WHEN DO I SEE A VET?
- Annual wellness exam for physical exam, fecal, and bloodwork baseline testing
- Pre and post brumation (hibernation) wellness exams
- Not eating or pooping for over a week
- Open mouth breathing or noise while breathing
- Diarrhea, blood in feces, vomiting, or regurgitation
- Retained shed, redness, swelling, or open wounds of the skin
- Swollen eyes, swelling or bleeding of the mouth
- A skinny tail or tail loss
- Any health concerns or questions
Babies: A 10 gallon (20” L x 10” W x 12” H) or larger enclosure
Adults: A 20 gallon long (36” L x 12” W x 12” H) or larger enclosure
Enclosures should have a basking area, hide, water dish, and décor to provide enrichment for your leopard gecko. Leopard geckos are terrestrial reptiles that require more floorspace then vertical space.
Leopard geckos are territorial reptiles and should be housed alone unless housed for breeding purposes. Housing together is a risk for injury and fighting that can be harmful to your leopard gecko’s health.
Paper towels, tile flooring, shelf liners, and slate floor are all acceptable flooring options. Excavator clay burrowing substrate can be molded into place to allow for a nice naturalistic enclosure and enrichment for your leopard gecko. Although less common than some other species leopard geckos can get substrate impactions and it is important to monitor hydration and volumes of sand being consumed while on a substrate. Particle substates such as “WASHED” playsand and ecoearth topsoil are good options to allow for burrowing and enrichment. Make sure to avoid very fine dust forming consistencies, that can easily produce a lot of irritants. Choose a slightly coarser material that can be misted and let dry when initially placed to help decrease dust particles. Washed playsand has sharp silicates removed and is an acceptable substrate to be used. If using a topsoil substrate preforming routine changes every 6 months is recommended and every 12 months when using a washed playsand with weekly fecal sifting on a routine basis.
Lighting and Heating
Proper temperatures and lighting are essential for the development, growth, and maintenance of your leopard gecko.
Lighting: Leopard geckos are a crepuscular desert species most active at dust and dawn at first light or just before darkness. You can see them active during the day occasionally or resting by a neat source to bask. They require a low output UVB lighting for proper vitamin D3 synthesis starting with their skin. Ideal hours of daylight to nightlight range from 10-12 hours of daylight to 12-14 hours of nighttime without lighting. This can be achieved by a timer connected to their lights. UVB lights lose strength over time even though they may still emit light and should be changed every 6 months. It is important to note that windows and glass block UVB rays, screens and mesh can decrease the UVB strength to your leopard gecko. Avoid placing glass enclosures in direct sunlight as this can heat up much higher than anticipated.
Recommended UVB lights include:
T5 Strip Lights:
Arcadia T5 D3 Reptile Lamp 6% UVB
Zoomed Reptisun 5.0 UVB T5-HO
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs:
Zoomed Mini Compact Fluorescent 5.0 13 Watt
Heating: Leopard Geckos are ectotherms or poikilothermous meaning they get their body temperature from the environment. This is key for proper metabolism and digestion of their food as well as overall health and function. During the day your leopard gecko should have a basking area that reaches 85-90°F, with a cool side having an ambient air temperature of 75-80°F. During the night ideal temperatures should remain between 70-75°F, avoiding any temperatures below 65°F due to risk of causing digestive issue and other illnesses.
Humidity and Hydration
Humidity and hydration play several important roles in your leopard gecko health. Humidity assists in proper shedding and rate of dehydration, but can cause respiratory if too high. Ideal humidity for a leopard gecko is 30-40% humidity and should be monitored using a hygrometer inside the enclosure. A clean water source should be offered at all times in a water dish. Other methods to stimulate drinking includes a moving water source, nighttime fogging one or twice a to stimulate drinking of morning condensation, and misting.
Nutrition is a very important part of allowing for proper growth and development of a leopard gecko. Understanding and knowing the appropriate food choices can help your leopard gecko stay healthy and avoid many medical complications. Baby and juvenile leopard geckos should be fed 1-2 times a day, while adults can be fed 1 time a day, every other day, or as needed to maintain desired weight. It is needed to supplement your leopard gecko’s food with calcium and vitamin dustings to provide additional nutrients. Dusting insects with calcium during every feeding is needed for a leopard gecko. Multivitamin dustings are recommended every 1-2 weeks. Consult with a veterinarian to discuss the possible need of adding vitamin D3 to your calcium dusting as in some cases it may be recommended. A list of recommended supplementations can be found below. Leopard geckos are pure insectivores aka carnivores and eat an insect based diet. There are several appropriate methods to feeding including offering 2-3 dusted insects in the morning and then evening, offering 4-5 dusted insects one daily, or even offering 5-8 dusted insects every other day depending on the age. Maintaining a balance and routine diet is important to maintaining stable health in a leopard gecko.
Main Insect Food Sources: (~90% of Diet)
Crickets, dubia roaches, or grasshoppers due to low fat to high protein ratios.
Snack Insect Sources: (~10% of Diet)
Mealworms, superworms, hornworms, phoenix worms, silkworms, or butterworms due to high fat or low protein rations. (Hornworms are a good source of fluids, and Phoenix worms are a good source of calcium).
It is important to know that mealworms and superworms are high in fat and should NOT be a main food source in leopard geckos. It is recommended associating mealworms with handling and enrichment activities to help differentiate them from their main source of food to prevent addition or preference.
Recommended Dusting Supplements:
Repashy Calcium Plus Reptile Supplement
Flukers Calcium without D3 and phosphorus free
ZooMed Repti Calcium without D3
ZooMed Reptivite without D3
Enrichment is an important and stimulating part of a leopard gecko’s day to day life.
Several Enrichment options are listed below:
Thrive Feeding Ball – Allows your leopard gecko to stay stimulated and rotate a plastic ball to gain access their insect food source.
Obstacle Mazes – Creating mazes or obstacles that require the leopard gecko to move to get to its food stimulates activity and exercise for your leopard gecko.
Supervised Time Outside Their Enclosure – Make sure to have a clean, item free area where you can supervise the activity of your leopard gecko. Make sure no other pets including dogs, or cats have access to the leopard gecko when outside its enclosure.
Is My Leopard Gecko A Male or Female?
In adult leopard geckos there are a few visual characteristics that can be used to determine sex. In addition, the most reliable way in determining sex can be done by a skilled veterinary professional through several methods at a younger age including probing for hemipene pockets, endoscopic sex determination, and ultrasound sex determination. Listed below are two helpful characteristic that you look for to visually differentiate a male and female.
Femoral Pores – As adults, male leopard geckos have more prominent and larger femoral pores. These can be found in a “V” shape running along the ventral (bottom) aspect of their body between their two legs and above their vent. As adults, females tend to have very small to almost nonvisible femoral pores present. It is important to note that these can become impacted and enlarged if there isn’t appropriate humidity and surfaces in the enclosure to allow for appropriate expression. If you notice enlarged or hard femoral pores you should see a veterinarian for proper treatment.
Hemipene Bulges – Adult male leopard geckos will have enlarged bulges around the ventral (bottom) aspect of their tail base just behind the vent. Females lack hemipenes and do not develop the same bulge seen in the males. Gently lifting the tail can allow for visualization of these bulges in a male.
Want this information in hand? Download the Leopard Gecko Care Guide below!