Leopard Geckos Care Sheet

Eublepharis macularius

Leopard geckos are naturally found in Iran, Afghanistan, Western India and Pakistan. India sent leopard geckos to the United States from 1960- 1973 for legal protection. Pakistan began exporting their leopard geckos worldwide later on; many captive-bred leopard geckos are the descendants from Pakistan ancestors.

They reside in deserts and arid grasslands with dry and rocky landscapes, and because they are nocturnal animals, they spend the day beneath rocks and in burrows. Leopard geckos are terrestrial animals, spending much of their time on the ground; they rarely climb, and when they do, they can become clumsy

Handling: Leopard geckos are relatively docile animals, so when it comes to handling them, they are usually at ease. You must be careful when it come to picking them up. NEVER pick them up by the tail, because they will drop it, and it will not grow back as pretty but more a rounded bulge.

Temperament: They rarely bite and are tamed easily with regular handling. However, be careful how you hold the gecko. Never by its tail! Gecko tails break off rather easily as a defense mechanism. Although they will grow back, they never look as nice as the original. Baby leopard geckos are so small and, to them, you seem huge; handling young leopard geckos must be done carefully. If spooked, the baby may drop its tail, and as mentioned earlier, it will not grow back as visually appealing. Overall, the leopard gecko is one of the most docile of the reptile species in the pet trade today.

Lifespan: With proper care, leopard geckos can live anywhere from 15-20 years.

Size: Usually leopard geckos will grow between 8-10 inches in length, but many individuals only reach the about 8 inches in length. Many times, breeders will breed geckos as to achieve specific lengths and sizes that are beyond the normal, average size.

Housing Leopard Geckos

Enclosure size: A 10 gallon aquarium is the minimum size for one leopard gecko, and a 20-gallon, long aquarium will house up to three geckos. NEVER house more than one male together because they are very territorial and will fight! With adequate housing, several females can live with one male for life, but this is not recommended.

Substrate: Leopard geckos should never be housed on loose substrates, to include, play sand, Calci-sand, or wood shavings, as they can cause impaction. There are several different things that can be used as substrate, to include paper towels, reptile carpet, and tile.

D├ęcor: When landscaping, include shelters for the geckos to hide in. Remember, they are nocturnal animals. Putting at least two shelters in the terrarium: one on the hot side and one on the cool side. Make sure to have plenty of room so the gecko can maneuver around the terrarium with ease; not having enough room to walk comfortably can cause stress on the gecko.

A humid hide is also recommended to have in the tank; this creates higher humidity for easier shedding.

Slate tiles are a Great substrate. Enclosure has a fake rock layout.
Slate tiles are a Great substrate. Enclosure has a fake rock layout.
Reptile carpet is another good substrate to use. This is a simple layout. Add a humid hide and it'd be perfect.
Reptile carpet is another good substrate to use. This is a simple layout. Add a humid hide and it'd be perfect.
Stackable caging system with carpet substrate. Simple layout with multiple hides and humide hides. Great designs. Examples of fake rock are also seen.
Stackable caging system with carpet substrate. Simple layout with multiple hides and humide hides. Great designs. Examples of fake rock are also seen.
Cali-Sand is a BIG NO-NO. Very simple enclosure setup. Needs a humid hide.
Cali-Sand is a BIG NO-NO. Very simple enclosure setup. Needs a humid hide.

Lighting, Heating, Humidity of a Leopard Gecko Enclosure

Lighting: As leopard geckos are nocturnal, UV lightning is not necessary nor is a regular cage light. However, having a light helps create a 12 hour day and 12 hour night scenario. Because leopard geckos are terrestrial, they get their heat through their bellies. A light will only add heat to the air temperatures in the enclosure.

Tip: If you decide to use a light for you enclosure, regular light bulbs from a grocery store can be used. They are cheaper than reptile bulbs, yet serve the same purpose.

Heating: Because they cannot produce body heat, leopard geckos need a warm spot and cooler spot from which to choose. Daytime temperature should range between 85F-90F, and night temperatures can go into the low 70's. Under Tank Heating Pads, which attach to the bottom of the tank, work well to provide the proper temperatures necessary. Follow the directions for the heat pad carefully so that injury to your leopard gecko is limited and cracks to your terrarium is prevented.

Use a digital thermometer to gauge the temperature. DO NOT estimate the temperature because temperatures that are too high or too low can harm your gecko.

DO NOT USE HOT ROCKS! They develop hot spots and many lizards have been badly burnt by them!

Humidity: Leopard geckos require a low humidity level that doesn't exceed 40%. When the humidity levels are too high, respiratory, bacterial, and fungal infections can occur. A humid hide can be provided to aid in shedding. Use a hygrometer to gauge the humidity levels.

Leopard Gecko Diet

Leopard geckos are insectivores, meaning they eat insects. The diet of a leopard gecko can be based mainly on crickets, but a varied diet will insure optimum health. Leopard geckos can eat roaches, mealworms, waxworms, butterworms, silkworms, and phoenix worms. No matter what is fed to your leopard gecko, it needs to be size appropriate; insects must be at least ½ the width of the gecko's head and no longer than the length of the gecko's head.

Do not get insects from your backyard because insects travel and can carry pesticides and chemicals used by either you or your neighbors, which can be detrimental to the gecko's health.

Although leopard geckos do not drink very much, water should be provided at all times. When keeping a baby leopard gecko, do make sure that the bowl is not so large that the baby can drown.

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Comments 259 comments

savannah 4 years ago

baby leopard geckos are so cute i love them i also have one for a class pet so cool

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Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

no that will not be ok. you need to have a heat source, and a way to let the gecko cool off when needed. they do not thermoregulate.

saker101 4 years ago

if i dont give a cold and hot side in the tank ut i give him a hideing place will he be ok

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Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

1. you can use a glad tupperware container. cut a hole in the lid, place moist paper towels in the container.

2. you can use a bottle cap lid with pure calcium in the enclosure. this will ensure the gecko is getting enough calcium. also you want to dust crickets in calcium and vitamins.

3. some females will fight and some will not; you will have to watch closelly for bullying and signs of stress. it's ideal to house leopard geckos alone.

4. crickets daily for younger geckos, but every other day for juvies and adults. you will start to see how much your gecko is eating, and will be able to gauge how much and when to feed.

Sam Tibault 4 years ago

1)How do you make a humid hide as you said some of the enclosures needed?

2)And I read somewhere that you needed to have a calcium bowl in the tank or that you need to dust the crickets with calcium. Do you?

3)So two females can live in a 20 gallon tank just fine?

4)And how much do you feed them and how often? I heard that you feed them crickets every day and then like keep a few mealworms in their dish all the time so that they can eat if they are hungry or is that wrong? Thank you

lukas bowen 4 years ago

what does it mean when your lizard scrath you when you hold the lozard sometimes

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Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

It can increase stress which can increase risk of ailments

hannahperry 4 years ago

if i hold my baby gecko to much will it die?

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Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Use a digital thermometer with a probe to measure the temps to decide if the UTH is providing enough heat. A thermostat won't make the UTH get hotter than it would without it; the thermostat will only ensure it doesn't go above a certain degree, but if the UTh isn't getting to that temp anyway, it won't be any good. The humid hide should be on the hot side, or in the middle. The gecko will use it when he needs to.

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Olievertraiqn 5 years ago

Thanks for the information. I got my gecko a couple days ago, he's a little more than three months old. I was glad to see that the store I bought him from used repti carpet. He's eating, going to the bathroom, drinking and all that regularly, but I do have a concern. I'm positive my UTH isn't producing enough heat. It doesn't seem to be the biggest deal as he seems healthy, but I can't say for sure. I know I should go purchase a thermometer with a probe and a ZooMed brand UTH, but the one I have now DOES work, just not as well as it could. I've heard that you can use heat tape, but I'm not sure if I know exactly what that is. Do you think adding a second UTH would be too much? Is there any other way of heating the surface of my tank that doesn't involve buying a whole new UTH? I've looked for thermostats, but I can't seem to find any beside from online. Also, because the UTH isn't as warm as it probably should be, I think my moist hide is too cold. He hasn't started shedding yet, but he could soon. Could the cold moist hide make him sick? I'm using paper towel for my substrate and in my hide. Sorry this is all so long, but I really want to keep my gecko alive and well.

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Olievertraiqn 5 years ago

Okay, awesome thanks! I'm getting him today, pretty stoked! (:

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Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

1. It doesn't matter where you put the water bowl, at least as far as I've ever seen

2. Use vitamins to dust crickets, but make sure to leave the calcium bowl in the enclosure. You can also dust with calcium, as well.

3. I've found that ZooMed has worked best for my enclosures. Just keep an eye on the temperature to ensure that it's correct. A digital thermometer with a probe will best read the surface temperatures where your gecko spendds its time. As for putting it on the side, I've heard many people doing this, but I've always had best results with the UTH on the bottom of the tank for the best surface heat.

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Olievertraiqn 5 years ago

Hey Whitney, I'm looking to get my first leopard gecko (first pet other than simple fish, actually) and you have some great advice! I tried to read all the comments starting from the beginning, but there are too many, lol. Here is what I'm curious about:

1. Is the food/water supposed to be on the warm or cool side? I'm not even sure if it matters, but I think I recall reading it somewhere and I don't want to get it wrong if it does. I was actually googling it when I came across your page.

2. I know you're supposed to give your gecko calcium, but I've also heard stuff about vitamins, are those a must?

3. I have a Zilla UTH, the worker at the store told me she liked hers (although the adhesive side left a lot to be desired), and I was just wondering if you've used it, and if you have if I could get your opinion on that brand.

renom23 5 years ago

I'm not sure if my Leopard Gecko is eating but his pooping every night so does that means hes eating?

josh 5 years ago

my juvenile leo is eatting good and hes alert but i dont think hes being active at night what should i do to make him more active?

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Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

It is very unlikely that you found a leopard gecko loose in your home unless you already had one that got out of its enclosure.

cdndallas 5 years ago

I caught a baby leopard gecko in my shower. We already have a chameleon which my ex husband bought for our son. I always wanted a gecko so I bought a 5 1/2 gallon tank with a screen top. I am glad that I read your HUB about calcium sand. I have some in the tank, luckily I just put a little on one side and paper towels everywhere else. I have gotten a lot of great info from this HUB, thank you. My son named the gecko Speedy which is very appropriate. He can move very fast when he wants to. He seems to be adjusting to the tank very well. He must have just hatched a couple of weeks prior to us finding him in our shower, he was 1/2 the size of my baby finger, length and width. He has already shed once, which is why he didn't eat for one day, unlike the chameleon he/she eat the shed skin. I read something that said that this is normal. How can you tell if you have a male or female? My ex caught another one and was going to put it into the tank with Speedy, but luckily I told him to wait till I got online and found out that you should not put 2 different sized geckos together because the larger one will bully the smaller one. So I told him to let the other Gecko go. The bigger one is still hanging around on our patio. I'm glad I read through your HUB it has helped me to figure out how to take care of my new gecko

CindyD 5 years ago

Eye issue - follow up to yesterdays posting - Vet said Cornea Abrasion...gave me Tobramycin drops...1 drop ea. eye 2 x day. Praying it works.

CindyD 5 years ago

Eye issue - Have a 1 yr old...noticed she was keeping her eyes closed more than ususal...I got a peek at one eye and I do not see a "bright" pupal, color is wrong, one looks "scratchy" the other one does not but it's not "bright"...color dull...kinda dark looking...ever come across eye issues? I have an appt with a vet later today...not sure how knowledgeble w/herps...trying to find a good vet has been tough...she looks good otherwise, doesn't seem to have lost any weight despite the fact that she does not seem interested in meal worms right now...even left some in a dish overnight and she didn't touch them (normally never leave food in overnight)...ate one cricket last night...

Any advise? Many thanks -

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Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Sorry for your loss.

This is a perefct example of why males and females DO NOT need to be housed together, especially if you do not have the proper experience or knowledge.

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    Whitney (Whitney05)3,488 Followers
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    Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

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