Help Caring for Leopard Geckos

Leopard Geckos

Leopard geckos are probably one of the best beginner reptiles on the market currently for a number of reasons.

  1. They're relatively small.
  2. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
  3. They have a relatively simple husbandry set up.
  4. They are docile and, for the most part, rarely bite.

I will admit, this particular reptile species is probably one of the most addictive. From personal experience, I received my first leopard gecko for my 16th birthday; I had opted not to drive and a leopard gecko was a much better gift than a car at that point. Plus, for my parents one small leopard gecko and its habitat was a much cheaper gift. But, anyway, it's been nearly five years, and today, I have 24 juvenile and adult leopard geckos and about 20+ eggs in my incubators.

For the nitty gritty of this hub, you'll find all the information to get you started properly caring for a pet leopard gecko.

Basic Leopard Gecko Care

Make sure that you know your options as to where you can purchase a leopard gecko as well as the signs of a healthy leopard gecko versus a sick one.

Before you bring home a cute leopard gecko, you want to make sure that you know and understand how to properly care for them. Without the proper husbandry, diet, and overall care, your potential future pet, may not thrive so well in your home.

One of the most important aspects of proper care for any animal, is making sure that you have the proper enclosure set up. For reptiles, it's essential that you understand how to set up the enclosure so that you don't miss an important element to keeping your potential future pet healthy.

As I mentioned above, leopard geckos come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The number of morphs are constantly increasing, but to date, you may want to check out the variety of morphs that you can choose from.

Find out why your leopard gecko may not be eating, and find out what can you do to increase his appetite. In order to treat your pet's lack of appetite, you need to diagnose it, first.

It's not uncommon for leopard geckos to drop their tail. You just want to make sure that you know how to handle the situation.

If your leopard gecko is having trouble shedding, figure out why and how to fix it.

More Advanced Leopard Gecko Care

Breeding leopard geckos is, overall, pretty simple, but it is 1) time consuming and 2) costly. But, if you think that you can properly house hatchlings individually, feed them, and find homes for them. Then by all means, definitely make sure that you do so safely and accurately because breeding is very stressful on both the male and female geckos.

Even though the leopard gecko is a naturally dessert reptile, it does not mean that they are found in loose sand desserts. The natural habitat of leopard geckos is actually compressed dirt and hard rock, but you can still create a natural environment with a few key elements.

Leopard Gecko References

Personally, I recommend that before you bring home any animal you do all the internet research that you can. Make sure that you research topics that are highly debated, and make sure that you understand the proper care and common health ailments. I, also, recommend that you purchase at least one book because it's best to keep a reference guide on hand in case the internet is down or you need information fast.

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Comments 85 comments

Aqua_babe38 5 years ago

i have had the same thing it was weird i agree with coffee@melover :)


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

No. I've never heard of leopard geckos contracting chicken pox, and no you didn't get it from the gecko. It was just coincidence that or a reaction of some sort and not actually chicken pox.


coffee@melover 5 years ago

hey i was showing my gecko to my boyfriend and he had little bumps and a hour after me and my boyfriend got chicken pox can geckos get it


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Please see the caresheet above. The diet is laid out clearly there.


bobs 6 years ago

what insects do they eat


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes, they typically won't eat it if it's not moving.


Erin 6 years ago

hey great page do you need to feed geckos live insects or can you feed them somthing like a gecko mix


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes, you can. Do a search online to find a breeder that you want to buy from, send an email, you'll get a shipping quote, you pay, and then the breeder can overnight the gecko to you typically between Monday-Wednesday.


colin 6 years ago

hi can you get geckos that are from a breeder?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

The best way to heat the tank is via an appropriate sized under tank heater. When the power goes out for just a few hours, it's nothing to really stress about. If it's more for a few days or longer, you may consider a generator. Some people will use the disposable heat packs if it's during winter. In a lot of cases, if the power goes out, the gecko will be fine for a few days, although the generator will be helpful to have. You can buy small ones.

Sometimes two females will fight and bully each other, but sometimes not. It really all depends on the geckos. If you decide to try it, make sure that you have an alternative option in case it doesn't work out. Also, keep in mind that if you get another gecko, you need to quarantine it for at least 30 days to ensure that it isn't sick and doesn't have parasites or an illness that can contract to your current gecko. Also, to ensure that you get another female, it's best to purchase or adopt a gecko who is already visibly sexable. In a lot of cases, pet stores offer geckos that are WAY too young to be sold anyway, and in these cases you won't know that you have a female until a few months later.

You are not feeding enough. You want to offer whatever the gecko will eat within a 10-15 minute period. Try also offering crickets and other food items to vary the diet. If you want, you can purchase a bowl, and have the gecko learn how to feed from the bowl. I'd offer at least 10 mealworms a day until you can figure out how many she will eat.


Kristen 6 years ago

I was just wondering how do would I heat my leo if the power went out. She's in a 55 gal. tank which is hard enough to heat already. But what should I do if the power goes out? I was also wondering what the temp should be on the warm side and what it should be on the cool side. I also don't know what to do for a moist hide away. I want another leo. I have a female right now and I want another female. Would it be safe? Some say they'll fight and others say they wont. And one last thing, how much should I be feeding my leo. She's 9 months old and I give her 2 meal worms every other day with calcium on them.

Kristen&&Kiwi(:


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I would give it some time to watch him. If it continues, you may need to see a vet, but it could just be a thing. As long as he's still eating fine, just keep an eye on him for now.


Brandi 6 years ago

We keep his tank around 95F when it's the warmest and around 75F when it's coolest. Yes he is still eating. We even have him on a schedule. He comes out about 15 min after his last light switches off and he knows it's feeding time. He's a very eager eater. I guess I'm the one that's more paranoid that there's something wrong.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

What are the temperatures? Measured at the surface of the enclosure? Is the gecko still eating?


Brandi 6 years ago

My boyfriend and I bought a leopard gecko a little over a month ago. The shop that we bought him from said he was about 5 months old at the time. His color got lighter like he was going to shed so we've been trying to keep his little log "cave" moist...he HATES being sprayed and hates the moss we tried to use to keep a moist spot for him. He still hasn't shed though and it's been about 3 weeks. Is there any reason why he would get lighter in color but not actually shed? We feed him gut loaded crickets that we also coat in calcium powder and multi-vitamin powder


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Starter geckos include leopard geckos, crested geckos, and gargoyle geckos. Depending on the gecko, the diet will vary. You can read about the diet for a leopard gecko above. Both crested and gargoyle geckos eat CGD (Crested Gecko Diet), crickets can be offered occasionally.


Molly 6 years ago

What gecko is the best gecko to start of with and what do you feed them with


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

As mentioned above, an under tank heater is sufficient for the best heat.


Erin 6 years ago

Hi

for my birthday my mum said i could get a gecko but i think i know all the facts and do i need a red light or a heat pad??


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I would remove the sand. Some say that sand won't cause problems as long as you have everything else to the tee with temperature and whatnot, but there is a lot of risk of impaction, especially with younger geckos. If the gecko is 7 months and has been on sand for 7 months, since day one, that is odd and not the safest idea.

http://hubpages.com/animals/Impaction


kristen 6 years ago

Hey. I have about a 7 month old leopard gecko. I've read super scary things about using sand. I use sand. But I haven't had a problem for 7 months should I keep it and let it be? Also she hasn't shed yet. Idk how to keep a moist hide away. Please help!!

Kristen&&kiwi(:


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Size varies per gecko. There are some that grow fast and others that grow slow. The gecko could easily be younger, as most pet stores could care less what age they sell their geckos or if they're in good health. Geckos should be at least 10 grams before selling and at least 15 grams before shipping. But, most pet stores sell at 5 grams and under, which can actually be a 2 week old gecko, if not a hatchling, as some hatchlings can weigh 4-5 grams, although they average 3-4 grams.

More than likely the gecko is younger than you're estimating, but there is no way to know for sure unless you know when the gecko hatched.


Gemma 6 years ago

Hi Whitney

Dont know if you can help but you seem to know loads about leopard geckos so here goes.

We've had our baby now for about 2.5 months and when we got her the reptile shop reckoned she was about 6 weeks. so makes her about 4 months now. She is eating well, and she sheds regularly, about once every 2-3 weeks. Her colours and spots are coming out nicely but I am worried that she isnt very big. How big should a 4 month old gecko be? She is about 4.5inches long and her tail is a good thickness. She's on about half a dozen crickets+ every other day and we have a thermometer with probe in her tank and its bang on 89F on the hot side all the time.

Im probably being totally silly but I dont want her to have something wrong with her and it go unnoticed. She is the first reptile we have ever owned.

Thanks


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Check the temperatures. She could have just changed area to get a different temperature. Maybe the normal spot got too cold or too hot.

As for the tail wagging, you may have startled her.


Kristie 6 years ago

Hello Whitney! I have a question that I was hoping you could answer for me. My leopard gecko is 6 months old, fat, seemingly healthy and I have never had any problems. However, just the other night I went out of town and when I came back, she had changed where she normally poos from the corner, to the top of her dry hide!The next morning, (today) she has switched to another different corner!

I am worried that this is an indication something isn't right. I also witnessed her move her tail back and forth very slowly when I put my hand in her cage to get her water dish. This worried me immensely but it didnt last for more than a minute.

The tank is 10 gallons, she has 2 dry hides (one on the warm and cool side) 1 wet hide, 1 water dish, and 1 food dish, 1 UTH, and 1 Day-use overhead light bulb. I use paper towel as substrate and she is still eating daily.

If you have experienced anything like this, and know what I am doing wrong, please please tell me.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

No. There's no need to. That's more the old school thinking. Since then it's been pretty much decided among most breeders that it carries more problems. By offering dusted crickets and/or mealworms or superworms, you're going to safely offer nutrients to a gravid gecko


reptiler 6 years ago

but arnt you sopose to feed them to your female leopard gecko after she lays eggs for fat and proteen she put into her eggs


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Pinkies aren't the best feeder, as they're fatty. Not many leopard gecko keepers recommend them, even if it's just once a month.

If you insist on it, some pet stores (not many) will offer live pinkies for sale. The best place to get them is to breed your own mice, as there aren't that many pet stores that offer them.


reptiler 6 years ago

do u know where to get some live pinkys to


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Depending on how far along she is, you can see the eggs through the belly. As the eggs grow, the skin on the belly will stretch and be more translucent.


reptiler 6 years ago

how do i tell if my leopard gecko has eggs in her


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Gotcha. But yes, if you don't want fertile eggs, don't house a male and female together.


Jeanette 7 years ago

I mean i don't have a female I't was just out of my own curiosity.Thank you and sorry for the miss understanding. It's kinda nice you answer like right away.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Then, separate the geckos into different houses. She will continue to lay about 8 eggs give or take, sometimes up to 14.


Jeanette 7 years ago

I don't.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

You can freeze them an then throw them away. Otherwise they will dehydrate in the tank.

If you don't want eggs, you shouldn't have a male and female living together.


Jeanette 7 years ago

Um I have a leo and what if your femal leo has fertile eggs and you don't want them? I heard from someone that as soon as they are laid you can freeze them.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Threre is a breeding link you should check out. There are pictures there.


bob 7 years ago

About how big are the eggs? Can you compare them to something? A penny, dime, nickel?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

bob/katie I told you in the last comment how many they'll lay a season that is just with one time being with a male. Check out the breeding link. If you don't have the supplies or experience, I wouldn't suggest breeding her at all,


katie 7 years ago

About how many eggs can a female leopard gecko have? If i breed her i only want to do it one time. Is that okay?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

bob/katie usually you'll know at 6 months old. you will need an incubator. there is a link above for breeding and tips. just remember if you decide to breed, that you'll need to have housing for between 6 to 10+ hatchlings a season per female, as well as find homes for each. Breeding is expensive, and not profitable unless you become a super big breeder, which in that case it would take you at least 10+ years to get that reputation, and there will always be more reputable and bigger breeders that have been in the hobby for longer. I'd suggest you get used to caring for one before you try to get any more and try to breed. Experience is the key and without proper experience a lot can go wrong when breeding.


Katie 7 years ago

If my leopard gecko lays fertile eggs what should i do with them? Do i need to buy an incubator? Or just leave them be?


bob 7 years ago

oh well then i gues it is a good thing that i didnt buy another leo. but at what age do you think i should be able to tell if my leo is a boy or girl


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

If you have a male and get a male they WILL fight; if you have a male and get a female, they'll breed whether you want to or not, which can cause major stress on the female.

If you have a female and get a male, they'll breed; if you have a female and get a female, they may fight. I have females that will not live with other females, but some don't care.

Generally, it's best to leave them solitary. They prefer it and thrive better living one per cage.


bob 7 years ago

or wuld they try to fight?


bob 7 years ago

I have a leopard gecko that i have purchased about a year ago. At one point my gecko was living with other leopard geckos. But if i was to put another leopard gecko in the same cage with mine would my leopard gecko show aggression?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

She could have absorbed the eggs.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

hmmm...well she didnt lay an egg...she never lost weight...but shes eating again...so i dont know what the problem was...but its solved


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Not all leopard geckos are yellow.


bob 7 years ago

hello, is it a health problem if my leopard geckos skin is not bright yellow


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Reptile carpet is great. It is possible. Some will lay even when not paired with a male, but not all. It's possible that is the case here, if nothing else has changed in the environment to cause stress- causing lack of appetite. Just make sure that the gecko doesn't start to lose weight. If she does, you'll need to seek veterinarian care to find the problem, especially if she doesn't lay.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

I use retile carpet!! I would never take the risk of impaction from sand...my best friends gecko lays an egg about twice a year...so could this be whats up with my gecko?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

If it is a female, it probably won't lay unless introduced to a male. Some will lay otherwise, but the eggs will be infertile, but not all lay without being introduced to a male. If you're using sand or a loose substrate, impaction could be a concern.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

K heres the deal...the guy at the pet store told me my gecko was a male...well I've had it for over 8 mnths and there is no preennial pores or a bulge so I'm assuming its a female...Also she hasnt had an egg yet but she hasnt eaten in 4 weeks and the scales on her side are starting to pop out...(not like fall off her but noticably larger and sticking out funny) do you think shes going to lay an egg?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

if you just got it, you shouldn't be handling it. You need to leave it alone. You also shouldn't be handling a gecko that is young so far above ground because they're not used to being handled and will jump, such as yours did. Whether the gecko is ok or not, that will depend on how far it fell and onto what surface. As for the sex of the gecko, you won't be able to tell right away unless the gecko is older . Males will have buldges and preennial pores, females will not have either. The breeding leopard geckos link above will have a picture to show you the differece.


Bea 7 years ago

Hey, I just got a leo gecko for my six year old and I love the little thing. I have two questions, How can I tell if it is a boy or girl ?and He jumped out of my hand will he/she be ok?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

If it's only been 3 days, wait longer. If it gets worse, seek veterinary assistance. He could have scratch it on decoration or the glass. 3 days is not nearly enough time to determine anything.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

Hey whitney spike has small sores on his nose that almost resemble scabs and his mouth is slightly open...i was hopeing it would go away but it has been about 3 days and just seems to be getting worse wats going on???


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

That's good to hear. I would say, as long as the gecko is fully 100% healthy, that should be fine. Either, way the trip will stress out the gecko.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

Hey whitney its been awhile since i last posted and spike is doin great...lol. Anyway we are goin on a trip and it will take about 5 hours to get there. If i put him in those portable reptile cages with some reptile carpet and a hide and then put just a normal heating pad under it should that be good for awhile


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I actually don't use lighting. I just use nder tank heaters for my pet leopard geckos, and my breeders are in in racks with heat tape or heat cord- no lighting. But generally speaking, regular light bulbs are fine to use, as you're just heating the air with them anyway- same with "reptile" light bulbs that are like 3 times as much money. The light bulbs serve as light only- no heat- unless you use the ceramic heat emitting bulbs and a special heat emiter clamp hood.


aquababe38 7 years ago

but just a regular light bulb that you use to light your house is fine?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

The regularlight bulbs are the same as a "reptile" light bulb, unless you are using a ceramic heat bulb, which typically is about $40+ each. If the power goese out for just a little while, I wouldn't worry about it. If it's days on end, you'll want to find something to use as heat. Try one time use heat pads that when the package opens, they start to warm up for several hours. Some are 10 hours, but you can get up to 40 hours packs, when purchased online. They're not a good source of permanent heat, but can be fine for short term. Otherwise, you may have to get creative, as I'm not sure. If it's a power outage at night, I wouldn't worry about it too much.


Aquababe38 7 years ago

maybe but is it normal for them to get grouchy...?although he's not really grouchy right now it was like right after he shed...? also his heatlamp light burnt out so I replaced it with just a normal lightbulb can that be harmful? one last thing we hav really bad winds here and our power flickers from time to time...if the power goes out what do I do for heat for my gecko?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

In some cases, they will roam during the day. Sometimes that can be caused by searching for warmer temperatures. Or it could be that the gecko is just on a weird schedule. I just haven't experieed a gecko with that constant schedule. Also, how do you know that the gecko sleeps all day? Do you sit up and watch it all night to make sure that it's really sleeping all night? The gecko could just roam a bit during the day, take a nap around when you're going to bed, and be up the rest of the night.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

ummm is it normal for them to get grouchy sumtimes and what is the cause of that.....also this is really wierd my gecko is awake during the day and sleeping during the night.aren't the leopard geckos supposed to be nocturnal is that normal also!?!?!?


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

yeah its been 5 days and he seems Okay Thank goodness he is getting very used to being held and is getting tame!! thank you for suggesting the leos...your hub is the reason I got one and he is the best thing ever !!!!!!!!!!!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

It's not normal for them to eat the coconut fibers from the hides. There could be brain damage to the gecko; watch him closely. This is the exact reason as to why kids shouldn't hold small geckos or any animal unless sitting down.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

ok another question you know those cocunut homes is it normal for them to eat the top....I didn't know so I took it out...also my little ister wanted to hold him and got angry for watever reason and dropped him from about 4 feet he seems fine but could there be any internal damage?!?!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

do you have a dry hide on the hot side? no. you need to have a dry hide and a moist hide on the hot side, and a dry hide on the cool side. If he's staying in the moist hide, leave m be for now. Just make sure that you're measuring the temps with a digital thermometer with a probe, and that you aren't over misting the moist hide. It really only needs to be misted while the gecko is going into shed.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

well he always stays in his moist hide on the hot side should i put it on the cool side and see wat he does then


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

You want to wait at bare minimum 3 days, but it's actually best to wait 7, in order to give the geck plenty of time to acclimate to its new surroundings. NEVER use heat rocks. You want the temps at 90F, measuring with a digital thermometer with a probe so that you get the most accurate temps on the surface of the tank. It's normal for the gecko to sta on the warm side, until it gets too hot, then it will go to the hide on the cool side of the tank to cool off.


Aqua_babe38 7 years ago

Dear whitney just got my leopard gecko today! I am so excited I want to know how long you reccomend until holding it..i'm really eager to hold it (: also I have a clip on heat lamp and an UTH the temprature is about 90 is that to hot also I was going to get a heat rock but I learned that they can burn there bellies is that true i put just a normal rock in there and it is getting warm but not hot also my gecko seems to stay in the hottest part of the tank is that normal? I want him to live a healthy life Please help I don't want to mess this up...little spike is soo cute help me keep him healthy


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I recommend that you read all that you can. Read all of the above articles. Check out more of my reptile articles that you can find here:

http://hubpages.com/animals/Caring-for-Reptiles...

And then buy a book and read that.


isla 7 years ago

i am 10 and my mum said i could get a reptil but she said i need to know all about the can you give me some tips about caring for them i dont want to kill it if iget one.


monitor profile image

monitor 8 years ago from The world.

Reptiles, just awesome from other planets I am sure.

Your fan.

Mon.


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Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA

What a cutie!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks cgull, The Geico gecko is a day gecko (I believe a Madagascar Day Gecko), but they have used a leopard gecko on at least one ad in the past.


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cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

Whitney that is a good picture :) Is it the one that plays in Geico ads :).


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anniebutterfly 8 years ago

I love this article. very informative.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Heehee. Stacie he was eating silkworms. That's an old picture, but it has always been one of my favorites. :-)

Abhinaya, the Blue Cross Society sounds great. It sounds a little like the U.S.'s Environmental Protection Agency.

Daniel, I do agree that person attitudes towards children and animals reflect our true selves.


danielpyle profile image

danielpyle 8 years ago from USA

Whitney,

Great hub. I am certainly not the animal lover of the year, but I do believe that our attitudes toward animals and children reflect who really are.


Abhinaya 8 years ago

Whitney,everytime I read your hub,I go back to your profile and remind myself how much you are fond of animals.The Blue Cross Society in India is working really hard to save so many animals and endangered species too.I am not sure I can take care of pets as so many do.Great hub!


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Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

Not really on topic, but I love the picture at the top! It almost makes me want to get one.

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