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Leopard Geckos as Pets

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Leopard Geckos

Photo © 2006 Lianne McLeod

Scientific Name for Leopard Geckos:

Eublepharis macularius

Life Span:

Leopard geckos may live 20 or more years.

Size:

Leopard geckos reach approximately 8-10 inches in length.

Appearance:

Leopard geckos are commonly yellow and white with black spots (hatchlings start out more striped, and gradually change to the spotted appearance). There are several color and pattern (e.g. jungle) variations.

Habits and Temperament:

Leopard geckos are nocturnal, ground dwelling geckos that are generally docile and easy to tame. They do not have the toe pads like other geckos so do not climb as well. They do have eyelids, also unlike other geckos.

Housing for Leopard Geckos:

A 15-20 gallon tank is large enough for 2-3 leopard geckos, but there should only be one male per tank (and only keep males and females together if prepared to deal with offspring!). Half logs provide hiding and climbing space, as can commercial reptile caves and simple cardboard boxes. A damp hide box can help with shedding (a plastic container with a hole in the lid, with moist soil or moss inside).

Substrate:

Young leopard geckos shouldn't be kept on sand, as they may ingest it and suffer an intestinal blockage. Paper is absorbent and easy to change, and indoor outdoor carpet works well too. Avoid wood shavings. Whatever is used, make sure it is not being ingested along with the gecko's meals. For more on choosing substrate, the the Leopard Gecko Substrate Debate.

Light and Temperature:

Being nocturnal, leopard geckos require no special UV lighting. A regular incandescent bulb could be used to provide a basking spot, but leopard geckos probably prefer dimmer conditions so consider using a red bulb or ceramic heating element to provide the temperature gradient. Under tank heaters can also be used.
Daytime Temperature: basking spot of 88 F (31 C) with a gradient to about 75 F (around 24 C)
Night Temperature: can drop to a gradient of 70-75 F (21- 24 C)

Water:

A shallow dish of water should be provided, and cleaned very regularly.

Feeding Leopard Geckos:

Leopard geckos are insectivores: feed a variety of crickets, waxworms, meal worms (in moderation only) and even an occasional pinkie mice for adults. Insects must be gut loaded for at least 24 hours prior to feeding, and coated with a calcium/D3 supplement (every feeding for young lizards, every other feeding for adults). Feed juveniles daily (a few crickets), adults can be fed every other day (6-10 crickets).

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