Leopard Gecko

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Species group:

Other common names: "Leo"

Scientific name: Eublepharis macularius

The basics:
The Leopard Geckos come as close to being perfect pets as a reptile can get. They accept handling readily, are easy to breed, do not require UVB radiation and are content with modestly-sized terrariums. Small wonder the Leopard Gecko and the Bearded Dragon are neck-in-neck in a race for the title of the world’s most popular pet lizard!

The Leopard Gecko is found in southeastern Afghanistan, western India, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran, where it frequents semi-deserts, thorn scrub and arid grasslands. Its habitat is characterized by sandy-gravel, hard clay, coarse grasses and shrubs and wildly-fluctuating temperatures.

Appearance / health:
Leopard Geckos average 8-10 inches in length, with some approaching 12 inches. The body is stout and somewhat flattened, and ranges from light to lavender-tinted yellow in color. Numerous black spots mark the bumpy skin. Youngsters start life marked with traverse bands of yellow and brown. A mind-boggling array of color morphs have been established by breeders. The Leopard Gecko and its relatives are the only geckos to have movable eyelids (the eyelids are fused into a transparent cap in other species). The ears are unusual in their alignment…at the right angle, you can look in one ear and see right through the other!

Among the hardiest of reptile pets, Leopard Geckos have exceeded 30 years of age. Respiratory diseases can take hold in a damp terrariums, and dry sheds, resulting in retained eyelid linings and unshed skin at the toes, may occur if a moist shed-box is not provided.

Leopard Geckos usually take handing in stride, and rarely try to bite. However, they will defend themselves by biting if handled roughly.

Although mainly active at night, most are always ready for a daytime meal. Reptile night-viewing bulbs are a great help in observing their nocturnal activities.

Leopard Geckos will do fine in simple homes, but naturalistic terrariums landscaped with sand, driftwood and live plants make for more interesting observations. A single adult will get by in a 10 gallon aquarium, but a 15-20 gallon is preferable. A 30-55 gallon terrarium will accommodate a pair or trio.

Sand works well as a substrate for Leopard Geckos. Although impactions due to swallowed sand are rare, it is best to provide food in large bowls so that substrate ingestion is limited. Hatchlings are clumsy hunters, and tend to swallow large amounts of sand. Newspapers or washable cage liners should be used until their skills improve. Adults can also be kept in this manner if you prefer.

Leopard Geckos absorb Vitamin D3 from their diet, and so do not need a UVB light source. Leopard Geckos require a temperature gradient of 78-85 F and a basking temperature of 88-90 F. Large enclosures will allow your pets to thermo-regulate by moving from hot to cooler areas. This behavior is important to long-term health, and is usually not possible in small cages. Humidity should be kept low, and the substrate must remain dry. As Leopard Geckos are nocturnal, a sub-tank heat pad, ceramic heater or red/black reptile night bulb should be used to maintain temperatures after dark. A cave stocked with moist sphagnum moss and a dry shelter should be provided.

The Leopard Gecko’s natural diet includes spiders, beetles, locusts, caterpillars, scorpions, flies and other invertebrates and, less commonly, small lizards, snakes, and newborn gerbils. Pets should be offered crickets, roaches, locusts, sow bugs, flightless house flies, silk worms, hornworms, calci-worms and other commercially-available species. Crickets and mealworms alone, even if powdered with vitamin/mineral preparations, are not an adequate diet. Insects should themselves be provided with a nutritious diet for 1-3 days before being offered to your pets. Mealworms, implicated in intestinal blockages, should be avoided or used only when recently-molted (white in color).

A pink mouse may be provided every 4-6 weeks, especially for females that are being prepared for breeding, but over-use may cause eye, kidney and liver ailments. Do not use “fuzzy” or adult mice, as the fur may cause intestinal impactions.

Most meals should be powdered with a calcium/D3 supplement, with a vitamin/mineral powder being used 2-3 times weekly.

Leopard Geckos often breed without temperature manipulation, perhaps being stimulated by normal household fluctuations. Some breeders chill their geckos to 68- 72 F, and reduce day length to 10 hours. Food should be withheld for 10 days prior to any cooling-off period, which should not begin until you are sure the animals have defecated. A nest box stocked with moist sand and sphagnum moss should be provided once temperatures have been returned to normal and pairs formed (introduce the male into the female’s terrarium). The first clutch (4-5 may be produced each year) is typically deposited 15-25 days after mating. Most clutches will contain 2 eggs, although a single egg may be deposited in the first and last clutch.

The eggs may be incubated in vermiculite at a ratio of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water by weight. At 80-98 F, the eggs will hatch in 30-100 days. Females are produced at the lower end of the incubation range and males at the higher. At 87 F, a hatchling of each sex will usually emerge.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


beautiful lizard, great beginner species, HUGE variety, color morphs, easy feeding requirements, beautiful


Mouth rot stomatitis, adequate space, particulate substrates, impaction, gut impaction


calcium supplement powder, humidity chamber, sticky feet, killing machine, loves mealworms

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