The leopard gecko is a species of gecko of the Eublepharidae family, living mainly in the semi-desert regions of the Middle East, from Iran to Pakistan. It is a species widely used as a pet for its ease of breeding and captive maintenance in the terrarium.
Gecko lifespan, size
A leopard gecko can grow to around 15 to 25 centimetres and live for 10 to 20 years in captivity, so owning one is a big commitment. They prefer to live alone, but can become used to being handled if done so carefully.
A healthy gecko has clear, bright eyes and a thick tail and its belly should only touch the floor when resting.
Leopard gecko setup – vivarium
Reptile starter kits will be outgrown quickly, so when purchasing new equipment it’s better to get a large enclosure at the outset. When looking for a leopard gecko vivarium, there are a few essential things you’ll need:
- An adult gecko needs a tank at least 60 cm long, 40 cm high and 30cm deep.
- To ensure bacteria doesn’t build up, the setup needs to be easy to clean and well ventilated.
Temperature, heat lamps, uv lights and humidity
Leopard geckos use their environment to regulate their body temperature. So, it’s important to provide a ‘thermogradient’ – with a heat lamp at one end and a cooler area at the other. Use thermostats to regulate the temperatures. Leopard geckos also need ultraviolet light and a dry environment.
- The basking area should remain between 28 and 30 degrees C during the day, and the cool end 24 to 26 degrees C.
- At night turn off the heat lamp but ensure the temperature doesn’t dip below 18 degrees C with a heat mat or ceramic heat lamp.
- Leopard geckos need a relatively dry environment. Measure the humidity at the cool end of the tank with a hygrometer – it should be between 30 and 40 per cent.
- Your gecko will need low levels of ultraviolet light. A 2 to 5 per cent UVB bulb will provide this and allow them to make vitamin D inside their body – an essential mineral which allows your gecko to store and use calcium.
What and when do leopard geckos eat?
They eat a diet of live invertebrates (insects) which can include crickets, ‘calci worms’, waxworms and small locusts of suitable size: no bigger than the size of the gecko’s head. You need to provide fresh vegetables and clean water to keep the livefood hydrated.
Juveniles should be fed daily; adults every other day. You’ll need to top up your gecko’s nutrients with supplements too. Ask your vet for advice on the best supplements to use.