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Leopard Gecko - Eublepharius macularius

Leopard Geckos are among the easiest of lizards to maintain given the proper conditions. They are native to the mid-east - Iran, Afghanistan, etc. In their native habitat, they live in deserts and arid grasslands. Leopard geckos are mostly nocturnal animals staying in hide boxes or out of site during the day. The leopard gecko has moveable eyelids and also lack the toe pads which allow other geckos to climb vertical surfaces. Leopard geckos have the ability to "lose" their tails when attacked. The tail does grow back although it is noticeable.


Average Size - Leopard gecko adults average 6 to 9 inches long

Life Span - Leopard geckos can live 10+ years

Diet - Leopard geckos are primarily insectivores. Provide a variety of insects, including crickets, small mealworms, and waxworms. Remember to "gut load" crickets a day before offering to your pet. This can be done by feeding with any of the commercial insect foods available at pet shops. You should also dust crickets or other insects about twice each week with a calcium and vitamin supplement.

Feeding - Feed juvenile leopard geckos pin-head crickets every day and provide mealworms in a small bowl; feed adults every other day. Offer enough food until they no-longer are interested - then remove all food. Remember to "gut load" crickets a day before offering to your pet.

Housing - Leopard Geckos are easily maintained. A ten gallon aquarium will adequately house a single gecko. A 20 gallon tank will house 1 male with 2 females. Never put two males together as they will fight.

Substrate - Use pelleted or mulch-type; geckos may eat their substrate; if they do, switch to something they cannot eat, like paper or astroturf, or an edible substrate such as some of the new reptile sands.

Habitat - Provide hiding areas with non-toxic plants, branches, log, and cork; keep hiding areas away from the heat source; environment should provide 50% or more humidity to promote proper shedding; mist geckos and their environment daily

- Provide a temperature gradient by placing a heat source on one end of the tank; temperature should range from 78 degrees F. to 88 degrees  F. This can be accomplished by using either an incandescent light, a ceramic heater or an electric heat pad. 

Lighting - Provide fluorescent light for 10 to 12 hours a day.  Since they are nocturnal, there is no need for full spectrum lighting - although it would not hurt.

Water - Provide a constant supply of clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water in a shallow bowl that cannot be tipped over

Recommended Supplies:

  • Habitat with secure lid
  • Substrate
  • Fluorescent light
  • Book about leopard geckos 
  • hide box
  • heating elements
  • Non-toxic plants, branches, log, and cork bark
  • Shallow water and food dishes
  • Thermometer, humidity gauge
  • Vitamin/mineral supplement 
Normal Behavior and Interaction There is little visible sexual difference between male and female leopard geckos. The male seems to have a broader head and neck than the female and their body is usually somewhat larger. However, looking at the undersides, adult males have a prominent V-shaped row of pre-anal pores while the pre-anal pores of the female are barely noticeable. Adult males also have hemipenile swellings and a wider tail base. They are nocturnal and hide under rocks or burrow into the sand during the day. Keep handling to a minimum; over handling geckos can cause them stress.

Habitat Maintenance Change water in the bowl daily and remove any droppings. Thoroughly clean the tank at least once a week: set gecko aside in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach; dry the tank and furnishings; and add clean substrate.

Grooming and Hygiene Always wash your hands before and after touching your arid gecko or habitat contents to help prevent Salmonella and other infectious diseases

Signs of a Healthy Pet:

  • Consistent behavior
  • Healthy skin
  • Clear eyes
  • Eats regularly
  • Clear nose and vent
  • Body and tail are rounded and full
Common Health Issues and Red Flags: 

  • Mucus in mouth or nose
  • Lethargic
  • Swelling
  • Labored breathing
  • Paralysis of limbs or tail
  • Abnormal feces
  • Bumps, sores or abrasions on skin
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite 

If you notice any of these signs, please contact your exotic animal veterinarian.

As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical. The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area. Even this guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet. 

Page Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 21:27 EST
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