If you've been interested in caring for a pet reptile but are not sure where to start, look no further than the leopard gecko. This adorable and beautifully colored little lizard is known for being a great starter reptile. They are easy to care for and have a great temperament for people starting out with reptiles. Even people who have not considered keeping a reptile as a pet have had great success and joy in owning a leopard gecko.
Leopard Gecko as Pet
Leopard geckos are a unique lizard known for their yellow coloring with dark spots resembling the look of the leopard it is named after. They are native to India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and while they are generally yellow in color, there are now different colored breeds of leopard geckos known as "morphs" which can come in colors from bright orange to albino white. It is because of their beautiful coloring that leopard geckos are one of the favorite reptiles to have as personal and family pets.
One of the many reasons that leopard geckos are renowned as excellent pets is their temperaments. They are generally calm lizards that are easy to handle when holding them and moving them to clean their cage. Leopard geckos are not known to bite or run away, and because of this, they are easy for children to care for as well as adults. On top of this, if cared for properly, leopard geckos are known to live for more than 20 years, making them a great family pet that will be around throughout a child's life.
Because this is such a beautiful lizard with an easy temperament, you will want to be sure to take great care of your leopard gecko so that it will be around for a long time for you to enjoy. Fortunately, a leopard gecko is one of the easiest reptiles to take care of and can even be left alone in its reptile terrarium for up to a week with proper food, water, and temperatures.
How to Care for Your Leopard Gecko
Leopard Gecko Tank
The primary reason why these spotted geckos make great beginner pets is that they are extremely easy to care for. A simple fifteen-gallon tank, about 24 inches in length, is perfect for your new leopard gecko, who is a nocturnal creature from a warm climate. Because they prefer a warm climate, a heat lamp will be necessary to keep them happy. The tank should remain between the cool end of 80 degrees to about 90 degrees for the gecko to bask in. A longer tank will help in creating a warm end on one side, and a cooler end on the other side, creating the perfect temperature gradient for your gecko. It is also a good idea to have a heat pad set up in your terrarium so that when the heat lamp is off at night, the gecko's home will remain warm enough for its comfort.
Because they are nocturnal creatures, the leopard gecko also requires a space where it can escape the heat lamp and the light of day. Having a half rock or other structure for the gecko to hide out in will ensure it will remain happy and healthy. One common mistake is to overheat the lizard which can cause dehydration or skin cracking. To prevent this, be sure to put a damp piece of moss in the hiding place where your gecko will spend much of its time. This will also help with shedding when the time comes.
Food and Water
After you have these things in the terrarium, the next to consider is food and water. The leopard gecko, unlike other reptiles, will drink from a water bowl, and so instead of keeping their habitat misted with water, a simple bowl to drink from will suffice. As for food, the leopard gecko subsists off of meal worms and crickets, which can be dusted with calcium and vitamins to supplement the gecko's diet. If not, a calcium bowl should also be considered for the terrarium where your leopard gecko will live. Like a water bowl, this is a simple dish with calcium designed for lizards, which, ideally, the meal-worms and crickets will jump through before the gecko eats them in order to supplement their diet.
The final thing you will want to consider for your leopard gecko is the look of the terrarium itself. This is more of a personal preference though, because leopard geckos are used to warm, sandy, rocky climates, it is a good idea to include sand in the bottom of the environment, as well as various rocks and even some cement branches to climb upon.
Be sure to keep an eye on your gecko for any changes in body shape or difficulty shedding. If you notice something changing in your gecko, it could be as simple as adding more calcium to their diet or making sure the humidity in their tank is sufficient. But as long as you are sure to keep their cage clean, stocked with insects to hunt, and at the right temperature, this creature is one of the easiest pets to keep happy.
These are the only things required to keep your leopard gecko happy and healthy, making them the ideal starter pet for reptile lovers as well as first time pet owners. Because they are gorgeous little animals who are easy to take care of, consider adopting a leopard gecko today!