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REPTILE / new pets

Leopard Gecko Care Guide

Tips from home to health to food and fun

Overview

5 things to know about your leopard gecko

  1. Leopard geckos live as long as 20 years
  2. Leopard geckos can grow as long as 10 inches (25 cm) in length
  3. In the wild, leopard geckos live in a semi-arid desert and are nocturnal
  4. Unlike other geckos, leopard gecko doesn’t have “sticky” fingers and toes, so they can’t climb walls and other vertical surfaces like many of their relatives
  5. The leopard gecko is one of only a few gecko species that has distinct outer ears and eyelids

How do I set up my leopard gecko’s home?

Leopard geckos originate from semi-arid deserts, so naturally, they love a warm, dry environment. But they also need a hiding place that’s moist and lovely—this is where they retreat to when it's time to shed their skin. Multiple leopard geckos may be kept in a size-appropriate terrarium—but only one should be male.

Terrarium

You’ll want to keep your leopard gecko in a well-ventilated terrarium with a screened lid. Start with a 20 gallon (76 L) tank (30” x 12” x 12” or 76 x 31 x 31 cm). If you’re getting multiple geckos, think about increasing your tank size.

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Temperature and humidity

Keep your leopard gecko’s habitat like the warm climate they come from. You should have a warm side and a cool side of the tank. To do this, put a heat light on one side of the habitat, and measure the temperature with a thermometer at each end.

You’re aiming to keep the terrarium between 80 and 90 F (27 - 32 C) on the warm end, and 75 - 80 F (24 - 27 C) on the cool side. It’s also worth getting a hygrometer, to make sure humidity remains in that 10% to 30% range, which leopard geckos prefer.

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Lighting

Leopard geckos require 12 hours of visible light a day and recent studies show that they benefit from a low-wattage UVA/UVB light source.

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How do I set up my leopard gecko’s home?

Use reptile carpet, tile, or an appropriate semi-arid bioactive soil/substrate. For geckos shorter than 6 inches (15 cm), use reptile carpet—these guys are so small they might accidentally swallow the bedding material, which is bad for them. Scoop the waste when it is noticed and change all their bedding at least once a month.

Leopard geckos should always have access to a hiding place on the warm and cool side of their habitat. One hiding spot per gecko is a good rule. Use rocks and low branches to allow your leopard gecko places to climb closer to the basking lights or hide behind/under. Putting some moistened moss in their hide house will help when they’re ready to shed their skin. Mist the moss periodically with a spray bottle of water to keep the humidity higher inside their hide house. Leopard geckos drink from large shallow dishes and will also soak in their water dish to maintain hydration. Be sure you empty, clean and refill their water dish every day.

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How can I keep my leopard gecko healthy?

It’s a good idea to have a veterinarian examine your leopard geckos shortly after you get them and for annual physical exams thereafter. When you first bring them home, don’t handle your new leopard geckos for three or four days—they need to get used to their new surroundings. Keep a close eye on them, in case moving in has stressed them out or caused them to get sick. Even a settled-in lizard can get sick. It’s probably a good time for a check-up at the vet if you notice these symptoms:

  • Hiding more than usual
  • Eating or drinking less; even losing weight
  • Swollen joints
  • Abnormalities with the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Discolored skin and noticeable shedding problems
  • Runny or abnormal droppings for more than two days
  • Lack of droppings for extended periods of time

If you have questions about the health of your reptile, talk to a veterinarian familiar with reptiles.

PET SAFETY TIPS

  • ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
  • Adults should assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet, its habitat or aquarium water.

VET ASSURED

Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well being of our pets.

Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.

PETSMART PROMISE

If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.