Leopard Gecko Care
Just the Basics. We didn't write a book...
The term morph generally applies to the animals appearance. It's color, pattern and combinations of those two. There are now literally hundreds of morphs and more appearing every day. It all has to do with genetics, and combining traits through selective breeding processes. The basic care for all morphs is the same. Morph prices are constantly changing due to the basics of supply and demand. There are a few morphs with known issues associated with that morph. They are not commonly offered on the market.
My Gecko Smiles!
A leopard gecko when viewed face on appears to be smiling! It is a unique trait of these geckos, and is commonly seen.
They have another interesting trait as well, you can see through their ears! The ear openings line up just behind their skull, so if you hold them at just the right angle, you can see light through their ears!
Leopard Geckos in the wild
Ironically, we know very little about leopard geckos in the wild. They come from a range from Northern Iraq, down through Afghanistan, Pakistan and down in to India. Much of this area has been in political unrest for decades, so there have been no documented studies of them in their native habitat.
Care in Captivity
Please keep in mind there are many, many ways to keep your pet We encourage you to research and learn more all the time. Please feel free to look at how we keep our animals in the shop and ask questions.
Leopard geckos have been bred in captivity since the early 1970s. It is believed that the original animals collected were not all exactly the same species, so pet leopard geckos are actually most likely hybrids of a few very similar species.
The Leopard Geckos natural habitat is characterized by sandy gravel, jumbled rocks, hard clay, coarse grasses and drought resistant shrubs. The gecko’s bumpy, spotted skin, which stands out so well in captivity, provides excellent camouflage against its natural habitat. These are harsh lands, where food and water may be unavailable for months on end, and it is likely adaptation to such extremes explains its hardiness in captivity.
When choosing substrate for their enclosure, try to duplicate that of nature. For our personal collection, we use a mix of reptile safe sand, coco fiber bedding and some cypress mulch or leaf litter scattered around. The ReptiLite Sand we sell in the shop is a good starting point; it is specifically milled down to tiny little ball shapes so it won't cause impaction if swallowed.
In captivity they have been kept in many types of enclosures, and seem to adapt to just about anything. So determining which cage setup works best is more what works best for you. Commonly, they are kept in glass terrariums, about the size of a 20 gallon aquarium.
They are nocturnal by nature, but will come out in daylight to get food when offered, and to check out things happening around their enclosure. Provide a few choices of hide areas, but keep in mind when they are ready for a nap they will burrow as far into it as they can. So make sure you can get them out if needed. Provide at least one hide on the warm side of their habitat, and one on the cooler side. Also add some moss or moist bedding to the cooler hide, to aid in shedding their skin.
When leopard geckos shed, they will eat the old skin! This allows them to recycle the nutrients and calcium they lose in the process.
For heat, under tank or low wattage heat lamps work fine. Possibly a combination depending on how large an enclosure you make and the temp of your house. In their native habitats it gets very hot during the day, but they are not normally out in the open then, but rather hiding from the sun. Make one end of the enclosure the heated side, the other room temperature. They can decide where they want to be as their daily routine changes.
Recent studies have shown that a low output UVB Bulb has some benefit to them. For decades they have been kept without any, but it may be beneficial to consider.
For diet, they eat exclusively bugs. Ours primarily eat mealworms or dubia roaches. Crickets are ok on occasion, but not a primary diet. Their digestive tract is a little different that other lizards and even other geckos, and they seem to do better with thicker skinned insects.
You can tell a healthy leo from its plump tail, they hold all their body weight there. If the tail starts looking skinny, time to up the food. If it continues, consult your veterinarian.
Also supplement a good quality Calcium with Vitamin D3. The Repashy brand with the leopard gecko picture on front is perfect. Sprinkle a little on the bugs, or put some in a small bowl for them. We sell a cheap mealworm bowl by Lees that is perfect, It has rounded edges to keep the bugs in, and they scramble in the calcium dust while in there. The scrambling noise seems to attract the geckos attention, and very likely imitates the sound of bugs between rocks and branches in the wild.
Fresh water should be offered weekly. As desert animals they don't drink it much, but they do need some from time to time.
Leopard geckos seem to be semi communal in captivity. Most of our personal ones have one or two friends with them. We literally have had females that will mope and stop eating when separated from a long term companion. Females almost always get along together, males you have to watch closer. They can get competitive when mature, and aggressive towards other competing males. It is easier to avoid this in larger terrariums with multiple hide areas.