Leopard Gecko Care

Species Overview

Scientific Name: Eublepharis macularius

The leopard gecko or common leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is a ground-dwelling gecko native to the rocky, dry grassland and desert regions of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. The leopard gecko has become a popular pet, and due to extensive captive breeding, it is sometimes referred to as the first domesticated species of lizard, but no lizards are actually domesticated (Wikipedia).

Leopard geckos, the small and sweet lizards, are among the most popular reptile pets. They are nocturnal, insectivorous, and a delight to look at.

These desert lizards have an impressive lifespan of 20 years (or more) in captivity. However, how long they’ll stick around depends greatly on how well you care for their diet, health, and enclosure. In this leopard gecko care guide, we’ll cover all these aspects and more so you can have a reptile companion by your side for a long time.

care for leopard gecko

Colors & Appearance

Leopard geckos are pretty neat to look at. They sport a long body with a triangular head and a thick tail where they store fat. Most leopard geckos have a yellowish dorsal body with black markings, giving them their leopard-like look. Their underbelly area is white, and their tails appear to be banded. Leopard geckos have big, soulful eyes with a split pupil that helps them see in the dark.

Average Size & Weight

Leopard geckos are small lizards. The hatchlings start their journey at 2.8-3.9 inches and weigh only 2-5 grams. But they quickly catch up as they grow. Males are bigger and heavier than females in size. They stretch up to 7-11 inches in length and tip the scales at 70-100 grams. Females are only about 6-8 inches long and weigh between 60 and 90 grams.


A pet leopard gecko that gets good care and love can live for 20 or more years. In the wild, however, these lizards max at 10 years. It’s because they face a few struggles in their natural habitat, like munching on wild insects that might have parasites or being hunted down. If you want your pet leopard gecko to live a long, healthy life, feed the lizard live feeder insects and keep their enclosure clean.

More About Leopard Geckos

Leopard geckos are a top choice for reptile enthusiasts, especially beginner owners. They are docile, low-maintenance, and come in various colors and patterns (known as “morphs”).

If you want to adopt a leopard gecko, you must first know about their habitat, lifespan, growth stages, and more.

We have all the details you need to ensure you provide the best care for your leopard gecko!

gecko care guide

Leopard Gecko Habitat

Leopard geckos live in dry regions with rocky terrain. They are native to Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and northwestern India. These lizards like a rocky substrate over a sandy substrate. Keep that in mind when setting your pet’s enclosure.

Leopard geckos are exothermic (cold-blooded) and require heat from their surrounding environment to function well. However, when it gets too hot, these land-dwelling lizards burrow underground to cool off.

Leopard Gecko Morphs

As a result of spontaneous mutations, leopard geckos come in a lot of attractive patterns and colors.

Selective breeding plays a part, too. The morphs created by this process also have different sizes. While the normal geckos sell for about $25, the rare ones can go for a few thousand dollars!

Here are some of the most common leopard gecko morphs:

  • High Yellow
  • Blizzard
  • Hypo-Melanistic
  • Mack Snow
  • Creamsicle
  • Tangerine

Leopard Gecko Life Stages

Leopard geckos go through four distinct growth stages. Although these are marked by months, your leopard gecko’s age is better determined by their weight.

These four stages are:

  • Hatchlings: Leopard geckos are considered hatchlings during the first two months of their lives. Young geckos thrive best in small setups like a 10-gallon tank.

  • Juveniles: When a leopard gecko crosses their second month, they enter the juvenile stage. This stage lasts for five months until the lizard turns 7 months old. Juvenile leopard geckos are 5 inches long and weigh 25 grams. This is when you should move your pet leopard gecko to a 25-30 gallon tank.

  • Sub-Adults: When leopard geckos hit 7-8 months and weigh 30-40 grams, they’re in their sub-adult phase. That’s when things start to slow down a bit in the growth department. Even though they’re nearly adults, they can’t mate until they are 45 and 60 grams heavy.

  • Adults: Leopard geckos become adults when they hit 12-18 months. An adult gecko is sexually mature, fully grown, and weighs 45-100 grams. Adult males are bigger than females.

Who Eats Leopard Geckos?

Leopard geckos have quite a few predators, especially in the wild. Some of their main predators include snakes, birds of prey, mammals like foxes and raccoons, and other large reptiles.

Luckily, leopard geckos have a fantastic sense of sound and sight. It helps them detect predators from a distance. Their skin plays a role here, too, by helping them camouflage. If nothing works, a leopard gecko will drop its tail to distract the predator.

snake eating a leopard gecko

Why Do Leopard Geckos Make Great Pets?

  • They are Small: Leopard geckos don’t need a lot of space. A baby leopard gecko will be happy and comfortable in a 10-gallon tank, whereas an adult needs a 20-gallon enclosure. All you have to ensure is that their enclosures are as close to their natural environment as possible.

  • Live Long Lives: Losing a pet is heartbreaking. What makes leopard geckos attractive as pets is that they can be by your side for a long time. As mentioned previously, captive leopard geckos live for about 20 years.

  • Look Attractive: There are over 100 different leopard gecko morphs, and they are all stunning. You’ll have an exotic-looking pet to show off regardless of the morph you get.

  • Pretty Easy to Handle: Unlike most reptiles, leopard geckos enjoy being held. They’ll climb onto your hand and sit on you while you watch TV or study. Leopard geckos are pretty chill that way. However, make sure you don’t rush the process. Allow your pet lizard time to get comfortable around you before picking it up.

leopard gecko makes a great pet

Leopard Gecko Care Sheet

In the next section, we’ll look at the critical aspects of leopard gecko care, including housing, temperature, diet, and health concerns. These details will help you provide optimal care to your pet.

Environment and Housing

Leopard geckos live on the land, so their terrarium should be longer than it is high. A long leopard gecko terrarium will make it easier to set a temperature gradient.

An ideal enclosure would be a 10-gallon tank for hatchlings, a 20-gallon one for sub-adults, and a 30-40-gallon terrarium for adult leopard geckos.

A leopard gecko terrarium should have a mesh top and glass sides. Use a suitable substrate for your pet’s home. Bioactive substrate is usually the best choice for leopard geckos. It mimics the natural environment and is safe for your pet. Although many people use a reptile carpet as a substrate, experts at WebMD don’t recommend it.

leopard gecko enclosure

Temperature and Humidity

Leopard geckos don’t have control over their body temperature. Set a temperature gradient in their enclosure to help them regulate their body temperature and digest food.

The cool side of the tank should be between 70°F-75°F, whereas the warm end should range between 85°F-90°F. You can use a heat lamp over their warm hide or an under-tank heat pad to maintain these temperatures. If you live in cold climates, you’ll also need a ceramic heat emitter. PetMD specifically mentions avoiding hot rocks as they can burn your pet gecko.

The humidity levels should stay around 30-40%. Too much moisture can cause respiratory issues in leopard geckos, and too little can lead to shedding problems.

What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?

Leopard geckos love insects. Their digestive systems aren’t made to digest plant fibers. So, it’s important you watch what you feed your pet lizard.

Dubia roaches, crickets, wax worms, and small locusts are at the top of their favorite food list. Mealworms are a good choice for treats.

Leopard geckos like eating live prey. If the insect doesn’t move, your pet won’t be interested. Gut-load the insects to top the nutritional value of your pet lizard’s food. You can also dust them with calcium and vitamin D3 powder once a week.

Feed young geckos daily and adult geckos every other day.

leopard gecko eating worms


Leopard geckos don’t drink a lot of water from a water bowl. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. Mist your pet lizard’s enclosure to make sure it is hydrated. You should also add a water bowl to their enclosure so they can soak in it if needed.

Behavior and Temperament

Leopard geckos are solitary animals with a hint of territorial instincts. Therefore, we recommend keeping only one leopard gecko per tank. Keeping multiple leopard geckos together can lead to injuries and stress. If you still want to keep two leopard geckos in a tank, get a 40-gallon one.

Male leopard geckos are usually calmer and more tolerant of one another. They also live longer than females.

When it comes to humans, leopard geckos show a calm and docile nature. They hardly bite, making them a safe pet for kids.

calm leopard gecko

Leopard Gecko Shedding

Like any other reptile, leopard geckos shed. It is because their outer skin layer isn’t capable of stretching to accommodate their growing bodies. Shedding is a healthy process, and there’s nothing to worry about. Young leopard geckos shed every week, and adults shed once a month.

Your pet’s skin will get dull and cloudy a day or two before shedding. The skin will peel in patches and look messy.

Make sure you provide a humid hide to aid in shedding. This will prevent the skin from drying out and cracking while shedding. Soaking the leopard gecko in a shallow bath can also help with shedding.

Courtship And Egg-Laying​​

Female leopard geckos are ready to breed when they hit the 45-gram mark on the weighing scale. If you want to breed your leopard geckos, leave a male and female in the tank together. The male will circle the female and vibrate his tail to show interest in breeding.

After mating, the female can lay around two eggs every 16-22 days for four to five months. These eggs are soft-shelled and need a moist environment to hatch. You’ll have baby leopard geckos within 35-89 days.

leopard gecko lays an egg

Health Issues in Leopard Geckos

Leopard geckos live for a long time, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to health issues. These pet reptiles are prone to conditions like metabolic bone disease, respiratory infections, and impaction. Stomatitis and egg binding are common, too.

A healthy gecko has clear eyes, a thick tail, a good appetite, and a bump-free body. Decreased weight, sunken eyes, and swollen abdomen are signs that your leopard gecko needs medical attention. Take your pet to the vet at least once every six to twelve months.

Handling and Enrichment

When you’re ready to bond with your pet leopard gecko, place your hand in the tank and let it get used to your scent. Once you’ve gained their trust, pick up your pet gently by sliding your hand under its belly. Never try to handle your new leopard gecko right away. Most of these lizards are shy and will take time to adjust to their new environment.

Since leopard geckos like burrowing and hiding, you can add leaf litter, rocks, and branches to their enclosure. This will provide them with mental stimulation and mimic their natural habitat. Make sure to clean the tank regularly to prevent any bacterial or fungal growth.

holding a leopard gecko

Leopard Gecko Parenting Cracked!

Leopard geckos are the perfect family pet material. They are gentle, easy to care for, and beautiful to look at. They also live long lives and don’t need much maintenance. If you can set up a basic leopard gecko terrarium, give your pet lizard delicious and healthy food, and handle it right, there’s no reason you won’t have a happy and healthy pet.

Use the information in this leopard gecko care sheet as a guide to provide the best possible care for your pet. If you’re looking for more details on leopard gecko housing, diet, or health complications, we have articles dedicated to these topics on our website. Feel free to check them out.

Archive List