Leopard Gecko Care

Scientific name: Eublepharis macularius

Natural habitat: central Asian deserts including Pakistan, southern Afghanistan and northwest India

Adult size: 7-11"

Life span: 6-20+ years

Reptile keeping experience: beginner

Below are the basics for keeping leopard geckos.

Cage: Hatchlings and juveniles can be housed in cages with dimensions of 10" x 20" such as a 10 gallon aquarium or specialty reptile cage. Adults appreciate a larger cage of 30" x 12" such as a 20 gallon long aquarium. This size cage can house one male and up to three females. Do not keep adult males together.  A secured screen lid should be used on top of the cage.

Accessories: A hide box/shelter should be provided to allow them a place to rest.  Leopard geckos do not need climbing branches, but rocks or logs can be provided.  A small water bowl should be available.  If breeding, provide a nesting box with proper moist nesting material such as sphagnum moss or vermiculite.  A thermometer and humidity gauge should be used to monitor cage conditions.

Humidity: Leopard geckos are desert reptiles so no additional humidity is required. Be sure humidity is under 60%.

Substrate: Generally, replicating the substrate found in a species native habitat is best.  Sand mixed with certain soils, bioactive media, and/or clays is ideal.  Sand, such as quartz sand, can be used by itself and should be about 2" deep.  The use of proper sand WILL NOT cause impaction.  While sand may collect on undigested exoskeletons of food due to improper husbandry, sand is not the cause. Improper husbandry (i.e. insufficient or no UVB, temperatures too low, parasites, etc.) causes impaction. NOTE: Be sure to use the right type of sand. Sands from hardware stores or other sources may be silica-based and will mix with water or saliva and become hard. Even some low-quality brands of reptile sands will do this. The granules of appropriate sands will not mix like concrete when wet.  Be sure to test any sand you purchase. 

Lighting/Heating: Leopard geckos are nocturnal and do not require UVB lighting, however, you can use a UVB bulb for day lighting.  A daylight bulb is important to provide a proper photoperiod, but be sure the daylight bulb is off at night as it will disrupt the day/night cycle.  If you would like to view nocturnal behavior, use a second red glass bulb or specialty LED lighting.  It is important to have an under tank heater on one end of the tank as well.  Keep any lights on the same end of the enclosure as the under tank heater as this will allow the geckos to thermoregulate.  It is important to create a hot side and cool side in the tank so do not place heating and lighting in the center of the enclosure. Also, you can consult the breeder/seller on substrate choice.

Temperature: Provide a range of temperatures in the enclosure with a basking spot of 90°F.  This can be accomplished with an under tank heater, an incandescent basking light (or heat emitter), or a combination.  The cool end of the enclosure should be 70°F.  Daytime temperatures can range between 75-85°F.         

Diet/Feeding: Leopard Geckos are insectivores and should be fed insects no larger than the width of the lizard's head.  Primary food sources include crickets and mealworms.  Waxworms and pinky mice can be offered to adults in moderation.  They also enjoy canned insects and these are great to keep around in case you cannot get live insects.

It is best to feed baby and juvenile leopard geckos daily. Adults can be fed every other day.  Obesity problems seen in other lizards are rarely seen in leopard geckos.  Uneaten food should be removed when the lizard is finished.

A quality vitamin/calcium supplement with vitamin D3 is important.  A sprinkle over the insects every third feeding is sufficient for adults (every other meal for young geckos).

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