Leopard Gecko Care
Leopard Gecko Diet
- What do they eat in captivity
- Should you follow a Leopard Gecko diet plan
In captivity, most Leopard Gecko hobbyists will feed Crickets, Mealworms, and Dubia Roaches for their geckos' weekly diets. Silkworms, Wax worms, Phoenix Worms, and Black Soldier Fly Larvae are also commonly used in the hobby, but mostly periodically as treats.
Coming up with a schedule that works for both you and the animal is ideal. For example, if you can only feed the gecko once a week, a small dish of mealworms mixed with the proper ratio of supplements (calcium with d3 & reptile vitamins) may work best for you. But if you have the opportunity to feed crickets 2-3 times a week, you can drop in an appropriate amount each time. You can also tong feed dubia roaches 1x a week for geckos that will eat them because dubia roaches are very high in nutritional value.
Can I leave crickets in with my Leopard Gecko? Although possible, I would not recommend leaving too many crickets in the cage with the gecko, especially if the gecko is in a small 10-20 gallon tank. 4-5 crickets running around the tank ok, but when too many insects are allowed to free roam in the tank they can stress the gecko out by bothering the gecko in the gecko’s hiding places, picking away at the gecko’s skin, and also eating the geckos feces. When insects eat gecko’s feces, whatever is in the feces, goes into the insects gut. If your gecko has a “small” amount of parasites (as some leopard geckos do naturally) living in its digestive tract, and then poops out some of those parasites, and then the insects eat the poop, the insects are now filled with extra parasites. So if the gecko now eats the insects (filled with extra parasites), the gecko's digestive tract will become overloaded with parasites, and this is where you might start to see some health issues in your gecko.
Do Leopard Geckos need UVB? It is our observation that as a hobby, we have successfully been keeping leopard geckos in captivity for over 30 years, without any additional sources of UVB lighting. However new research is being done to show that certain reptiles can BENEFIT from UVB lighting. More research needs to be done to compare the quality of health of geckos exposed to UVB versus geckos not exposed, but for now it is very common practice to NOT use UVB in leopard ecko habitats, so long as the geckos are getting a weekly dose of reptile calcium with D3 (sold at most reptile stores, and online).
- Why not? Unlike bearded dragons, tegus, and some other very UVB dependent species in the reptile hobby, leopard geckos have been shown to not NEED high amounts of vitamin D3 to help them retain calcium into their bones. The reason other species might need UVB lighting is because their bodies have evolved to NEED the UVB rays to help them absorb calcium into their bones, making them grow nice and strong. If they don't get those high amounts of UVB exposure, they won't have enough vitamin d3 to process the calcium being eaten in their food and they will have very high tendencies to develop life threatening health issues. The most common serious issue is Metabolic Bone Disease which if untreated, will lead to the animals slow death. Leopard geckos on the other hand do not need such high exposure to vitamin D that is gained by basking in the sun, so we can simply supplement their diet with smaller amounts of vitamin D3 which we provide mostly in powdered form. It is also worth noting that a very specific ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the geckos diet must be maintained. Phosphorus is a mineral found in high dosages in almost all insects. Because leopard geckos are primarily insect eaters, if you only feed them insects leopard geckos will have a high amount of phosphorus in their blood system. This is bad. High amounts of phosphorus will “block” calcium from being absorbed into the bones and also cause Metabolic Bone Disease and other life threatening issues. To correct this, a “supplementation” of calcium must be added to the geckos diet that exceeds the amount of phosphorus being consumed by the leopard gecko eating insects. It has been reported that a good balance of 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio in the leopard geckos supplementation will lead to a happy and healthy gecko that has no problems digesting its food, retaining calcium, and absorbing it into their bones. It sounds like a lot, but it’s really simple, most reptile stores now a days already sell pre made Calcium with D3 for reptiles in a healthy ratio and all you have to do is simply sprinkle the powder into your geckos food 1-2x a week and the gecko will have a proper balance of nutrition and be happy and healthy.
Leopard Gecko Habitat
- What their wild habitat is like and where they’re from
- Is it rocky, dry, desert type etc.
Being primarily from the middle east (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and parts of India), the common species of leopard gecko we keep (E. Macularius Macularius) is from Dry Desert grasslands characterised by hot and humid summers, with dry and cold winters. Because of this leopard geckos have been known to brumate in the wild (hibernation for reptiles), for many months. In captivity brumation is rarely practiced in the hobby however, and 99% of leopard geckos will show little to no signs of brumation if their habitat conditions are kept consistent year round. The terrain they come from is also naturally rocky with a soil/sand/dirt mixture in which they love to hide in caves created bybrocks and abandoned burrows of other animals. Despite being from a typically dry region, leopard geckos need humidity to shed, especially babies. Making their homes in rocks, caves, and burrows gives them different “microhabitats” to find the proper level of humidity needed for shedding healthily in the wild. In captivity we simply provide 1 or 2 small hides that are kept warm and moist, around 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius), so the geckos can have the proper conditions to shed their skin each month. Although not a huge risk to leopard geckos specifically, if the hides are kept too cold and moist, respiratory infections leading to potential health issues, and in worst cases death, may occur so suggested humid hides in the temperature range above mentioned would be best.
Leopard Gecko Setup
- What kind of setup they do best in
- Tubs vs vivariums
- What kind of hides and decorations they need
The best set up for your leopard gecko will vary depending on the size/health of your leopard gecko. If you have a juvenile or adult leopard gecko that is healthy, free from any noticeable issues, and eating well. This type of gecko can be set up in almost anything, a 10-20 gallon tank, a 12 quart tub, or a custom 3 foot enclosure. Size will not matter much since your gecko is healthy, alert, and all its instincts are working at 100%, it will find food, water, & humidity, just fine on its own. But let’s say you have a blind leopard gecko, sick leopard gecko, or small babies that are not doing so well. A smaller set up may work best. I’ve noticed that some leopard geckos feel safer in smaller tubs naturally. I had this one Juvenile Black Night leopard gecko we purchased last year, it was small, we set her up in a 12 quart tub, because we were going to grow her out to be a breeder, so eventually she would live in a 12 quart tub anyway, since that is what we keep every one of our adults in. Weeks went by and she started to get smaller, skinnier. I tried every trick I knew to get her to eat and drink in the 12 quart tub but she just would not thrive and grow. So I tried a trick that I have seen work before with geckos younger than she was. I moved her into a smaller 6 qt tub. Right away she felt safer for some reason, she went back to eating right away, and today she is a perfectly healthy adult sized gecko. I share this story because it is something I’ve witnessed on occasion for geckos that hatch out weaker or smaller than their siblings, sometimes they just need a little assistance in life, and that assistance comes with little tricks like letting their food crawl on the floor instead of being in a bowl, using shallower water dishes than other geckos the same age, and in some cases, switching over to a smaller sized enclosure/tub. Another reason to use a smaller tub is if you have a sick or blind leopard gecko, it will make finding water/food easier on the gecko. Try setting up a smaller tub with paper towel or newspaper as substrate to monitor fecal colors/consistency. Often smelly, colored, or runny feces is an indicator of parasites, but in some cases breeding females also may have watery/green stool from time to time, so just be aware of that as well.
Decorations are up to you as the keeper. Feel free to put as many or as few as you’d like. The bigger the enclosure the more hides I would suggest to make the gecko feel safe. It also gives them plenty of interesting space to interact with, they love to climb and move around and they will definitely go up and down and climb on top of anything you put in their tank, so make sure you have a lid! At a bare minimum I would suggest you place at least one humid hide, on the warm side of the enclosure so it stays nice and warm/humid for them. This will help them shed and they will most likely spend a lot of time there because they absolutely love small, warm, humid places.
A food bowl will also be needed if you are feeding mealworms so they cannot escape and bury themselves under the substrate. We put our supplements/calcium powder directly in the bowl with the mealworms. This makes sure the mealworms will be covered in the powder and they also eat it as the days go on to stay nice and gut loaded for the geckos, since sometimes your geckos will choose to eat the worms over the course of a few days. If you feed crickets or roaches, you will have to dust them separately in another bag or container before dropping them into your gecko's habitat or tong feeding them to your gecko.
Personally I started using disposable water dishes, they are called “souffle” cups. You can get them from bulk restaurant websites or most food stores. These are good because every time you change the water you don't have to worry about scrubbing away the bacteria build up on the bowl. However if you do use a water dish just make sure you clean it well with a sponge once a week to make sure bacteria is not building up inside. Bacteria often feels “slippery” when you rub your finger along the water dish walls, so scrub away until you no longer feel that slipperiness.
- What substrate is best
- Which substrates should we avoid
A big debate in the leopard gecko hobby has been whether leopard geckos could be kept on pure sand. Most geckos go a lifetime without any issues on sand but some have impaction issues. I started keeping my geckos on paper towels. This is a good option but paper towel is very thin so it does not absorb feces and bacteria very well. Also the geckos push it around and shred it up to the point where it’s as if you are not even using any substrate by the time you go to clean it because it’s torn to pieces. Also when the geckos go to breed on it, they slip and slide everywhere because of how slippery the paper towel is on most plastic/glass surfaces. I did my research and found out most impaction issues revolving around sand involved “Calcium Sand” found at pet stores, so I tried play sand from a local hardware store, which is washed, and chemical free. This was great at first, it was really good at absorbing smell and bacteria, but over time it became very dusty which could get into the geckos lungs causing problems. More seriously however, I started to notice dark blotches in the geckos' bellies (most likely from eating sand). Shortly after I noticed actual sand grains in their stool. I did not feel comfortable keeping them on pure sand any longer for this reason. I should note I was only providing the geckos a hot spot during this time of 90-93 degrees fahrenheit (32-33 Celsius). Newer studies suggest if you do choose to keep your geckos on pure sand (not mixed with dirt or soil) that a hot spot of 105-110 fahrenheit (40-43 Celsius), may provide the geckos a chance to digest and process the sand better. I have not tried this nor seen any evidence of this working, but personally I can tell you 100% of the geckos I kept (about 44 at the time), had black patches of sand in their bellies and also grains of sand in their stool, each time they defecated.
As a breeder, my all time favorite substrate is newspaper. I cannot express how good newspaper, or also similar, packing paper works. It is thick, so it absorbs way more liquid from feces and minimizes the spread of bacteria as the geckos splash water on their stools and walk over it before the next cleaning. It also does not slide as easily or rip as easily so the geckos are not able to push it around or tear it up like they can the paper towels. I also never noticed any slipping issues with males and females during breeding, which can be dangerous if the males are slipping around and accidentally hurt their hemipenes. This can cause infection, ampution, and expensive vet visits.
In recent days a pure substrate of Eco Earth (ground up coconut husk) has been successfully used by leopard gecko rehabilitation centers such as Jessica's Animal Friends on youtube. She is famous for using pure Eco Earth in all her rescued leopard gecko habitats, because eco earth does not cause blockages like pure sand substrates may. If I were to set up a natural vivarium today for my leopard gecko, I would use what I use for my tegus, monitors, and other similar reptiles, a ⅓ x ⅓ x ⅓ mixture of eco earth (or organic peat moss), washed play sand, and organic top soil. This is because eco earth (and also peat moss), is great for holding humidity, then sand is great for giving the substrate some structure, and lastly top soil is great for giving the substrate more volume and creating air pockets so it does not mold as easily. This also allows for bioactive bugs such as isopods and springtails to more easily live and thrive in the soil. With a ⅓ mixture of sand only I would not anticipate any problems with impaction, but I would still give the gecko a slightly warmer basking spot of around 100-105 degrees fahrenheit (37-40 Celsius), to break down the little bits of sand they may get in their digestive tract. This is because leopard geckos lick everything, it's part of the way they sense their environment, so they will constantly be licking the substrate. If the substrate is only ⅓ Sand, they should not be getting large amounts into their digestive system, and therefore I do not think an issue will be caused. However, observe your gecko and make changes/decisions as time goes on. Observation is the biggest key for keeping reptiles, as every reptile will be slightly different than the next.
Lastly, wood chips have been a popular option for reptile keepers of snakes/lizards for a long time. Personally, I would not recommend wood chips for the fact that they could have splinters, which may get caught in the gecko's gut, mouth, or eyes.
Any other substrate not listed in this discussion may be there for a reason, do a little research whatever you are thinking of using, if it's not something we have discussed. Many soils, barks, wood whips, etc have chemicals added to it that could be harmful for your animal. This is why when I use sand/soil from the store I read the ingredients and make sure it is organic and pesticide/chemical free.
Temperature and heating
- What temperatures they need day and night. Whether they need a temperature gradient
- How to heat them depending on the enclosure you use. For example, mats vs heat bulbs and emitters
Thankfully leopard geckos have fairly simple care requirements that allow for a range of heating options. In general you’ll want to give your leopard gecko a hot spot of around 90-95 degrees fahrenheit (32-35 Celsius) with an ambient warm end of about 85 degrees and a cool side of around 75-80 degrees. If you shut your heat source off at night I would recommend the gecko having an ambient temperature of somewhere between 75-85 degrees (23-29 Celsius). Geckos are very active throughout all hours of the day, they are opportunistic creatures that will hunt, sleep, and move about randomly throughout a 24 hour period. Cooler night time temperatures that are drastically different than the day may promote brumation and confusion in the leopard gecko, so staying within the above mentioned ranges should promote year round consistent behaviour from your gecko.
We experimented last year keeping all our leopard geckos with no hot spots, no cool end, just an ambient room temperature that rose and fell with the day and night time temperatures in our leopard gecko room. We first tried heating the room to an ambient room temperature of about 85 degrees fahrenheit (29 Celsius), which would rise to about 92 degrees fahrenheit (33 Celsius), because of the late afternoon sun, for a period of about 4-5 hours before the temperatures would drop and hold overnight again around 85 degrees. This temperature zone actually worked really well for us in general but we did notice less than 1% of meals were being regurgitated by some (very small amount) of geckos, every so often. So we wanted to experiment with holding the temperatures at 88 degrees overnight (31 Celsius), with a maximum temperature rise to 95 degrees (35 Celsius), during the hottest part of the day when the sun hit the room for a period of about 3-4 hours. This was hot! Very hot to be working in the room, but I wanted to do what I thought was best for the geckos to not regurgitate, even though the % of meals was only a tiny fraction from a tiny % of geckos.
From this we did not see anymore regurgitation, however we believe we started to see fertility issues around keeping the room at this constant high temperature. It is common in ball pythons, and even mammals (such as humans) sperm count and quality can go down as temperature goes up. It was around this time we released a video about keeping leopard geckos at room temperatures in these above mentioned zones. We received a lot of feedback from people saying they had successfully kept leopard geckos at room temperatures with no additional heat spots much lower, around 83 degrees (28 Celsius), and it was theorised by us that possibly leopard geckos could adapt to digest under lower temperatures if they were afforded the opportunity to do so. So as winter settled in over here, we experimented with a slightly lower temperature range than we first listed. We would set the heater in the room to heat the room to 83 degrees at night (28 Celsius), and the room would rise to about 90 degrees during the hottest part of the day, for a 3-4 hour period, just as before. We don’t know if it was the effects of winter but we did not notice any more regurgitation, even though we were experimenting with lower ranges than we saw some regurgitation before, and even though the geckos are eating and defecating just as much as before. This leads us to believe that either the natural drops in air pressure that winter brings may trigger the geckos to be able to prepare themselves to digest in lower temperatures or like theorised by our followers, that leopard geckos have the ability to adapt to digest at lower temperature ranges should the situation present itself. It should also be noted that at this time, we were studying a pool of leopard geckos of about 350, so the amount of geckos studied leads us to believe that this was a trustworthy amount of geckos examined. Also, as temperatures lowered again, fertility issues seemed to return to normal.
Whichever method you may choose, there are a couple warnings I can make based on experience you might want to be aware of. If you use an over the tank heating element such as a heat bulb, be careful of the size of your enclosure to the wattage of the bulb. If the bulb puts out too much heat for the size of the enclosure, the entire enclosure may turn into a hotbox, producing too much heat for the gecko which can lead to infertility, health concerns, and in worst cases death. You want to keep the hot spot around 90-95 degrees (32-35 Celsius), but also use a temperature gauge to make sure the cool side is staying around 75-80 degrees (23-26 Celsius).
Next, if you use an under the tank heating element such as heat tape, heat pads, or heat mats. Please know that those mats can heat up really high without you knowing. The mats themselves usually heat up to around 115 degrees (46 Celsius), and more in some cases. So when you stick these directly to glass or the bottom of the enclosure, the surface temperature where the gecko will be sitting may get to 150 degrees (65 Celsius), or higher which could burn your animal. So you really just need to be aware of this and adapt your heating conditions to be correct for the animal.
A couple options present themselves here, if you are using glass or plastic enclosures and the surface is getting too hot, you can use a thermostat to plug the heating source into and you can adjust the temperatures higher and lower based on the surface temperature you are seeing on the glass or plastic. I would highly recommend buying a “heat gun” that shoots a laser beam to read the temperature on the surface of whatever you are aiming at. These can be inaccurate by about 4-5 degrees, depending on how much money you spend on one, but even the cheap versions are fairly affordable at around $20 USD (17 EUR), but at least they give you an idea of where your surface temperatures are, whether they are in the danger zone or not. Most reptile/fish thermometers are best used for reading air/water temperatures and not surface temperatures. This is the benefit of buying a temperature gun over these alternatives, because it will read the surface temperature for you by air, or by surface.
Another alternative to using a thermostat to control the heat output of your device is the “poor mans” version of this, layered towels. If your heat pad, heat tape, or heat mat is getting the surface of your enclosure too hot, fold a layered towel between the source of heat and the bottom of your enclosure. You can layer the towel as thick or as thin as you need until you get the perfect surface temperature for your gecko.
One last note. Recent research is showing that leopard geckos can actually see the red and blue lights originally thought to be invisible to them in the early stages of reptile keeping. My first leopard gecko was in the 1990’s when “red heat bulbs” were very commonly used and promoted. It worked just fine for me. I never had any issues, and as long as the gecko has places to hide, it can always find a dark place to hide no matter what. I remember my favorite part of that red glowing heat bulb was getting to watch the gecko as I fell asleep at night. I would watch him crawl around, hunt, and it was the coolest thing ever to me. If you find yourself NOT wanting your gecko to be exposed to “visible red or blue light” at night a third oution of heat presents itself, ceramic heat emitters. These are bulbs that let off heat but not light. They too come in many wattages so you can choose the size that works best for your set up, however since it does not emit light, you won’t know when the bulb breaks or dies out, so you'll just have to keep a closer eye on it’s heat output daily.
Water and Humidity
- Do they need water in a bowl
- What humidity is best for them and why
- Whether we should mist them
Leopard geckos are fantastically designed for survival. They gather a lot of their water requirements from food, such as insects and small mammals, but they do enjoy a good drink of fresh water whenever they can find some. I can tell you this because we give our leopard geckos fresh water once a week and every time you can see them go directly to their bowl and drink. Reptiles are not like us, they retain a lot of water from their food sources and in the case of leopard geckos they store nutritional elements in their tails. If you have a leopard gecko with a nice healthy tail, that leopard gecko can survive with very little resources for months, maybe longer. I once had a leopard gecko adult female go into breeding season and refuse to eat for 6 months. This is extremely rare for this period of time, some females may go on and off food for 1-2 weeks at a time, but most females will never go off food. By this point she had lost a considerable amount of weight but nothing I did could spur her on to eat. When she was ready, out of the blue, she decided she wanted to eat again and put back on all the weight she lost in just 1 week.
Resilience aside, what you want to develop is a consistent source of fresh water for your leopard gecko. This is why I suggest changing their water once every 7 days. Some leopard gecko keepers will only spray the enclosure once a week when they clean to allow their geckos to lick up fresh water for a few hours before it evaporates, but at the moment I like to provide an actual bowl. This allows the gecko to drink up as much as they want over the next 2-3 days before the water goes bad, and they will most likely not drink from that specific source anymore. We use disposable bowls (3 ounce souffle cups for adults, 0.5 ounce cups for babies), you can buy these from most food/convenience stores, or online from large restaurant wholesaler companies. These make cleaning hundreds of leopard geckos much faster and easier. It also lowers the risk of bacteria and infection. If you use the same water dish each week, I would suggest making sure every time you replace fresh water, you scrub the dish so that any slime or bacteria growth is cleaned off before placing new water into the dish. Bacteria does grow on these dishes very quickly if the bowl is never scrubbed clean. So although reptiles are very resilient, just to be safe, clean the dish weekly to eliminate the risk of infection.
Because we keep 100’s of leopard geckos individually on newspaper substrate we like to provide a naturalistic humid hide filled with eco earth for every single gecko we own, babies to adults. This makes us feel good as keepers, that we are providing some form of natural enrichment for the geckos, but it is also functional. In the area of the United States where we are from, it is VERY dry. Even if you live in a humid location, if you have an air conditioning unit cooling/heating your rooms, this will suck most moisture out of the air immediately, making your gecko/reptile room very dry. Adults are very forgiving and can often get away with little to no humidity, however baby/juvenile leopard geckos are much more sensitive. We tried to keep baby/juvenile leopard geckos with no humid hide, but using the “spray” technique, where you give them a small turned over hide without any substrate, then simply spray once every 2-3 days to provide moisture for the geckos to shed. The water evaporated every time within a couple hours, and the babies always had really bad sheds. This creates a lot more work for you in the long run spending 15 minutes per gecko trying to soak and pull off stuck shed. Also when you spray your geckos enclosure frequently for humidity purposes, you can’t help but soak their feces and urates at the same time. This creates a terrible smell and a higher chance of respiratory infections or bacteria infections to spread because the geckos are walking,breathing, and living in their wet feces and urates constantly.
If you use eco earth or other kind of loose humidity retaining soil like substrate, all you need to do is provide one hide minimum on both the warm and cool side of the enclosure and spray the substrate regularly so the soil throughout stays a little compact, but not wet. This will prevent the gecko licking up unnecessary amounts of soil into its digestive tract and also prevent the air in the enclosure from being very dusty. You’ll also want to spray a bit extra inside the warm hide because this will most likely be the hide the gecko chooses for humidity, and a little extra moisture helps maintain a nice warm humid hide the gecko will love, again not soaking wet, just moist. If you are looking for a suggested temperature range for the warm humid hide I would try to keep it around 82-85 degrees (27-29 Celsius).
As a suggestion if you are using newspaper or another substrate that does not retain moisture, what we have found best is simply to use tupperware containers with a hole cut in the top. Burn the edges of the hole (if they have sharp plastic pieces protruding), so that the lip of the plastic hole is nice and smooth so the gecko cannot accidentally hurt itself on. This method works great for a humid hide for all geckos, but also as a lay box for females. However if you keep your leopard gecko on a humidity retaining soil like substrate, the female will most likely lay her eggs anywhere so keep an eye on her during breeding season so you know where she is laying.
In summary, spraying your gecko directly is not recommended if possible. Providing a humid hide that you do spray so the gecko can crawl in and absorb moisture is what we like to do. If you spray your gecko directly they will most likely scream and not like it. Giving them shoulder high lukewarm baths at 80-85 degrees (26-29 Celsius), is acceptable and is another way to give them hydration. However in my experience most do not “like” to sit in the water and will try to get out. They like a small, dark, warm humid hide, 82-85 degrees (27-29 Celsius), that they can feel safe, secure, and invisible inside of.
Do Leopard Geckos like to be held?
- Do they bite
- How long you can hold them for
- Handling Videos https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLx8bHR1oX-db4x5IEptCRdg17jRoWZ03x
Leopard geckos have been domesticated for 30+ years now in the hobby. Because of this, most have very calm demeanors. They are typically easy to hold and do not bite. However, there are always exceptions to this because every gecko is different. I would say a small percentage of geckos do have a little bit more feistiness than normal. In most cases this can be eliminated by consistent handling over time. I use a technique called “open handed handling,” where you hold the gecko in the palms of your hands without grabbing them from above. This allows for the gecko to feel safe and also prevents you from getting your fingers bit by being near the gecko's face. This type of handling enforces a good experience for you and the gecko and with time, almost all geckos will be well behaved, even for children.
Baby and Juvenile leopard geckos usually take a little time to get used to handling. They are delicate and oftentimes very quick to try to scurry away. This may cause you as the handler to panic and try to grab your baby gecko from running away. This is why I suggest when handling baby geckos to handle them sitting down in a closed off small area, so you dont panic if the gecko jumps out of your hands. In this way you can simply move around slowly and gently, allowing the gecko to crawl back onto your hand continuing its training process without many frantic moments for you and your gecko.
As far as frequency, if you want to hold your baby/juvenile gecko 1-2 times a day for periods of 15-20 minutes, in my opinion that is fine. I remember being excited to have my first geckos and wanting to hold them all the time. From my experience I do not believe handling your gecko twice or even three times a day is going to do any harm to your gecko if you practice the training methods mentioned above. Once the gecko is an adult, there is little to no restriction on frequency of handling, and they can be held for hours on end for personal reasons, school events, birthday parties, or reptile shows. However, if you notice any stress from the gecko (defecating, frantic behavior, head shaking, or biting), then you might not want to handle that gecko for the rest of the day, or give it a break from handling.
Leopard Gecko Lifespan
A wide range of lifespans have been reported in the hobby, anywhere from 8-32 years. Personally I am keeping track of all our geckos birth dates so I can compile a list of our own data of the general lifespan of our animals. I think studying animals in different living conditions (breeding, temperature, environmental) will provide excellent data for studying the species as a whole. In general however, expect that your leopard gecko will likely live between 10-15 years if kept under proper conditions.
Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Describe the variety
- Some of the most popular morphs
- Morph Videos https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLx8bHR1oX-dZR37sI-W1dggSWXot3cV6Y
Leopard gecko morphs are one of the reasons that drive many to this niche of the reptile hobby. Not only are leopard geckos easy to care for, common, and make great beginner pets, add on top of that a designable template that is unmatched in the lizard world, and you have a hit!. There are no other lizards that allow you to create artistic design through color and pattern manipulation as well as the leopard gecko.
Some of these morphs fall into what is called Mendelian inheritance (dominant, recessive, and incomplete dominant) traits. Other genetics fall into line bred traits (selective breeding for specific colors/patterns over time).
A really cool thing about leopard geckos is that you can do a fair amount of both of these types of breeding. I will give an example. Crested Geckos are primarily known for their “line bred” colors and patterns, and are almost bred exclusively according to line bred traits. Ball pythons on the other hand are known for having so many mutations, but are bred almost exclusively on Mendelian based inheritance. Leopard geckos fall into a very unique niche in the reptile hobby where it is almost a 50/50 split between breeding for line bred traits and mendelian traits.
Some of the most popular line bred traits would include: bold stripe, tangerine and black night. The most popular Mendelian mutations include: Snow, Albino, Eclipse, Blizzard, Murphy’s Patternless, and White and Yellow. When you have the opportunity to combine both line bred traits and mendelian inherited traits, it opens up the world to varying levels of quality and combination that can be sought after.
There are however a couple traits you want to be careful of. Enigma, which although beautiful, oftentimes leads to varying levels of mental dysfunction in the geckos, leading to trouble eating, drinking, sleeping, and overall quality of life. Lemon Frost, one of the most recently discovered new genes which unfortunately has issues with Malignant skin tumors (bright patches of white skin cells, which are known in worst cases to spread to other muscles, tissues, and organs of the geckos). Super Snow leopard geckos have come a long way, you don’t see much of this anymore, but when you breed super snow to super snow it is often reported that babies will hatch smaller, grow slower, and sometimes have slightly disformed bodies/faces. It is recommended when breeding snows to not breed super snow to super snow but rather snow to snow, super snow to snow, or super snow to non snow leopard geckos. This will allow for diversity in genetics and decrease your chances of any issues arising. White and Yellow is another dominant trait that has come a long way but in some bloodlines similar neurological issues to enigma have been reported (head wobble, body spinning, and overall quality of life). These issues are more rare, almost non existent in some cases, compared to the past, but it’s good to be aware of when you buy into the project. Lastly, inbred lines such as bold stripe, black night, and tangerine that create stunning quality animals, took many years of breeding animals back to their own, or similar bloodlines. For this reason, some issues commonly seen may include: stunted bodies, poor bone structure, kinked tails, missing fingers, disformed faces, misshapen eyes, and infertility. It is my recommendation to be aware of this and to try to out cross the geckos to different bloodlines should you see any of these issues occurring.
In conclusion, outcrossing does seem to be a commonly used method to reduce or remove many of the above mentioned genetic issues. New research is being done by us to record and suggest that outcrossing to isolated wild type bloodlines such as M. Afghansicus, E. Turcmenicus, M. Fasciolatus, and M. Montanus, can dramatically improve the life and health of some of these inbred/genetically weakened bloodlines. We will continue to record information but we are starting to breed all known morphs into these species/subspecies and are seeing a strengthening of leopard gecko DNA, producing bigger, longer, healthier bodied geckos. This also gives the hobby much incentivized projecting to work on over the next couple decades to strengthen bloodlines for the future of the hobby, and also to visualize our favorite morphs into these wild types.
Leopard Geckos for Sale
- How to buy safely by finding breeders with a good reputation and reviews
- Is it safe to buy from pet shops
- Are they cheap or expensive
- Are there morphs at reasonable prices
It is a common thread that many of us buy our first geckos from pet stores with no prior research. Though the temptation is there, I would suggest trying to start your leopard gecko journey by researching information online and finding local keepers that you can become friends with through websites, forums, Facebook groups, Instagram pages, YouTube channels, etc. This will allow you to connect early on to trustable and reliable keepers who would know where to get good quality animals and would be able to help you with many of your first questions. Use the internet for its advantages, connecting you to other people who have been doing this for a while will save you a lot of time and heart ache when it comes to commonly experienced issues for beginner keepers. It may also be a good idea to ask a few people the same questions. This way you can see if they all have similar recommendations. Being so new, it will be hard for you to decipher between right and wrong information, so it is good to check with multiple sources before making your final decision on things.
"I highly recommend Geeky Geckos. Frank, has wonderful leopard and gargoyle geckos. His prices make them great values. But more importantly is Frank's willingness to help new and experienced keepers. Frank, has given me advice in extensive emails. He even spent time with me about a problem with an animal I didn't even purchase from him. If you are new to the hobby you should purchase your animal from Frank. He will help you succeed. Thanks Frank. Fred Noel a satisfied customer."
"Geeky Gecko Creations produce high quality healthy geckos. Frank is a really nice guy and he loves to interact with fans. He educates and helps a lot of people with leopard geckos. I bought most of my geckos from him and they are beautiful breeders."
"Had a very positive experience with Geeky Gecko Creations! Frank was very professional and communicative. Such a quality character. And replied fast with any question I had. All three geckos arrived healthy and active. And they were so beautiful and high quality. Will definitely buy from again. A+++"
"Geeky Gecko Creations has the best quality geckos. I just got this beautiful gecko and she is gorgeous. There's no problems with her and she looks very healthy."
"Buying from Geeky Geckos has been an absolute dream! The weather was a little on the hot side when I bought the gecko and Frank was amazing with adding a very nice cool pack that kept my gecko nice and cool until delivery!
Frank’s communication is immaculate! His customer service is amazing. Any questions I had were answered so quickly. Very much recommend and will be buying more in the close future!"
"I have watched geekygeckocreations for a couple of months now and when I finally purchased my two geckos they were beautiful the two were instantly my best looking out of my collection so far I can't wait to breed them and see the wonderful babies that pop out! The service was amazing too even after I had gotten my geckos frank still answered my questions as fast as possible with as much info as possible an absolute 10/10 for anyone who is looking to buy a reptile I would definitely recommend frank (also the geckos look way better in person than they do on the pictures trust me they really don't do them justice)."
"My fiance' and I found Geeky Gecko Creations on YouTube, we had been looking for adults to start breeding while waiting for our first two geckos to get up to breeding weight. I messaged Frank about his available geckos, and over a two-week period purchased 4 of his geckos, 3 males, and a male. His knowledge about his geckos and their morphs, as well as his customer service, is top-notch in this hobby/business. We highly recommend him to anyone who is looking to get started in this hobby/business and we will definitely purchase from him in the future!"
- Brittany and Jeff (Mystic Exotics)
"I must say out of all the tegu breeders out there my wife and I know we made the right choice. Frank Cuzzolina (owner) of Geeky gecko creations went above and beyond. The whole buying experience was one we will stay with us for a long time to come. Frank answered every question , addressed every concerned made us feel not only a valued customer but part of the family. Frank was there every step of the way. Even did a live messagenger chat to help us pick the right Tegu out. Everything that Frank did was very much appreciated and would not hesitate to purchase another Tegu from Geeky gecko creations!!"
- Sincerely Tony and Chell Carel