How to Care for a Leopard Gecko
Leopard geckos make great pets to families that provide them with attention, the proper diet and cage set up. These reptiles are unique and beautiful. Leopard geckos originate in Afghanistan and Iran but are common throughout the world as pets.
These pets are great for beginners that are still learning about lizards since they are moderately easy to take care of. How do you take care of a leopard gecko properly?
Fun Facts About Leopard Geckos
Before you decide on getting a leopard gecko, you should know some basic facts about them. This gecko is one of the most common reptilian pets in the world. It is a calm animal and lives up to 15 years in the wild.
It is a favorite because of how active it is. Geckos love to run and climb, especially at random hours of the night. As they get used to their new home, it is not uncommon to see these funny pets climbing on their new branches and “toys”.
Geckos also grow up to 10 inches long and live even longer in captivity. They live 20 years if you care for them properly. Surprisingly, they are also very vocal! Be aware that these cute creatures will chirp or scream when they want food or attention.
What Type of Food Do You Need to Feed Leopard Geckos?
Leopard geckos are similar to other Insectivorous (insect eating) reptiles. They require a diet consisting of fresh, properly fed insects. Crickets should be the main diet fed to your Gecko. Mealworms, if offered, should be limited to 3-4 worms a week. Mealworms are a fatty snack, that most Leopard Geckos truly enjoy, but they do not support a healthy diet.
Baby geckos grow rather slowly and do not need diets high in protein. Baby geckos need frequent feedings of small crickets, while adult geckos only should be fed every few days. These reptiles also require a diet high in Vitamin D3 and calcium. Thankfully, there are various supplements that you can give to your pet geckos. Dusting the crickets with a ‘Calcium Only’ powder is recommended. Using a ’Gut Loading’ diet to feed the crickets before offering them to your gecko is highly recommended.
Leopard geckos also need water to survive and grow. You should keep a steady source of water in their habitat/crate. It does need to be cleaned frequently as mold and algae can grow on top of the water. If this occurs, it could cause various digestive problems for your gecko if they ingest the water.
What Habitat Do Leopard Geckos Need?
The hardest part about caring for a leopard gecko is providing them with a habitat or crate that helps them grow. You need to choose an enclosure that is large enough for your reptilian pet. Experts recommend using a 20-gallon tank. Inside this tank should only be a single gecko. Male geckos are very territorial and will fight for the space.
These little animals love to climb! They would benefit from having something to jump and climb on like a large branch or ceramic cave. The most important thing in the habitat is the lighting. Reptiles are unique pets because they need a cage or crate that mimics their original homes.
Heat lamps or heating elements should be turned on to about 88 degrees Fahrenheit during the day so they can bask in the heated area. At night you can drop the cage temperature to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Any colder and your gecko may suffer as they are cold-blooded reptiles that regulate their own body heat. UVB lighting is not required for your Gecko, but may provide some benefit for bone growth.
It is also recommended to clean your gecko’s crate consistently. Usually, pet owners place some kind of newspaper or cardboard at the bottom of the crate, which catches the urine and feces of your pet. If this is not cleaned frequently, your reptile pet may accidentally eat it, causing digestive system problems. Another option is to rotate sections of cleaned artificial or indoor/outdoor carpet on the cage floor.
How to Clean Your Leopard Gecko
Cleaning your leopard gecko is the most fun part about having one! It is also easy. Geckos benefit from having a warm ‘bath’ or ‘soak’ once a week. DO NOT use soap or disinfectants in the water, as they can harm their scales and sensitive skin. Think about reptiles in the wild – they don’t require a lot of cleaning, except for some water.
To do this, you can take them out of their large tank and place them in a smaller one. In this area, place a small bowl filled with warm but not hot water. Then, soak your gecko in the water for 5 – 10 minutes. Some geckos are playful and will seek out the water bowl, understanding that it is time to be clean.
Leopard Geckos Make Great Pets & Are Easy to Care For
All in all, geckos are adorable pets that require special care to live long lives. These small animals can live up to 20 years on a special diet of live insects. Not only do you need to feed these reptiles carefully, but you also need to clean their homes frequently. Since they are small, any difference in their diet or atmosphere can hurt their stomachs.
If you have any questions or if your pet leopard gecko is due for a checkup, reach out to Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana by giving us a call at (504) 455-6386.
About Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana
Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana, formally West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic, is Louisiana’s only veterinarian that provides care exclusively to avian and exotic pets. From parrots to rabbits and ferrets to a wide variety of reptiles, as well as a multitude of small mammal exotic pets, we welcome them all to our practice!