Leopard Geckos are one of the most popular pet lizards in the UK. They are are a relatively small species (7-8 inches) and do not require a lot of space. A 2 foot vivarium is sufficient for a single gecko. Other reasons that they are so popular are their ease of keeping) they don’t smell like mammals do and they are quiet (believe it or not, they are capable of making a distress call but seldom find cause to.
What type of enclosure is best for a leopard gecko?
A Leopard Gecko will be more than happy with a 24″ long x 12″ wide vivarium. For this reason and a few others, we often recommend the Monkfield Terrainium as an enclosure. Unlike many other species of gecko, Leopards are not fantastic climbers so a tall vivarium is of no real benefit. If you would like to house a pair of Leopard Geckos then go for a 36″ enclosure. Leopards don’t usually mind a bit of company so long as there is ample space available. Glass enclosures are fine for Leopard Geckos if they are kept in rooms with a stable temperature. This is because glass is not a good insulator of heat and in a cold room it can be difficult to heat a glass tank reliably.
Heat and Ultraviolet
Leopard Geckos are nocturnal in the wild and this means that they do not need Ultraviolet lighting (Most lizards do). This makes them one of the least expensive lizards to accommodate. Like all reptiles, Leopard Geckos need to thermoregulate. This means that they need access to a range of temperatures in the enclosure so that they can regulate their body temperature. The warmer end of the tank should be around 32°C (90°F) and the cooler side should be around 25°C (77°F). The best way to achieve this is by mounting either a heat bulb (for wooden vivariums) or an under tank heat mat (for glass tanks) at one end of the enclosure. Heat sources must always be plugged into a thermostat so that they stay at the correct temperature.
Decoration for the tank
Leopard Geckos come from Rocky outcrops in the arid areas of Pakistan. they spend their days sleeping in crevices and come out at night. One thing that is essential for a Leopard Gecko is a “damp hide”. This is a cave towards the warmer end of the vivarium that has moss in it that is kept damp. Without a damp hide, leopards can not shed their delicate skin properly and this leads to health problems. You may wish to use large stones for a natural feel but always check with your reptile shop if they are safe. If using real stones, they must be secure so that they can’t topple and hurt your pet. All artificial ornaments made for reptiles should be safe.
Leopard Gecko Substrate
Leopard geckos feed by sticking their tongue onto prey (kind of like a chameleon but with a normal sized tongue). Because of this, many keepers avoid fine grained substrates such as sand in case the lizard ingests them. This can lead to a potentially life threatening condition called intestinal impaction. Reptile turf and lignocel have proven to be popular substrates. Leopard Geckos also don’t tend to dig so a shallow substrate is fine.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
Leopard Geckos are carnivores, this means that they eat live insects and not plants. The best foods for them are crickets, meal worms and small locusts. Wax worms can also be fed but are better as an occasional treat as they have a high fat content.
We feed all of our insects fresh greens and supplements. This is known as “gut loading” and means that they will pass this nutrition on to the lizards. We also dust feeder insects with Nutrobal twice weekly before feeding. This is to add calcium to the geckos diet. Leopard geckos will vary the amount of food that they consume from day to day so offer two insects for every inch of the geckos length daily. Remove any uneaten food items after an hour as they may nip your gecko if it is sleeping.
It is worth noting that many Leopard Geckos can regulate the amount of calcium that they take in. We always offer a small bowl of Nutrobal powder in the enclosure.
Leopard Gecko Water
Always make sure that a shallow bowl of clean water is provided at all times.
As we previously mentioned, a damp cave is essential for Leopard Geckos. Keep the moisture in here fresh by checking it daily and replacing it if soiled.
Can You Hold Leopard Geckos?
Leopard Geckos are one of the most popular pet lizards in the world and make great pets. While babies may be a little skittish, the adults tolerate handling exceptionally well. Once your new pet arrives, leave it to settle in for a few days until it starts to explore on its own.
The best way to begin handling your new pet is to sit down on a soft floor and allow your gecko to walk over your open hands. For the first week, keep handling sessions limited to ten minutes and just once a day. As your confidence grows, your gecko will come to trust you more and more and this time can be extended to half an hour or more.
Don’t grab or squeeze your Leopard Gecko. This will frighten them and they can drop their own tail off if they get too scared. The tail will regrow but may look different or stumpy. Leopards store fat in their tail so they aren’t keen to loose them and dropping the tail is a last resort.
Leopard Geckos are very laid back animals and once you earn their trust, they will see you as a friend. They enjoy spending time with their carer and will even feed from your fingers.