Leopard Gecko care sheet
Housing: a wooden vivarium of at least 24" in length
Heating: basking temperature of 90oF, cool end of 80oF
UVB Lighting: 5-6% UVB fluorescent tube during the day (2% for albino)
Diet: insectivorous diet of insects
Decoration: dry substrates and decor so not to raise humidity levels
A leopard gecko is best kept in a wooden vivarium. This is because wood is an excellent insulator of heat and so a wooden vivarium will make it easier to control the crucial temperatures required inside the habitat. Other enclosures such as glass terrariums are far too efficient at releasing heat making it difficult to get up to temperature and keep this temperature consistent throughout the year. The wooden vivarium should have good ventilation to help remove humidity and replenish the air in the enclosure.
The leopard gecko vivarium should be at least 57.5cm (23") in length. The main reason for this size enclosure is the vivarium needs to have a sufficient length to allow for the creation of a temperature gradient. The enclosure needs to be warm at one end, but have enough distance for the temperature to drop at the cool end.
In the wild leopard geckos would be spending most of their time in burrows, as we can't provide a burrow we have to try to replicate conditions at the mouth of the burrow. During the day leopard geckos are exposed to low levels of UV and temperatures ranging from 90-80oF. We achieve these condition by using one 40w basking bulb in one corner of the vivarium.
At night leopard geckos still require some warmth but need total darkness. The basking lights should be switched off. A night time temperature of 80oF is created by using a heat mat. These warm the substrate of the enclosure. This heat mat should be buried inside the enclosure on the same side as the basking light and should be controlled by a good quality thermostat. The thermostat will automatically turn on the heat mat at night when the temperature in the vivarium drops. Temperatures should be monitored daily using a thermometer.
Leopard geckos are from arid regions of India and Asia. They are crepuscular meaning that they are active in low light shortly after sunset and before sunrise. In the wild they are exposed to low levels of UVB which helps them to naturally produce vitamin D and use the calcium in their diet. We try to replicate this exposure inside the vivarium by using a weak 5 or 6% UV tube attached to the ceiling at the back of the enclosure.
The geckos skin is quite sensative and some hypersensitive morphs like albinos should not be exposed to much UV so we suggest scaling it down to a 2% uv tube.
It is recommended that T8 bulbs are replaced every 6 months and T5 bulbs every 9 months.
Leopard geckos should always be kept on a dry substrate so not to increase the humidity inside the vivarium. Whilst any loose substrate has the potential to be accidentally swallowed, we have found this to not be a problem with coarse beech woodchips and that is what we keep our leopard geckos on. It is also very easy to clean.
Leopard geckos will spend a lot of time during the day underneath hides so it is important to provide a range of decorations they can either get under or inside. We find that cork bark pieces and tubes are well recieved. When shedding the gecko may need a little added humidity. You can achieve this by providing a humid microclimate like a moss box or a cave with damp substrate inside.
The leopard geckos vivarium can be decorated with artificial plants for a more natural look. Desert plants look very effective and also provide further perches for the bearded dragon. Trailing plants are very good at disguising electrical wires and equipment, as well as providing cover for young lizards.
Leopard geckos are insectivores and will need a diet consisting of various livefoods dusted in vitamins and calcium. We have found that brown crickets are the most readily accepted, but you can also use black crickets or locusts (hoppers). On occasion, for variation you can offer other bugs such as mealworms, waxworms or calciworms.
A small water bowl may be used providing it does not raise the vivarium humidity too much.
To provide leopard geckos with optimal nutrition and to keep them in the best of health, they will require diet supplementaion in the form of calcium, vitamins and minerals. These are most commonly available as powders
Any livefood for the leopard gecko should also be 'gut-loaded' with an insect food. This basically involves feeding the livefood a nutrient rich diet before they are fed to the gecko. Our livefood is delivered to you already gut-loaded but this should be continued at home.
If you keep a male and female together, they may breed. You do not need to do anything to encourage this, providing they are healthy and the conditions are good, it will happen naturally. You need to consider whether you want this to happen. What will you do with the babies if you incubate the eggs?
A gravid female should have access to a nesting box to lay her eggs. The box should be large enough that she can fully turn-around inside it. We use a soil mix in there that is wet enough to clump but no more. We have found that Spider Life substrate is ideal.
The eggs should be incubated in an incubator at 84oF. We incubate our eggs in sealed boxes on a moisture rich substrate (such as Hatchrite) to trap the humidity around the eggs. After approximately 60 days the eggs will start to hatch, the first babies to emerge will encourage the rest of the eggs to hatch.