Leopard Gecko Care Guide
Updated: Jan 31
The Species: Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) are common reptiles to be kept as pets, primarily due to their size. Although these animals can be tamed very well, if not worked with they can often keep their natural behaviours which can eventually make them undesirable to people who get them as pets. Unfortunately due to many contradictions with their care requirements, they are often kept in inadequate conditions, leading to health issues and unfortunately are often victims of neglect. Native to Asia, these lovely little lizards primarily reside in arid environments in countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Although often solitary, they can cohabitate as long as they are given a large enough enclosure.
Enclosure: These Geckos are terrestrial and should be housed inside a vivarium, ideally made from wood however glass is also an acceptable material as long as the sides and back are blacked out to prevent them from rubbing their nose against the glass. A minimum size enclosure for one is 2x1x1ft however this is often considered too small so we would recommend a minimum size of 3x1x1ft although an ideal enclosure size would be 4x2x2ft.
Being an arid species for the most part, these animals need suitable substrate made from either sand or an arid earth however some tropical substrates can be acceptable. Recommended substrates are ProRep Leo Life or Arcadia Arid Earth Mix however other alternatives work as well. Calcisand and newspaper are considered unacceptable substrates to use. Reptile Carpet, paper towels and newspaper is acceptable if quarantining or rehabilitating these animals. Some sources will say that you shouldn't give Leopard Geckos substrate as they can ingest it and it can cause impactions however they will only eat substrate if they aren't getting the correct nutritional level, by providing them with UVB lighting and supplements on their diets, this should cut out any need to ingest substrate.
If being housed in a desert based enclosure with a sand based substrate, it is important to include a moss hide to allow a humid spot for them to retreat to.
Various decor and apparatus should be included to provide as natural of an enclosure as possible. Woods, rocks, caves are all suitable to use for this species along with a bowl for water and a mealworm dish should be readily available as well.
Heating: These animals should be kept at a temperature range of 26-33 degrees celcius (80-93 degrees farenheight). They should be provided with a hot and cool end and with a basking spot to reach peak temperatures. Heating should be provided by a heat lamp on a thermostat with a cage guarding the lamp to prevent the animal from burning themselves, all heating should be on a 12 hour cycle, turning off at night to provide a natural drop in temperature.
We do not recommend using heat mats for Leopard Geckos as they do not reach the temperatures required as easily and can become fire hazards inside wooden vivariums. Suitable bulbs are ceramic, true infra red or white/yellow light bulbs however any bulb producing a red light should not be used as they can cause the animals to go blind after extended usage.
Lighting: Despite a lot of information you may come across, we can assure you that Leopard Geckos do in fact need UVB lighting. Many sources out there will inform you that because this species in nocturnal they do not need UVB however this is not the case, countless times it has been proven that these animals do need UVB lighting to prevent them from getting MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease). They don't need high levels of UVB however it is important that they do receive it. This lighting should cover approximately 3/4 of the enclosure to ensure that the animal receives adequate levels of UVB as much as possible. These lizards should have a minimum of 6% and a maximum of 12% UVB bulb and they should be replaced every 6-12 months to ensure that the UVB doesn't run out within the bulb. All lighting should be on a 12 hour cycle to provide a natural day/night sequence.
Humidity: Although they are primarily an arid species, Leopard Geckos have also been discovered living in tropical environments in their native region and should have humidity levels of of approximately 30-50% and should ideally not raise above that. It is important to add a moss hide to their enclosure which should be sprayed regularly so that they do have a humid spot to enter which will aid with shedding. Some substrates may raise humidity levels to begin with when first added to the enclosure however this should be easily resolved by leaving the doors of the vivarium open to air out but leopard geckos can usually cope with this raise in humidity with relative ease.
Diet: Leopard Geckos are carnivores and naturally hunt for their food in the wild. Their diet consists of insects and other invertebrates, they should ideally be given a varied diet of insects including locust, crickets, cockroaches, wax worms and meal worms. Many people will feed their Leopard Geckos solely meal worms however they have a poor nutritional value meaning the animals who eat them don't in fact get a lot of benefit from them.
It is important to supplement your Gecko's food which will help in preventing MBD, calcium is the main priority supplement however others are also important such as Vitamin A. We recommend Arcadia's supplements provided on rotation including Calcium with Magnesium and Earth-Pro A Supplement. Both of these will provide a complete level of supplements.
Water is also an extremely important aspect to an animals diet and constant water access should be provided in a water bowl and should be changed daily, we generally recommend RO water or mineral water due to tap water containing chlorine which can be harmful to some animals.