Leopard Gecko Caresheet Page

Here is my own caresheet that I have compiled from my own experiences.

 

Basic Terrarium Setups

Here are some basic setups:

 

Hagen 27 Gallon Glass Aquarium (Long style, 36x12x15)

- 1 x Hagen 27 gal aquarium

- 1 x Hagen 36x12 Screen

- 1 x Exo-Terra Heat Wave under tank heating pad 11x17

 

Hagen 15 Gallon Glass Aquarium (24x12x12)

- 1 x Hagen 15 gal aquarium

- 1 x Hagen 24x12 Screen

- 1 x Exo-Terra Heat Wave under tank heating pad 10x11

 

EXO-TERRA Glass Terrarium with doors Large (24"x18"x18")

- 1 x Exo-Terra Glass Terrarium

- 1 x Exo-Terra Heat Wave under tank heating pad 10"x11"

 

Leopard Gecko General Information

Information on Leopard Geckos:

Common Name: Leopard Gecko

Latin name:  Eublepharis macularius 

Leopard Geckos occur naturally in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. They live in rocky desert or savannah areas that tend to be very arid, sleeping in humid cracks and crevices during the day, looking for food at night. They hide in humid places to keep themselves cool, hydrated and to aid in shedding. While Leopard Geckos will roam to seek prey, they tend to be more of an opportunistic hunter, laying in wait for something to crawl past them. Their main diet consists of grasshoppers, scorpions, beetles, and other arthropods. Leopard Geckos, as with all other members of the Eublepharide family, lack adhesive lamellae on their toes and have movable eyelids. Without the aid of lamellae, Leopard Geckos have evolved small claws that help them climb.

 

When frightened by a predator, their first reaction is to find shelter. However, if they are cornered or cannot find an adequate hiding place, they have another defense. They will shake their tail vigorously to call all the attention to it. If the predator grabs its tail, the Gecko will drop it and run off. When the tail has been dropped, it will continue to shake on the ground, effectively distracting the threat towards the dropped tail until the Gecko can find a safe hiding spot. If the writhing tail doesn't manage to distract the predator and the gecko is captured, it will let out a loud, high-pitched scream and bite furiously. This is its final attempt to save its life. The tail will grow back, but will not be as elegant as the original.

 

Leopard gecko's live from 8-20 years (so I have heard) and can grow from 7-12" in length, males being larger than females usually. A gecko in top condition will have a fat tail - usually 3/4 of the thickness of their neck. They will be alert when awake and the colors should be bright. The geckos tail is its reserve of fat, so the fatter the tail, the healthier your gecko is. Never grab your gecko by the tail. Like many lizards, their tails will break off as a defense mechanism if handled roughly. The tail will grow back fairly quickly, although it will not be as elegant as the original. Geckos require a humid hiding space to help with shedding of their skin (which they eat after it is shed), which happens approximately every 2-4 weeks. Having some form of mildly abrasive items in your tanks is good for the geckos to rub against to help shed their skin. A humid hide should be provided to aid in shedding. Moist Vermiculite, Coconut fibre or Sphagnum Moss is recommended.

 

If you have 2 males they will fight and injure each other, but multiple females can be together. Males can be housed with multiple females, but ensure that your enclosure is large enough to accommodate the number of geckos you have.

 

Geckos will choose one spot usually of the tank to do their business in, which makes for easy cleanup, so watch for which corner they use. Try and place a lid or dish in the spot or even some sand (a calcium sand is recommended to prevent impaction as much as possible) for even easier cleaning. Any droppings should be removed often to keep a healthy environment for your pet. Substrates should be either cleaned (matting ect) or replaced (moss, bark, sand) relatively often. Every two weeks is a safe time, the more often, the better tho.

 

Leopard geckos are very easy to take care of and are quite timid and well tempered. They are not highly susceptible to health problems.

Parasites - it's possible to obtain a gecko that is infested with parasites. This could be accompanied with loss of weight, refusal of food, runny stools, being lethargic, and regurgitation. If you have any combination of these, or have doubts as to your gecko's health, consult a vet as soon as possible. A fresh stool sample test is a good idea if you are concerned.

 

Leopard Gecko Enclosures / Terrariums

Leopard geckos require 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 90F) at the warm end, and cooler temperatures (about 75F) at the cooler end. Tank should remain from 80F-90F during daytime and 75F-85F during nighttime. Provide suitable hiding areas at both warm and cool areas, so the geckos can feel secure at any temperature. Temperatures below 75F should be avoided. No special lighting is required for these nocturnal animals, but a day/night lighting pattern may help the geckos health. I do not recommend heat rocks, as they can be too hot and burn your geckos. I do however recommend getting a dimmer or thermostat to regulate an Under Tank Heating pad.

 

Leopard geckos lack adhesive lamellae and cannot climb glass, but a screen is a good idea to prevent crickets from escaping and to keep other pets out. I ensure that there are at least 1 to 2 hides for every gecko in the tank. A guide of 1-3 geckos in a 15-gallon tank (24" W x 12" D x 12" H) is a good guideline to use. I think that cramping your gecko in an undersized tank may stunt the geckos growth and cause stress.

 

Reptile cage carpet, sphagnum moss, slate, and paper towel can all be used for substrate (bedding) in the tank for geckos. Clean or replace any substrate frequently. Decorations like cork-bark, rock slabs, driftwood, artificial cave structures, and artificial plants can also be used as decorations for your tank. Be careful that your decorations will not collapse and crush your geckos, and that the decorations provide some cover and hiding spots for your geckos. If there are not enough hiding spots, your gecko may become stressed and nervous and may not eat properly. Adult and juveniles should not be kept together, due to bullying and smaller geckos not getting enough food.

 

A moist chamber of some form with either Vermiculite, Coconut fibre or sphagnum moss is important and these are most common. There are other options. This can be as simple as a container with a hole 1" H x 1" W cut in the side or top for your gecko to crawl into. This provides a humid environment to aid with shedding and for females to lay eggs in. I consider a humid chamber a must for every gecko. If several females are in your tank, you may want several humid chambers available, to prevent fights over egg laying territory. I prefer Vermiculite myself.

 

About cleaning your tanks. Do not use any harmful cleaners, only herp safe cleaners and rinse everything well after to ensure no residue is left behind. Clean fecal matter very often and sterilize everything in your tank regularly, to prevent bacteria build up. Substrates like moss and forest bedding should be changed completely on a regular basis. These creatures depend on YOU to keep their environment clean and healthy for them, so please, do not neglect your little friends!!

 

Feeding Leopard Geckos

Leopard Geckos require Calcium supplements. All feed should be shaken in a Calcium supplement till coated before feeding and a small dish of calcium is recommended in the tank for you gecko's to lick, especially if you are breeding them. Two supplements should be used: one that is just calcium/D3 and another that is a reptile multivitamin. You can feed your gecko calcium dusted insects such as crickets (main food), mealworms, wax worms, super worms, and an occasional pinkie mouse. Wax worms and super worms are not to be used as a main diet, due to the fact they are a high protein & fat treat, but good for breeding female geckos. The Multi-vitamin can be given every 3rd or 4th feeding, but the calcium dusting is what should be used mainly.

 

Gut-loading your geckos food is recommended. Whatever you feed you gecko's food supply with will be inadvertently be fed to your gecko, so the more minerals the food eats, the more your gecko will be ingesting. Its always a good idea to feed the insects a high quality diet so as to "gut-load" them and increase their nutritional value. Baby carrots are what I use to gut load all my geckos foods. I slice the carrots in half; the crickets seem to eat it a little more readily then. There are a wide variety of feeds you can use for all your geckos feeders.

 

Fresh water should be kept in the tank at all times and changed daily to stop bacteria and fungus growth. Keep the water dish at the cool end of your tank. A water conditioner is required to remove Chlorine from the water.

A good measure for the size of cricket or mealworm is never feed your gecko insects larger than the length from the gecko's tip of the nose to its eyes. If too large of a cricket is fed, the juvenile may have digestive problems and regurgitate the meal. A few stray crickets may not be bad, but large numbers of crickets can stress your gecko, and should be reduced to an acceptable amount (A few for snacks in-between feedings). Feed hatchlings and younger geckos everyday. Feed juveniles and adults every second day.

 

Feeders used:

-1 or 2 week old crickets for very young geckos, 3 or 4 week old crickets for sub-adult geckos, 4 week+ old or adult crickets for adult geckos

(4 weeks are easier to digest, allow for more consumption of calcium, and less noise)

-Mealworms, Kingworms, Superworms are also staple feeders.

See Feeders Bugs Page for more options.

 

Breeding Leopard Gecko

Sexing your gecko is not very difficult. Male geckos are larger, heavier in the neck region, have a line of small pores on their belly between their hind legs, which are just in front of the anal opening, or vent and they exhibit two swellings at their tail base and just past the vent. Females lack the large size, in general, and the pre-anal pores and post-anal swellings are missing. Sex can't be easily seen until your gecko reaches 5-6" in total length. Geckos reach breeding age at 10-16 months or 6" in length. 1 year old is a good age to start breeding from. Note: I have had females that had swells and appear to be males, but under closer inspection, there were no pores, and turned out to be females.

 

Breeding takes place from December to September/October. Eggs are laid in early January (I've had eggs as early as Jan 2 and Jan 5!). In the fall, the males should be removed from the enclosure and all the animals are slightly cooled in the evening, and less daytime hours, allowing the night time temperature to fall into the mid 70's. This should last for several months, then raise the temperature back up, and reintroduce the male. Females who are about to lay eggs will stop eating for up to 36 hours before laying their eggs.  This is often accompanied by digging up the substrate and hide boxes like crazy looking for a good place to lay the eggs. You will notice also that the pregnant females will lie on the warmest side of the tank just before laying the eggs. Pregnant females can usually be detected because of a bump on each side of her abdomen. The developing eggs are visible through the skin just above the vent on both sides of the body.

 

If provided with a laying box, females will tend to use it. Something like a cool whip tub with a hole cut in the side that is filled with moist Vermiculite, Coconut Fibre or Sphagnum Moss will provide an attractive place for the females. The eggs should be removed from the egg-laying box and incubated in Vermiculite with a 1:1 ratio of water to Vermiculite by weight. Usually, you can tell at a glance if you have eggs; all the substrate will be pushed to one end of the laying box.

 

Incubation takes from 35-100 days (depending on incubator temperature. Warmer=faster, colder=slower), and a female can lay from 1-2 eggs every 2-4 weeks, laying from 10-16 eggs per season. Geckos, which are very healthy and well cared for, may lay as many as 8 times during the year, but fertility decreases with age. Geckos are temperature dependant for sex. Temperatures of 80-82F results in mainly females. Temperatures of 85F results in mix of males and females. Temperatures of 88F-90F results in mainly males. Humidity and temperatures should remain constant. Humidity levels should be maintained as high as possible in my experience (high 80's is good).

 

Sexing A Leopard Gecko:

Here are several pictures showing the difference between males and females:

  

Notice males have almost a V shape formed in the under body between the rear legs.

The best way to try to sex your gecko is to use a digital camera and place the gecko on a glass surface with the camera underneath the glass. Placing a black background above the glass will help with clarity of the photos.

 **Note some females have smaller "bulges" that almost look like the males Hemipenal Bulges DOUBLE Check the pores!!!!

 

Incubating Leopard Gecko Eggs:

Eggs should be placed in a separate incubator with moist Vermiculite, Perlite or sphagnum moss about " into the substrate. Make sure to keep the eggs in the same position that they were laid in, do not turn the eggs over or place on side!! It's important that you put the eggs in the medium exactly as you found them.  I.e.: that you don't lay them upside down or anything. After a few days or a week, hold the egg up to a penlight and shine the light through it.  If you see veins or a reddish glow, chances are that your egg is fertile.  The only way to know for sure, though, is to incubate it and see if it hatches. I prefer Vermiculite for incubating myself.

 

There are many designs for incubators around. I personally bought a chicken incubator that is made of Styrofoam. It has a window on the top with the heater and fan mounted. Also it has trenches in the bottom that has a plastic liner moulded to them that you fill with water. Covering more of the surface area of water decreases/increases humidity levels. There are air vents in the window to let small amounts of fresh air in. There is a wire mesh on top of the trenches that I place my gecko eggs in containers of moistened vermiculite on that are labelled with females name and date eggs were laid. This will help to track how long incubation is taking and who parents were.

 

I currently use deli cups with 1/16" holes drilled in the lid (usually 12 holes) . I have also previously taken a piece of saran wrap and cover an container top. I then take a toothpick and poke holes repeatedly across the top, except directly above the eggs themselves. Both have worked well. I prefer Vermiculite for incubating myself.

 

This is a rather inexpensive setup that is supposed to work very well. The heating pad heats the water, which evaporates and keeps the humidity high and heats the air at the same time. The egg container is not actually in the water at all. The sides and the top of the tank should have insulation on them to keep the heat in, and the top should have several holes in the screen and insulation so that fresh air can enter. The eggs are placed in containers of moist Vermiculite or moss in the suspended container on pillars above the water. Keep in mind to ensure the hatchlings will not end up drowning themselves.

 

The newborn geckos are very fragile and will not eat until after their first shed (usually after about a week). They can then be started on appropriately sized insects. It's also best to house them separately, the sub-adult and adult geckos may crush or stress the smaller geckos and they may not eat or drink. Misting the geckos from an early age is recommended. They may not like it at first but they will get used to it eventually. Start feeding them pinhead crickets and after a while try larger foods. Handling them is not advised, but occasionally hold you hand in the tank and let them get used to you. Mine would crawl onto my hand and I very carefully and delicately petted their heads and backs (avoid the tail usually). After 3 or 4 weeks try handling them briefly (no more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time) and keep them close to ground or above something soft and pillow like  incase they spook and jump out of your hands. These very small hatchlings can move extremely quickly!! Handling them often as youths is important if you want geckos that are tamer when they are adults.

 

Leopard Gecko Morphs

Leopard geckos have become very popular, and with their popularity, has come many morphs available. Some are recessive genes, some are Co-Dominant. The variety of morphs has exploded, with nearly everything under the sun you can think of for colorations and patterning. If you do a quick search, I guarantee that you will find at least 20 different pattern and coloration morphs, as well there are now eye morphs being developed.

For a bit more information, please see my Leopard Gecko Morphs Page.

 

Caresheets Disclaimer:

These Caresheets are what I have researched and found have worked best for me. There are many differences of opinions on caring for different species, and these Caresheets are  from my experiences, and from my research. I try to provide as accurate and in-depth detail as I can, BUT please, do plenty of research for your pet yourself, and consider these as guidelines. There are many Caresheets available, and it is your decision to care for your pet using this information provided.

Alberta Bred Geckos is not liable in any way if you choose to do so.

 

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