Also known as Spotted Fat-Tailed Gecko
The Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is native to Asia, Pakistand and Northwest India. They can live 15 - 20 years and grow to 7 - 10 inches. Their conservation statis is Not Evaluated (NE).
The Basics for Leopard Geckos
- 10 - 20 Gallon Tank
- Newspaper, Paper Towel, Tile, Reptile Carpet
- Not Required
- 75 - 90 ° F
- Crickets, Mealworms, Waxworms, Superworms
Leopard Gecko Care Sheet
Leopard Geckos are likely the most popular species of lizards to keep as pets, they’re also one of the easiest to care for. Because they’re so widely available, you can almost always find them available in pet stores or from a multitude of breeders. There are a few basic items you’ll need but nothing too fancy or costly for that matter. Here are the basic items you’ll need:
- 1 heat mat
- the correct substrate
- 2 hides – 1 regular and 1 moist
- food & water dish
- Temperature thermometer
The substrate debate – Leopard Geckos
I mentioned the items required for their enclosure in the previous paragraphs and one of the items listed is “the correct substrate”. Substrate for leopard geckos is a widely debated topic. Before I quickly explain the debate, let me first explain what substrate is. A substrate is an underlying surface or bottom. Its what your leopard gecko will walk on; sand, soil, reptile fiber, etc.
The debate over the appropriate substrate for leopard geckos revolves around impaction. Impaction occurs when the substrate is accidentally consumed by a species. Take sand, for example. If a leopard gecko accidentally eats some sand (or other particulate substrates) while feeding on mealworms, the mealworm will be digested but the sand will not. Over time the sand will build up in your pet’s stomach and eventually kill them unless properly cared for by a veterinarian.
Without stepping on anyone’s toes, so to speak, we can easily solve the debate with a little common sense. If sand is a bad substrate for leopard geckos then we shouldn’t use it. If we cant use sand, what else is there? Here is the short answer: You have plenty of options. Whether sand can or cannot cause impaction in lizards doesn’t need to cause a huge debate when there are other options available for a substrate. Paper towels, tiles or reptile carpet are just a few that work very well for leopard geckos!
A regular 10 or 20-gallon aquarium is large enough for one leopard gecko. If you have two leopard geckos I recommend using a 20-gallon tank.
I recommend using a non-particulate substrate. You can place ordinary tiles on the bottom of their tank, a layer of paper towels or even a reptile carpet.
Temperature & Lighting
Leopard geckos are nocturnal and thus do not require special lighting. They do, however, require a certain temperature gradient within their enclose to ensure optimum health. One side of the cage should be the cool side with an ambient temperature around 75 ° F while the hot side of their tank should be around 90 ° F. Its almost universally recommended that you use an under-tank heating pad to obtain the heat. Zoo Med makes a great under tank heater that’s widely used and highly rated.
These can be connected to a thermostat controller as well. Be cautious while setting this up! Ensure you don’t place the heating pad on anything can easily overheat or catch on fire. Heat rocks are frowned upon as they’ve been known to burn lizards.
And to ensure your cage has the correct temperatures, I recommend using two digital thermometers. One on the hot side and one on the cool side. This will allow you a quick and easy way to check their cage temperatures at all time.
Leopard geckos need two “hides” for their enclosure. A hide is simply a shelter for hiding. A bowl, a decoration, etc. One should be placed on the hot side of their tank while the other should be placed on the cool side. You can be as fancy or cheap as you want, so long as its there and allows your leopard gecko a nice place to hide. Some people use plastic food storage like Tupperware, cut a hole on one side and place it in their gecko’s enclosure to be used as a hide.
One of the hides needs to be a “humid hide” or “moist hide”. The way you make it humid is by placing a paper towel or coconut fiber in the hide and misting it with water. Be mindful, however, of mold and bacteria growth. It should be cleaned regularly. I recommend coconut fiber because soaks up water while resisting mold growth.
You can find decorative reptile shelters online or at your local pet store that work great for this. With most of these, you can remove the tops of the shelters to mist.
Feeding & Watering
Leopard geckos do not eat vegetables so they must be fed live insects. The most common diet for leopard geckos consists of mealworms and crickets. The amount of food you give your pet gecko is based on their overall length. Feed them 2 live insects for every inch of their overall length. If your pet is 3 inches long, you should feed him or her 6 live insects. This should be done every other day.
I recommend you either gut-load your crickets or dust their food with vitamins and minerals. If you’re not familiar with gut-loading, we have a short guide you can read. Otherwise, the most common thing keepers do is to dust their leopard gecko’s food with reptile supplements.
A small, shallow water dish should be filled with clean drinking water. Do your best to keep this clean and full at all times.