Leopard Geckos

Biological Facts

  • Leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius)
  • Usually live 8-10 years; life span >20 years of age has been reported
  • Terrestrial animal from a desert environment
  • Hatchlings measure 3 to 4 inches long. Adult females are typically 7 to 8 inches, and males are 8 to 10 inches.
  • Store fat in the tail for times of low food availability
Behavior
  • Nocturnal
  • Able to live alone or in pairs
  • Generally docile animal that tolerates some handling
  • Will drop their tail as a defense mechanism if frightened.  If lost, the tail will usually regenerate in a matter of months.
  • Geckos normally eat their shed skin.
Diet
  • Mostly insectivorous – feed a variety of prey items such as crickets, mealworms, superworms, phoenix worms, flies, roaches, etc., can eat an occasional pinkie mouse.
  • Prey insects should be “gut loaded” with a nutritious diet for at least 12 hours prior to feeding to your gecko.  This powdered gut loading diet for feeder insects is available at most pet stores.
  • Dust feeder insects with a calcium supplement 3-4 times per week.  You may also provide the calcium powder in a shallow dish.
  • Preferably feed smaller more frequent meals (3-4 insects per day) rather than larger meals less often.
  • Provide a shallow water dish for drinking and soaking.
Environment
  • 10-20 gallon aquarium or similar cage is usually sufficient for 1-2 individuals.
  • A shy, nocturnal species that requires a hide box.  This shelter should be designed so the gecko can be easily removed from its hiding place, if necessary.
  • Requires appropriate humidity for proper shedding – provide a moist hide box (with moistened peat moss, vermiculite, or paper towels inside it), mist the tank daily, or provide a humidifier or reptile misting system.
  • Heating one end of the cage allows for a temperature variation that your lizard needs.  Provide a temperature gradient of 85-90°F (29.4-32.2ºC) on the warm side and 78-80°F (25.6-26.7ºC) on the cool side.  Cage temperature can drop into the 70’s at night.
  • The best heat source is either a heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter placed above the enclosure.  Under-tank heaters and hot rocks are not as safe or effective.
  • UVB lighting is recommended – 5.0% UVB or greater for 12 hours a day.  The cage should be dark at night.  Although leopard geckos are nocturnal, direct and indirect exposure to UVB radiation will benefit overall health.
  • Recommend a non-particulate substrate such as newspaper, paper towels, or reptile carpet; sand, walnut shell, etc. can cause impactions if ingested and irritation of the eyes.
Preventive Care
  • Routine physical examination every 6 to 12 months
  • Consult a veterinarian with experience treating reptiles if you have any questions or concerns about your leopard gecko’s health.
  • Annual fecal examination for parasites
  • Blood tests as recommended by your veterinarian
Common Medical Disorders
  • Retained shed leading to loss of toenails, digits, or tail tips
  • Retained shed or foreign material in the eye leading to infections and vision loss
  • Abscesses
  • Hemipenal casts (males only)
  • Egg binding (females only)
  • Calcium deficiency (“metabolic bone disease”)
  • Internal parasites
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