Bringing a leopard gecko into your home is a day you will remember fondly for years to come. If you grew up with cats, dogs or other pets, you know how much joy pets bring to life. Some aspects of feeding and caring for pets are universal such as the need to pay attention to them on a daily basis and check on their health. However, there are some special considerations to keep in mind when it comes to caring for leopard geckos. To start your new life as a leopard gecko owner, you need to get prepared with this leopard gecko care sheet.
To better understand your leopard gecko as a pet, let’s contrast them to cats and dogs – two of the most common pets. At first glance, the most significant differences are visual: cats and dogs have hair while geckos do not have hair. Further, geckos tend to be much smaller in size than cats or dogs. Their small size makes them ideal pets for smaller living spaces like residences, apartments and condominiums. Compared to dogs, geckos are low maintenance and do not require daily walks or similar guided activities. The lack of hair and dander means geckos are relatively easy to care for: no extra vacuuming is required. While geckos have many fine qualities, they are less well known than other pets. Let’s review a few key facts that reptile enthusiasts and scientists have discovered about reptiles over the years.
5 Key Facts About The Leopard Gecko
As one of the most popular reptile pets, leopard geckos are becoming more available to reptile enthusiasts. Whether you are adding a leopard gecko to your home for the first time or shopping for accessories, it makes sense to start with understanding where your gecko came from. As leopard geckos rarely exceed ten inches long when fully grown, they fit well in most homes. Female geckos tend to be slightly smaller with a maximum size of about eight inches.
1. Geographic Origins
The first known mention of the leopard gecko dates from the 1850s when Edward Blyth described them. The first geckos were discovered in central Asia covering Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan and other countries. Their natural habitat is best described as relatively dry grassland. When winter temperatures of 50 F (-10 C) arrive, geckos seek out burrows to stay warm.
Over the past forty years, geckos have been bred for captivity and kept as pets throughout the world. It’s worth keeping their origins in mind as you create a safe and comfortable living space for your gecko. If you happen to live in a very cold place like Alaska, remember that geckos are used to being able to burrow for warmth. Therefore, you need to keep your gecko’s needs in mind.
2. Climbing Ability
Leopard geckos are known for their skill and fondness for climbing. In the right context, it’s fun to watch your gecko explore and move around. However, keep in mind these creatures love to explore so they may get loose within your home. If you’re not paying attention, a leopard gecko might end up on top of a bookcase or somewhere else quickly. Note that leopard geckos cannot easily climb smooth surfaces so keep that restriction in mind as you arrange their environment.
3. Shedding Skin
Unlike humans, leopard geckos shed their skin in large pieces. As a general rule, adult geckos tend to shed their skins once per month while their younger brethren shed more frequently as they grow. If you notice the gecko’s skin start to change color, that may be a sign that they are about to shed. Geckos need to shed their skin to stay healthy and avoid uncomfortable irritations.
You may notice that your gecko eats its skin after it is shed. This is perfectly normal behavior – there’s no need for concern if you see this happening. As a result, your gecko’s appetite may temporarily decline. If your gecko is healthy, you can expect their appetite to return after the shedding process is complete.
4. Leopard Gecko Colors
Did you know that there are multiple breeds of leopard geckos? The main difference between the breeds comes down to colors. For example, tangerine geckos are mostly orange colored. Most geckos have patterns of color like “leopard spots” (i.e. black spots on white). However, there are some gecko breeds that have relatively solid colors. The type of gecko you select will depend on your personal preferences and your home. After all, you don’t want a gecko that blends in too easily with your furniture!
5. Typical Illnesses.
Like any living creature, geckos sometimes suffer from various illnesses and diseases. Happily, geckos are not associated with transmitting illnesses to humans. Some gecko illnesses like anorexia (i.e. not eating at all or very little) can be prevented by maintaining a clean, low stress environment. If you take the time and effort to regularly clean the gecko’s living space and provide quality food, you will probably not have to worry about most gecko diseases. IF you are particularly concerned about a health situation, do your research for a veterinarian to find one with experience with this type of reptile.
Leopard geckos are a great introduction to the world of reptile pets. Unlike snakes, few people are afraid of geckos so you don’t need to worry about visitors having a bad reaction. Leopard geckos originate from a part of the world known for extreme temperatures so your gecko will be comfortable in your home. As the leopard gecko has been bred in captivity in recent years, you have your pick of a selection of color patterns. If you remember to regularly check on your gecko and keep their living space clean, you have the basics of gecko care handled.
What You Need To Know About Reptile Behavior
It’s time to explore the world of reptile behavior! While every gecko has unique qualities, there are some basic patterns you can expect. Unlike cats and dogs, geckos and reptiles have not been kept as pets for thousands of years. That means you and your pet reptile will need some time to get to know each other. Taking the time to understand your gecko’s eating habits, special abilities and biology is a great way to make sure the relationship starts off on the right foot. This leopard gecko care sheet gives you the overview you need to get started.
What exactly do geckos like to eat? The ideal gecko diet is live insects – anything else may be refused. The most popular food for leopard gecko pets are mealworms and crickets. If you want your gecko to thrive, stay focused on the insect diet. Attempting to switch your gecko to a vegetarian diet is likely not a wise idea. If you’re looking to enhance your geckos diet, consider other small insects like super worms or wax worms as an alternative. The best practice is to provide live insects for feeding – other options may be refused by your gecko. Fortunately, leopard geckos are a popular pet so you should have no trouble getting the right food.
Leopard geckos have some notable behaviors when it comes to their tails. If they are under attack or feel they are under attack, they have the ability to drop their tail. If your gecko’s tail falls off while you are playing with them, that’s a sign your actions may have been perceived as an attack. Fortunately, the tail will grow back over time thought it may not look the same. This ability to regrow a body part is found in some other animals. For example, some sharks have the ability to regrow teeth. That said, losing a tail is not exactly a pleasant experience for your gecko so strive to avoid those kinds of stressful conditions.
Temperature appears to play a major role in influencing the sex of leopard geckos. For example, breeders seeking to obtain mainly females usually keep the incubation area warmed to approximately 79-81 F. In contrast, if you are seeking predominantly male geckos, aim for a higher incubation temperature such as 88-91 F. As these facts suggest, there’s a “sweet spot” when it comes to breeding geckos. Stray to far from these ideal ranges and you may not like the results.
What have we learned so far about reptile behavior? First, you learned about your gecko’s special dietary needs – it’s all about the insects. That might sound monotonous for a human but that’s what geckos are used to and best suited for eating. We also learned about the gecko’s unique abilities when it comes to their tail – they can shed it and regrow another one. Finally, you learned how temperature during incubation influences whether you end up with female or male geckos. Of course, you will learn more about your individual’s geckos preferences over time. That said, you can’t expect too much change like your gecko suddenly decide to become vegan.
How To Interact With Your Pet Gecko: Handling and Temperament
Over the past fifty years, more and more geckos have enjoyed long lives as pets. That means there is great information available today on how to care for leopard geckos. The good news – that past experience means you don’t have to guess too much about how to play with your gecko. Now for the bad news – geckos have certain expectations when it comes to handling. If you mishandle your gecko, you may lead them to panic. Just like us, an upset gecko may stop eating for a while, try to hide or may even experience anxiety related health problems. Don’t worry – a few simple tips will keep you on the straight and narrow.
Getting to know a young gecko is a bit like dating: it’s best to start slow. Take your gecko out of its habitat for ten to fifteen minutes at a time and allow it to explore. If you would like to be able to handle and play with your gecko, allow it to walk around on your hands. It’s best to avoid gripping the gecko tightly – that’s an easy way to hurt your new pet especially if it is young. Keep in mind that geckos have claws so you might have some discomfort as you get used to handling your gecko.
Your leopard gecko’s temperament and personality will evolve over time. Juvenile geckos are known to be somewhat skittish and scare easily. Given that fact, use extra caution. That means handling them gently and moving slowly – fast movements have a tendency to upset geckos. Adult geckos tend to be calmer yet some geckos are more friendly with humans than others. There is debate on whether gecko friendliness is inherited or not. Over time, researchers may come up with answers.
What does all this mean for your daily interaction with your gecko? It boils down to a few simple principles. First, exercise added caution among young geckos. Second, handle geckos for just a few minutes at first so they can get to know you. Finally, accept your gecko’s personality – some will tend to be friendlier than others.
Where Can You Get The Leopard Gecko?
Where exactly can you find leopard geckos? There are two main options available to you: ordering from an online provider and visiting a pet store. The option you choose will depend on your preferences and your geography. Some parts of the world like many large cities tend to be well specialized with stores that offer reptiles. In other cases, local stores don’t have the kind of gecko you’re seeking. A final factor to consider is your experience with geckos and other pets. If you’re unfamiliar with geckos, you may be more comfortable with the traditional shopping experience. If you’re a die-hard reptile fan, the online shopping option is a great way to go. Keep in mind that shipping live animals presents certain challenges, so most companies will not accept international orders.
Backwater Reptiles (http://www.backwaterreptiles.com) is currently an excellent place to buy leopard geckos. With facilities in Florida, Texas and California, the company has its own facilities to breed a variety of reptiles and other exotic pets. For added convenience, the company also offers feeder insects, a gecko’s favorite food. The company’s current offerings include giant leopard geckos, albino leopard geckos, tangerine geckos and other varieties. Some varieties sell out from time to time, so contact the company if your favorite type of gecko is currently sold out. Note that the company is only able to ship to destinations in the United States.
Big Apple Pet Supply (http://www.bigappleherp.com/) offers leopard geckos, snakes and other exotic pets. Buyers on a tight budget will appreciate the fact this company offers to beat competing prices and provides free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount. At the time of this writing, most of Big Apple’s geckos are priced under $50. You also have the choice between adult and younger geckos. Some gecko enthusiasts want a mix of male and female geckos – however, this fact cannot be easily determined until the gecko attains a certain age. If you’re open to either gender, go ahead with a juvenile.
GeckoBoa Reptiles (http://www.geckoboa.com/) is a specialized pet supplier that offers reptiles to hobbyists. GeckoBoa is noteworthy for its commitment to international shipping. The company will ship to customers in the USA, Canada, UK, Germany and other destinations. In contrast to other suppliers, GeckoBoa offers geckos with unique colors – the kind you’re unlikely to see anywhere else. As a result, many of their geckos are priced over $100. If you need international shipping and you’re interested in an unusual, high end gecko, GeckBoa is the company for you.
Finding a local pet store that has leopard geckos requires some research and patience. Most pet stores in malls and similar settings are a great option if you’re seeking a dog or cat. Reptiles may not be as widely available. To make the shopping experience easier, use the following steps. First, write a few notes on what you’re looking for (e.g. a juvenile leopard gecko who has been bred to be a pet, open to any colors). Second, create a list of five local pet stores by searching on Google for “reptile pets for sale Chicago” (substitute your city). Finally, pick up the phone and ask some questions to see what kinds of reptiles they have available.
How To Set Up a Tank For The Leopard Gecko
Unlike cats and dogs, many reptiles need access to an aquatic environment to thrive. With the right care, your reptile will use the tank for years to come. So it pays to take the time to select the right one for you. Think of it this way – you probably took some time in selecting your own bed so you can get a good night’s rest each day. If you want your reptile to be healthy and happy, they need a good tank arrangement. To keep your heating bills down and avoid injuries, do not use a wire or mesh cage.
I show you step-by-step how you should set up your Leo tank! Click here for my guide!
Start by selecting an appropriately sized tank. A twenty gallon tank is recommended for a single gecko. If you have multiple geckos, you can scale the tank up to accommodate three geckos in a sixty gallon tank. If you have more than three geckos, you will need to look into getting separate tanks for them. Otherwise, your geckos may become unhappy and stressed out with their crowded habitat.
While you’re ordering a tank, do yourself a favor and buy two tanks for your home. Why? There’s a few reasons to have a backup tank in place. From time to time, you will need to clean up the tank or put in new accessories. While you’re cleaning up the tank, a backup tank gives your gecko somewhere to live. The backup tank also comes in handy if your main tank becomes damaged. While your gecko can enjoy exploring your home, there’s also a risk your gecko may get hurt if it gets trapped or if something falls on it.
Secure the top of the gecko’s habitat with a wire or mesh lad to moderate the temperature. With a mesh lid, your gecko will have access to fresh air and not have to worry about over heating. A large enough tank with glass walls will make it difficult for your gecko to escape and go wandering around in your home. Firmly attach the lid to the tank so that young children and other pets do not accidentally open the tank or disturb your geckos. (The tank above comes with a screencover.)
Location is a key consideration to keep in mind when you select and set up a tank for your leopard gecko. You will want to put the tank in a stable place where you can easily keep an eye on it. Your gecko will likely enjoy natural light so look for a place in your home that receives sun during the day, just make sure that it does not get too warm in that place, so your tank can´t overheat. If you don’t have an empty table available, look for a tank stand or table. A tank stand often includes storage space where you can easily keep your reptile supplies in one easy place.
Still not sure where to put your tank? Keep these considerations in mind to simplify the decision. First, set up the tank in a pet of your home that you maintain at a steady temperature. Therefore, a corner of your living room or kitchen is a good choice while the unheated shed in your backyard is probably not a good selection. In addition to placement within your home, you can also use heating accessories to keep your gecko comfortable.
Placing your new reptile tank in your home is the first step to making your gecko comfortable. You take the tank out of the box and put it in place in your home. You have it in a place where you can easily monitor your gecko during the day. Hopefully, you also have a spare tank in place so you can keep your gecko safe and sound while you clean its home. However, an empty tank is not enough if you want your leopard gecko to thrive in the long term. Let’s turn to the main accessories that you will want to consider in your home.
Imagine you were put in a featureless white room for a whole day – that would quickly become boring or even depressing. In the same way, your leopard gecko doesn’t like a boring environment. Give your gecko an interesting space to explore by adding accessories and other features to the tank. Decoration options on the market vary including images (e.g. a photo of a natural environment to remind your gecko of home) and artificial rocks and trees. If you provide materials for your leopard gecko to climb over, keep in mind that they cannot climb smooth surfaces. Look for a surface that approximates tree bark or the variable surfaces of rocks. Many reptile owners like to use artificial plants because they keep a consistent appearance. We’ll cover decorations and accessories in greater depth later in this guide.
Choosing The Tank Substrate
The substrate you select for the tank goes a long way toward making your gecko feel at home. In simple terms, the substrate is like the foundation of the habitat. This material goes directly on the bottom of the tank. Popular choices for substrate include tiles, paper or reptile carpet. Tiles and stones are relatively easy to clean and they’re easy for your gecko to walk on. Reptile carpet is the premium option if you want to give your gecko top notch comforts. If you’re on a budget, you can also use shelf lining or newspaper. Whichever substrate you use, periodic cleaning or changing will be necessarily to avoid infections. If you select a heavy substrate like stones or tiles, place them carefully in the tank to minimize the chance of breaking the tank’s glass.
Need more information? Click Here For My Leo Substrate Guide!
More Than Glass: Putting A Background In Place
A background image is one of the easiest ways to make your gecko feel at home. If you opt for a natural style, look for an image that corresponds to the arid areas of Central Asia where geckos came from. Alternatively, other natural settings may be suitable such as a forest or a desert. Other reptile owners prefer to use rock style backgrounds that match the rocks or hides they put in place. For the best results, buy a professionally printed color background. After all, you will end up looking at the background each day as you spend time with your new gecko friend.
Let There Be Light: Shedding Light On Your Gecko’s Home
Selecting the right lighting for your tank makes a big difference in keeping your gecko comfortable. Unlike plants, geckos do not like hour after hour of hot light. Choose a medium power light and connect it to a timer. Once you have everything set up, your gecko will have around ten hours of darkness as “night” and about fourteen hours of light for “the day.” A regular incandescent light is the right way to go.
You definitely need more information on that! Click here for My Lighting For Leopard Geckos Guide!
Privacy For Your Gecko: Inside The World of Gecko Hides
From time to time, your gecko likes to be alone. It’s a long established behavior that goes back to the gecko’s life style in arid environments. Whenever the environment became uncomfortable, a gecko would often burrow or otherwise seek shelter. You can make your leopard gecko feel more comfortable by providing a “hide” – a small shelter that hides your gecko from view. Hides are typically designed to mimic the natural features like wood or stones. Remember to choose a hide large enough for your entire gecko to enjoy. Gecko hides often resemble rocks and small caves. Best of all, many hides on the market are affordable – you can often find hides for less than $50.
When it comes to hides, geckos have specialized preferences. It is recommended to have three different types of hides in your tank: a warm hide, a cool hide and a humid/moist hide. The high humidity hide comes in handy when your gecko is looking for a place to shed its skin. The humidity makes the whole process easier. By arranging hides in the hot and cool zones of the tank, you will make life easier for your gecko to manage. Unlike mammals, geckos cannot easily manage their body height. As a result, they need a variety of options in their living environment.
Click Here To Learn How To Create A Moist Hide For Your Leopard Gecko!
Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold: Heating and Temperature Considerations
Leopard geckos expect certain temperature conditions to stay happy and healthy. This fact has direct implications for your tank arrangements. Large swings in temperature during the day and throughout the year is something to avoid. That said, you want to give your gecko some options. The typical practice is to arrange for a warm zone (kept to approximately 90 F) and a cooler zone at about 80F. That way, your gecko can move back and forth between the areas to warm up and cool down as they wish.
A heating device is commonly used to keep leopard geckos at an event temperature. Typically, these devices are put in the bottom of the tank. Be careful to select a heating pad designed with reptiles in mind – there is such a thing as too much heat. The heat pad should be made to emit on half of the tank which leaves the other half as a cool zone. To keep the heat in place, you may want to use several layers of substrate.
Click Here For My Complete Lighting/ Heating Guide!
Natural or Artificial: Plant Options For Your Gecko’s Tank
While leopard geckos do not eat plants, they do like being around plants. You have two broad choices when it comes to plants: natural and artificial. If you use natural plants, you will need to make sure that you water them and clean up debris. Popular plant choices include small green plants and desert friendly plants. On the artificial side, the main advantage is reduced maintenance for you. If upkeep is a concern for you, keep in mind that desert plants require minimal water and care. Just like the leopard gecko, desert plants are hardy and last for a long time under the right conditions. For a single gecko, two to four plants are likely sufficient.
Keep It Clean – The Number One Way To Keep Your Gecko Happy and Healthy
Did you know that public measures like clean water and sanitation management have saved millions of lives over the years? Those same principles directly apply to your gecko’s home. Frequently cleaning and quality food are the fundamental points you need to master in learning how to care for a leopard gecko. The frequency of gecko tank cleaning varies. Cleaning on a weekly basis is a good starting point if you’re not sure. If your tank is home to multiple geckos, you may need to clean more often. Use this process to clean the tank quickly and efficiently.
1. Unplug and remove all lights, heating pads and related devices
2. Take your gecko(s) out of the tank and put them in your backup tank
3. Remove the hides, plants and other permanent items from the habitat
4. Remove the substrate and throw it away if you use a disposable type
5. Remove any remaining items from the tank
6. Wash the artificial plants, hides and related items lightly with soap
7. Wash the inside and outside parts of the tank
8. Dry the tank
9. Reassemble the tank and include new substrate if applicable
10. Plug in and reposition the lights and heating pads
11. Put your gecko back into the tank
Before you get started cleaning, put on rubber gloves set aside just for this task. That way, you will minimize the chance of accidentally cutting yourself or suffering other harm. If you handle the tank carefully and clean it, it can last for years.
Accessories: Finding the Right Heat Products
Keeping your gecko at the right temperature is serious business. If you can only afford one top of the line accessory, make it the heating product. Why is it so important? There are three reasons. First, a poorly made heating pad or lamp may be dangerous to your gecko and others in your home. Second, it’s important to keep your gecko at a consistent temperature range during the day. Finally, heating is an important variable to manage if you are interested in breeding geckos.
Zoo Med Repti Therm Under Tank Heater
This heating pad is made for keeping geckos and other reptiles at just the right temperature. Designed to run twenty four hours a day, you don’t have to worry about plugging and unplugging this device. The product comes in four different sizes ranging from small (8” length by 5” width) to large (18” length by 8” width). The heater is designed to be attached directly to the tank. As the heating pad does generate considerable heat, remember to keep your gecko away from direct contact with the heating element.
Aiicioo 16 Watt Durable Reptile Under Tank Heater
This light weight heater is designed to be placed underneath your reptile tank. Weighing only 1.6 ounces, it is easy to install. Like the Zoo Med Tank Heater, this tank heater is designed to run twenty four hours a day. Measuring 14 x 8 inches in size, this heating product is well suited if you have a single gecko tank. If you are seeking to monitor the temperature closely, consider picking up an additional thermometer and/or thermostat for better control. Precision temperature control makes a big difference when it comes to breeding.
Zoo Med Ceramic Heat Emitter - Recommended!
With some tank arrangements, a heating pad is not the right solution. For instance, you may have limited space underneath your tank. Or the tank stand will not tolerate a heating product beneath the tank. In that case, you may want to put a heat lamp in place. This durable heat device is made out of ceramic materials so it will last for years to come. The product comes in three different power types (60 watts, 100 watts and 150 watts). Note that you will need a light socket compatible with ceramic light bulbs. Like other heating products, you will need a thermometer to monitor the environment.
Most of the entry level heating products on the market for reptiles do not support programmable heat settings. What does this mean for you? Left unmonitored, there is some risk that your gecko will suffer from too much heat if the heating device runs all the time. A small thermometer in the tank will give you a better understanding on whether or not more heat is needed. Remember – your leopard gecko cannot sweat to reduce excess heat.
How To Feed Your Gecko Well: A Short Diet Guide
How to take care of a leopard gecko? Feed them a diet of quality insects. Unlike other pets, leopard geckos have a simple diet – it’s all about insects. This makes sense when you consider that geckos originated in arid environment with limited food options. Most gecko owners buy live insects in bulk because that’s what geckos like to eat. There’s two issues to keep in mind with your gecko’s food. First, you need a secure place to store your gecko’s food supply. Second, you can enhance the nutritional value of your gecko’s meals by using the gut loading process. Fortunately, there are several suppliers who can give you all you need to keep your leopard gecko fed and happy.
The Top 10 Foods For Leopard Geckos
Leopard geckos are known to enjoy a pure insect diet. That said, gecko dietary preferences change over time. That means you should keep more than one type of gecko food in your home. With a selection of goods, you’ll be all set to provide leopard gecko pet care.
Special Note: Reptile specialists recommend that you use a “gut loading” process to make the most out of your feeding activities. Let’s say you have a few crickets you want to feed to your gecko. If you take them directly from the package, those crickets may not be very nutritious. Instead, give the crickets some food to eat like spinach and lettuce first. That way, your crickets will be “loaded” with nutrients which will keep your gecko in good condition.
Far and away, crickets at the most popular and affordable food choice for geckos. The good news is that you can buy them in bulk from a variety of suppliers. Be sure to ask in advance about sizes. If the crickets are too large, your leopard geckos may struggle to eat them. To address this issue, work with suppliers who are familiar with the gecko diet. There are two major drawbacks to crickets to keep in mind. Many people find the crickets have an unpleasant smell that is difficult to ignore. In addition, crickets have an unfortunate habit of being able to escape and disappear. That’s why many gecko enthusiasts like to use other foods from time to time.
Mealworms represent another good “staple” choice for feeding your gecko. Similar to crickets, there are multiple suppliers who can take care of your mealworms needs. You can order mealworms packaged into one pound containers. Unlike crickets, mealworms do not usually escape and disappear! In contrast to crickets, mealworms don’t have a small like crickets.
Note: some geckos don’t like mealworms because they don’t move very much which makes them less challenging prey to hunt. If your gecko repeatedly refuses to eat mealworms, switch to a more “active” option.
Many geckos enjoy eating waxworms tremendously. Why? They’re high in fat. Just like us, high fat foods are often fun to eat. However, it’s easy for a gecko to eat too many. Therefore, limit this type of food to monthly or less often. After all, you don’t want to end up with an obese gecko.
Silkworms are an excellent option to add some variety to your gecko’s diet. These small white creatures only live a few weeks. Therefore, you will probably want to order them in small quantities. These are somewhat less common than crickets so you may have to do some hunting to track them down. In addition, they are relatively more expensive than other feed options on the market.
5. Dubia Roaches
Less well known than crickets and mealworms, Dubia roaches are quickly becoming more and more popular. They bring several advantages for the gecko enthusiast: they live much longer than worms and don’t bring an unpleasant smell into your home. Some people choose to breed them at home in order to have a steady supply. Before you commit to insect breeding, start small by ordering a small quantity to see if your gecko likes them.
Yes, those insects from the famous Biblical plague are sometimes used to feed geckos. They are similar in appearance to some of the other options on this list. However, locusts can be more difficult to find. If you want to move forward with locusts, choose carefully in the size department. The best locusts for your gecko’s dinner measure no longer than the gecko’s head. Any larger and you may end up with a frustrated gecko.
Ever asked a friend what they think about roaches? They’re not exactly the world’s most popular insect with humans. Geckos sure like them though! If you buy roaches for your leopard gecko, you must handle them carefully. To make life easier on yourself, look for small, non-flying geckos. After all, your geckos do enjoy a bit of a chase but they can’t hunt a flying insect! If you live in an apartment or other rental property, take extra care before bringing roaches in your home. Many landlords will struggle to understand why you are bringing roaches in the building.
8. Phoenix Worms
To add variety to your gecko’s diet, you may want to add phoenix worms to the mix. Unlike crickets, phoenix worms are known for being small. This means they can be a good fit for smaller geckos to eat.
At first glance, butterworms look just like waxworms. In fact, they are a completely different species – butter worms are the larval version of the Chilean moth. Reptile experts suggest that butterworms can be stored in a refrigerator for several months.
Traditionally, geckos eat a 100% pure insect diet. That said, some gecko enthusiasts have detected an exception: “pinkies.” These one day old mice are sometimes a good option for geckos. Generally speaking, “pinkies” are best considered as an occasional treat food.
Get Some Food For Your Leopard Geckos!
The Top 3 Supplements For Your Leopard Gecko Definitely Needs
To keep your body and mind working smoothly, you may take daily supplements. For example, some people like to take Vitamin D during the winter months. Similarly, adding a few supplements to your gecko’s diet is a good way to keep them healthy and minimize the chance of disease.
Calcium comes highly recommended as a supplement for your gecko. Just like other animals, calcium plays a key role in keeping your gecko’s bones strong and healthy. Calcium supplements often come in a variety of doses. That’s helpful because you can customize the serving based on your gecko’s age and status. For example, you will want to give a juvenile and adult geckos different amounts of calcium based on their needs. Giving too much calcium to a young gecko may lead to unpleasant side effects.
2. Vitamin D3
In small quantities, this vitamin is helpful to your gecko. If you’re gecko was outside and exposed to sunlight all day, this supplement may not be necessary. To keep your gecko feeling well, a small dose of Vitamin D3 is helpful. If you’re in doubt about the proper amount of vitamin to provide, consult a specialized veterinarian for advice.
3. Combination supplements/ Multivatmin
For added convenience, you can also buy supplements that combine calcium and vitamin D. It’s a good way to simplify your gecko’s feeding process. Keep an eye on the dosage though – you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to supplements. Further you should powder your Gecko´s food with multivitamin powder from time to time.
You can buy supplements from both traditional and online providers. Make sure you look for supplements designed for reptiles. Attempting to feed human sized supplements to an eight inch gecko is begging for trouble. Leading brands on the market right now include Health Concerns and Exo Terra. The last point to consider for supplements is whether you want to use tablets or drops. The advantage with drops is that you can add the supplement to the gecko’s main food and ensure they consume it.
Mating Behavior Guide and Breeding Guide
Leopard geckos are fun creatures to have around your home. Alas, they don’t live forever even with the best care and attention. That’s why more and more hobbyists are getting interested in breeding their geckos. If you’re just getting started with geckos or reptiles generally, you can consider this an advanced topic. Don’t worry – you can always come back here later when you’re ready.
Leopard geckos generally observe certain patterns and routines in mating behavior. First of all, they like a calm and safe environment. If you have just moved the geckos to a new environment, expect that they may take a few weeks to become comfortable. Finally, you will need to have one adult male and one adult female gecko in the same tank for mating to be a possibility. As a general rule, adult female geckos tend to be shorter in length than males. If you’re looking for further confirmation on gecko gender, consult a veterinarian or breeder.
When male and female leopard geckos mate, here’s what you can expect. Let’s assume you’re starting the process in mating season – usually January to September in the USA and ther countries in the Northern hemisphere. The male gecko generally makes a “rattle” sound with its tail to signal interest. If the “introduction” goes well, the male will hold the female in place by grasping her neck. This is a natural behavior for geckos. The mating process generally takes just a few minutes from start to finish. Once they are done, removing the female gecko to a separate location is a good idea.
Assuming the breeding is successful, diet and temperature become key factors to consider. Keep up a steady diet of quality foods and supplements for the mother as per the normal routine. If all goes according to plan, you can expect to see eggs about three weeks after mating. Over a life time, a female gecko may lay up to one hundred eggs if the mating process goes smoothly. For the best results, put you’re the female gecko in its own hatching location.
To keep your new mother leopard gecko and the eggs in good shape, here’s what you need to do. After a successful mating, put the female gecko in its own space (many people use a shoe box. Keep the environment warm and moist by using a product like peat moss. With this setting in place, you can expect new geckos to emerge from their effs in one to three months. Keep the hatching area and expecting mother in a safe and quiet place so that the hatching process goes smoothly.
If you’re particularly keen to have male or female geckos, temperature is the key variable. As a general rule, males are more likely with an incubation temperature of in the low 90s Fahrenheit (You might need an incubator to make sure the temperature is stable). Females are more likely with temperatures above 80 Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that these temperatures are statistical generalizations – your gecko breeding experience may be different. In any case, you will not be able to determine the gender until the new born geckos reach a certain age.
Leopard Gecko Baby Care Guide
Rejoice! Your new baby leopard geckos have hatched and are starting to grow up. While the gecko parents will play a role, many of the critical steps are up to you. After all, you directly control the environment, the food and more. If you follow these simple directions, you will raise the odds of your new geckos growing up to be healthy and happy in your home. Let’s start with the basics – how do you feed a baby leopard gecko?
As a general principle, you can feed your baby geckos the same foods as adults by adjust the portions. For example, if you are feeding crickets to your adult geckos, you can also feed crickets to the babies. Simply keep in mind that your baby geckos will only be able to manage very small crickets and may not be up for “the chase” like adult geckos. To add some variety to the diet, add mealworms as a weekly diet. They are an excellent source of fat which will help your new gecko to brow and add some variety to their diet. Leopard geckos do not like fruit and vegetables so avoid those foods with baby geckos.
The right environment makes a difference in keeping your hatchling gecko in good condition. When the eggs hatch, experts recommend putting the young geckos apart from the adult geckos. Why? There have been reported cases of adult geckos eating new hatchlings. Fortunately, you can reduce that risk by keeping the hatchlings in their own environment for the first two or three weeks. Physically, the young geckos tend to thrive better when they are in a small enclosure. You don’t want them to get lost especially when they’re trying to feed. It’s also important to keep their environment moist and warm. To keep moisture at an acceptable level, you could run a humidifier nearby or a water spritzer. Remember that your gecko wants moisture, not water to go swimming in.
Let’s close with a few final thoughts on baby geckos before we move on. It’s perfectly normal for baby geckos not to eat anything for the first few days – that’s normal and there’s no reason to become concerned. As a result, the baby geckos will not defecate for a short period of time. Generally, baby leopard geckos will be ready to eat by day three or four. If they don’t start eating by that point, offer a variety of foods. If that approach doesn’t work, get in touch with a qualified veterinarian for additional advice.
5 Most Common Diseases For Leopard Geckos
Certain diseases are known to afflict geckos so it pays to understand some of the warning signs. If you see any hints of these symptoms appear, play it safe and take your gecko for a checkup.
1. Metabolic Bone Disease
Cause: Insufficient nutrients like calcium and vitamin D3.
Symptoms: The details vary in each case. Usually, symptoms include difficulty eating or chewing (due to chaw problems), a kinked tail or spine and bowed limbs.
Treatment: The first level of treatment is to immediately provide more vitamin supplements to your gecko or even an UVB lamp. Given the critical nature of the condition, you may want to rub some supplements on your fingers and let your gecko lick it off. Alternately, you need to seek advice from a vet who can assist with other measures like injecting supplements.
2. Poor Skin Shedding
Cause: Not enough moisture in the gecko’s living space.
Symptoms: You may notice bits on unshed skin “stuck” in place that have not come off. In many cases, this is unpleasant for your gecko. You may observe incomplete shedding on the head, tail and other places on the body.
Treatment: Start by adding more moisture and humidity to the gecko’s living space. That may help the gecko to shed more easily. If that doesn’t work, you can try to gently pull the skin away. If you’re in doubt at the right move, seek out the advice of a reptile veterinarian. Also read my article on moist hides for Leopard Geckos.
3. Wounds and Injuries
Cause: Your gecko may get into a fight with another gecko. Other causes include scarping against something sharp in the tank or being mishandled. Dogs, cats and children can easily injury geckos if they’re not careful.
Symptoms: If you see exposed bone or organs, there is a serious injury that requires professional treatment. Less serious wounds at the skin level are also possible.
Treatment: Serious wounds are best treated by a veterinary professional to prevent infection and other problems. In the case of mild injuries, you can use hydrogen peroxide to clean the injury. In each case, carefully inspect the tank or cage to see if there are any unsafe materials that might cause further injuries. If you suspect the injury was caused by another gecko, you may need to separate them into different living spaces.
Cause: An unclean living environment and/or contaminated food.
Symptoms: IT varies depending on the situation. Warning signs to watch for include significant weight loss, a noticeably bloated belly or unusually smelly feces.
Treatment: Start by taking your gecko to a veterinarian for a full treatment. Next, take the time to fully clean the gecko’s living space. To be extra careful, you may want to put in new substrate. Also Reptaid, which you can see on the right, helped my Geckos to get rid of parasites.
5. Stress Illness
Cause: An unstable living environment including uncomfortable temperature, not enough quality food, and rough handling. Moving the gecko to a new place can also trigger heightened stress.
Symptoms: A reluctance to eat is one way that this condition may manifest. You may also notice shedding
Treatment: It depends on the situation. At first, you may simply wait a few days to see if the stress is reduced. If you notice the gecko getting into fights, you may need to separate your geckos into separate spaces.
The Top Books To Understand Your Gecko
Even with the greatest attention and monitoring, your knowledge of geckos can be enriched by reading books. There are two types of books for you to consider. First, there are books written for the reptile enthusiast – those who are curious about geckos as pets. Second, you can also find scientific books that provide additional depth on the origins, behavior and activities of your gecko. It is best to start with books aimed at reptile enthusiasts. If you’re looking for scientific suggestions, get in touch with a reptile researcher or veterinarian.
The Leopard Gecko Manual: From The Experts At Advanced Vivarium Systems by Philippe De Vosjoli, Roger Klingenberg, Roger Tremper and Brian Viets
Are you interested in breeding leopard geckos? This is the book for you. It’s a small book that provides an introduction to geckos which will be great for novices. If you’re seeking an advanced book, consider one of the other options in this section. The book covers key topics such as breeding, basic health treatments and the types of patterns you can expect. For the curious, the book also includes a section on skin shedding and tail loss.
Leopard Gecko by Lance Jepson
Written by a veterinary professional with a specialization in exotic pets, this book dives into detail for pet owners. You will find detailed guidance on feeding, heat and environmental factors. Other topics covered in the book include tips on buying a leopard gecko, feeding behavior, sexual behavior and natural history.
Leopard Geckos by Gerald Merker and Cindy Merker
Get all the basics you need to understand your leopard gecko with this book. You will find chapters covering health care, breeding, feeding and housing issues. In addition, the book also discusses other types of geckos like cat geckos and African fat-tailed geckos. These additional chapters help you better understand your gecko by comparing and contrasting it to other varieties.
Keeping Leopard Geckos is not hard, but you have to do your research before buying one. The fact that you did your research shows that you most probably will have no problems with your beautiful gecko.
However if you have further questions or if you face any problems, simply leave a comment in the comment section below and I will answer your question as soon as I can. I always get back to my readers. You can also have a look at my other articles on Leopard Geckos here.
So did you get a Leopard Gecko in the end? Or do you already have one or more? Tell me about your awesome geckos in the comments below 🙂