Leopard geckos are part of the lizard family, and are considered a tropical pet. As tropical pets are somewhat less common in the UK, it is understandable that most people are unaware of the type of care they need in order to thrive and live a happy, healthy life.
Leopard geckos are fairly small, growing to around 15 to 25cm in length (tip of their nose to the end of their tail). In captivity, their lifespan ranges from 10 to 20 years. These geckos are considered one of the easiest gecko species to care for, meaning they make a fantastic option for those just starting out in the world of exotic pets.
Leopard geckos prefer to be housed alone – they don’t require social company and they can become aggressive if kept in partners or groups. A healthy gecko has clear, bright eyes and a thick tail and its belly should only touch the floor when resting.
The best way to handle a gecko:
Over time, your gecko can become used to being handled but it is very important never to stress them out.
- Never grab your gecko suddenly
- Gently scoop up the gecko with both hands, ensuring that all four feet are supported
- Never apply pressure to the tail as it can lead to them feeling threatened and they may drop it (it will grow back but it is not ideal for your gecko’s health)
- Don’t take your gecko out of it’s vivarium for longer than 15 minutes each time – they will start to lose temperature
Leopard Gecko Vivarium Set Up
An adult leopard gecko needs a vivarium at least 60cm long, 40cm high and 30cm deep. It should always be clean and well ventilated to prevent bacteria build up. Your vivarium should include plenty of areas for your gecko to hide, climb and bask. The substrate that you use must be of natural source to minimise the risk of impaction – avoid beech wood chips and caci-sand as these cannot be digested.
Temperature, heat lamps, uv lights and humidity
Like most reptiles, leopard geckos cannot regulate their own body temperature, so have to use their environment. They require a UV light and dry environment in order to thrive. Their vivarium must be ‘thermogradient’, which means having a heat lamp one side, and a cooler area the other side.
- The basking area should remain between 28 and 30 degrees C during the day, and the cool end 24 to 26 degrees C.
- At night turn off the heat lamp but ensure the temperature doesn’t dip below 18 degrees C with a heat mat or ceramic heat lamp.
- Leopard geckos need a relatively dry environment. Measure the humidity at the cool end of the tank with a hygrometer – it should be between 30 and 40 per cent.
- Your gecko will need low levels of ultraviolet light. A 2 to 5 per cent UVB bulb will provide this and allow them to make vitamin D inside their body – an essential mineral which allows your gecko to store and use calcium.
Leopard Gecko Diet
Leopard geckos are insectivores, which as the name suggests, means they live on a simple diet of insects. You should vary their insects between crickets, locusts, mealworms and cockroaches. All food should be given to your gecko live.