The Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is one of the most booming reptiles in recent years whose maintenance is relatively simple being a reptile suitable for beginners. It is a nocturnal desert saurian of the gecko family (Gekkonidae) of small size (18-24 cm) that inhabits the Middle East from Iran to Pakistan.
The first thing to keep in mind is that it is a nocturnal animal (hence its vertical slit pupil) so it will be mainly active at the beginning of twilight or dusk and will spend most of the day hidden in its shelter sleeping.
There are currently numerous color and pattern phases on the market that differ from the appearance of the wild variety, and this makes keeping this species in captivity even more attractive.
How should I choose my Leopard Gecko?
The choice of color or phase is a personal decision depending on the phase you like the most and just keep in mind that some of the color mutations can inherit a harmful mutation that affects the neurological system and therefore the life and behavior of the animal, usually the phase that has this problem is the enigma. We also have to take into account that if we buy an albino animal it will be more affected by the luminosity so we will have to keep it in a darker place than a non-albino gecko.
It is very important when choosing the animal in the store that it is a healthy animal. For this we will check that it is not excessively thin with folds on the sides of the belly and thin tail, that it does not have pieces of molt retained by the body and that we see it with active behavior and normal movements both in walking and head (animals with a twisted head usually indicate that they carry neurological problems).
Where can I house my Leopard Gecko?
Ideally, we should keep our leopard gecko in a container of at least 45-60 cm long.
As they are small reptiles, it is quite easy to house our Leopard Gecko. We have two options:
- Plastic containers: They have the advantage of being the most economical housing and the disadvantage that they are less attractive and will present more difficulties if we want to add some kind of lighting. They are normally used in large collections because of the ease of stacking them in racks and because of the economic issue.
- Glass or wooden terrariums: This is the ideal enclosure for housing and keeping a Leopard Gecko as well as being more decorative. Since the Leopard Gecko is mainly a terrestrial animal, it should ideally have a large base and the height of the terrarium is less important.
What substrate should I give to my Leopard Gecko?
There are many different types of substrates on the market but the most decorative and realistic is undoubtedly the desert sand. Recently a desert substrate has come on the market that is very convenient to use, which are disposable sheets of desert sand.
What kind of lighting does a Leopard Gecko need?
Leopard Geckos being nocturnal animals do not require special lighting rich in UVA and UVB radiation unlike other reptiles that need it necessarily to be healthy. Recommended types of lighting:
Daylighting: We have at least a couple of types of bulbs that we can use:
- Compact visible light: it is the most useful bulb as a method of daytime illumination. This bulb generates a spectrum of visible light optimal for the vision of most reptiles helping better recognize the prey in the terrarium while providing optimal coloring to our reptile.
- Compact daylight: a bulb with high visible light output that is typically used with reptiles that have low UVA and UVB requirements.
Night lighting: It is the most important for our Leopard Gecko since it is an animal whose main activity takes place at night. This lighting has to be dim so that it subtly illuminates the terrarium imitating moonlight so that the animal can hunt its prey and feed. There are two types of night lighting:
- Red incandescent lamp: Reddish light
- Moonlight bulb: Blue moonlight. More realistic coloring.
What temperature does a Leopard Gecko need?
Another key factor in keeping the Leopard Gecko is to provide it with the right temperature. Being desert animals, they are characterized by high temperatures during the day and low temperatures at night. The daily temperature should be between 24ºC to 32ºC, with an optimum of 28ºC. It is important to create a temperature gradient along the terrarium so that there is a colder and a warmer area. To do this we will place the heat sources on one side of the terrarium and that will be the hot side.
Types of heating required:
- Soil: Being terrestrial reptiles and little climbers, it is necessary to provide them with heat at ground level. The floor heating should occupy 1/3 of the base of the terrarium. This is achieved with one of these two heating elements: Heating blanket, heating cable.
- Environmental: It has to be a heat source for sunbathing and should only be used during the day imitating the light and heat of the sun. You can use any of these: Intense Basking Spot Solar Light Lamp, Basking Spot Heat and Light Lamp.
What does a Leopard Gecko eat?
Leopard Geckos are insectivorous reptiles that feed exclusively on a wide variety of insects (usually live). The more varied the diet the healthier our Gecko will be. Several different insects (crickets, cockroaches, grasshoppers, grasshoppers, zophoba, tenebrio, dolas, silkworms, honey worms, fly larvae, etc…) are available in the street stores. The ideal is to supply the insects in an anti-escape container (Anti-escape worm feeder) to prevent them from going around the terrarium stressing the gecko and also to prevent them from ingesting soil or other type of substrate in the terrarium when hunting for food.
Of course, do not forget to place a drinking fountain with fresh water, even though Leopard Geckos are desert reptiles. The drinking fountain should be placed in the cold area of the terrarium.
Do Leopard Geckos need any vitamin supplements?
It is highly recommended to provide them with daily calcium powder and vitamins a couple of times a week.