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Leopard Geckos

Leopard Gecko
(Eublepharis macularius)

Native Range: Most of the Leopard Geckos in captivity are captive-bred from stock collected in Pakistan and adjacent parts of India in the 1980s.  In the wild they inhabit dry areas of desert and scrub-land,preferring rocky areas which provide suitable cover.  They spend daytime underground,where conditions are cooler and moist,emerging at night to hunt.

Size: Approximately 3-4 inches long at birth,and weigh in at about 4grams. They average about 9-10” in length as adults and the typical weight is 65-95 grams.  There is a genetic “mutation” called the genetic giant and these Leopard Geckos range from 100-150 grams and 10-12 inches (25-28 cm) in length.

Handling: Leopard Geckos rarely attempt to bite,although they may do so if restrained.  You should always handle them gently,without pinching or squeezing.  Remember that the tail may break off if handled roughly.  Although it will regenerate,it will not look like the original.  Until accustomed to handling;the gecko should be handled inside the cage or while sitting on the floor.  A frightened gecko may leap out of the keepers’ hand and take a fatal fall if held while standing.

Caging: Just about anything can be used,with a ten gallon aquarium or any container of similar size being adequate for a pair.  Leopard Geckos cannot climb smooth surfaces like other geckos.  They are ground dwelling (terrestrial),so the floor space is more important than the height of the container.  Any container should have a secure fitting lid to prevent escape and protect them from household pets.

Substrate: Leopard Geckos will ingest particles of substrate.  Therefore,use caution in choosing a substrate to avoid intestinal impaction.  Animals can be maintained on plain paper towels or Vita or Calci Sand if you prefer a more natural look.  Avoid regular play sand.

Food: A variety of small invertebrates (bugs/worms) are eagerly accepted by Leopard Geckos.  A good feeding schedule for Leopard Geckos is every other day or at least 3 times a week.  Hatchlings will feed on 2 to 3 week old crickets or mealworms.  You should keep a shallow dish of calcium in with them at all times,you can add mealworms to this dish for feeding.  Leopard Geckos will lick calcium from this whenever they feel the need.  As they grow,provide larger crickets,and mealworms.  You may also feed your Leopard Gecko wax-worms,silk worms,goliath worms and the occasional pinkie mouse.  Dust food with a calcium powder about twice a week to provide additional calcium for growing bones.  Adults may be supplemented once weekly,unless females are producing eggs.  This uses huge amounts of calcium,and supplements should be made daily.  Dust crickets and other food items one a week with a multivitamin supplement.

Humidity &Water: Provide clean water in a shallow dish.  Humidity should be kept low,or respiratory problems can result.  Due to the variance in cages and home environments,some geckos may experience shedding problems,particularly the toes.  Provide a small plastic container with lid with a whole cut in the side or top for the gecko to enter and exit.  Fill it with damp peat moss,coca fiber,or vermiculite.  This will help the animal to shed properly.  Stuck sheds on toes may harden and constrict the blood flow to the toes,causing loss of the toes.

Heating &Lighting: Provide a thermal gradient by placing a heat pad under one end of the cage.  This should allow the gecko to choose from higher temperatures,about 90°F,(32°C) at the warm end,and cooler temperatures,about 75°F (24°C) at the cooler end.  Provide suitable hiding areas at both warm and cool areas,so the lizards can feel secure at any temperature.  Temperatures below 75°F (24°C) should be avoided.  No special lighting is required for these nocturnal geckos.

Captive Behavior: Leopard Geckos in captivity are a little more adaptable to their owner’s schedule than some of their relatives like the Cat Gecko.  They are normally nocturnal,but will wake up and come out if disturbed during the day.  They seem to recognize people and will come out of their dens to “say” feed me or hold me,and some seem to enjoy being out on their owners,most likely taking advantage of our body heat.  I have a few adults that clearly brighten up after being out on my shoulder or hand for a while.