Leopard Geckos are one of the most popular lizards in the pet trade. They have been bred for well over 20 years, resulting in many beautiful color varieties including: tangerines, blizzards, albinos, stripes, jungles, snows, and others. New ones seem to pop up every year. They are among the easiest lizards to care for and breed, which add to their popularity. Leopard Geckos are a good lizard for beginners, although advanced keepers are usually addicted to them, too.
The following is a brief guideline for their care:
Leopard Geckos can be kept in a variety of enclosures, depending on several factors. Breeders keeping large numbers of geckos usually prefer a simple, low maintenance setup. A large rubbermaid box, measuring approximately 16x22x6 inches can house up to five geckos. Newspaper is usually used as the substrate because it is inexpensive and easy to replace. A food dish, water bowl, and a hiding place are also placed in the cage with little or no other furnishings.
Glass aquariums and other cages designed specifically for reptiles work well. The size of the enclosure depends on the number of geckos to be housed in it. Keep in mind that although females generally get along, no more than one male can be kept in each enclosure. A single gecko can be housed in a 10 gallon size aquarium. Three to five geckos can be kept in a 20-30 gallon aquarium. the best bedding to use with Leopard Geckos is a calcium based sand specifically made for reptiles. T REX makes a product called Bone Aid. This special sand is digestible if the gecko eats it. It is usually available in several colors. Also, it can be sifted with a clean cat litter scoop in order to remove any waste. There are a variety of other substrates that work well. Just be sure to use one that is designed for desert dwelling reptiles.
Leopard Geckos also need a humid hiding place. Although they come from a dry, desert environment, they usually spend the hot daytime hours in rodent burrows and under rocks where the humidity is much higher. The best way to provide a humid hiding place is to use a small plastic box with a hole cut in the side about two inches from the bottom. Make the hole big enough for the gecko to easily climb in and out. Put between one and two inches of slightly damp peat moss in the container. This will keep the humidity high and will also serve as an egg laying container for females. Add a little water once a week or so to keep the peat moss damp. Keep the box on the cooler side of the cage. Other decorations can include driftwood, cork bark, and rocks. Any items placed in the cage should be resting directly on the bottom of the cage, not on top of the substrate. Leopard Geckos like to dig and can easily collapse a rock or piece of wood on top of them.
Leopard Geckos like a fairly warm environment. During the day, they should have a “hot spot” of about 85-88 degrees. A heat pad made for reptiles can be placed under no more than 1/3 of the cage to provide this warm area. Heat lamps can also be used, but keep in mind that these geckos are nocturnal and do not like bright light. A red or blue colored nocturnal bulb is a better choice than a daylight bulb. It is important that the entire cage is not kept hot. They need to be able to move away from the heat source if they feel the need to do so. At night, the warm side of the cage can drop down to the mid to upper 70s.
Food and Feeding
Leopard Geckos will grow extremely fast under ideal temperature conditions and a good feeding schedule. A diet including mealworms and crickets is ideal. Keep a shallow bowl with several mealworms available at all times. Also, feed each gecko a few crickets several times a week. Be sure not to leave extra crickets roaming in the cage as these will cause the stress to the gecko. All food items should be dusted with calcium powder every other feeding. A multivitamin powder should also be used once or twice a week. Be sure to have both a calcium and multivitamin powder as these provide different vitamins and minerals to the animal. Rep Cal and Herptivite are excellent choices. In addition to supplementing the food, a shallow bowl of calcium powder can be left in the cage at all times. The geckos will actually eat the calcium right out of the bowl. Also, provide, a shallow bowl of clean water at all times.
Under proper conditions, these geckos will reach maturity in less than one year. Leopard Geckos are very long lived, commonly reaching 10-15 years of age. There are even reports of Leopard Geckos over 30 years old!