The Guide to Owning & Correctly Caring for Leopard Geckos
Part 1: Introduction
For some reason i felt the need to write this guide on caring for Leopard Geckos as pets. Why? Who cares, it was fun for me to make... and very...very time consuming. (the writing actually took me a full week and on MS Word equals to about 18 pages long. The posting of this has taken me about 2 hours.) The goal for this guide is to not only share my love for this reptile species, but to also possibly persuade 1 or 2 viewers into thinking about getting a leopard gecko of their own. These reptiles not only are easy to care for, they are "usually" super friendly as well.
Throughout my life I've owned 3 leopard geckos. 2 when i was much much younger. I had to get rid of them when one day a cat almost set the house on fire by knocking off the heat lamp. It was my fault for leaving the door open but thankfully they make products now to prevent this from happening.
Today i own just one male leopard gecko who goes by the name "Liam Neeson" Yes... that is his name. I've had him since i believe June of 2015 and i bought him when he was under a year old. Even when i didn't own a leopard gecko I've always been fascinated by them. I have been doing my research for years and now i'd like to share my information with you all.
A) Misconceptions of what a typical person thinks of a leopard gecko1. Don't they live in a Desert?
The biggest misconception people have about leopard geckos comes from the generalization of where they come from. While yes leopard geckos come from a “desert”, they don’t live in sand ridden wastelands. Leopard geckos come from the rocky, dry grasslands of Asia, Pakistan, and some parts of northern India. When temperatures start to drop, these geckos will go into “semi-hibernation” and live off of their fat reserves.
2. They are sooooo boring…!
I’ve heard numerous reptile owners and random people looking for a lizard of their own claim that leopard geckos are boring. I’ve never understood this claim. They are nocturnal (meaning they sleep during the day and are active at night) it only makes sense that they won’t be running around their cage in the middle of the day. My guy tends to sleep from 9am to 5pm and then he’s usually exploring around or waiting for me to open the cage to take him out. Leopard geckos have big personalities more often than not. Its rare for me to witness or hear stories about a leopard gecko who does fuck all throughout the entirety of the day.
I have a gargoyle gecko, while I love her and love how beautifully creepy she looks. She and gargoyle geckos in general are far more boring. They tend to stay in one spot the majority of the day like a statue. While gargoyle geckos are nocturnal as well, they are far less active at night. Although that could always depend on if you are lucky and have a very active gargoyle, but it’s not common.
B) Basic information about leopard geckos1. Lifespan: A healthy gecko can live an average of 15-20 years. There have been reports of some geckos living as long as 30 years.
2. Size: The typical leopard gecko will reach as long as 7-10 inches in length. There are however “super giant” leopard geckos that can get around a foot long.
3. Weight: 50-85 grams depending on the age and gender of the gecko. Super giants will of course weight a little more.
4. Other interesting facts about leopard geckos
i. Leopard geckos are sort of “potty trained”. Unlike most lizards these guys will go to the bathroom in one specific area of the tank. They wont usually go anywhere else unless you put them in a different tank or change out the decorations inside it. Its convenient for us because we don’t ever have to hunt around to find poop to pick up.
ii. Leopard geckos do not produce urine in the form of a liquid. Instead their bodies excrete a chemical known as uric acid. It’s a solid white or yellow substance that usually comes out when they poop.
iii. Believe it or not geckos have very good eyesight that scientist compare to that of cats. Their eyesight is better than any other lizards that have been studied so far.
iv. Speaking of eyesight, leopard geckos have eyelids much like us humans. So you will visibly be able to tell whether or not your gecko is awake or asleep. They yawn as well which looks hilarious if you ever get the chance to see it.
1. Animal cost
Leopard geckos in general aren’t all that expensive. In fact they are one of the more affordable types of lizards out there. Typically a healthy gecko will cost anywhere from 20 to 45 bucks at a big box pet store such as a Petco or Petsmart. Like with most things, there is a big exception to this. Uncommon or even rare leopard gecko morphs (morph in a very broad sense = color, pattern, ect…) can cost a pretty penny. At a reptile show I’ve seen some reach as high as 1,500. Believe it or not there are also albino leopard geckos, which do tend to cost a little more depending on where you shop. Speaking of the Albino ones… they are a little more difficult to care for which I’ll explain why that is later on in the tank set up section.
2. Tank startup cost
As far as the actual cost of setting up your tank and having everything ready. This sort of depends on where you shop and how you want to set up your tank. A decent basic set up that includes a 10 gallon tank/lid, heater, thermometer, thermostat, substrate, a few hides, food/water dish, and calcium, should cost you around 110-150 dollars. Obviously you can build up later on by adding lights, a background and other various things, these things I listed are just the bare essentials imo. I don’t think this is that expensive because a kitten usually cost around $100, not including all the other crap you have to buy for them. Not only that but leopard geckos don’t cost much to maintain, maybe 8-15 bucks a month compare to a cat or dog that cost significantly more.
Tank maintenance is probably the easiest of any animal I’ve owned. Scoop the poop, mist the humid hide 2 times a day, and clean out the water bowl daily… that’s seriously it.
3. Ten different leopard gecko morph examples
i. Normal: Easily the most common morph you’ll come across. Their yellowing is somewhat dull and they feature a lot of black spots.
ii. High Yellow: not as much black spots as a normal however the yellowing is more vibrant. High yellows and normal were the first leopard geckos introduced into the US. My gecko is a high yellow morph. Looks very similar to the first picture.
iii. Tangerine: Features a beautiful vibrant orange or tangerine color to the body with little to no black spots.
iv. Marble eye: A leopard gecko with eyes that resemble that of marble tile. Its incredibly bizarre looking but at the same time gorgous. I have never come across one for sale so I think this is a relatively new morph. This also means that this could easily sell for 3k or higher due to the rarity of them.
v. Mack Snow: As babies instead of having a yellow body they are white or grey. As they grow older that white will develop into a pale yellow. There are many varieties of mack snows out there so the pattern and coloring will vary.
vi. Jungle: A leopard gecko that features irregular patterns on the body and tail. Instead of having a sort of symmetrical pattern these are broken and almost random.
vii Hybino (AKA Hybrid Albino): These geckos have an all yellow body with albino colored eyes.
viii. RAPTOR (stands for Red-eye Albino Patternless Temper ORange.): A Raptor is a red eyed albino leopard gecko with a orange body.
ix. Diablo Blanco: an albino leopard gecko that is white and has solid red eyes. This gecko is a cross between 4 different morphs; Blizzards, Tremper Albinos, Tremper Eclipse, and Patternless Stripe.
x. Black velvet: due to some weird mutation this gecko was born mostly black. The morph is one of the rarest in the world and currently it’s in the development stages. Meaning the owner is trying to breed this gecko to produce more black velvet or similar morphs. Due to how rare this is I expect the babies to be sold for around 2-4k. God I would fucking kill to have one of these.
Part 2: Tank Setup
1. Tank size and type
A single leopard gecko can live perfectly fine in a typical 10 gallon fish tank for its whole life. Although of course they will appreciate a 15 or 20 gallon tank if you can provide one. There is one condition… a baby leopard gecko should not be housed in a big tank. The reason why is because this could easily stress the gecko out. Start off with a 10 gallon and then move up to a 20 once the gecko is older if you prefer.
The “type” of tank you want to provide a leopard gecko is one that is low in height. These guys are ground dwelling lizards, they are not known for their excellent climbing ability (or even good climbing for that matter).
I’ve provided some links to products that would be perfect for a leopard gecko down below.
You will have to buy a screen lid for this tank as no lid is include.
Comes with a basic screen lid
The Big difference between this and the Grreat Choice tank is that the screen lid is different. This one has a door that you can just pop up to reach inside the tank, instead of actually taking off the whole lid.
The more expensive option, but the most convenient. The front has 2 opening glass panel doors. If you want you can also buy yourself one of those luggage locks to completely lock those front doors from kids or others from opening it. Comes with a removable background. The tank I use is very similar to this however it has been discontinued for whatever reason.
Ahhh by far the touchiest subject when it comes to keeping leopard geckos as pets… sand. Here’s the thing, if a leopard gecko eats some sand either on purpose or by accident it can result in premature death. How is this possible? Leopard geckos for the most part cannot digest sand which ends up getting trapped inside them (called impaction, I talk about this later on). Think of it like if you or I ate some large rocks. There’d be no way possible for our bodies to digest and break down the rocks so it would be caught in our stomachs and make us very very sick.
There are a lot of products out there that have calcium in the sand… avoid these at all cost. You don’t want to encourage your lizard to eat something they cannot digest… even if it does have calcium.
The only positive about sand is that it transfers and retains heat very well.
ii. Ceramic tile
This has become more popular of late. Due to it being super cheap( a dollar or 2 per square foot) and easy to clean. The problem I have with tile is that while it retains heat much more than sand, I don’t like how it distributes said heat throughout the tank. What I mean is say the left side of the tank is where you have the heater and the right is meant to be the cool end of the tank. Because of how easily tile distributes heat, it’ll make that cool side of the tank much warmer than It should be. Not to say everyone who uses tile has this sort of issue, it mostly depends on where you live and the temps in your household.
iii. Reptile “carpet”
This is another substrate that is starting to rise in popularity. To be honest I’ve never liked them. Nor do I see a benefit in using the carpet vs tile. For one most of these carpets don’t retain heat all that well. They also are a bitch to clean compared to tile. You have to remove the entire carpet (or I guess cut a chunk of the carpet where the gecko tends to poop in) wash it, let it dry, and then replace in the tank. As for tile you simply remove the poop and spray disinfectant on the tile or paper towel and wipe clean.
Another negative about these carpets is that they are somewhat expensive depending on the brand. I’ve also heard stories of leopard gecko toes getting caught in the fibers of the carpet…. That alone is good enough reason for me to steer clear of them. Funny enough despite all my complaining and shit, most big box stores use reptile carpet in their tanks… meh… whatever.
iv. Paper towels
One of the more sanitary options and easiest. Simply layer the bottom of the tank with paper towel and your good to go. People claim that this is the cheapest option but that is just not true. Even if you get paper towel for a dollar you’ll end up having to replace the soiled towel. Then of course when you are out you’ll have to buy more. You only need to buy tile once… you need replace paper towels each time a gecko poops. Think of the long term, Paper towel would be good for a temporary thing but I don’t understand why anyone would want to use this as a permanent substrate solution.
v. So what do I use?
A combination, I layer the bottom with 3/4th of an inch of sand (you can do ½ inch as well) and then a layer of tile on top. Why? Because It’s the best of both worlds. Great heat distribution and retention plus I don’t have to worry about the gecko eating any sand and becoming impacted. I strongly urge everyone to give this a try. Yes it’ll be a little more expensive because you are combining 2 different products, but if you want what’s best for your pet gecko then I urge you to try this idea.
As a general rule of thumb you’re going to want 3 hides at the bare minimum. 1 warm hide, 1 cool hide, and a humid hide. Let me make this a little more clear… a warm hide is a hide that is on the warmest part of the tank. Obviously a cool hide would then be on the coolest part of the tank. As for the humid hide, I keep mine somewhere in the middle. Having enough hiding places is essential to the health of your gecko as they will feel more safe and less stressed out.
4. Humid hides in more detail
Having a humid hide is incredibly important as it aids in the shedding process. (without the aid in humidity, shedding can become incredibly difficult for them and cause problems) Not only that but sometimes even if my gecko is not in shed, he tends to like being in his humid hide from time to time. Perhaps to cool himself off with the moisture? Not sure.
You can provide humidity in their hide in a couple of ways. I fold up a couple sheets of toilet paper and layer a deli container lid with it. Then once placed in the hide I mist the paper twice a day and replace the paper biweekly. Instead of toilet paper you can use sphagnum moss or forest moss but my gecko fucking hates that stuff with a passion. Idk why, I’ve witnessed him pull all the moss out of his hide a few times which made me go back to the toilet paper. I’ve never heard of any other leopard gecko doing this… maybe Liam is just a very strange gecko or something.
Examples of both regular and humid hides as well as cheap alternatives for those on a budget.
This combines both a decent sized cave as well as a water dish. (won’t say food as I believe worms could make their way out of it) its not my gecko’s favorite hide but he does enjoy being in it from time to time.
This is my gecko’s favorite cave by a long shot. He’s always either inside sleeping or on top watching what im doing. Yeah he likes to stare at me some times. Be aware that this thing is pretty god damn large so it will eat up a goof portion of your tank if you have a 10 gallon.
Perfect for a humid hide. You can find bigger or smaller coconut caves either on Ebay or elsewhere if you prefer a different size.
As the name suggest this hideaway has 3 levels for your gecko to explore. You can put moss/paper on the bottom tier if you want to treat this as a humid hide. Perfect for baby geckos to juveniles. Full grown geckos “may” have some problems fitting in the 2nd and 3rd tier. Like my gecko for example who flat out refuses to even step foot on a higher tier. I’ll have to see what happens whenever I get another leopard gecko and see if he/she likes it.
Even though these may not fit the whole “desert” theme, they are great products and inexpensive. You don’t need a large one either a medium should be perfectly fine for an adult. Its hard not to find these half logs at pet stores. Just make sure they are actually made out of wood instead of cheap easily breakable foam.
These are great for humid hides since its made of 2 pieces. You can layer the bottom piece with moss/paper and just replace and rewet as needed. The medium size is the best size to buy if you are interested in the product. There are a couple other companies who make similar products that function the same way such as penn-plex and zoo-med. I currently own the zoo-med one and its excellent.
vii. Budget hides. If you are on a budget don’t worry, making hides is much easier than you think. You can use the cardboard roll from paper towels; you can cut a hole in a deli container, Tupperware, Styrofoam bowls, or even a 4-6 inch plastic/terracotta plant pot. You just got to use your imagination. Be sure to thoroughly clean whatever you plan on putting in the tank. The easiest to make humid hide IMO is just a low profile Tupperware/plastic container with a golf ball sized hole cut in the lid.
5. Lights and heaters
Lets start off with lights. Here is the interesting thing; leopard geckos do not require light or a heated night lamp for viewing. I provide my gecko with both a natural daylight bulb and a night bulb for 2 reasons.
1. It provides ambient heating to the whole tank so on cold days/nights the temps in the tank are more consistent.
2. Because having a light source gives the gecko a sense of time. When the day light goes off he understands that its becoming night time in which he feels more comfortable in coming out.
Unlike bearded dragons and most other lizards, leopard geckos do not bask… at least for the most part. They do not take in heat from their backs. Instead they take a vast majority of their heat from their soft silk like bellies.
If you are going to provide your gecko some light try to avoid spot lamps and bulbs that will produce a powerful light. These tend to hurt leopard gecko’s eyes if they for whatever reason decide to look up at the light. I guess its kinda like if you or me stared at the sun for a minute or something… its just stupid to do. What you need to look for is 40-60 watt bulbs like this. Zilla Day Blue Light Incandescent. The only downside to these is that they are kinda prone to burning out prematurely so you may need to buy a new one once every 3 months. People say you can go the more expensive route and buy a UVB light specifically for desert reptiles. I have not done so, so I have no idea if these would be good for them.
Next is the subject of heaters. ONLY use under tank heaters for leopard geckos. Heated caves and heated rocks are not suitable for them as it will get far to hot and burn your gecko. Also I highly recommend everyone using a thermostatconnected to your heater so you can easily regulate and change the temperature of your heater. Pet stores charge a significant amount for them but you can just buy something like this and it works exactly the same way… for less than 20 bucks vs spending 40-60.
i. Albino geckos and light.
Albino geckos are more sensitive to light than a regular gecko. This means you have to obviously be a little careful in how you light your tank, if you choose to that is. If you decide you want to provide light for an albino I recommend getting a blue lightand raising the light fixture 6-10 inches above the top of the tank just for safety reasons. Standard spot/basking type lights could damage an albino’s eyes so these should be avoided like the plague.
6. Water and food dishes
While you may never actually witness your leopard gecko drink from their water dish, you must provide one. If the gecko is thirsty at any point at least they have the option of drinking the water. I provide my gecko with either distilled or reverse osmosis water. You can use rainwater as obviously it’s the most natural for them but I never ever use tap water. For the sole reason that i don’t trust it. You don’t need some massive bowl either, Its not necessary at all.
If you are providing your gecko with worms and dubia roaches then you’re going to want to have a escape proof food dish. Be aware that some companies have released products that combine both the hide with a food/water dish to maximize space. The only issue with these is that not all… or even half of them are escape proof, so you gotta be mindful when buying stuff. If anything you can use one of these bowls strictly for calcium which I’ll talk about in a moment.
Here are some good options to choose from.
Combines both a food and water dish and from what I’ve been told it will keep the worms in the dish as long as they are not massive. It’s a bit on the expensive side for what it is though… that’s the negative.
Combines the best of 3 worlds; an escape proof bowl, a water dish, and a fairly decent sized hide.
This Is what I use as my water bowl. Its cheaper than dirt and does the job. The downside is that worms and other insects can easily escape it, making it not that sutuble for a food dish.
Another cheap easy option for a food dish. Escape proof so you won’t have to worry about worms escaping.
This is actually an option that I’m unsure about. I don’t think that leopard geckos will realize that there is food or water in the top bowl portion so I have no idea if this is a good product to use for leopard geckos.
7. Calcium supplements
You can provide calcium in 2 different ways. By putting a teaspoon of calcium in a separate dish or my dusting your insects with calcium directly. Be careful because you don’t want to overdo it. Its not a smart idea to give them calcium dusted food every single time you feed them. Every other time to every 3rd time you feed your gecko is when you should dust them. Don’t rely on just a calcium dish alone because you gecko might never want to taste any directly from that dish.
There is a debate on whether buying calcium with D3 vitamin is necessary. I have no experience on the subject so I can’t say anything about it.
8. Other items
These are used to measure the amount of humidity that is in your tank. Absolutely not necessary for leopard geckos. They do not like humidity, so unless you live in a humid area OR run a humidifier in your room you won’t have a problem.
There are 3 main types that you can buy. An analog type (the cheapest and least reliable), a digital type (middle of the road… somewhat cheap depending on the brand and they are much more reliable), and a temp gun (the most expensive and accurate option) I recommend just getting yourself a digital one. They usually come with a probe that you can either stick in the substrate or leave against the glass. The thing with analog is that you would have to put one on both the cool and warm side of the tank. It’ll just end up costing roughly the same amount as buying a digital one so I don’t see the point in buying analog.
9. Cleaning supplies & hygiene
i. Hand sanitizer
This is something you should always have on you. Both before and after handling any lizard you must either clean your hands or use hand sanitizer. This is very important because not only can you transmit harmful bacteria to the lizard, but they can also transmit Salmon Ella Fitzgerald. You can purchase these for a dollar or 2. never pay more than that unless it’s a massive bottle.
This product is for general and deep cleaning of your tank and the stuff you have inside it. You must remove the gecko before applying the product. You must also wait for the spray to dry before returning the gecko to its tank. This bottle should last you few years if you are like me and clean your tank biweekly.
iii. Substrate/pooper scooper
Self-explanatory… I don’t think I need to explain it.
Part 3: Handling of leopard gecko
Leopard geckos do not mind being handled at all. As long as it’s for short periods of time. Because your hand is usually warm a tame gecko might just end up sitting on your hand (not mine because he is always hyper). As I said in the tank set up. Leopard geckos take in heat from their bellies and your hand is providing said heat. If you notice that they are starting to get cold then put them back in their tank. Babies should not be handled much at all because they can get very easily scared and wont hesitate to drop their tales unlike adult geckos.
Keep in mind when you do purchase your first gecko it probably wont want to be handled at all. Play it safe and leave it alone for the first week and slowly introduce yourself to the gecko once or twice a day. Eventually things will get better. Believe me it took Liam about 2 months to get used to me and his tank. At first I was really frustrated because of how standoffish he was. It took him about a month before he and I started to bond and now were like best friends.
Be aware they have personalities as do we all. Some of them might not like being handled much at all while others will love it. For example Liam loves being handled but only when he wants to. How can I tell? If I were to pick him up when he wants to be left alone he flails his arms and legs around like a fish out of water. However when he wants to come out, normally he comes to the front of the tank creepily stares at me until I open the tank and then he rushes onto my hand. Another interesting thing that Liam will do that is unlike most leopard geckos is that he is a climber. He loves to climb just about anything and when he reaches the top he will look around as if he is surveying the area.
Shedding plays a large role in just about every reptile out there. Unlike other reptiles that shed bits and pieces of their skin over time, the shed for a leopard gecko comes off all at once.
i. How often will this occur?
It depends on the age of your gecko. Babies and juveniles will shed significantly more than an adult. They don’t have a set time on when it will happen, it just sort of does. If your gecko is growing quickly then obviously it wil have to shed more. If the gecko isn’t growing much at all then it won’t shed that often.
ii. How do you know when they are about to shed?
Its very easy to tell because your gecko will start to dull in color. Once the gecko is ready to shed the old skin will appear almost white. If you notice one day that the gecko is very dull in color and the next day its bright and vibrant, that is because it has already shed.
Interestingly leopard geckos will eat their old skin as it begins to come off. There are theories as to why they do this.
1. Due to how physically exhausting it is to shed their skin the first thing that comes to mind is eating to get back some energy. Humans and other animals are similar to this mindset; if we work out for an hour what do we want to do? Eat.
2. They do this to avoid any predators. This is more of a internal mechanisms wild geckos have. When they are shedding they do not want to leave any traces of their existence, so they eat their skin to not leave a smell or give any idea that there was ever a gecko in the area.
Why does this happen? Because it’s a defense mechanism. Lets view it this way in a real world situation. Say there is a bigger lizard looking at the leopard gecko as food. IF the gecko is scared enough that he/she fears for their own life they will drop their tail and quickly run away. What happens is that that bigger lizard will see the dropped tail flopping around and they will attack it as the leopard gecko is running away.
Tail loss could also occur if your Leopard gecko is ill, being bullied by tank mates, infections/disease, stress. It can also happen if you fucking pick the damn lizard up by its tail… seriously do not do this.
3. HELP my leopard gecko dropped its tail… what do I do?
First off relax… do not panic as it will only make things worse.
i. Step one: IF you have multiple Leopard geckos in one tank isolate the one with the dropped tail immediately. The reason for this is because the gecko will be stressed out and other geckos might bully the one with the dropped tail.
ii. Step two: Once ossolated from the others, replace substrate with paper towls. Why? Because the stump where its tail used to be is an open wound. Getting sand or other loose substrate on it could very well lead to infections. Do this until the tail is completely regrown and there is no open wound left.
iii. Step Three: Try to limit handling as you don’t want to stress the gecko out any more than it already will be. Also before and after handling wash your hands, this is very important so that you don’t transfer a desiese to the gecko or vise versa.
iv. Step four: Make sure that the humidity and temperature levels of the tank are perfect or at least close to perfect as possible. This is essential to the health of the gecko’s tail growth.
v. Step Five: You can feed the gecko a little more than you would normally. The tail is where they store a majority of their fat. A good amount of people recommend feeding their own dropped tail to the gecko but I wouldn’t do this. I’d be afraid that the gecko could choke or suffocate from eating something as big as this.
4. Will it bite me? Will it hurt?
Short answer is possibly at some point and no. I have been bitten maybe 6 times total in the almost year I’ve had liam neeson. 5 of those 6 times were because I was hand feeding him and when he missed the worm he would bite me instead. It doesn’t hurt whatsoever; it just feels like if you were to lightly pinch the skin on the back of your hand. It is possible that I just have a very gentle gecko although I’ve never heard any stories of a leopard gecko drawing blood or even remotely hurting someone from a bite.
As for that other time he bit me. Well, it’s because i was cleaning his tank by one of his hides and he thought my pinky finger was food or something… I never claimed he was smart.
Part 4: Food
1. What to feed them
i. Crickets: Cost $0.15 each (approximately, will vary based on store or location)
I’ll be upfront I hate crickets and I’ll never use them as a primary food source for my gecko. They stink, they are loud, and are more annoying to care for than literally any other insect I’m listing below. The only benefit from them is that they are more nutritious than mealworms… that’s about it.
Also if you have your gecko on sand DO NOT FEED THEM CRICKETS!!!!! Leopard geckos are clumsy eaters and miss their strikes often. The chance that your gecko will miss and get a mouth full of sand is insanely high. The sand and tile/slate rock substrate method might be fine to feed your gecko crickets but I still wouldn’t risk it honestly. Yes the chance of them eating sand is significantly less, it’s still something I would worry myself to death about.
That being said if you don’t mind crickets and aren’t using sand then yeah crikects are probably the best food source out there, as far as nutrition. Next to Dubias (despite Dubias being so expensive)
ii. Mealworms: Cost 2.99-3.99 per 100
These are that middle of the road type food. Not super high in nutritional value, but at the same time not all that unhealthy. Also pretty damn cheap depending on where you go. Easy to care for, easy to store, easy to feed, long lasting, and again CHEAP. Mealworms will eventually start to smell if the containor they are kept in hasn’t been cleaned in a while. Because mealworms poop quite a lot I sift the mealworms in a fine threaded strainer once a week to get rid of the poop. Once I wipe the mealworm container clean I simply put the worms back in and boom done. Of course you’ll need to provide some sort of bedding/food for them such as crushed or ground oats. This process takes less than 3 minutes so clean up is a breeze.
iii. Waxworms: 0.08 each
The major problem with Waxworms is that you CANNOT feed these to your geckos on a regular basis. They are like candy to them. Feeding them too many of these may cause them to reject other food like mealworms or crickets due to a new found addiction to the waxworms. Plus they are not the healthiest thing in the world, which is why I’m referring them as candy.
iv. Dubia roaches: $0.25 each
I know what you are thinking… Disgusting. Honestly at first I felt the same way until I tried them out for myself. They are probably the most healthy option for leopard geckos. Not only that but surprisingly they are pretty damn clean insects. They don’t stink at all like crickets do and are very easy to care for. The downside of course is the cost. While yes they aren’t super expensive, they add up fast if you are buying in bulk. From what I understand they are cheaper than silkworms but I wouldn’t know.
v. Silk worms $?
I don’t know much about these insents other than what information I can find online. I’ve never fed any to Liam before because none of the pet stores around here have silk worms. Apparently these worms are incredibly nutritious for leopard geckos who will readily eat them whenever available. They don’t produce a nasty odor like crickets do, but the downside to them is that they are costly. None of the sources I came across said if this can be fed on a regular basis or just as a once a week treat sort of thing. I assume due to how nutritious they are that these would be more of a regular/primary food source.
2. How to feed them.
With the worms and dubia roaches its incredibly easy. You can just put them in an escape proof bowl and boom done. The only problem is how much do you feed them? That depends on a few factors.
A baby / juvinial gecko should be feed daily while an adult should be feed either every 2 to 3 days. Some geckos can be a bit stubborn about their food while others (like Liam) will eat any insect that moves. When he was a baby I feed him 4-6 mealworms (depending on the worm’s size) 6 times a week. The 7th day I would give him a treat which would include maybe 1 waxworm with 2 mealworms or just 2 waxworms. I never started feeding Liam the occasional Dubia until he was an adult.
You can in theory have a constant supply of food in the geckos bowl at all times. The idea behind that is whenever the gecko is full he won’t eat any more… However not all geckos are like this. For example if Liam always had food in his bowl he would never stop eating causing him to be very overweight. Its something that I guess you can play around with to see if your gecko is a food whore or not.
With crickets you gotta be more careful. Only feed what the leopard gecko will eat in about 15 to 25 minutes. Whatever the gecko has not eaten you must remove. Be watchful of hides or other decoration that have little holes and caves. Crickets are not smart and will end up getting stuck inside the holes and will die. Leaving you a lovely smell to deal with. Another reason to remove uneaten food is that crickets will annoy your gecko if he/she is not hungry. How? By biting them of course.
3.What not to feed them
i. Firefly’s: The reason why? The chemical that makes the firefly glow is highly toxic, so feeding this to your gecko or really any lizard can very well result in death.
ii. Wild caught insects from your home or outside: First off you have no idea what the insects have eaten. Secondly they could cause your lizard to get ill due to bacteria or disease.
iii. Canned or prepackaged dead insects. The reason for this is because they hunt based off movement. If the insect is dead then more often than not the gecko won’t be interested.
Part 5: Sexing your leopard gecko
Trying to figure out the sex on a baby to juvenile leopard gecko is very difficult because the signs to determine the sex don’t appear until maturity.
Above is a picture of both a male and female.
A male leopard gecko has a v shaped line of dark colored dots known as femoral pores. They also have a noticeable bulge right before the base of the tail.
A female does still have that V shaped line however it’s usually the same color as the underbelly. Sometimes the color is actually lighter than the underbelly. Another noticeable difference between the 2 is that the bulge that the male has doesn’t exist on the female. There are a few other ways you can determine the sex but this is by far the easiest.
Part 6: Some Diseases and other threats to your gecko1. Impaction
Impaction can occur with almost every reptile. The main cause of impaction is involuntary or voluntary eating sand or other loose particles. (such as gravel, crushed walnut, or other loose substrate) These materials do not digest like food or water. What happens is the eaten substrate will form a mass in the stomach or in the intestines causing extreme blockage. The gecko will become sick, grow weak, stop eating, and eventually die if not taken care of.
Symptoms include; Lethargy, Failure to eat or poop while having a bloated belly, a dark blue spot will develop on the side of the gecko, eyes will barely open, weight loss. If these symptoms occure you MUST take your gecko to a vet or else it will die.
To prevent this all you have to do is not use loose substrate.
The most common disease a leopard gecko can get. Usually this occurs due to a lack in calcium and vitamin D. This is why its important to give your leopard gecko calcium dusted food.
Symptoms include; Softening of the legs / bones, Bone fractures, Scoliosis, Kyphosis, Hyperreflexia of the extremities, Tetanic spasms, Weakness, Lethargy, Anorexia, Constipation / sand impaction.
As soon as you notice one or more of these symptoms in your gecko, bring them to a reptile vet immediately.
3. Enigma syndrome
Allow me to quote a paragraph from a well written article about this syndrome (link to article http://www.geckotime...nigma-syndrome/)
“Enigma Syndrome (ES) is a neurological disorder that affects the balance and cognition of leopard geckos. The severity of this genetic mutation varies from relatively mild symptoms, such as: ‘star gazing’, head tilting, and occasional circling to debilitating effects such as: seizures, ‘death rolls’, and incessant circling in place (similar to diagnostic symptoms in autistic individuals). Affected individuals with the same mutation will manifest different degrees of severity of this disorder, because of environmental factors and their individual genotype.”
4.Un-shed skin problems
More often than not problems related to shedding occur when the humid hide is too dry. What can happen is shed skin can stick to the leopard geckos toes cutting off the circulation which then leads to toe loss. Eye infections could also occur due to lack of humidity while in shed. If your gecko has stuck shed on their toes you can try putting them in a separate container filled with moist paper towels for an hour or 2. You may need to take a tweezers or something to further remove the stuck shed.
These problems tend to occure when the tank temps are too low or when the humidity in the tank is too high which allows bacteria to form easier. Respiratory problems are noticeable if your geckos mouth is open for extended periods of time which indicates difficulty breathing. To treat this you should raise the ambient temperature in the tank, this helps fight the bacteria and increase the geckos immune system.
Part 7: Closing
I am not claiming to be an expert on these geckos however I do believe I have enough knowledge about them to make a guide like this. I’ve been into reptiles since I was a little child and leopard geckos have always been my reptile of choice. I love that they all have different personalities and how minimal the care is for them. I recommend them for everyone due to how easy and fun they are to take care of. As long as you do everything right you’ll have a new friend that’ll be with you for a good chunk of your life.
As for Liam Neeson, even though I eventually want to get another leopard gecko… I would never trade him for anything in the world.
Thank anyone who has read or even taken the time to look at my guide.
Also im sure I've made run-on sentences or misspelled a few things... If i did then oh well give me a bit of a break
As a bonus here is a vid of me bathing my leopard gecko (Note: i did change out some stuff in his tank, his sand is 90% covered by slate tile)