Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) Care Sheet

Description: Leopard Geckos are medium-sized ground dwelling geckos belonging to the family eublepharidae. Unlike some other geckos that can scale smooth surfaces such as glass, leopard geckos lack the pads covered microscopic hairs that allow them to do so. Leopard Geckos do possess claws, and are capable of climbing to a more limited extent, however.

Leopard Geckos typically grow to be between 7” and 11” in length, and a wide range of color morphs exist due to their longtime popularity in the herpetoculture hobby. Another notable feature of Leopard Geckos is their tail, which serves two important functions; energy storage and self defense. Their tails  store energy in the form of fat, which is important as prey is only abundantly available on a seasonal basis in their native habitat. This allows them to ride out the lean months by burning the fat stored in their tails. Their tails also serve as a defense mechanism against predators by detaching from their bodies if the gecko feels threatened. The tail can twitch on the ground by itself for as long as thirty minutes, to lure any potential predators away from the fleeing gecko. Although losing their tail isn’t particularly harmful for the gecko, and it will regrow though with less functionality, it is still stressful for them and this should be taken into account when handling them. It is important never to grasp your gecko by the tail, and to avoid startling it with sudden movements from above or behind as this could cause its tail to drop.

Leopard Geckos are neither nocturnal nor diurnal, but are considered to be cathemeral, meaning that they are active during sporadic periods throughout the 24 hour cycle. This means that you can reasonably expect to see your gecko out and about at any time, though they do spend a fair amount of time hiding as well.

Native Range: Leopard Geckos are native to the grasslands, shrublands and deserts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northwest India and some parts of Iran. Specimens bred in captivity are readily available.

Life Span: 10-20 years

Diet: Leopard Geckos are obligate insectivores, meaning that their diet consists solely of insects. Any of the insect feeders sold at our store will be readily taken, so long as they are of an appropriate size. Ask one of our staff if you are unsure about the right size feeder for your animal. It is important to note that you should offer your gecko a variety of insects that are occasionally dusted with a calcium and mineral supplement with D3 in order to keep them happy and healthy. Gut loading, or feeding your feeder insects nutritious food items, is another way to increase the total nutrition content of your feeders.

Housing: A Leopard Gecko may be kept in a glass aquarium measuring 20” L x 10” W x 12” H at a minimum, however if you choose to house your gecko  in something larger it would probably be appreciated. In any case, make sure you furnish your enclosure with lots of things for the gecko to hide in or under. At a minimum, your gecko  should have one hiding place on the hot side of their tank and one on the cool side. One of these should also have some humid substrate in it to facilitate shedding when necessary.

Other things to include in your enclosure might include a water dish and a small food dish, and additional objects for your gecko to climb over and explore. Acceptable substrates for Leopard Geckos include, but may not be limited to; repticarpet, slate tile, paper towel and dry plantation soil. Sand substrates should be avoided due to their high risk of causing impaction.

Temperature and Lighting: Under-tank heating is an excellent option for leopard geckos as they tend to spend a lot of time in their hides. Some light should be provided on a 12 hour cycle in order to stimulate their natural rhythms, however UVB and basking lights are optional. However you choose to heat your enclosure, it should reach a temperature between 85 and 90 degrees fahrenheit (29-32 degrees C) on the hot side, and no lower than 70 degrees fahrenheit (21 degrees  C) on the cool side.

Additional Notes: Leopard Geckos are an excellent choice for a beginner herpetoculturalist as their light and space requirements are undemanding, and they are very tolerant of handling. When provided with a stimulating environment, they exhibit many interesting behaviors and make a rewarding pet.

Useful Products:
-Zilla 10 Gallon Critter Cage
-Zilla Repticarpet
-ZooMed Cork Bark
-Exo Terra Water Dish Sm
-Exo Terra Snake Cave Md
-ZooMed Reptitherm Under-Tank-Heater
-Exo Terra Digital Thermometer

by Andrew Cumming

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