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REPTILE / new pets

Leopard Gecko Care Guide

Tips from home to health to food and fun


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 the desert and are nocturnal
  4. Unlike other geckos, the leopard gecko doesn’t have sticky hands, so he can’t climb walls and other vertical surfaces like the many of his 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 the desert, 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. Up to three leopard geckos can live in the same terrarium—but only one should be male.


You’ll want to keep your leopard gecko in a well-ventilated terrarium with a screened lid. Start with a ten gallon tank. If you’re getting three geckos, think about increasing your tank size.

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Temperature and humidity

Keep your leopard gecko’s habitat toasty, like the warm climate he comes from. You should have a warm side and a cool side of the tank, and let him decide the area he likes best. 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 85 and 95 degrees F (29 to 35 C) on the warm end, and ten degrees lower on the cool side. It’s also worth getting a hygrometer, to make sure humidity remains in that 10% to 30% range, which geckos prefer.

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Geckos require 12 hours of visible light a day. If you want to see what they do under cover of darkness, pick up a night-specific bulb. Then you can see what your reptile pals are up to without disorienting them with a bright light at night.

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

Use a layer of calcium sand (substrate) 2 to 3 inches deep (5 to 8 cm) or reptile carpet. For geckos shorter than 6 inches (15 cm), use reptile carpet—these guys are so small they might accidentally swallow the sand, which is bad for them. Scoop the waste at least once a week, and change all their bedding at least once a month.

Lizards like to play hide and seek, so your leopard geckos will thank you for placing a rock, branch or other hiding place on the cool side of the habitat. One hiding spot per gecko is a good rule. Use rocks and branches to make your reptile friends a desert playpen. 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.

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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. 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
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Discolored skin and noticeable shedding problems
  • Droppings that are runny for more than two days

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


  • 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.


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.


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.