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Care and Keeping of Leopard Geckos

Updated on January 1, 2014

Leopard Geckos

Today leopard geckos are one of the most popular pets as far as reptiles go. They originated in the deserts of many parts of the world. They have tiny claws, which makes them not so good climbers. Leopard geckos have been bread since the 1970s, and because its fairly easy, many breeders have been able to create leopard gecko morphs (that would explain the variety of leopard geckos you see at petco).

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Aging of a Leopard gecko
Aging of a Leopard gecko | Source

Age, Size, and weight

When a leopard gecko is a baby it is most likely to have bands instead of spots. It is hard to tell the age of a leopard gecko, but when they are about a year old is when there bands start turning into spots. They can live to about 20 years or longer if taken care of properly.

Leopard geckos are the largest of the geckos species. On average, hatchlings are about 3-4 inches long and weigh 2-5 grams. Grown female leopard geckos can get 7-8 inches long and weigh about 50-70 grams. Adult males can get anywhere from 8 to 11 inches long and weigh 60-80 grams.

Male or Female

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Sexing a Leopard Gecko

Gender Differences

So your getting a leopard gecko but you are not sure if you should get a female or a male...well let me help you. Typically you will have to wait a few months before you will be able to tell the sex of your gecko. Once in a while a breeder will know the sex of their baby leopard geckos because the incubation temperature can affect whether the gecko is a female or a male.

The best way to determine the sex of a leopard gecko is to observe their underside where the tail meets the body. There are a few different methods to determine the sex of your gecko but the easiest way would be to look at the base of their tail. The males will have 2 hemipenal bumps/bulges, where females will not have any hemipenal bumps/bulges.

Food and water

Leopard geckos love live insects! They are a must for a leopard geckos diet. The best insects to feed your gecko would be crickets and mealworms, but waxworms or superworms make a nice treat once a week.

So you go to buy your crickets and are not sure what size to get... you should get crickets that are no longer than the size of your geckos head. A young leopard gecko should get 5-8 crickets at a time once a day. If your gecko doesn't eat them all then try giving him less next time until you find a good balance. Older geckos should get 5-10 crickets every other day.

Mealworms are one of the most common food sources for leopard gecko owners. They are cheaper and last longer than crickets. Same as with crickets, your mealworms should not be any longer than your geckos head. 20-30 meal worms can be put into a dish for your gecko.


You should dust all insects with calcium and vitamin D powder before feeding them to your gecko. *This is very important*


Keep fresh chlorine free water in a shallow dish available for your leopard gecko at all times!

Habitat Check List

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Housing

Your leopard gecko should have a 10-20 gallon tank and be at least 1 foot tall. You can keep 2-3leopard geckos max in a 20 gallon tank. you should provide multiple places for your gecko to hide and things such as branches, non toxic plants, rocks and logs. As well as hiding areas, your leopard geckos need a basking area. Each gecko should have its own basking spot. This can be a flat smooth rock or piece of wood. Your enclosure should also have a wire mesh lid that secures on to the tank.

Substrate

A young leopard gecko might ingest sand, so it is recommended that you used substrates such as newspaper, artificial turf, paper towel, or habitat carpeting.

Temperature

The warm end or basking area in the tank should be about 95o F and the cooler end should be 78oF - 88oF. To ensure that your geckos home is the proper temperature you should purchase a thermometer.

Heat tapers, under tank heaters, and overhead heat sources are used to maintain the overall temperature throughout the cage. Red or Black basking lights are used to create hot spots (basking areas) within the cage.

Lighting

Leopard geckos require 10-12 hours of light a day. Where many reptiles need UVB lighting, leopard geckos do not because they are nocturnal. You can use black heat lamps, red lamps, or a ceramic heater. Lights should be placed outside of the tank on top of the tank.

Humidity

For proper shedding and to prevent dehydration, your leopard geckos humidity level should be 40% or lower. You can monitor this using a hygrometer. You must provide a shed box for your gecko. Its basically a hide box but with a moist substrate to aid the shedding process.

*Important*

Do not house more than one male in an enclosure.

POLL

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Maintenance

Your geckos tank is basically a litter box that needs to be cleaned, but its also your geckos home, so I'm sure your little buddy would appreciate it if everyday you removed the waste from his enclosure. You should also clean out any dead feeder insects or skin that has been shed. It is also recommended that you clean any fecal matter off of any objects. You also need to clean and disinfect water bowls

Once a week you should do a full clean down. The best time to do this would be at dusk or early morning hours. You need to clean and disinfect the whole enclosure and any interior items or decorations. You also need to clean and disinfect any feeding or watering bowls and replace the enclosures substrate.

Extra Info

  • When leopard geckos are agitated they will bark
  • Unlike most geckos, leopard geckos don't have sticky pads on their feet. They have claws instead.
  • Their tails are used as an emergency fat and water supply.
  • Leopard geckos have eyelids so they can blink and close their eyes (most geckos can not).
  • If a leopard gecko is being attacked it will drop its tail as a distraction and run. They can do this multiple times because their tails will grow back. (In other words NEVER pick up or hold your gecko by its tail!)


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      Painted platy 15 months ago

      I have one leopard gecko in a 10 gallon tank I was wondering if I could add one more leopard gecko to the tank? Also my one leopard gecko is yellow she is only a few months old could she change color with age?