Leopard Gecko Care Sheet
Scientific Name: Eublepharis macularius
Leopard geckos are nocturnal ground dwelling lizards that originate from desert areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and western India. They are one of only a few species of geckos that have eyelids, which help keep their eyes clean in their dusty natural environment. They are very popular pets, in part because of their ability to thrive in captivity but also because of their docile dispositions, their openness for being handled and as most leopard gecko owners will attest to – their charming personalities.
Adult leopard geckos will grow to around 9 inches, with males typically being larger than females and when cared for properly have been known to live up to 20-years in captivity. The leopard gecko’s name comes from the full-body spotting that is typically found on an adult leopard gecko. Ironically though, the leopard gecko’s appearance has evolved tremendously over the past 10-years and many of the popular morphs today have eliminated the spotting that gave this gecko its moniker. Here at Cambridge Gecko we specialise in some of the most extreme color morphs available today, from the bright orange of our Tangerine Rainwater Albinos, the awesome colour of our Sunglows, to the complex combinations of various morphs of leopard gecko.
Regardless of whether you are a hobbyist/breeder or a pet owner our advice is the same and that is to keep it simple. For pet owners your best option is a wooden or plastic or glass vivarium enclosure while the hobbyist/breeder who will be keeping several geckos should look to a rack system. In order for your leopard gecko to thrive there are five basic requirements within the enclosure, which are heat, substrate, shelter and water/minerals and of course food
We believe it is best for the heat to be provided from below. In the case of a glass enclosure you can use an under tank heater, while the breeder’s best option for a rack system is heat cable or heat tape controlled by a thermostat. Because leopard ecko’s are cold-blooded and rely on their environment to control body temperature it is important that the heat source remains at approximately 90F and is situated at one end. This will give the leopard gecko the ability to thermo regulate by moving from the heat source to a cooler area of the enclosure ranging in the high 70’s to low 80’s. In other words do not heat the entire enclosure. Leopard gecko’s should be exposed to light for 10-12 hours per day but because they are nocturnal they do not require a UVB light.
For ease of cleaning and health purposes we recommend using a floor lino or paper towels. DO NOT use sand as this can cause the leopard gecko to be impacted within their digestive track should they ever ingest it.
Leopard gecko’s are nocturnal so shelters within their enclosure will provide them with a peaceful retreat to sleep or hide in. These can be as elaborate as you like or can be as simple as a plastic container turned upside down with a door cut into it to allow the leopard gecko’s passage. At least one of these hide areas should be kept moist, to assist the shedding process, using damp coco husk or moss. We recommend putting the dry shelter close to the heat source while the moist hide is placed at the cool end.
A vital ingredient to proper bone development and overall heath in leopard gecko’s is calcium. We use a 2:1 ratio of Calcium carbonate and Nutrobol. This along with fresh water must be available at all times and can be provided by utilizing a shallow dish.
Leopard gecko’s diet typically consists of crickets and meal worms. They may also readily accept silkworms, waxworms, or pinkie mice, but these food items should only be given as a supplement as they are high in fat content. Leopard gecko’s that are under 4 months should be fed about 5 crickets every day and juveniles and adults should be fed about 9 crickets or mealworms three times a week. Crickets should be appropriately sized for the gecko and as a general guideline we feed 1/2 sized crickets for hatchlings that are under six weeks old and then feed 2/3 sized crickets right up to and including adulthood. Insects should be gutloaded with either a commercial gut load product or a mix of fish flakes or dried dog biscuit added to shredded vegetables. Gut loading ultimately means that the prey insect will pass on beneficial nutrients to your gecko. Food items should be dusted with calcium/vitamin powder mix or two days calcium one day vitamins. Crickets can be put in the enclosure to roam but should be removed if your leopard gecko does not eat them within a few hours. Meal worms can be left in a shallow dish. As mentioned above, your gecko should always have a fresh bowl of water and a shallow dish of calcium in their enclosure.
Leopard Gecko Health
Leopard geckos are very hardy animals in captivity if they are properly fed, housed and are kept in
regularly cleaned enclosure health problems will be unlikely.
Before buying a leopard gecko ensure you know where your local vets are in case of the need of health problems.
Leopard gecko’s will shed their skin approximately every four weeks. Prior to each shed the gecko will start to appear dull in coloration. It is very important to ensure that the leopard gecko’s has a moist area in its habitat during this period to aid the shedding process. Shedding typically takes a few hours to complete and while you may see some of the shed skin at the bottom of the cage, it is often eaten immediately by the gecko. If your gecko has any unshed skin, which can happen in areas like the toes, we suggest letting your leopard gecko soak in a shallow container of luke warm water for 30 minutes.
You can then assist the process by gently removing the skin using tweezers.
Handling your leopard gecko
Leopard geckos often are very open to being handled and can become very tame with regular contact.
Always take great care when handling a leopard gecko and it is important to never hold or constrain a leopard gecko by its tail. The tail of a leopard gecko can detach as part of a defense mechanism called caudal autotomy. If your leopard gecko does drop its tail, it will grow a regenerated tail, but it will have a different appearance than the original.
We hope this care sheet has provided you with some useful information and insights into Leopard Gecko’s. We are always available to support our clients so please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail should you have any further questions.