A leopard gecko is a popular choice for any beginner reptile owner, with their quirky traits and entertaining characteristics making them an ideal pet.
We are here to tell you everything you need to know and what to have before owning a pet leopard gecko yourself.
In This Blog
History Of the Leopard Gecko
This small reptile originates from the dry areas of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan. Whilst they are used to living in warm countries with Semi-desert areas, they have been kept as pets for over 30 years in foreign countries with less arid conditions.
Do not be mistaken with their natural habitat. They may live in hot countries with semi-desert areas, but they don’t live in sand dunes like you may be picturing. In fact, if you are looking for one in the wild you have a better chance of finding them in a rocky area with a lot of shrubland surrounding it.
This habitat offers them plenty of places to hide and burrow during the day, when the humidity reaches its peak temperature. Once the temperature has become more bearable, they will come out to forage for their food.
Leopard geckos are quite easy to recognise, and it is obvious where their names inspiration came from. Their likeness to Leopards being evident.
The black spots which are spread across their body don’t only explain why they are called what they are, but these spots act as a camouflage in the desert.
Male – 7-11 inches
Female – 6.5-8 inches
|Average lifespan||15-20 years|
|Colours||Yellow, tangerine, lavender, or white with spots|
Male – 70-100 grams
Female – 40-90 grams
Leopard geckos are one of the easiest lizards you can own or care for. But this doesn’t mean you should skip doing your own due diligenct research. As with any and every pet, you must research before any purchase so you know the best ways to ensure that they live a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Their terrarium is where your gecko will be spending most of their life, so it is important that you get this right!
When it comes down to appropriate sizing of their terrarium, the minimum size it needs to be for one gecko is 60 cm long. But the bigger their tank is, the happier they will be as this will allow more space for them to run around.
Never house your gecko in a wire cage, as this will not only heighten their risk of injury, but this can also increase the chances of them escaping. They should always be kept in a glass tank allowing you to watch them, whilst also protecting them.
Within their tank, they should have:
- A food and water bowl
- A thermometer
- A hygrometer
- A heat emitter for the warmer side
- Some fake plants and
When you are choosing bowls for their food and water, they need to be shallow and flat as our geckos aren’t the biggest so they will not be able to reach very far in. They could also drown if they were to accidentally fall in.
Adding fake plants and branches to your terrarium will add that natural look and make your gecko feel more at home. They will be able to hide and climb over these objects too.
We recommend purchasing a tank for them which is 90cm x 45cm x 45cm, which will allow more space and more room for your Leopard Gecko to display their natural behaviour.
More space in the tank will also allow for plenty of areas for you to put their hideouts in. Ideally, they require three in their tank, two being kept on the warmer side and one hideout kept on the cooler side.
On the warmer side of the terrarium, one of the hideouts needs to be a humid hide as this environment will help them shed correctly and lay their eggs. The moisture will help to soften the skin which will in turn help speed up the process of shedding.
For you to create your humid hide, these are the things you will need:
- A suitable container which can withstand heat.
- Suitable Substrate
The different substrates in which you can use for your humid hide vary from an easy choice of paper towels to sphagnum moss, or coconut fibre. All these substrates have their advantages and disadvantages.
Paper Towels can be cost effective and easy to get hold of as well as being easy to change. But if you are wanting your gecko to lay eggs or create a natural look within your tank, then paper towels may not be the substrate to use. Paper towels also require regular upkeep and should be changed weekly.
Sphagnum Moss is the best substrate you can choose to use for your humid hide. This is affordable and holds moisture very well, which is handy when it comes to having a humid hide.
This does need mixing with another substrate if you are wanting to incubate your geckos’ eggs, as you will find it difficult to retrieve them as they will fall to the bottom of the tank and get stuck. But if you lay a looser substrate on the bottom of the hideout, they will be easier to salvage.
Wash your sphagnum moss every two-weeks with gentle soap, such as baby shampoo, and replace every 3 months. Make sure you do not boil the moss as this will kill it.
Sphagnum Moss should never have a bad smell, so always be sure that you buy high quality products.
Coconut Fibre can be a great substrate to use for females laying eggs. Due to it being so loose, it is ideal for burrowing or digging, but it can dry out. if your coco fibre starts drying out, this will produce dust which is easy for a Leopard Gecko to ingest, leading to impactions.
We recommend you don’t use this substrate for young or juvenile geckos as there is a risk of the eating it too. If you allow it to get too moist, this can increase the likelihood of mould spores growing.
Your geckos will be very happy if you feed them insects. Especially crickets and mealworms, as these are their favourite meal. But they are also known to eat waxworms, silkworms, and butterworms. These three insects should be kept as a treat due to the amount of fat contained within them and their high calcium content which can have negative consequences.
When you are feeding your gecko, always feed the insects live and never dry. Young geckos need food every day and healthy adult geckos can be fed every other day.
Replace their water daily so they have access to fresh water. If you notice any faeces in the water, or any food, replace it straight away.
Unfortunately, with any type of pet we can own, they can all have health conditions which they are susceptible too.
Whilst some of these health problems are relatively easy to diagnose, treat, and recover, some illnesses are not as easy to treat and require a more invasive treatment.
If your leopard gecko starts losing their appetite, dropping weight, or becoming seemingly distant and reserved, they likely have an underlying health condition which needs addressing sooner rather than later.
One of the most common conditions you will be faced with when owning a leopard gecko is impactions. If you leave this to manifest and don’t seek appropriate help, this can become fatal.
Impaction is when a Leopard Gecko ingests substrate such as sand which they find very difficult to digest. Eating food which is too big for them to handle can also lead to impaction.
If your tank is set up incorrectly and the temperatures aren’t what they are supposed to be, they can develop a respiratory infection. Loss of appetite, lethargy, and breathing difficulties are all indicators of an infection and should be addressed to your vet. When you go to your appointment, they may ask for the temperatures of their tank, so make sure you have these on hand.
Feeding poor quality food can pass on internal parasites to your gecko, as well as already infected geckos.
You may not be able to tell whether your gecko is infected until they start displaying the classic signs which include vomiting, fatigue, and loss of weight.
Worming medication should be able to clean this issue up and fix the problem. Contact your vet and explain the symptoms.
Leopard geckos are great reptiles to own for a first-time owner or seasonal pros. They are friendly, comical, relatively easy to maintain, and are docile enough to be handled by your family.
You will have plenty of fun owning one of these and once you have owned one, you will catch the gecko bug!