Is a leopard gecko the right pet for you?
When trying to choose a new pet, it's important to have realistic expectations about what owning that pet is like. You don't want to find out that your new pet isn't what you expected/wanted after you already obtain the animal, then have to face caring for something that you might not be very interested in, or putting the animal through the stress of moving to a new home.
Leopard geckos (leos) are a small, nocturnal, desert dwelling reptiles. They have an average lifespan of between 10 and 15 years in captivity and are normally between 7 to 10 inches long as full grown adults. Leopard geckos are one of the easiest species of reptiles to maintain in captivity. They are a commonly recommended species to potential owners who are new to keeping reptiles. With prices ranging from very cheap (or even sometimes free), to very expensive for higher end morphs, there is a leopard gecko out there to fit every budget. Leos require a fairly easy to maintain habitat and are, in general, calm and easy to handle. They are usually pretty healthy and if cared for properly they have relatively long life spans.
However, if your leo does become sick it's important to understand that vets who treat exotic pets are often times more expensive than your typical dog and cat vet. Also something that some people might not enjoy is the fact that leopard geckos are insectivores, which means they must be fed live insects. In most environments they will require an under tank heater to keep their tank at the proper temperatures. Since leopard geckos are nocturnal, you may not see them much during the day time.
How do you decide if a leopard gecko is the right pet for you? It can help to make a pros and cons list, listing the benefits and cons that come with owning a gecko. Here are some examples to get you started.
- Long life span
- Small size, which means they don't require huge enclosures
- Easy to breed in captivity so you can easily find captive bred animals
- Range of prices means that almost everyone could find one that they can afford
- They come in a verity of different morphs, so you can pick the kind that is most visually pleasing to you
- Normally easy to handle and rarely bite
- Do not require special lighting like some reptiles do because they are nocturnal
- They are nocturnal, so may not be very active during the day
- Life span (if you do not want a pet you'll have to care for for many years to come)
- In most climates, they will require a heat source (usually an under tank heater) to keep their enclosure at the proper temperatures
- Insectivores - they need to be provided with a verity of live insects
- They spend most of their time hiding, so you may not see them very often
- Most tolerate being handled, but they do not seek out human affection the way that some other pets do
- Veterinarians that treat reptiles are usually expensive
Once you do that, you must decide if, for you, the pros of owning the animal outweigh the cons. And of course, before you get any new pet, make sure that you do plenty of research and that you can properly provide for your new animal.