Leopard Geckos are one of the most popular pet lizards in the pet trade today. Easy to care for and simple to house, leopard geckos make great pets, and are often a first pet reptile for many new keepers.
Trade Name(s)Leopard Gecko
Family & Scientific Name
Gekkonidae; Eublepharis macularius
Range & OriginLeopard Geckos are native to Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Iran, where they live in dry grassland and desert regions.
Adult SizeMost leopard geckos measure 8-10 inches in length at maturity, with some females approaching 12 inches.
Life SpanThe average lifespan of a leopard gecko in the pet trade is approximately 10 years, although leopard geckos can live over 20 years if properly cared for.
EnclosureLeopard geckos are very easy to house. Commonly kept in plastic bins by breeders, most owners of leopard geckos will house their lizard wards in glass enclosures, such as
Exo Terra Glass Terrariums. Standard glass aquariums with
screen tops work well, too. Josh's Frogs offers a wide array of
leopard gecko kits.
SubstrateOpinions on substrates differ greatly among keepers, and a wide range of leopard gecko appropriate substrates are available on the market. For younger animals,
cage carpet or paper towels work well. For older animals, the 2 previously listed substrates will suffice, or fine
reptile sand or
Josh's Frogs BioBedding Desert can be used to provide the leopard gecko with a more naturalistic environment. If you choose to use sand, it is important that your leopard gecko is adult sized and has access to fresh water - a small or dehydrated leopard gecko can become impacted on sand.
TemperatureLeopard geckos are desert animals, but are active primarily at night, when temperatures are cooler. At the warm end of your leopard gecko cage, aim for a temperature of 85-90F. This can easily be accomplished by using a
heat pad or
heating lamp. Ambient temperature in the enclosure should be about 75F. Temperatures should be measured closely with a
thermometer.Heating equipment should always be used in conjunction with a
thermostat. Not only will the thermostat make sure your critter is getting warm enough - it'll ensure it doesn't get too hot in case of an equipment malfunction.
Leopard geckos are not active during the day, so specialized lighting is not required. A red bulb or night heat lamp may be used as a heat source if desired (and an alternative heat source is not provided), but UVB lighting is not needed. A day/night cycle is required, but ambient room light can provide this.
In the wild, leopard geckos are solitary creatures. In captivity, they are best housed singly to avoid conflict, but can be housed in groups consisting of one male and multiple females. Young, immature leopard geckos can be housed together as long as care is taken to insure that all geckos are getting enough food.
DietLeopard geckos eat a wide variety of insects in the wild, and their diet is no different in captivity. Common staple foods are
waxworms are great treats for your pet lizard. All prey items should be dusted with a
vitamin/mineral supplement. Josh's Frogs offers both a
Leopard Gecko Feeder Bundle and a
Leopard Gecko Supplement Bundle to make feeding your leopard geckos easy!
Mealworms are a common staple food for captive Leopard Geckos.
Keeping leopard geckos clean is a simple task. Spot clean your leopard gecko's enclosure daily. If paper towel is used, replace it completely at least twice a week. Cage carpet should be cleaned once a week. Reptile Sand should be sifted with a sand sifter frequently, and replaced every couple/few months. A 5% bleach/water solution works well as a disinfectant. If this is used, rinse well with water and allow the enclosure to air dry.
HandlingLeopard geckos can be a bit nervous when young, but quickly settle down into easily handled pet lizards. Handle new purchased infrequently, in order to allow your new pet to settle into it's new environment. Ensure you support the gecko's entire body, and never pick it up by the tail. Leopard geckos can easily drop their tail when they feel threatened. Tails will quickly be regrown, but the resulting replacement will never look quite the same as the original tail. Additionally, leopard geckos store fat in their tail - loosing this can put additional stress on your pet leopard gecko.
Josh's Frogs always recommend thoroughly researching the needs of your pet before making the purchase. Here are some helpful care guides and books concerning leopard gecko care:
Leopard Geckos - Professional Breeders Series
Leopard Gecko on Wikipedia
Leopard Gecko Care by Melissa Kaplan
Leopard geckos continue to grow in popularity. What was once a simple yellow and black gecko is now available in a dazzling array of colors and patterns, as herpetoculturists strive to create new phenotypes of leopard geckos. Easy to keep and widely available as healthy, captive bred animals, leopard geckos are sure to be common reptile pets for years to come.