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Leopard Gecko Care

Congratulations on welcoming a Leopard Gecko to your family. We here at Four Seasons Animal Hospital want to help you with your new friend, starting with the basics...

History

Leopard geckos are originally from the grassland and desert regions of India and Pakistan. The vast majority of pets are captive bred and hatched. Leopard geckos are nocturnal, terrestrial, long-lived lizards that make excellent pets. Color & Size The wild or standard type Leopard gecko is yellow with a variable pattern of dark pigment that is banded in juveniles and reticulated in adults. There are also many other color and pattern morphs available including albinos, leucistic (completely pattern-free with only faint traces of yellow color), striped and “high” yellow. Adults are typically 6.5-8 inches (16.5-20 cm) long. Leopard geckos can live 25-30 years. These species typically reach sexual maturity between 9-18 months.

Diet

● Feed leopard geckos a variety of gut-loaded or dusted insects of appropriate size such as crickets, Phoenix worms, mealworms, and superworms. May be fed the occasional pinky mouse.

● Dust the non-breeding adult’s diet with a calcium carbonate or calcium gluconate supplement once weekly, more often if the gecko is actively breeding. Calcium supplements should be devoid or low in phosphorus with a minimum Ca:P ratio of 2:1. A general vitamin/mineral supplement may also be offered once weekly.

● Feed adult geckos once daily and offer prey in late afternoon because these lizards are primarily nocturnal.

Shedding

Like most lizards, geckos do shed. When this is about to happen the gecko’s body colors will get much duller (white) and the skin will begin to separate from the body. Leopard Geckos tend to eat all of their skin in the process of shedding. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, the act of shedding takes a lot of energy, so much in fact that that energy needs to be replaced fast and the old skin is readily available. Secondly, the eating of their skin also occurs because in the wild it is smart not to leave a trail and eating that trail is the solution.

Housing

Cage Size & Design

A single male requires a long, 10-15 gallon (38-57 L) aquarium at minimum.

Cage Furniture

Offer leopard geckos hiding places to provide visual security. Also provide low- intensity full spectrum lighting during the day for optimal absorption of dietary calcium. Although leopard geckos are nocturnal exposure to UV-B light seems to be helpful. Offer rocks and logs as climbing structures for exercise.

Temperature

Provide a temperature gradient of 70-80°F (21-27°C) and a warm area that reaches 90°F (32°C). Drop night temperatures to the 70s (21-23°C).

Humidity & Water

Strive for a relative humidity of approximately 40-60%. Provide a shallow water dish and a moist hide area, but make sure the remainder of the habitat is dry.

Temperament

Males will fight each other, but can coexist well with one or more females.

Restraint

Leopard geckos utilize tail autonomy, a defense mechanism that utilizes tail loss. A vertical fracture plane of fibroconnective tissue and cartilage runs through the body and part of the neural arch of each caudal vertebrae. The tail can fall off when grasped, sometimes when very little pressure is applied. The tail will regrow as a cartilaginous rod.

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