Leopard Gecko Facts and Care Information
Have you been thinking about adopting a pet leopard gecko? These inquisitive and beautiful reptiles are a popular choice for everyone from novices to experienced reptile fans alike. They are relatively easy to care for and available in a wide array of colors and sizes. Interested in learning more about what makes the leopard gecko a great pet? Keep reading to discover why the team at Reptile Super Show loves this cute and unique lizard.
What is a Leopard Gecko?
The leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is a lizard that has been bred in captivity in the United States for over 30 years. As one of the most common pet lizards in the country, the leopard gecko is known for appearing in a variety of different sizes, colors, and patterns. They make for an ideal pet and are comfortable living in the home. One of the standout features of the leopard gecko is the fact that they are often quite vocal and like to show off their grooming skills by easily washing their eyes with their tongues. They provide hours of entertainment from their enclosures and can be carefully handled as well.
Interesting Facts About the Leopard Gecko
What’s in a Name?
The leopard gecko lizard is named for its interesting and often quite breathtaking skin pattern. Typically, leopard geckos will have yellow, brown, or white skin with dark brown spots. The younger geckos also show off alternating bands of color that will eventually break up into the spots that the adult geckos are known for as they age. Additionally, these cute little geckos have texture to their skin that can feel quite bumpy and gives them an overall rough looking appearance. However, the leopard gecko is very soft to the touch.
Male and Female Leopard Gecko Appearance
Male leopard geckos are usually more heavily built than their female counterparts featuring broad heads and thick necks. Other defining characteristics of the male gecko include a V-shaped row of pre-anal pores, post-anal swellings, and a much wider tail base. All leopard geckos are unique from other similar lizard species in that they have eyelids and do not have clinging toe pads, making it impossible for them to climb vertical surfaces.
When the leopard gecko reaches adulthood, they will be about 10 inches long, although nearly half of that length will be made up of tail alone. Additionally, like most other lizards, leopard geckos can break off their tail. This often happens in the wild due to fighting with other geckos, but can happen in captivity as well as a result of fighting or poor handling. Their tail will grow back after breaking off but often grows back in shorter, smoother, thicker and less vibrant than before.
Their Natural Habitat
In the wild, leopard geckos can be found in Asia. They prefer to live in sparse grasslands or rocky desert locations, but must have a good source of water nearby to flourish. When living in the wild, these small lizards are naturally nocturnal, hiding from high desert temperatures under rocks or in the safety of their burrow. When they are kept in captivity, it is common for leopard geckos to burrow away from the heat or shy away from bright lights.
To create a comfortable living space in your home for the leopard gecko, you should invest in a 10 to 20-gallon aquarium for one or 2 geckos. If you choose a larger tank, there is a good chance that your gecko will have too much room to roam around and may stray away from a proper heat source. It is also vital that your leopard gecko has options for hiding away, so it’s a good idea to install one or more hiding boxes that they can use to nap and relax in. To make the hiding boxes extra cozy and comfortable, set them up with some moist moss or vermiculite that will allow your gecko to shed away their skin with ease. Additionally, if you plan on breeding your gecko, a comfortable hide box is an essential addition to their enclosure.
To keep your leopard gecko warm, you’ll also need to invest in under the tank heating with a pad or tape. Heating one end of the cage is ideal for optimal comfort, providing your gecko with temperature variation. While heat rocks may look great, they should be avoided in your gecko’s enclosure, as they can become too hot and result in burns. The ideal temperature inside of your gecko’s hiding box should be between 88 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, a simple low-watt light should be placed overhead on the gecko’s tank and left on for no more than 12 hours each day.
What Does the Leopard Gecko Eat?
The leopard gecko is a carnivorous lizard that likes to stalk their prey, much like a cat. In the wild, they will feed off of a wide variety of different insects, but they do not eat any plants or vegetation. At home, you can feed your gecko a steady diet of crickets or mealworms. To treat your little geckos, feel free to offer them a snack made up of waxworms or superworms no more than once per week.
To make sure your geckos stays healthy, it’s important to load the insects of your choice up with a nutritious powdered diet at least 12 hours before feeding them to your pet. This feeding process is referred to as “gut loading” and is essential to the overall health and well-being of your pet gecko. Another great way of ensuring that your pet gecko has plenty of vitamins and nutrients is to dust your insects with powders that are designed to deliver essential vitamins and minerals into the gecko’s diet.
Fresh water is also a must in your gecko’s habitat and should be available at all times. However, the rest of your gecko’s enclosure needs to remain dry, so be sure to secure their water dish down so that it is stable and cannot be easily spilled. Your gecko must be able to climb in and out of the water dish with ease, so make sure it is placed in an easily accessible area of their tank as well.
Do Leopard Geckos Have Natural Predators?
When living in the wild, the leopard gecko must be aware of several natural predators. These include:
- Other Large Reptiles
- Carnivorous Mammals
- And More
Luckily, this fast and inquisitive little lizard has a keen sense of sight and hearing that makes it easy for them to escape from predators during the night. Additionally, their unique skin pattern helps to keep them concealed from predators, acting as camouflage.
Leopard Gecko Reproduction
The leopard gecko usually reproduces in the summer month. The females can store sperm throughout the breeding season, making it possible to produce up to 3 clutches after just one or 2 copulations. This means that male geckos aren’t often needed for successful breeding after one or 2 encounters with female geckos. The females typically lay eggs 21 to 28 days after mating, with clutches consisting of 2 eggs. Owners can then expect to see the eggs hatch 45 to 60 days later and for hatchlings to shed for the first time with 24 hours after hatching. This is especially significant because hatchlings are unable to eat until after their first shedding.
Leopard Gecko Temperament
While leopard geckos can be safely handled by their owners, it’s a good rule of thumb not to handle them too often during their first few months of life. In fact, experts recommend that they aren’t handled regularly after you first bring them home. However, they can be handled more often after they have settled into their new surroundings and reached a base length of at least 6 inches. Once they are large enough, owners should keep them calm during handling by sitting down on the floor and letting them crawl around hand-over-hand for no more than 10 to 15 minutes each day. This will allow them to become familiar with your touch and feel comfortable outside of their enclosure.
Other Fun Facts About Leopard Geckos
- The temperature that gecko eggs are kept during incubation will determine the sex of the hatchling. At 80 degrees, most geckos will be born female and at 91 degrees, most will be male.
- Leopard geckos have moveable eyelids, making it easy for them to blink and close their eyes when they sleep.
- Geckos store metabolic water and fat in their tails.
- Leopard geckos are vocal and have been known to give off a small “bark” when they are agitated.
- When hunting, defending their territory, or mating, they will shake their tails.
- Leopard geckos can see much better than most other lizards and have vision skills that are comparable to the average house cat.
Find New Leopard Gecko Friends at The Reptile Super Show
Ready to bring a leopard gecko home? Find a variety of exotic lizards for sale, accessories, food, aquariums, and more at the next Reptile Super Show in your area. For more information on our upcoming shows, contact us today to learn more.