, cleaning, and maintenance. The feeders should be solid to prevent them from being knocked over. With water it would be the same, buying a rock-shaped dispenser where the animal can drink at will.
There is a lot of debate about the substrate to be used in Leopard gecko cages. Under no circumstances should you use sand or any other loose substrate that can be ingested. This can cause shock and death to our pets.
What should you put in the leopard gecko’s tank?
Terrarium Substrate: there is a wide variety of substrates available for terrariums that house leopard geckos. By no means use loose substrates. You should not use sand since the leopard geckos will swallow it when they are chasing their insects, or instinctively when they need to ingest calcium. This will always cause health problems.
On the other hand, a good substrate should be easy to clean, affordable, and durable. Reptile breeders use paper towels, cardboard, anti-slip ceramic tiles, and reptile carpets.
Hides: leopard geckos spend most of their day in their hiding places, so their cage contains at least two burrows or hiding places. It is wise to place them in the area of highest and lowest temperature so that the leopard gecko can choose the shelter according to its needs.
These hiding places can be easily constructed by making non-transparent plastic plates or deli buckets with one or two openings. If you intend to build the hideouts yourself with stones, make sure they are well bonded with silicone.
Moist hides: All geckos shed their skin, you can tell because their body is dark in color. In the case of young geckos, they shed their skin several times a year. As adults, they do so less frequently. Breeders often help the skin to shed by using moist skin. They are easy and inexpensive to do. All they need is a plastic pot that opens a hole wide enough for the leopard gecko to enter. Wet towels (not saturated with water) are placed inside. Make sure the edges of the opening are not sharp to prevent damage to the leopard gecko.
Food and water bowls: In the case of feeders and bowls for water, we will not delve much. We will only point out that these must be heavy enough so that our reptile does not bolt it. If you want you can use some ceramic bowl or if you prefer to buy some in the form of rock or other design that harmonizes with your decoration.
Terrarium heater: An important factor to take into account when adopting a reptile as a pet is a temperature and humidity. As we mentioned earlier in the Leopard Gecko facts. These animals come from desert areas and are used to temperatures between 75 and 90 ° F.
The temperature not only helps it to digest its food but also intervenes in its life cycle, inducing it to hibernate and reproduce. Another incidence of temperature can be seen in the sex of the reptiles at the time of incubation
What do leopard geckos eat?
The feeding of leopard geckos is quite important since they tend to get fat if they overfeed. On the other hand, they can get sick if they eat incorrectly, so their diet must be balanced.
Leopard geckos usually eat a mixture of insects and different types of worms of average size. These are found in the market, being the most popular crickets, mealworms, super worms, waxworms, Phoenix worms, and Butterworms. Leopard geckos are purely insectivorous. Unlike other reptiles that eat vegetables and fruits, for this gecko, live insects are essential.
To ensure that the gecko is healthy, especially during the breeding season, it is best to give it some vitamins and minerals that it may need. These can be given to them through the insects or directly in a bowl. There are many brands specially designed for these reptiles, so you should go to them.
Feeders Nutrition Chart
|Phoenix worms||18%||14%||Basic diet|
There are different criteria in this regard. Although among experienced breeders say that the juvenile gecko must feed once a day. The main reason for this is that the reptile is in full development and during this process, the food needs a constant supply of protein, vitamins, and minerals. In the case of leopard geckos fully grown, you can feed them on alternate days.
The feeding of the leopard gecko depends on the type of insect, gecko appetite, and many other variables. But independent of these factors, you must ensure that the nutritional content of the feeder is correct. For this, they must guarantee that the insect is gut loaded, at least 12 hours before supplying it.
What disease can a Leopard gecko have?
One of the most serious conditions that can affect our gecko is metabolic bone disease. Like humans, geckos get sick if they don’t get enough calcium and type D fat-soluble vitamin. Metabolic bone disease can cause painful deformities in the spine and extremities, and the animal will show little hunger and tremors.
You may have wondered why the leopard gecko doesn’t eat sometimes? Well, the gecko is also prone to gastroenteritis that comes from a bacterial infection. If your gecko has watery stools, doesn’t eat as much, or your tail shrinks, these are signs of gastroenteritis. This condition is potentially fatal but can be treated if warned early.
And like other lizards, leopard geckos that are anemic or live in a cage with deficient humidity can develop dissection. This condition, which is similar to dry skin, can affect its vision. Finally, leopard geckos are prone to a plurality of respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Wheezing or mucous bubbles near the nasal passages and mouth are a sign that your leopard gecko has breathing problems.
What should you know about breeding Leopard gecko?
Breeding leopard geckos is not a difficult task. No wonder a new breeder succeeds at the first attempt. The leopard gecko grows quickly and reaches its maturity about a year. Males males reach adults earlier than females. Females must wait for a couple of years to reproduce. The eggs are quite large and laying them can be quite difficult for a young female.
Most mating and egg-laying takes place in late winter or early spring. The male will bite the nape of the female, align its ventilation ducts, and mate with the female. Once gecko leopard reproduction has taken place, the female will proceed to lay the eggs. When she’s ready, she’ll dig a hole, place her eggs and bury them. The spread substrate is a positive sign that the gecko has laid its eggs.
Gecko leopard eggs aren’t hard. The eggs will expand and thrive. You must handle incubation and humidity properly for this to be successful. Place eggs in a two or three-inch container. Eggs should be placed underground halfway. The container can be any clear plastic container with a few holes for circulation. The substrate can be peat, sand, or vermiculite.
The medium should be moist, not wet, and you should not be able to draw water from it. The wetness of the container is essential, too much. Otherwise, the eggs develop fungus, will not grow too much, and will dry out. If the medium dries during incubation, you may need to add water.
What else do you need to know to take good care of your Leopard gecko?