Leopard geckos are incredible little creatures, who often look like they’re smiling. They are smaller geckos and are easy to handle. They are the perfect beginner pet to get! They are great lizards to have for companionship, and they have a beautiful spotted appearance, as well as grow to about 10 inches long.
They can live to over 20 years old in captivity, and predominantly eat insects which are gutloaded. They are nocturnal – which means they are mostly active at night. They do have eyelids – which isn’t common for all geckos and also don’t have the ability to climb up glass and other surfaces like other geckos do which makes them a fairly unique gecko.
They need to have access to fresh water daily. Their enclosure should be about 10-20 gallons in size and this can easily house a singular leopard gecko. You should only house one male in each enclosure in order to avoid any conflict and you should also keep in mind that males and females can only be kept together if you care prepared to deal with their offspring. For more information about housing more than one leopard gecko in the same tank have a read of this article. It will tell you about all the potential pitfalls.
Within their enclosures they will need adequate hiding spots such as half logs. Due to the fact that they are nocturnal they don’t need a UV light within their enclosure – but a low level one can be used. They are naturally found in desert areas around Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan but are now one of the most popular lizards people have as pets.
Leopard gecko care sheet.
In this leopard gecko care sheet you will find all of the basic information that you will need to be able to care for your new pet successfully. Most of the sections will contain links to more detailed articles on this website about that particular subject. So if you would like to learn more about anything in particular follow the links.
Do leopard geckos make good pets?
They are extremely docile and easy to tame, so yes they make incredible pets! They are very easy to handle, and always look like they are smiling. They live for quite a long time as long as they are cared for properly. Their enclosure are easy to provide for as they aren’t like other geckos who have the ability to climb up surfaces.
They also have the ability to self-amputate their tails as a defence mechanism but rarely will do this in captivity. They can also live in peace with a few other leopard geckos in their enclosure – as long as only one is male. They are low maintenance as adults only need to eat every few days. A lot of people enjoy rearing them up from birth to adulthood. They are great beginner pets, and under supervision are even perfect for kids to have.
What sized tank do you need for leopard geckos?
Their tanks should be between 10-20 gallons in size, and this can easily house 2 or 3 geckos. Since they don’t climb up the glass of the cage, and like to hide in hollow hideouts you should fill their enclosure with things such as hollow tree branches and little boxes. If their enclosure is too big they may stray away from their proper heating pad.
Live and artificial plants can also be added into their tank which creates a happier environment for them. The closer you can mimic their natural environment the better. Damp boxes can help them with shedding as well, and half logs are a great addition. The may not have sticky pads on their feet to help them climb vertically, but they do like to climb in their environment.
Heating and lights for leopard geckos:
Their enclosure should be roughly around 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius) and about 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). Their enclosure can drop down to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). They shouldn’t be exposed to any drafts, so it is best to keep them away from a window or a door (or close to an aircon or fan). A thermometer will help you monitor the temperature in their enclosure, so it is best to invest in one.
You can use a heating pad at the bottom of the tank – however it should not be used if your gecko likes to burrow down. It may cause burns to their body. The heat lamp or pad should be turned off at night, but the temperature shouldn’t dip below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius.) It is best to also keep their enclosure away from the sun as it may heat up extremely quickly. A heating pad is suggested as opposed to a heating lamp, and you should only heat up one corner of the enclosure.
As they are nocturnal, it isn’t necessary to add a UV light into their enclosure. A low wattage light can be used so that you can see better into the tank and this could help regulate their day/night patterns. A light isn’t necessary though.
For more information on heating and lighting for leopard geckos have a look at this article.
What temperature should a leopard geckos tank be kept at:
Their enclosure should be kept to about 88-90 degrees Fahrenheit (30-32 degrees Celsius). During winter however, their natural environment drops to about 50 degree’sFahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), and they then enter into a semi-hibernation called brumation. If you keep their enclosure at a constant higher temperature, they won’t enter into brumation. If you want to encourage them though, you should do addition research on how to do this safely. During the day they will lay low in shaded areas – such as burrows, hollowed out logs or boxes that are small enough. It is best not to let the temperatures drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degree’sCelsius) on average.
Water and humidity for leopard geckos:
They don’t need very humid environments, but the humidity should not drop below 20% as otherwise they will struggle to shed their skin. You can monitor the level of humidity using a hygrometer. If the humidity does drop below 20%, you can increase it by misting the enclosure with warm water.
This shouldn’t be done too regularly as they are used to very dry environments as their natural environment is quite dry. The ideal humidity for them is about 30-40% in order for them to thrive. While they are shedding the humidity may need to go up to 70-80% for that period. The humidity in their enclosure should also match the environment in your home. For more information about leopard geckos and shedding have a look at what i wrote here.
They need to have access to fresh water daily. A stable water dish should be provided as it’s important that their substrate remain dry.
Do leopard geckos bite?
Leopard geckos can bite, but it is very rare that they do unless they feel threatened. More often than not they choose to flee rather than to fight. If they do bite, you should look at a few of the reasons why it could have happened. They may be have gotten over excited when they are hungry, the male gecko may have gotten territorial, or in unusual instances your leopard gecko may be aggressive. Young and juvenile leopard gecko’s may get nervous when being handled and could bite then. Overall, they won’t bite and if they do it is not harmful to you (of course it might hurt). To read my full guide to leopard gecko biting and also safe handling techniques follow this link to get to the right article.
What do leopard geckos eat?
Leopard geckos are insectivores, and should only be fed live insects that are smaller than the space between their eyes. They are stimulated by the movement of the insects and won’t eat dead insects or ones that move too slowly. The best insects to feed them are crickets, flies, and mealworms. They can also eat superworms but they are high in fat and should be kept as a treat.
Baby, juvenile and sick leopard geckos should be fed daily, but adult leopard geckos on average every few days (about 3-4 times a week). They shouldn’t be fed any fruits or vegetables, and fattier insects should be kept as a treat. Adult leopard geckos will eat about 5-10 insects per sitting, but shouldn’t eat any more than they can within 15-20 minutes.
Baby and juvenile leopard geckos will eat about 4-8 insects, but also shouldn’t eat anymore than they can within a 15-20 minute setting. All excess insects should be removed from their enclosure. Insects are easily found in most pet stores and can be stored in bulk in a sturdy, plastic container. You shouldn’t feed them any wild insects as they may be carrying parasites and be covered in pesticides.
You can choose to breed your own insects from ones you have bought from a pet store. Crickets are a great staple meal to feed your leopard gecko, and it is highly recommended that you gut load the insects by feeding them vitamins and supplements that will nourish your leopard gecko once it eats them. On this website there is a full guide to feeding leopard geckos which will tell you all of the correct foods and portion sizes, to have a look click here.
How often should you feed leopard geckos?
It depends entirely on how big your leopard gecko is. A baby, juvenile or sick leopard gecko will need to be fed daily, while adult leopard geckos only need to eat every few days – around 3-4 times a week on average. You shouldn’t feed them more than they can eat within a 15-20 minute sitting, which is roughly about 5-10 insects for adult leopard geckos.
They will really enjoy eating fattier worms such as superworms but these should be kept as a treat once every two weeks or so. They store fat in their tails as they are built to be prepared for times where they may not have access to food for a while.
Choosing the right substrate for leopard gecko:
It is important that their substrate remain dry as they are naturally built for a desert environment. You have a few options to look at, and it is suggested that the substrate you use is about 3-4 inches deep so that they can burrow. You should avoid using sand as they can ingest it which will cause blockages within their digestive system, and wood shavings could cut their feet up and the oils on the wood could irritate them.
Cut up pieces of indoor/outdoor carpet works really well, and so does paper towelling. Paper towelling is of course very absorbent so it will help keep your enclosure dry – although if it gets wet it could make the enclosure humid. When visiting the pet store you can chat to them about what commercial substrates they carry and which one would be best for your little friends home.
Common leopard gecko health problems:
One of the more serious health problems is metabolic bone disease, but this can be avoided if they have enough calcium and vitamin D in their diets. You can do this by dusting the insects you feed your little friend with calcium and vitamin D powder twice a week. Metabolic bone disease can cause painful deformities in their spines and your leopard gecko will have almost no appetite and will have tremors.
They will need to be fed via a tube, and their calcium and water intake will be increased. Another issue they are prone to is gastroenteritis, which can be fatal if left untreated but it thankfully very easy to treat. You should look out for watery stools and if their tails are shrinking. If they are undernourished, they will struggle to shed and can develop dysecdysis – so it is vital that you ensure their health is always taken care of.
They can also be prone to respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. You should look out for symptoms such as wheezing. Mouth rot is another common issue among geckos. If you are at all concerned about your pet, it is best to seek the advice of a vet. Most animal rescue organisations do also offer cheaper veterinary services.
Where to get a leopard gecko from:
Leopard geckos can be bought from most pet stores and reputable breeders. You should also look into rescue shelters – you could give a leopard gecko a second chance at a happier life. Before purchasing your pet, you should ensure that they are healthy and don’t display any signs of ill health such as a rash or wheezing.
Leopard geckos that sit too still may be a cause for alarm, and ones that are too jumpy are also not a great option. It is best to choose one whose docile and seems responsive to their environment. Reputable breeders and shelters are the best two options to look at as pet store may not be reliable. You can ask your vet for recommendations as well.
Are leopard geckos clean pets:
Although they are relatively clean pets, you should always wash your hands after handling them. You should ensure their cage is kept clean, and regularly wash it out and change the substrate. They spend majority of their time in their tanks and so they won’t dirty your house. To read my full write up on the cleaniness of leopard geckos and how to stop any smells have a read of this article.
Leopard gecko’s are extremely cute little creatures, and are extremely docile which makes them incredible pets. They are a little bit different from other geckos as they have eyelids and don’t have the sticky pads on their feet which enables other gecko’s to be able to climb up their enclosures and natural environment. They do however enjoy climbing, but can’t climb vertically.
They mainly burrow and find cool, shady places to stay during the day and are mostly active at dawn/dusk and at night. They are nocturnal creatures, and because of this only need a low wattage light within their enclosure. They tank should be kept at roughly 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit (29-32 degrees Celsius). Their temperatures shouldn’t drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
The humidity in their enclosure should be kept to about 30-40% and they will struggle to shed if the humidity drops below 20%. They only eat live insects, and often don’t even pay attention to insects that move too slowly as they require the movement of the insect to be stimulated.
Crickets are a common staple food for them as it is high in protein. It’s important that the insects you feed them are gut loaded before you feed them to your little friend, and that they are rather store bought as wild insects could be covered in pesticides and parasites. Your adult leopard gecko will only eat every few days – about 3-4 times a week while baby, sick and juvenile leopard geckos will need to be fed every day. They are incredible little creatures to have for companionship and are rather low maintenance too.
If this leopard gecko care guide has helped you why not check out some of the other guides I have on this website. You can find them all by checking out this link.
My name is Andy Baines and I am the owner and writer here at Super Crazy Pets.
For the last 20 years I have been the carer/parent of many exotic pets, from reptiles to amphibians I have cared for and looked after them all.
I created this website to share my knowledge of looking after pets with other fellow owners.
My works and articles have been shared on many online publications including The Spruce Pets.
You can read more about my story by visiting the about me page.