Leopard geckos are among the most popular terrarium animals because of their striking pattern and their relatively uncomplicated keeping. But even if the reptiles are suitable for beginners, you should inform yourself well about the animals before purchasing them.
Here’s everything you need to know about the leopard gecko and if they are any good for beginners.
What is a Leopard Gecko?
The leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is a small lizard that lives in semi-arid and rocky areas. Its range extends across Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
A member of the lid gecko family, the gregarious gecko got its name from its coloring. Because the light basic color with the black dots is reminiscent of the fur of the leopard. However, there are now many different color variants from breeds.
The leopard gecko can shed its tail when threatened, so you should never hold it by the tail. Unlike most geckos, it doesn’t have sticky pads on its toes, just claws, and this peculiarity makes him a very good climber.
In general, the leopard gecko is very lively and agile during the active phase – an exciting terrarium dweller!
Are Leopard Geckos Good for Beginners?
Leopard geckos are considered the perfect beginner animals for those new to keeping reptiles. Their interesting looks and agile behavior also make them ideal pets for children. Note, however, that the Eublepharis macularius is nocturnal and mainly becomes active at dusk and into the night.
A leopard gecko’s housing requirements are also easily managed by beginners. The geckos need a temperature of around 30°C and a humidity of around 40-50% during the day. At night you should lower the temperature to around 20°C, the humidity should be around 50-70%.
Are Leopard Geckos Social?
Leopard geckos are not particularly social animals. In fact, in the wild they are often quite solitary, only coming together to mate. However, this doesn’t mean that leopard geckos don’t enjoy the occasional bit of companionship.
With Other Leopard Geckos
If two leopard geckos are kept together, they will often establish a hierarchy, with one acting as the dominant individual. The dominant gecko will usually have first access to food and shelter and may also actively harass the subordinate gecko.
For this reason, it’s important to make sure that leopard geckos have plenty of space to themselves and are not overcrowded. Otherwise, they may become stressed and start to fight.
Important: If you do wish to have more than one gecko, it is important not to have 2 males as the chances of them fighting is extremely likely. It is best to have 1 male with two or three females, or just have two females!
When kept as pets, Leopard Geckos can become accustomed to handling and will often learn to recognize their owners. However, they should not be considered “cuddly” pets, and owners should not expect them to seek out human interaction.
Overall, Leopard geckos are not social animals. They can, however, learn to tolerate human interaction. With time and patience, you may be able to form a trust with your leopard gecko.
Give them space and remembered that they are wild animals, domesticating them will not be an easy task.
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Leopard Gecko?
One of the most common questions potential leopard gecko owners has been how long their new pet will live. While there is some variation based on individual factors such as diet and care, the average lifespan of a leopard gecko is around 10 years.
Of course, this is just a general estimate, and some leopard geckos have been known to live much longer. With proper care and attention, your leopard gecko can provide you with years of enjoyment.
Important: Be sure to bear that in mind – Leopard Geckos live for a long time and are a big commitment!
What Size Terrarium is Needed for Leopard Geckos?
Leopard geckos live on the ground, which is why you should pay particular attention to the floor space when buying a terrarium. The size should be at least 30 x 12 x 12 inches (20 US gallons) and can be made of glass or wood.
20 Gallon Terrarium (amazon link – opens in a new tab)
You shouldn’t skimp on the technology so that the ideal temperature and humidity are always maintained. You need terrarium lighting, radiant heaters, and control devices to check the humidity and temperature which all have a positive effect on the health and vitality of your geckos.
Because even if leopard geckos are mainly active at dusk and at night, they are still occasionally in the sun in nature.
Also when choosing a location for your leopard gecko, choose a place where the geckos are protected from noise pollution.
Just for You: How to Clean a Leopard Gecko Tank
Setting up a Leopard Gecko Terrarium
Since leopard geckos mainly live in rocky areas in the wild, climbing opportunities and stones are essential for furnishing the new home.
Caves are just as important because the lively reptiles like to hide during the day. Caves made of cork or bark, for example, are suitable. You can also equip the terrarium with so-called wet boxes.
You can build these caves yourself from old plastic shells and line them with moist moss. This creates a high level of humidity in the cave, which the geckos prefer just before they molt. Females also use wet boxes as breeding grounds.
As a substrate, a mixture of clay and sand or coarse gravel is suitable. Your new pets will need a small clay bowl for supplementary food and a water bowl and if you want, you can also decorate the terrarium with artificial plants.
What to Feed Leopard Geckos?
Leopard geckos are insectivores, feeding primarily on prey animals such as grasshoppers, cockroaches, crickets, and house crickets. On average, geckos eat about two to four prey items per day.
You don’t have to feed your geckos every day, though. Regular feeding three times a week is sufficient. Young animals under six months only eat one or two insects a day. Depending on the food supply, it is advisable to add minerals (especially calcium) and vitamin supplements to the ration to complete.
The best way to do this is to dust the insects with the mineral powder before feeding them and it works even better if you moisten the food animals with a little water beforehand.
Do Leopard Geckos Molt?
When caring for your pet, you don’t have to pay much attention to anything other than molting. Leopard gecko skin does not grow with it, so it is regularly shed and renewed.
To do this, the geckos need increased humidity, which they find in the wet box. The gecko pulls the skin off itself. Your job is to check if he was able to completely remove the old skin. Because residues of the old skin can, in the worst case, constrict the limbs of the gecko.
Of course, regular cleaning of the terrarium is part of the care of the leopard gecko.
Leopard geckos are suitable as pets for terrarium beginners. These cute little reptiles are fun to watch, and they are not demanding when it comes to their care. A desert terrarium with stones and caves is suitable as a leopard gecko terrarium.
When it comes to terrarium technology, you can get by with lamps, measuring devices, heat technology, and manually humidifying the air with a spray bottle.
This makes leopard geckos much cheaper to buy and maintain than exotic species such as a chameleon and much safer than something for the more experienced keepers among us such as an iguana.
Reptile Wrestler Tips!
“Leopard Geckos will even eat small vertebrates such as pinky mice!”
“Before getting a gecko, make sure you do your research thoroughly!”
“Be sure to change your gecko’s water every day. Water left stagnant can cause health issues for your little friend!”
“Geckos are long-lived reptiles and are therefore a big commitment – expect them to live at least 10 years or even longer!”
Do leopard geckos burrow?
Yes, in the wild leopard geckos are burrowing animals. They dig burrows into the soil to provide themselves with a safe place to sleep during the day and lay their eggs. They also use their burrows to escape from predators and extreme weather conditions.
Leopard geckos are very good at digging burrows and can do so very quickly. They have strong front legs and curved claws that help them dig through the soil.
What time do leopard geckos wake up?
Leopard geckos are primarily nocturnal animals, so they typically wake up at night and are active during the evening and early morning hours. However, there can be some variation in their activity patterns depending on the individual leopard gecko.
Some leopard geckos may be more active during the daytime, while others may be more crepuscular (active Twilight), and still, others may be strictly nocturnal. If you notice your leopard gecko is awake and active during the day, make sure to provide plenty of hiding places and shady spots for him to retreat to so he can stay cool and avoid overheating.
Do leopard geckos have good vision?
Yes, a leopard gecko’s vision is quite keen even in dim light. This is one of the reasons why they are such successful predators in their native habitats. Their eyesight allows them to spot potential prey from a distance and then stalk it until they are within range to strike.
Are leopard geckos color-blind?
No, leopard geckos are not colorblind. They have two types of photoreceptor cells in their eyes that allow them to see color. One type is sensitive to short-wavelength light (blue and ultraviolet), and the other type is sensitive to long-wavelength light (green and red). This allows them to see a wide range of colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, and brown.
Why hasn’t my leopard gecko shed?
There are a few potential reasons why your leopard gecko might not have shed yet. One possibility is that he’s not getting enough calcium. Leopard geckos need a lot of calcium in their diet in order to produce healthy skin and scales. You can give him some Calcium Carbonate supplements to help ensure that he’s getting enough.
Another possibility is that he’s too stressed out or doesn’t have the right environment to shed properly. Make sure that his tank is humid and at the correct temperature and try to keep stress levels low by providing plenty of hiding places. If all else fails, you might need to help him manually remove his old skin.
How to increase humidity for a leopard gecko?
The easiest way to increase humidity is to use a commercial humidifier. A second option is to mist the habitat several times a day with a hand mister or plant mister. Make sure that you don’t overdo it as too much humidity can lead to health problems for your leopard gecko.
One way to tell if you’re providing too much moisture is by looking at the substrates in the terrarium. If they are constantly wet or even starting to break down and decompose, that’s an indication that the moisture levels are too high. If your leopard gecko is dropping its tail, this could also be a sign of stress and too much humidity.
Do leopard geckos have scales?
Yes, leopard geckos have scales, in fact, ALL reptiles do. Scales are actually modified skin cells that serve a few different purposes. They provide protection from the environment and predators, help the animal regulate its temperature, and it also plays a role in their sense of touch. The number of scales an animal has can also give us clues about its evolutionary history.
For example, lizards that live in wetter habitats tend to have fewer scales than those that live in dryer environments.
Do leopard geckos eat pinky mice?
Yes, leopard geckos will eat pinky mice. In the wild, leopard geckos typically prey on insects, but they will also eat vertebrates such as small lizards, birds, and rodents. Domestic leopard geckos can be fed a wide variety of different food items, including crickets, mealworms, waxworms, cockroaches, super worms, pinky mice, and other small rodents.
Hi, I’m Stuart and I’ve had reptiles for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I studied for a master’s in Herpetology. Over the years I have worked at several zoos before opening my very own reptile sanctuary. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their little beasties.