The leopard gecko or Eublepharis Macularius is a ground-living lizard. It lives in rocky dry grassland and deserts in Pakistan, Afghanistan, northwest India, and Iran. This reptile is kept as a pet for more than three decades. For this reason, they are called the first domesticated species of lizard.
Geckos like to live in a warm dry climate; they also require a hiding place that is moist and agreeable. In the wild, they live in burrows and shaded regions during the daytime. They are nocturnal active at dawn and dusk. The temperature at these times suits them. Even in captivity, they are intermittently active. Low winter temperature below 10 degrees C compels the Gecko to go into hibernation. This process is called brumation that is living on fat reserves.
Predators of Gecko in the wild are foxes, snakes, and other bigger reptiles. Gecko has a keen sense of hearing and vision to prevent threats from happening.
Distinctive Features of Leopard Gecko
|Size Female||7.1 - 7.9 Inches|
|Size Male||7.9 - 11 Inches|
|Weight Female||50 - 70 Grams|
|Weight Male||60 - 80 Grams|
|Lifespan||Up to 20 years|
Body Traits of Leopard Gecko
The common leopard geckos are bigger compared to others in the same species. Adult females measure 7.1 - 7.9 inches and weigh about 50 - 70 grams. An adult male is 7.9 - 11 inches in length and weighs about 60 - 80 grams.
They have short legs that help in rapid and agile movement; the small nails and toe end in a claw, permit them to climb twigs and rocks. Leopard gecko hands are not sticky with lamellae like others in the species. It is for this reason they can't climb smooth walls and other vertical surfaces.
Gecko has openings on both sides of their head which are ears. A membrane caps it for protection. Ears help them reach their prey.
Geckos are polyphyodonts meaning they can replace the set of 100 teeth in 3-4 months. The eyelids are moveable and they can shut their eyes. The long tongue can lick the eyelids. Geckos communicate through chirps. It could mean impending danger or annoyance or simply conversing with the other lizard.
The tail of the lizard is very important. In the wild, if the segmented tail is injured it shrinks till the injured part is shed.
Colors of Leopard Gecko
The color of the lizard varies from yellow to brownish-orange with spots all over the half dorsal region of the body. The color is produced by a cell known as chromatophores. In the wild Geckos possess yellow and black spots. However, in commercial breeding, the spot color is red and white. Hatchlings are striped and slowly become spotted. The underside body is white. Eggs are visible in females through the skin. Males are identified by their preanal pores.
Females create one to five clutches of two eggs all through the breeding season. The eggs are laid and buried in the soft and loose substrate. The temperature during the incubation in the first two weeks decides the sex of the Geckos. The eggs hatch in 45-53 days.
In the first week, the tiny geckos live on yolk from the egg. They do not feed by themselves until the first molt that is shedding of the skin. The shedding takes place after the first week of hatching.
The size and weight decide sexual maturity rather than age. The hatchlings are 2.8 - 3.9 inches in length and weigh 2 - 5 grams. Hatchlings are mature when their weight touches 30 grams. This happens by the age of 18-24 months. These lizards live up to 20 years in captivity.
Skin Shedding in Leopard Gecko
Leopard Gecko shed their skin. For this, they retreat. Some days before shedding the skin hue becomes translucent whitish gray. Adults shed once a month and juveniles do it twice as much. The reptile consumes the old skin after shedding. Underneath, the new skin is of bright color. The skin aids in camouflage from predators. Geckos shed skin to avert their scent being found out.
How to Take Care of Pet Leopard Gecko?
Leopard geckos are one of the most popular pet reptiles. They are easy to take care of and they usually live for a long period. However, it is very important to know what they like or dislike in order to avoid any problems in the future.
How to Setup Habitat for Pet Leopard Gecko?
A 15-20 gallon tank suffices 2-3 geckos. It is advisable to keep a single male in every habitat. Accommodate males and females together in case you are not bogged down by breeding. The tank should be well-ventilated with a screened lid. Arrange logs for hiding and climbing. You can pick reptile caves from the pet shop. You can also use cardboard boxes.
Provide a damp hide box for shedding. The habitat can be often spot cleaned to remove feces. The habitat needs monthly cleaning where you remove everything inside, scrub and disinfect, layout fresh substrate to reduce the chances of bacteria thriving.
As these lizards are coldblooded reptiles, it is required by them to regulate their body temperature. Use the normal white light incandescent heat bulb to be used for basking during the day. For the night use a red bulb, purple or blue heat bulb, and ceramic heat emitter for the night. Under tank heating pads do not regulate the lizard's temperature perfectly. In case gecko retreats in the base of the tank the heating pad may cause burns. Hot rocks should not be used.
Do not keep the lizard near any drafts; the tank should not be placed next to the window. Aim to have a warm side and a cool side in the tank. Heat light should be placed on one side of the habitat. The terrarium warm side should be 29-35 C and ten degrees lesser on the cool side. Humidity should be between 10-30%.
In case the humidity is very low that is below 20% the gecko may experience trouble shedding. Make use of the screen top along with the heat source to keep the surroundings dry. Make use of a hygrometer and humidity gauge to get the exact readings.
In nature, its exposure to sunlight is limited to dawn and sunset because they are nocturnal. Limited exposure to UVA and UVB light 2-7% keeps the lizard healthy preventing metabolic bone disease. During the summer period, the lizard will require 14 hours of light every day. In wintertime, 12 hours will suffice. Keep the lights on a timer. Place a night-specific bulb so that you can watch the activities of the gecko. Geckos are ectothermic; during the day absorb warmth as well as energy as they sleep. In the night they hunt and digest food.
Sand should be avoided as a bedding substrate for young geckos because there's the potential that they will eat some of it. This could result in intestinal blockage. Paper towels and carpets are some good options. Wood shavings are not recommended as they may injure the gecko's small feet. The volatile oils present in the wood shavings, walnut shells may irritate the skin of the gecko.
Gecko with other of the same species loves to play hide and seek. The cool side of the habitat should have rock, branches, etc. in the hiding place put some wet moss, will help them when they shed their skin.
What to Feed Pet Leopard Gecko?
In the wild geckos are opportunistic predators and insectivores. They thrive on invertebrates like
- small locusts,
- wax-moth larvae,
- phoenix worms
- nestling mice and
In captivity, they consume small vertebrates if given a chance. They are fed on pink mice as well. Breeders suggest wrapping cricket dead or alive in nutritional powder before giving it to the pet. For water balance, give fresh vegetables and clean water. Juveniles need to be fed daily and adults alternate days. Gecko also needs nutrients with supplements.
A shallow dish of freshwater is required at all times. This will add humidity to the habitat. It will also be used for drinking by the lizard. At times it will soak itself in the water.
A healthy lizard owns a thick fleshy tail. In case the tail is thin it is a sign of bad health. When in captivity the tail gets flat if wax moth larvae are fed to the lizard. It is advisable to serve pinkies meaning one day mouse to make the tail fat.
What are the Health Concerns of Pet Leopard Gecko?
The sign of a healthy gecko is bright, clear eyes and a thick tail. The belly only touches the ground when resting.
Gecko gets afflicted by metabolic bone disease. The spine and limb deformities take place. This is caused due to lack of calcium and vitamin D. The symptoms include loss of appetite and tremors.
The creature develops armpit bubbles. The bubbles are filled with fat, protein, vitamins calcium, or minerals. Fatty geckos get this disease. The bubbles subside once the normal weight is achieved.
The lizard may suffer from gastroenteritis which is a bacterial infection. If early treatment is given recovery happens otherwise it can be fatal.
Insufficient moisture leads to a state called dysecdysis. The skin gets dry and there is difficulty in shedding. The vision gets affected.
Leopard Geckos are likely to get respiratory infections and pneumonia. There is wheezing, and bubbles around the nasal.
What it's Like to Keep Leopard Gecko as a Pet?
To begin with, the new pet socializes by gently handling it. Some amount of touch will be tolerated. Do not overdo it as it will feel stressed. Handle gecko once it is 6 inches long. When it is big, spend 10-15 minutes every day to train it to trust you. Permit it to move over your hand. It will soon be tamed. Never pick gecko by the tail. Maintain hygiene of your hands once training is over to stay healthy.
Leopard Gecko often communicates through its tail. Gradual tail movement means they have been noticed. Quick tail movement by a male shows it has noticed a female or is excited to eat. Even when it is hunting the tail shakes.
Geckos store fat in their tail for low food availability times. In case you have more than two geckos keep in mind their communication techniques. If they raise their tail it means the threat in the situation and likely to attack. Separate both.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Leopard Gecko
Some of the generally asked questions about leopard gecko are answered below.
Is a Leopard Gecko a Good Pet?
Geckos are docile and make good pets for children and adults. They are hardy, friendly, and full of personality. They rarely bite. If bitten you will not know because it is painless. Geckos are beginner's reptile pets. They like to live alone but if reared from the beginning they get used to being handled.
How much is a Leopard Gecko?
These pets are readily available but you should purchase from an established breeder. The cost is affordable. Rare morphs are likely to be more expensive. There is an array of hues as well as patterns. The cost varies according to rarity.
Do Pet Leopard Geckos Get Lonely?
The answer is no. Leopard geckos are solitary creatures so they don't need companionship to be happy. They do not feel lonely at all and, in fact, they may become stressed if they are housed with other geckos.
Do Pet Leopard Geckos Die Easily?
No, leopard geckos do not die easily. They are a fairly hardy pet lizard with a few specific requirements to live well.
They require an appropriate tank size, temperature, lighting, and humidity to thrive. However, they are still very easy to care for as long as these basic living requirements are met.
How Long can Leopard Geckos Go Without Food?
Leopard geckos can go without food for up to 3 months but it is recommended to not leave them without a meal for this long.