Table of Contents
- The Best Leopard Gecko Habitat Tanks Compared
- Which substrate is best for your Leopard Gecko?
- Terrarium Hideouts and Decorations
- What temperature should leopard geckos be kept at?
- Popular Heating Pads for Leopard Geckos
- Forliver Reptile Pet Heating Pad Mat Bed with Temperature Control
- Wuhostam Reptile Heating Pad Warmer with Temperature Controller
- iPower Reptile Heat Pad Under Tank Terrarium Heater Heat Mat
- Zacro Reptile Heat Pad – Temperature Adjustable Under Tank Heater for 30-40gal Tank
- Zacro Reptile Heat Pad – Under Tank Heater for 10-20gal Tank
- Zoo Med Repti Therm Under Tank Heater
- VIVOSUN 6×8 Inch Reptile Heating Pad 8W Under Tank Heater
- Aiicioo Under Tank Reptile Heating Pad
- What to feed your Leopard Gecko
- Handling A Leopard Gecko
- Leopard Gecko Breeding
- Leopard Gecko Shedding
- Metabolic Bone Disease in Leopard Geckos
- Leopard Gecko Genetics
- Genetic Terminology
- Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Albino Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Murphy Patternless Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Blizzard Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Mack Snow Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Giant Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Jungle Leopard Gecko Morphs
- High Yellow Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Stripe Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Bold Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Bandit Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Halloween Mask Leopard Gecko Morphs
- APTOR Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Eclipse Leopard Gecko Morphs
- RAPTOR Leopard Gecko Morphs
- Diablo Blanco Leopard Gecko Morphs
- RADAR Leopard Gecko
- Typhoon Leopard Gecko
- Carrot-tail Leopard Gecko
- Tangerine Leopard Gecko Morphs
- “Other” snow morphs
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The leopard gecko, scientific name Eublepharis macularius, is a nocturnal reptile commonly bred as pets. They are loved dearly because of their beautiful appearance, colorful design, and different patterns.
The normal leopard has a pattern that consists of two dark transverse body bands and three to four darkened tail rings with a lot of dark head and body spots mixed with a light cream to tan color. When a leopard gecko hatches the dark bands break up and turn to spots as the lizard grows. The lighter body color become poorly defined and faded.
The Best Leopard Gecko Habitat Tanks Compared
Leopard Geckos are as close to the perfect pet as reptiles get – they don’t necessarily require UVB lighting (though it helps dramatically), can happily thrive in 10 gallon environments and can live to be up to 20 years old. In order to get such a high lifespan you’ll need to pick the perfect terrarium and decor that will keep your leopard gecko happy and healthy.
The optimal home for your gecko is an aquarium or terrarium tank. The basic rule of thumb is that your terrarium should be at least 10 gallons per gecko. So if you have two leopard geckos a 20 to 30 gallon tank would work best – or even two separate 10 gallon tanks would be recommended since housing geckos together can cause issues. Regardless, you shouldn’t ever house two male leopard geckos together as they will fight constantly. A screened top will also necessary for your tank, as it will not only prevent your gecko from escaping but to also prevent any other pets you may have from getting to your gecko.
- Size: 24 x 18 x 12 Inches.
- Weight: 33.5 lbs
- Top panel contains a wire-escape for any lighting/humidifier.
- Dual locking doors (prevents escape).
- Raised and waterproof base.
- Front opening doors for easy maintenance!
There’s one feature on this tank that has completely won me over: the front opening doors. It makes feeding, watering, and handling so simple. It’s one of the easiest to clean terrariums I’ve ever used while still being a very high quality design. The best part of the Exo Terra is that it doesn’t make me dread cleaning day – I know I can pop in and out of the tank with relative ease.
As far as durability goes, the Exo Terra wins by a wide margin. All of the movable glass slides perfectly together without wobbling or shaking and the dual locking doors ensures that your little leopard won’t be able to escape. There’s plenty of space in the tank so be sure to fill it up with lots of decor and stuff for him to climb on as leopard geckos love going vertical.
Remember, though, this only includes the tank – all of the extra accessories will need to be purchased separately. This includes the substrate, heating pad, lighting and climbing/hiding places. While all of these additions can be a bit pricey, it’s also fun to customize your terrarium with diverse decor instead of just using a premade out-of-kit option.
- Great ventilation from the sides/front.
- Waterproof bottom.
- Lots of room to add decorations and space for your gecko to climb.
- Completely escape-proof.
- Nice looking background.
- A bit heavy.
- Styrofoam background is a bit cheap.
- Size: 23″ x 18″ x 18″
- Weight: 55.12 lbs
- Allows UVB and infrared penetration.
- Raised bottom.
Like the Exo Terra, the REPTI ZOO has front opening doors (which I can no longer live without) which make maintenance a breeze. You can also pop off the top ventilation screen if you need more access to the whole tank, but for day-to-day handling I recommend using the front doors. Unfortunately there isn’t a handle, so you may need to buy a suction cup or use some hot-glue to attach a handle to the front to make opening/closing easier.
This tanks seems like an optimal choice if you have multiple leopard geckos and are looking for a terrarium that offers lots of room to roam. Any lighting/UVB fixtures will fit in easily and there’s a wire exit in the top screen to make the whole process extremely simple.
Remember that this only includes the terrarium itself, all of the extras (like substrate, heading pad, lighting, etc) will still need to be ordered separately.
- Quick installation (20 mins).
- Very good looking.
- Tons of space to roam around.
- Only one key to control the door lock (and you need to lock it in order to close).
- No handles on the front door (may need to buy a suction cup to open/close easily).
- 10 gallon tank.
- 10 gallon sand mat.
- Substrate heater.
- Simple analog thermometer.
- Hide cave.
This one may seem appealing to somebody looking to buy their first leopard gecko, but I’d caution against it. The 10 gallon tank is the bare minimum recommended size and even then, alot of the extra accessories it comes with don’t make very much sense. Despite popular belief, leopard geckos don’t actually naturally live in sandy areas – they live in forest undergrowth primarily among rocks. Yet, for some reason this package includes sand.
The lamp isn’t much better as it’s just LED and doesn’t actually let off any heat. It does come with a care guide, some multivitamins and some simple decor like a water bowl and cave but those extras don’t really justify the price tag. Plus most people like to decorate their leopard gecko terrarium themselves and not just use some out-of-box generic products.
All in all, it seems meet the bare minimum requirements but expect to make additional purchases like a heat lamp and some extra decor.
- Simple all-in-one kit.
- Good size for a single juvenile leopard gecko.
- The OEM lamp doesn’t product heat.
- The 10 gallon tank may prove too small after your Leopard Gecko grows into adulthood.
- Construction seems to be a bit fragile and may break during shipping.
- 10 gallon tank.
- 10 lbs white desert sand.
- Reptile thermometer.
- Day/night heat bulb.
- Water conditioner
Like the Exo Terra Leopard Gecko starter set, this one comes with lots of extra accessories like vitamins, food, water conditioner, lamp fixtures, day/night heat bulbs, a simple reptile thermometer and loads of sand. The 10 gallon tank is on the small size, so if you have two geckos I’d strongly recommend upgrading to a larger tank.
Despite what the description says, this kit doesn’t come with everything you’ll need to start caring for a leopard gecko. You’ll also want to pick up a heating mat as leo’s love climate variety between 75 to 90 degrees. You’ll also want to pick up some new substrate as sand isn’t their native habitat. Add in some extra hiding places and decor and you should be good to go.
While these combo sets may seem appealing, they don’t truly provide everything you’ll need to get started which is why we recommend buying each piece one-by-one.
- Contains lots of helpful extras like the ReptiCalcium™ vitamins, ReptiSafe® Water Conditioner, 60w day/night heat bulbs, thermometer and lamp fixtures.
- Will need a different substrate than the 10lbs of sand it comes with.
- A heating pad will also be necessary.
- Only large enough for one leopard gecko and may still need to be upgraded once it reaches adulthood.
- 20.2″ x 10.5″ x 12.6″ inches.
- 18.2 lbs.
- Two 5.5″ reflective domes.
- Light fixtures.
- Night black & white spot incandescent bulbs.
While this starter pack does contain lots of helpful elements, you’ll still need to buy things like feeding dishes, a background and a warm heating pad. But it does have alot going on for it – the tank is the perfect size for a single leo and it’s light enough for one person to move/setup.
The quality is a bit on the low side: the white incandescent light seems to be a little harsh on my leo’s eyes and ultimately broke within a week. The little clips that hold the lid on broke and won’t stay in place and I find myself piece by piece needing to replace/upgrade the components included.
Ultimately I wouldn’t recommend this one, as the construction quality really doesn’t make up for the convenience of ordering an all-in-one kit. Alot of the bonus accessories will need to be swapped out or will break within a month.
- Very light and easy to manage.
- The light bulb is commonly defective and will break within a week.
- The clips on that lock the lid in place will break within a week.
- Will still need to buy all the decor like a water/feeding bowl, substrates and hiding spots.
- 48″ x 24″ x 24.1″ inches.
- 72 lbs.
- Top quality construction.
- Perfect for multiple adult leopard geckos.
This is by far the largest terrarium on the list and primarily meant for people with multiple leo’s. That being said, it takes up a LOT of space and weighs a massive 72 pounds so you’ll likely need multiple people to move.
That being said, the construction itself is gorgeous and of the highest quality. If you’re really concerned about giving your leo as much room as possible, this may be the way to go. Just be sure you have enough space in your home to house it as it is *extremely* massive. The price tag is also a bit hefty, but the quality is second to none.
Unlike a few of the other kits in this list, you’ll still need to pick up all of the extra accessories as this only includes the tank.
- Perfect home for multiple adult leopard geckos.
- The highest quality construction I’ve seen.
- Extremely heavy.
- Takes up a lot of space.
- Very expensive.
Cleaning the tank
Generally speaking, it is very quick and easy to clean your gecko’s habitat. Leopard Gecko waste is dry and solid and they are largely creatures of habit and often defecate in the same spot which makes it easy to clean. Use a small aquarium fish net or an old spoon to clean up the mess once or twice a week. Remember: the more often you clean the tank, the better. If you use reptile carpet you can take the carpet out and wash it every months or so.
Decorations and Supplies
In addition to any terrarium tank you buy, your gecko habitat will also need a special flooring or substrate. For beginners it’s recommended you use reptile carpet, paper towels, or newspaper. While sand may look appealing, it is best to start off with reptile carpet at least until your gecko gets bigger. Baby and juvenile geckos can inhale sand and die and even adult geckos have been known to struggle with sand ingestion.
Each leo will also need their own hiding place or house. A variety of caves, logs, and hide boxes are available from pet stores for your gecko. These hiding places are where your gecko will spend the majority of their time so you may want to spring for something nice. You will also need to purchase a food bowl (for mealworms) and a water dish. One of my favorite parts of owning a leopard gecko is adding decorations like rocks, fake plants, ledges and logs to make the habitat look more natural and lived-in. Just make sure that all decorations are secure, you wouldn’t want a rock ledge to fall and injure your gecko.
Which substrate is best for your Leopard Gecko?
Choosing the right substrate for your leopard gecko can be tricky as there are so many options. One of the more common misconceptions is that leo’s prefer sand – they don’t. They generally live around rocks and undergrowth and would prefer to avoid sand if at all possible. Some owners have even reported sicknesses from their gecko ingesting sand or severe eye irritation from prolonged exposure. For these reasons, we’d generally recommend you avoid sand.
If you need a quick cheap option, paper towels will work in a pinch. But if you’re hunting for something more permanent and cleanable, then you may want to pick up a more aesthetically pleasing option. We went ahead and compared most of the popular choices on the market for substrate so you can pick the best possible option.
- Size: 9.75″ x 19.75″ inches.
- Non abrasive.
- Very low maintenance.
- Cannot be ingested.
This is the standard go-to for most reptile owners: terrarium liner. If you’re concerned about your leo accidentally ingesting their substrate, then this is the choice for you. There’s absolutely nothing on the mat that can be ingested by your pet and you can easily cut it up to fit into whatever size terrarium tank you might have.
Cleaning is also a breeze – you can soak it for a few minutes or even run it through the washing machine. Do take note, however, that if you choose to put it in the dryer that it will shrink. The mat is very durable and will easily withstand multiple washes. If you don’t want to use the washer you can always take it outside and spray it down with your hose and hang it out to dry in the sun.
If odor is a big concern, then this is your answer. With weekly cleanings you won’t notice any smell and you’ll be sure to clean all the waste with every cleaning, unlike with sand, wood chips or some other loose substrate.
- No fear of ingestion.
- Very easy to clean.
- Can easily last a year or longer.
- Inexpensive compare to other substrates.
- May need to order multiples if it doesn’t fit the entirety of your tank.
- Doesn’t smell as fresh as the natural alternatives.
- Comes in 5 sizes for different tank sizes.
- No dyes.
- Completely natural moss.
If you’re looking to replace your paper towels with something a bit more natural, then you’ll probably want to look into using moss as substrate. Most people use moss in their terrarium as a humid-hide to help their leopard gecko shed and not for permanent everyday use.
Moss isn’t a permanent addition – you should only keep it in the tank for 2-4 weeks, depending on how dirty it gets. Expect your leo to spend a lot of time around the moss once it gets acclimated to it, so place it in a spot he’ll be comfortable spending alot of time in.
You’ll still want to clean it up if any waste gets left in there as it can turn nasty if left unmaintained.
- Your leo will love it.
- Good aesthetics.
- Perfect for a humid-hide.
- Still needs to be cleaned.
- Size: 8 Quarts
- Ground coconut fiber.
- Breaks down odor.
- All natural.
If you had your heart set on sand, then I’d recommend this as a compromise. All natural and very odor absorbent, coconut fiber is a great choice that your leopard gecko will love.
Many coconut fiber products come in a solid brick that you need to apply moisture to in order to break it up. This, on the other hand, comes in a convenient bag that allows for easy spreading. Simply add a cup or two in at a time then mist before adding more and everything will go in smoothly.
The coconut fiber is very effective at absorbing odor and staying clean while still being appealing enough for your gecko to want to run around in. And at 8 quarts you’ll have more than enough for multiple uses.
- All natural and leo’s love it!
- Odor absorbent.
- Comes loose in a bag so you don’t have to break it down from brick form.
- Can be too dry/dusty for some geckos.
- Can be messy.
- Feeding worms can burrow/hide in the fibers.
- The coconut powder can be ingested and cause irritation/sickness.
- Size: 10″ x 13″ inches.
- Thickness: 1/2″ inch.
- All natural coconut fiber mat.
If you don’t want to deal with the mess that loose coconut fiber can make but still want to go all-natural, then the SunGrow Coco Fiber Mat is the choice for you. Unlike the other products in this list, this one wasn’t made specifically for reptiles but it will work just as well.
There are a few problems, though. Namely that though the product claims to be 10″ by 13″, it doesn’t seem to fit very comfortably in a 10 gallon terrarium. It falls short by an inch or so, so you may need to put something over the edges to prevent anything from wriggling under the corners.
- Thicker than other mats.
- All natural and odor absorbing.
- Too small to fit in a 10 gallon terrarium.
- Not quite as odor absorbent as loose coconut fiber.
- Compressed coconut fiber.
- Breaks down into 7-8 liters of substrate.
- Naturally absorbent.
This is the compressed version of the loose coconut fiber we listed above. Rather than coming in a bag, this one comes in a solid brick that you’ll need to wet with (preferably warm) water which will then cause it to grow and expand. It can be a bit messy but it’s cheaper and just as effective as the loose fiber.
It can also significantly help with humidity control by adding water or leaving it to dry out while keeping the whole terrarium smelling nice and fresh. It can be a bit messy, especially during the decompressing process, but it smells and functions perfectly.
- Takes care of the odor.
- Cheaper than the loose coconut fiber.
- Some reported bad shipments that had a strong chemical smell.
- Often leaves a powdery residue that gets everywhere.
- Takes some practice getting used to re-hydrating the bricks.
- The coconut powder can be ingested and cause irritation/sickness.
- Comes in multiple sizes: 8qt – 72qts.
- All natural.
- Made from the bark of fir trees.
- Lasts up to a year.
Fir bark bedding runs into a lot of the problems you see with coconut fiber – namely the mess and risk of ingestion. But if coconut fiber works well for you, you may want to consider trying fir bark fiber as well.
Unlike coconut fiber, this is completely reusable. You can wash and clean the bark right in your yard or sink and put it right back in the tank without losing the pleasant smell. It’s very durable and stays dry unless you intentionally mist it which really helps with humidity control.
- Very pleasant smell.
- Washable and reusable.
- Risk of ingestion for some (primarily smaller or juvenile) leopard geckos.
- Some have reported their bark was infested with mites.
If you’re raising a juvenile or smaller leopard gecko, or if you’re just concerned about adverse ingestion, then of all the options I’d have to recommend the Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner.
If you’re raising an adult or larger leopard gecko and you’re not concerned about possible ingestion then I’d recommend the Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate. The great smell and natural aesthetic is perfect for your leo’s terrarium.
And regardless of which one you pick up, we’d still recommend you pick up some Zoo Med All Natural Reptile Terrarium Moss Substrate to make a nice humidity-hide for your little guy.
Terrarium Hideouts and Decorations
What alot of people don’t know is that each terrarium should have two separate hides: one near the heating mat/light and another in the cooler section of your tank. Remember, leopard geckos really enjoy climate variety and will frequently alternate between the two hideouts to maintain comfort.
There are a few reasons a hide is necessary:
- Give it a place to nest.
- To prevent stress.
- Escape the heat/lights.
- A moist hide will be necessary to help shedding.
If you’d rather go with a moss hideout over a rock one then it’s important to make sure that they haven’t been dyed or color enhanced as they may ingest small pieces of the dye and become poisoned. All of the hideouts we recommend are non-toxic and should be completely safe your gecko.
Also, make sure to get each leopard gecko their own hideout. They aren’t very social creatures and will need their own hides to prevent them from fighting.
- Available in three sizes: small, medium and large.
- Easily fits in a 10 gallon tank.
- One opening.
- Detaches from top for easy cleaning.
- Integrates well into desert or tropical terrariums.
The Exo Terra Gecko Cave is one of the better moist hideouts on the market today. Simply line with paper towels and give it a few sprays from your mister and your gecko will love it. Many other hides tend to dry out pretty quickly but this one will remain moist for 3-4 days before you’ll need to do another misting.
Cleaning is the best part – the top pops off into two separate halves and which you can then scrub in the sink.
They come in three separate sizes – small, medium and large:
- Small: Good size for hatchlings.
- Medium: Good size for juvenile geckos.
- Large: Good for adult or mature leopard geckos.
If you know your leopard gecko is a bit larger than average then you may want to be safe and opt for the larger hideout so you don’t need buy another one later.
- Comes in three sizes.
- Great moist hide.
- Perfect for shedding.
- Snaps apart for easy cleaning.
- The entry hole might be too small for larger geckos.
- The style of the hideout is pretty bland.
- 9” length x 6” width x 4” tall
- Multiple openings.
- Can be used in both wet and dry terrariums.
- Easy climbing access with a hide underneath.
This hideout is a bit on the small side so you may want to skip this one if you have a larger leopard gecko (there’s a convenient image that shows the dimensions of the hide here). The big draw to this one is that it can be used in either wet or dry tanks and can double as a good climbing ledge that your pet can explore.
Beware though that some of the edges can be sharp and may need to be filed/sanded down. Still, it’s quite neat looking and great for a smaller or adolescent leo’s first hide.
- Good for both wet and dry habitats.
- Very climbable.
- Comes in only one size and it’s too small for adult geckos.
- Essentially just plastic painted to look like stone.
- Might have sharp edges.
- Comes in 3 different sizes: small, medium and large.
- Perfect for a 10 gallon tank.
- One opening.
- Great humid hide for shedding or egg laying.
This one is alot like the Exo Terra Gecko Cave – they both come in three sizes, both are perfect for cultivating a humid micro-climate that will help facilitate shedding and they’re similar price point.
While all three sizes would fit well into a 10 gallon terrarium tank, you should really get a size that fits your leopard gecko the best:
- Small: Good size for hatchlings.
- Medium: Good size for juvenile geckos.
- Large: Good for adult or mature leopard geckos.
- Comes in multiple sizes.
- Easy to clean.
- Perfect as a moist hideout.
- Some are made from a durable resin while others are made of a more fragile ceramic.
- Can occasionally crack.
- Opening is a bit small.
- Comes in two sizes: small and medium.
- Ultra simple and multipurpose hut.
- Maximum privacy.
- Lots of room
This one is a bit bland but really just as effective as other hides: a simple black box. The big selling point to this one is the size of the hide itself, which gives your leopard gecko a great deal of privacy which can help with shedding or breeding.
Cleaning is pretty self explanatory as it’s essentially just a small box so there aren’t any small nooks or crannies for mold to grow in. It’s also very versatile as you can use it for multiple pets. You can also place wooden ramps along the side and some decor on top of the box that he can play/climb on.
- Very large space.
- Big entry point so it’s easy to get in/out of.
- Simple to clean.
- Can stack accessories on top of it that your leo can play on.
- A bit of an eyesore.
- Comes in three sizes: small, medium and large.
- Easy to clean and non-porous exterior helps prevent mold growth.
- Natural design.
Designed to mimic a fallen log with entrances at both ends and a large hole in the size, this hideout is definitely one of the more aesthetically pleasing choices on this list.
In addition to functioning as a hide, it’s also a very effective climbing accessory that your leo will definitely enjoy exploring. If you position it correctly you can even see into the hide via the hole in the side so you can see what he’s up to.
- Great as either a hideout or a climbing accessory.
- The design fits well into any naturalistic terrarium.
- Very inexpensive.
- The construction is particularly strong.
- The paint may flake or wash off.
Decorations and Accessories
One of the best parts of owning a leopard gecko is decorating it’s terrarium. It’s the perfect combination of aesthetics, functionality and giving your little pet the environment they need to thrive.
Generally speaking there are five different types of reptile decor:
- Hideouts for your leo to disappear into.
- Rocks your gecko can scurry around.
- Wood and logs so they’ll have something to climb on.
- Plants to give the terrarium a more natural atmosphere.
- (Optional) Waterfalls so he can enjoy a little running water.
Some of these are more important than others – namely the hideouts, rocks and climbable wood pieces. Every leopard gecko will need a hideout where they can sleep and something to play on during the day so they don’t get bored. The waterfall is obviously purely optional, but it really does make the whole tank feel more natural.
What temperature should leopard geckos be kept at?
Common air temperature inside the tank must be 86 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature inside the room they’re placed must be above 73 degrees.
You must be able to regulate the temperature of the tank to best suit the lizard’s needs. The bottom of the tank must be placed with a heating pad on one end. This is where you will place the warm hide. Be careful with heating pad and don’t get them to hot or you will injury your leopard gecko.
Light fixtures must be placed above the screen of the cage. Use a low-wattage light as you will leave it for at least 12 hours a day.
Popular Heating Pads for Leopard Geckos
A healthy leopard gecko will require a climate variety between 70-90 degrees and the best way to accomplish this is by using a heating pad. Since there are multiple heating pads on the market today, we thought we’d compare them so you can make the best choice for your leo!
Leopard geckos are nocturnal so no special UV bulbs or basking lights are required, though they do enjoy it. A UV light will also aid with shedding, and they seem to enjoy it a great deal. A lamp with an ordinary incandescent bulb on one side of the tank can do the trick though. For heating the tank we generally recommend that you use an under-tank heat mat. The heat mat is placed under the bottom glass on one side of the tank. This way there is a warm area and a cool area for your gecko to regulate body temperature. Do not use a heat rock as your gecko lizard may get burned. Geckos need access to a moist area, which will aid in shedding. This can be supplied by moistening the substrate under the area where your gecko hides. This is done by spraying the area with water each day. You can purchase a spray bottle from a pet store, or a dollar store to save money. Either bottle will do the trick.
Regardless of which heating pad you purchase, you’ll need to be sure to control it’s temperature via a thermostat. Some heating pads come fully equipped with their own temperature control, but if it doesn’t come included you will definitely need to buy one to make sure it doesn’t get too hot or too cold for your leopard gecko. We strongly recommend the BN-LINK Digital Heat Mat Thermostat as it’s by far the most popular and reliable one on the market today.
- 6″ by 11″ mat size.
- Includes temperature controller.
- Water proof/Moisture proof.
- Designed specifically for reptiles.
Unlike many of the other heating pads in this list, the Forliver is designed specifically for reptiles and comes with a thermostat included which means you don’t have to make another purchase.
Unfortunately, it comes at a cost – it comes in only one size and doesn’t seem to have a very powerful adhesive stick which may mean you’ll need to find another way to mount it.
For a budget-conscious shopper, I’d strongly recommend this one though as it’ll save you from needing to buy a thermostat as well. For larger tanks, however, you’re definitely going to need a larger pad with higher wattage.
- Includes a thermostat so you won’t need to make an additional purchase.
- Very inexpensive, even considering it comes with a thermostat.
- Poor adhesive stick.
- Require a smaller tank.
- 16.53 by 11 inch heating pad size.
- Includes thermostat.
- Water proof/Moisture proof.
If the Forliver heating pad is too small for you, the Wuhostam should be your best bet. Like the Forliver, it comes with a temperature control mechanism which saves you from needing to buy an external thermostat.
It’s a bit more expensive than the Forliver option, but considering the money you save from not needing to buy an extra thermostat I think you’ll find the price well worth it.
- Great for larger tanks.
- Includes it’s own temperature control mechanism.
- Cannot remove/replace the pad once the adhesive is applied.
- 6″ X 8″ Inches.
- 120 volts, 8 watts.
- 6′ foot power cord.
Probably the most popular heating pad, the iPower 6 by 8 is an ideal choice for heating a 10 gallon tank. It will fit comfortably inside any terrarium large enough to house your leo and should warm him comfortably.
The heating pad should fit comfortably under most elevated terrariums but be warned the adhesive mounting strip tends to come off when the heat runs for awhile. The manufacturer has also shown a strong proclivity to replace any broken/damaged pieces, so you have nothing to worry about in terms of quality – it’s the real deal.
Unfortunately it doesn’t come with a way to control the temperature so you’ll definitely need to buy a thermostat to go along with it. We recommend the BN-LINK Digital Heat Mat Thermostat – it’s the most popular and reliable thermostat in it’s class.
- Perfect fit for a 10 gallon tank.
- Manufacturer replacements may be available.
- Will need to purchase a thermostat to control the temperature.
- The adhesive portion seems to weaken when the heat is on and can fall off/not work effectively.
- May need a stronger/larger pad for larger tanks.
- 12″ x 8″ inches.
- Designed for 30-40 gallon tanks.
- 5.9′ foot power cord.
If you’re looking for a large heat pad, this is your best bet. Designed for a massive 30-40 gallon tank, the 12″ by 8″ heat pad will surely be sufficient for multiple adult leopard geckos without any trouble.
It’s designed to slide under the tank and provide heating from below, though be sure to pick up a thermometer so you don’t get too hot as it’s quite effective. Fortunately the temperature is completely adjustable so you’ll easily be able to increase/decrease the temperature as you need it.
Zacro also sells a smaller heating pad designed for 10-20 gallon tanks as well, but if you have a large tank then this is the one you’ll need.
- Very efficient heating pad.
- Designed for large 30-40 gallon tanks.
- May ship as defective and require a replacement.
- Not recommended for smaller (10-20 gallon) tanks.
- 6″ x 8″ inches.
- Designed for 10-20 gallon terrariums.
- 5.9′ foot power cord.
This heating pad has the same manufacturer as the one above, it’s just designed for smaller tanks. It’s a great option if you only have one leopard gecko and a 10-20 gallon tank. Just like the larger one, it’s designed with an adhesive to stick to the underside of your terrarium and heat it from the bottom.
- Very efficient heating pad.
- Designed for 10-20 gallon tanks.
- Some have reported it shipped as defective.
- Not recommended for larger (30-40 gallon) tanks.
- Customizable sizes.
The Zoo Med ReptiTherm comes in many different sizes – from 4″ by 5″ to 8″ by 18″ and in 4 watts to 24 watts depending on your needs. For a standard 10-20 gallon tank I’d recommend the 6″ by 8″ pad.
Like the others, it uses an adhesive strip to mount to the bottom or side of the terrarium and heats from there. Be sure to only place the pad on the outside of the tank and you’ll most likely need to use a thermostat to control the temperature like the BN-LINK Digital Heat Mat Thermostat.
- Comes in lots of different sizes for any terrarium size.
- Works perfectly with a thermostat.
- Once placed it cannot be removed/moved easily.
- You’ll need to pick up a thermostat to ensure it doesn’t get too hot for your leo.
- Multiple sizes: 6×8 inch or 8×12 inch.
- Bottom or side mounted.
Like most of the heating pads listed here, you’ll need to pick up a thermostat as well to control the temperature (so be prepared to buy the BN-LINK Digital Heat Mat Thermostat in addition to this). Luckily, the VIVOSUN comes in two different sizes: the 6″ by 8″ designed for 10-20 gallon tanks and the 8″ by 12″ for 30-40 gallon terrariums.
The adhesive is poor (which is a common problem) but it can stick to the sides or bottom. Once you stick it on, though we wouldn’t recommend you move it or break the adhesion or it will cause problems with sticking.
It comes with a “rubber feet” mat designed to elevate the tank a bit but be careful, yours may come attached to the cardboard so you need to be careful not to throw it away with the rest of the box.
- Comes in two sizes for different tanks.
- Can be mounted from the bottom or the sides.
- Lots of people reporting troubles with adhesive so do not remove once applied.
- Will also require a thermostat to control the temperature.
- Multiple sizes: 8×6 inches to 12×8 inches.
- 8W – 24W
- Upgraded adhesive material.
One of the most common complaints about heating pads is their adhesion often fails. Aiicioo specifically upgraded their adhesiveness to withstand temperatures of 90-100F. Once it’s applied, however, there’s no moving it so be sure to place it in the right spot.
The UTH comes with the “rubber feet” but you’ll still need to buy a thermostat like the BN-LINK Digital Heat Mat Thermostat to control the temperature.
- Improved adhesive stick.
- Doesn’t come with a thermostat.
- No refund policy on this unit.
What to feed your Leopard Gecko
Leopard geckos are very picky eaters. They exclusively eat live insects and enjoy a little variety in their diet. Deciding which type of food to feed your leo can be tricky, so we decided to compare them to see the pros and cons of each type so you can make the best decision possible for your pet.
Before we jump right in, you’ll need to understand gut loading. Gut loading is the process of feeding the insects nutritious supplements which sit in their gut before your leopard gecko consumes them. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you gut-load your insects about 8-12 hours before you feed them to your leopard gecko.
There are many different variables when dealing with gut loading – some insects, like crickets, gut load better than others. There are also a variety of different products you can use to give your pet the nutrient boost he’ll need.
For gut loading we generally recommend the Fluker’s High-Calcium Cricket Diet which helps supplement the natural protein and fat content of your feed stock with necessary vitamins and minerals.
Dusting is the process of dousing your live insect in a vitamin rich powder designed to supplement your geckos diet. To dust, simply place your feed stock and a small amount of powder in a resealable zip-lock bag and shake until the insect is covered in powder. Then, simply feed as normal and you’re good to go. For adult geckos, coat the insects 1 to 2 times per week. For babies, juveniles, and breeding females coat the insects daily prior to feeding.
The two main ingredients of an effective dust supplement is the calcium and vitamin D3. Both of these ingredients are in the Repti Calcium dusting powder which should help simplify the dusting process.
- Live banded crickets.
- Species: Gryllodes sigillatus
- Variety of counts, generally from 250-1000.
Crickets are an excellent source of food and nutrition in your leopard gecko’s diet. While crickets are commonly purchased from local pet stores, you can often find much better bulk prices when ordering online. Regardless of where you get them, most leopard geckos absolutely love them and will eat anywhere from 3-8 crickets per day.
It’s important to understand that there are several different species of crickets, but some were discovered to have more positive traits as a feedstock. The most impressive cricket species was called the banded cricket (Gryllodes sigillatus). The primary reason this species was chosen was because it can survive shipping conditions very, very well. In addition to surviving shipping, they also stay alive much longer once they arrive. They survive temperature fluctuation very well, chirp quieter and even smell better than the tradition cricket varieties. If you want to go with crickets, definitely go with banded crickets.
There are also some advantages inherent to all crickets, primarily when it comes to gut-loading. All you have to do is feed the crickets 12 hours before you feed your leopard gecko and you should be good to go. If you’re looking for some good gut-loading cricket feed, we recommend the Fluker’s High-Calcium Cricket Diet. This practice will help the crickets to pass on the maximum amount of nutrients to your leopard gecko.
In addition to any gut-loading you do, you’ll want to feed the crickets on a steady diet of potatoes, oats or commercial cricket food. Oats and potatoes should be readily available in most homes and are less expensive than cricket food which is why it’s the most common feed. Also remember that if your terrarium is too large the crickets might be able to evade your leo for quite some time. If you notice that he’s is having trouble catching crickets, you may have to remove the rear jumping legs of the cricket prior to putting them in the tank.
You should put a few crickets into the terrarium each night, depending on the age of your leopard gecko. Usually about 5 crickets per day is a good amount, though it tends to fluctuate. If you purchase in bulk then keeping them is pretty simple, just make sure the container they’re kept in has air holes and a small bit of food. You can also put a small piece of food in the terrarium to help draw out the crickets and make them easier to catch.
- Banded crickets survive much longer than traditional varieties.
- Handles temperature fluctuation well.
- Very easy to gut load.
- Cost effective.
- Can be messy and difficult to manage if they get loose.
- Can be noisy and smelly, though banded crickets dramatically improve both.
- Small dubia roaches.
- Size: 3/8″ and under.
- No flying or climbing.
- No smell.
- No noise.
Dubia roaches are quickly becoming a favorite among leopard gecko owners. They’re much easier to handle than crickets thanks to their inability to fly or to climb steep surfaces. Additionally there is no annoying smell and they don’t make any noises, unlike crickets.
There are a few caveats here – if you have to ship to locales that are lower than 40 degrees or higher than 85 you may need to have the post office hold the shipment to prevent too many of them from dying. They are very susceptible to temperature fluctuation so if you want to make sure they arrive still living I definitely recommend having the post office hold the package. Once they arrive, however, they live very long lives.
This feedstock is massively gaining in popularity primarily because they are very easy to breed. If you want to breed your own, be sure to pick up male & female pairs.
- Great at gut loading.
- Long lifespan.
- No smell.
- No noise.
- Cannot climb or fly.
- They’re quite pricey if you don’t breed them yourself.
- Variable sizes, from .25″ to 1″ inch.
- Ships in sizes of 250-2100
- They stay alive for weeks while refrigerated.
Meal worms have been a common staple in many pet reptile diets for decades. Perhaps the most appealing part of meal worms were how easy they were to both find and breed making them an excellent way to add diversity to the diet of your gecko. Feeding your gecko mealworms can also be easier than crickets as worms can be placed in a food bowl and cannot escape. Just make sure the food bowl is smooth or they might climb out. Simply placing a couple meal worms in a bowl will allow your pet to eat them whenever they get hungry.
Unfortunately meal worms don’t gut load as well as crickets or roaches and contain a high amount of fat and low calcium, meaning they’re most effective when mixing meal worms with other feed stocks.
Unlike crickets, meal worms are easy to manage and cannot escape. You can easily keep them alive for weeks in the refrigerator with minimal food or interaction. They are shipped with potato flakes which they seem to love, so keeping a few in the container will help keep them alive for even longer.
- Easier to feed than crickets.
- No smell.
- Cheap and abundant.
- Can survive for weeks in the refrigerator.
- Some picky leopard geckos don’t like them.
- Poor gut loading potential.
- High in fat, low in calcium.
- Species: (Galleria mellonella).
- Comes in 250-500 count.
- High fat content.
- Must keep refrigerated.
Leopard geckos love eating wax worms, but they’re too fatty to be the primary insect in their diet. Therefore, wax worms make perfect gecko treats and are also a good way to fatten up a female once she has laid eggs.
Wax worms are just like meal worms – they’re high in fat, must be kept refrigerated (or between 55-60 degrees) and leopard geckos seem to love the taste. Unfortunately, they don’t gut load very well and have shorter lifespans which makes them less desirable than other options.
The big draw to wax worms are how leopard geckos respond to them. If you’re having trouble feeding your pet with meal worms, then wax worms may be a good option as they always jump at the chance to munch one down.
- Can be kept refrigerated.
- Very tasty.
- Much shorter lifespan.
- Doesn’t gut-load well.
- Size: 1/4″ to 3/8″.
- Can be kept refrigerated.
- 50 Count.
Butter worms share a lot of similarities with wax worms, with the primary exception that they’re much lower in fat content. They’re not often used as feed stock for leopard geckos primarily due to their higher cost and the fact they cannot be gut loaded.
Still, you’ll find butter worms survive much longer than wax worms but don’t really seem to stimulate the gecko in the same way as wax worms. They aren’t a particular popular choice, but I thought I’d include it in this list.
- Lower fat content than wax worms.
- Slightly better shelf life.
- Simply refrigerate for a longer shelf life.
- Very expensive.
- Cannot gut load.
- Isn’t as appealing to a leo as wax worms.
- 300 count.
- Zophobas beetles larva.
- Free shipping.
- No refrigeration required.
- AKA king worms.
Super worms are a great option for people looking for a cheap and long lasting feed stock. They’re simple to breed and keep and don’t even require refrigeration. That, coupled with their high protein and low fat content makes them an ideal candidate for daily feeding.
The worms will last quite some time in even modest conditions – but be aware that if you wait too long they can turn into beetles. It won’t matter much to your leo, though, as they’ll eat both all the same.
Unfortunately, like all other types of worms they aren’t very effective at gut loading. As a general rule, nothing can compete with the gut loading capabilities of the roach or cricket, but the natural healthiness of the super worm certainly makes up for it.
- High protein/low fat.
- Decent lifespan.
- Doesn’t gut-load well.
- Will turn into zophobas beetles.
- They smell very, very bad.
Regardless of which you choose, we don’t recommend you feed your pet with insects you find in or around your home. They could be infected with parasites or disease that may adversely effect your leopard gecko. If you want to save money on feeding, then we recommend buying and breeding Dubia Roaches.
And as far as when to feed your pet, it really depends on it’s age. Juvenile leopard geckos usually eat between 3 and 6 insects daily, while adult geckos will often go days without eating before gorging themselves on up to 10 insects in one day.
It’s important to always keep a shallow dish of water in the leopard gecko’s habitat at all times. Just make sure the water is shallow or your little leo could get trapped and drown or the live feed could get stuck and drown. So make sure to always use a shallow dish in order to give the insects and your leo a better chance of escaping the water dish. It’s also important that you clean the dish every few day to help prevent bacteria and fungus from growing in the water and clear out any debris that might get left behind.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are an important aspect of a leopard gecko’s diet. Calcium is the most important mineral to a gecko and needs to be available to your gecko at all times by placing a dish with calcium powder somewhere in your terrarium. This is all in addition to dusting your crickets/roaches prior to feeding. Vitamins are also a necessary part of a healthy gecko diet, but should not be used as frequently or on the same day as calcium. It is recommended that insects be coated with vitamins once every 7 to 10 days. To coat insects with vitamins or minerals, place them in a bag or cup with the vitamin or mineral powder and then simply shake the container around until all the insects are dusted with powder. Our standard recommendation for gecko supplements is the Repti Calcium.
Handling A Leopard Gecko
The great thing about these animals is they’re quite social and make great companions. Many of our geckos love attention and will even crawl into your hand from their cage. There are some things to remember when handling them though.
Handle With Care
Small children should especially be supervised when handling their gecko. Leopard Geckos can stress easily, so be gentle and take it slow with your new friend. Never pick them up by their tail, they can drop their tails if they feel threatened. Here’s and example of a recently dropped tail as well as what the regenerated one looks like later.
This is even more of a reason to handle them with care. Be sure to fully support then in your hand or lap. Don’t let their tails or feet dangle, they need them for balance.
Can You Hold Babies?
We recommend leaving newborns and babies alone until they reach 2 months of age. When geckos are young, they tend to stress easily and require a small, dark hide. They will spend most of their time in their hide sleeping, and love to eat. After they’ve reached about 2 months of age, you can start to handle them, but be very careful as they will more then likely be very skittish. Any sudden movements or loud noises will scare them, so make sure that they are safe and can’t walk right out of your hand. Overtime your gecko should get used to being handled and may even look forward to it, but there are always exceptions. Some geckos never get used to handling and doing so will stress them, so take the time to get to know your geckos and their different personalities.
I Bought My Gecko As An Adult
Again, you’ll really have to watch you gecko’s personality and temperament. Sometimes when you buy a gecko as an adult they won’t get used to handling if they weren’t before. You can try to get them used to handling over time, but don’t rush them. You can also try to treat your gecko to some food items when you hold them to encourage them to come out.
Do Leopard Geckos Bite?
Leopard Geckos make great pets but as with any pet, they can bite. Babies may try to bite you when you put your hand in their enclosure, however since they’re still little, you’ll only feel a slight pinch. If they don’t let go right away, remember to not freak out and fling them across the room. They should let go quickly.
Unlike babies, when an adult bites it can be quite painful. Many times when adults bite they won’t let go right away, and may even bite you a few times. Leos DO have teeth, and they are sharp and will draw blood. It is possible for them to take a small chunk from your hand or finger and possibly cause the need for stitches. In the event of a bite, try to stay calm and remove your hand once they’ve let go. Be sure to disinfect the wound, and if it seems bad seek medical attention. It’s not common for leos to bite, but if they feel threatened they can so be sure and take your time when handling your geckos!
Wash Your Hands
There’s always the possibility that reptiles can carry Salmonella. It can come from their poo, and geckos are bound to come in contact with it. Be sure to avoid touching your mouth and eyes when handling them, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with anti bacterial soap afterwards.
Geckos are great companions! If you’ve ever thought about getting a lizard, a leopard gecko would be a great choice. Email us any questions you may have! We highly recommend educating yourself on the proper care of a gecko BEFORE you welcome your new friend into your home.
Leopard Gecko Breeding
Leopard Gecko Breeding is slowly gaining popularity among those that fancy more “interesting” pet choices. Not only are they interesting-looking, they also relatively easy to breed. After reading through this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about breeding your own Leopard Geckos.
First things first: obviously, you’ll need both your male and female geckos to be sexually mature. A good place to start as a breeder would be figuring out these two fundamental things: The sex of your lizard, and sexual maturity.
The safest time to check would be when they are at least six months old. Turn the lizard upside down and take a look at the place where the body connects to the tail. Roughly a centimeter above the tail-body connection, you’ll find a series of noticeable pores that line up in a “V” fashion. These are the pre-anal pores. One more way to determine the sex of your gecko is that the males have two pronounced bulges below the hind legs of your lizard. If the lizard does not have any of these characteristics, it would be safe to say your lizard is a female. A male will usually mate with more than one female, and a ratio of one male to three-four females is recommended.
Now on to the second part: sexual maturity. For the male gecko, ensure that they are at least eight months old. The recommended weight for the male (which is a good gauge to determine how healthy your leopard is), is at least forty five grams. For the females, it is a bit later than the males. They need to be at least a year old, and they need to be around five grams heavier– around 50 grams.
Unlike breeding dogs that requires a shooter, breeding Leopard Geckos is much easier. All the breeder needs to do is put the male and the female in the same terrarium. Do not expect results immediately, as they often need to be placed together for at least two days. The male will soon seem to be picking a fight with the female. You will notice signs of aggression and biting. If the female is not into mating, she will strike back, usually by biting him as well. I write this so as to not cause any of you to panic if you notice the male “harassing” your female gecko. All of this is part of the mating process.
If after a few days, they still have not mated, you may want to take both of them apart again, and try your luck again in a week’s time. You can also consider putting in a different female, if you have one more.
Once they do mate, expect one to two soft eggs in four weeks. It would be important to provide the female with a laying box, which you should fill with a ratio of 1:1 (weight) of water to vermiculite or sand. Make sure the laying box is the right moistness level. Too wet, and the eggs will grow mold. The opposite is not good either. Add your water slowly.
Remove the laid eggs from the laying box and transfer them to a plastic shoebox and incubate them at a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to note that the sex of your hatchlings is determined by how you incubate them. If you lower the temperature to around 80 degrees, your new Leopard Gecko babies will be female. If you up the temperature to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the babies will be male. I recommend the 85 degree temperature for incubator so that you will have a batch that is a mix of male and female leopard gecko babies. Now you know everything there is to know; happy breeding!
If you’re a fan of having an unusual pet, chances are, you’ve thought about the leopard gecko. These lizards are among the most popular of exotic pets. Due to this high demand, pet shops have begun to carry these enigmatic creatures. Before you run out and buy one, read through this article first.
Leopard geckos, scientifically known as the Eublepharis macularius, originate from the arid regions of the Middle East. What this means is, the environment where they are taken from is scores away from ours. Although we can agree that they are fascinating creatures to have in captivity, it is not good to pluck them out of the wild. This poses a threat to both the owner and the pet. Pet stores, unfortunately, are not the best places to purchase a leopard gecko. Most of the time, pet stores source their lizards (and other exotic pets) from disreputable suppliers. These suppliers often illegally obtain these geckos from the wild.
The best place to get a leopard gecko is from a reputable breeder. The main reason why buying from a breeder is your best bet, is that this ensures that the lizard you will soon own is a healthy one. This lowers the risk of you getting a sickly, displaced lizard that could live well below its life expectancy of twenty years. Breeders are usually lizard lovers (why else would they breed them, right?) which means they care about the health and welfare of the gecko you will soon own. This spells a huge difference, which you will appreciate more when you’ve made your purchase.
Now that you know where to buy your lizard, here are some pointers to help you select your lizard. The first is to do your research. Chances are, you are already on it; since you’re reading this article now. You’re on the right track! As the old adage says, “knowledge is power”. Knowing the difference between a healthy and unhealthy lizard is key.
How can you tell if a leopard gecko is healthy?
A healthy lizard is characterized by clear eyes, clear nostrils and a clear vent. Examine your lizard thoroughly. Make sure their body is complete, that the tail is intact. The tail is actually a really good place to start examining your lizard, because these geckos store their fat in their tails. A fat tail means a well-fed lizard.
Be on the lookout for lesions, abrasions, cuts or lumps in your lizard. Make sure there is no visible mucus. Watch how your lizard breathes. If there is an apparent difficulty in breathing, you might want to reconsider that particular lizard and opt for another.
Know the sex of your lizard. This is one of the easiest surefire ways to find out whether your breeder is experienced or not. If they can’t tell whether the lizard is male or female (except when it is a juvenile– a baby leopard gecko) chances are, they don’t have a clue about much else. This isn’t just a test for the breeder, by the way. Knowing the sex means everything; because different sexes have different needs (uncanny parallelism to the human kingdom, I reckon).
Don’t know where to find a breeder? Go to a reptile show. Search the web for conventions. This is an excellent venue to interact with other enthusiasts who can offer priceless advice on where to get your lizard.
Leopard Gecko Shedding
How often do Leopard Geckos Shed?
Leopard Geckos shed on average once every 2 to 3 weeks.
Leopard Geckos like somewhere safe and humid to help them shed their skin in. The usual way of doing this is to give them a “humid hide”. You can buy hides for this or else you can use a lidded plastic food container with a hole cut into the lid big enough for your leopard gecko to be able to climb out and in through. You also need to be very careful to make sure there are no sharp edges around the hole for your gecko to cut themself on. Inside the humid hide you will need to place damp sphagnum moss. This wants to be soaked to the point where it will not hold any more water. The moist hide needs placing at the cool end of your vivarium so it will not dry out quickly. Check it every few days to make sure the moss is still nice and moist.
Most leopard geckos do fine with standard house-hold room humidity – just providing them with a humid hide is enough for them to be happy. However, some leopard geckos, especially those with shedding problems, tend to like their vivariums to be a little more humid. If this is the case with your gecko then simply get hold of a small garden plant sprayer and use it to spray one wall or glass door of your vivarium briefly – just a very small amount of very fine spray, once daily. This is very similar to how most Crested Gecko owners keep their Cresties happy in their vivariums / terrariums too.
If your Leopard Gecko has problems shedding then there are things you can do to help them.
Firstly, find yourself a plastic food container with a lid. Using something fairly sharp, punch several small “air holes” into the lid of your plastic food container. Next, warm some water up to a temperature that is “just nice and warm” for you to put your hand in. Pour the warm water into your plastic food container to a depth no more than about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch (0.5-0.75 cm). You need this to be shallow enough for your gecko to be able to “stand” in it without danger of their head being in the water. It should be touching the underside of your gecko’s bell but no deeper. Now, place your gecko into the water – making sure your gecko’s head is definitely out of the water. Now place the lid on the container and leave your gecko for 5-10 minutes, keeping an eye on them for that time to make sure they don’t get distressed. You will probably see the plastic food container begin to “fog up”. This is good – it means your gecko is in a really nice humid place to help “unstick” any stuck shed. After the 5-10 minutes, open the lid and, with the help of your fingers, very carefully rub the stuck shed, soaking it with some of the warm water if that helps to un-stick it. Be very careful not to press too hard – you don’t want to hurt or damage your gecko. Be especially careful with toes – it’s far too easy to accidentally pull a bit of stuck shed just a little bit too hard and accidentally take half a toe off with it. Being gentle and patient is key.
A lot of people with leopard geckos sometimes find their gecko with an eye stuck shut. This isn’t always a shedding problem but quite often it can be. What sometimes happens is that shed from under the eye-lid gets stuck and doesn’t ever fall away. If this happens again and again and again, you end up with a gecko with many layers of dead skin stuck under their eye-lid. Eventually, this can lead to the gecko finding it hard to open their eye and also provides a nice warm place for bacteria to start trying to grow. If you suspect your gecko has stuck shed under their eye lid, talk to your vet. It is very difficult to sort unless you are very experienced with leopard geckos and have the right tools for the job.
Metabolic Bone Disease in Leopard Geckos
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is one of the most common illnesses that Leopard Gecko owners come across.
What is MBD?
Simply put, MBD starts from an improper calcium to phosphorus ratio in your Leopard Gecko. Most feed stuffs that Leopard Geckos eat contain relatively high levels of phosphorus compared to calcium. To counter this, Calcium powder is given to Leopard geckos to help them keep their calcium levels up. However, simply feeding calcium powder is not enough. A Leopard Gecko can’t metabolise / use the calcium it eats without Vitamin D3 being present in it’s body. Vitamin D3 is found in most nutritional powder additives for Leopard geckos and is essential to enabling calcium usage. Leopard geckos can “manufacture” their own Vitamin D3 by using sunlight. It’s worth noting that most Vivarium and house window glass blocks 90%+ of the ultra violet part of sunlight which enables Leopard Geckos to produce their own Vitamin D3 so, it’s extremely important to suppliment this in their diet.
What Effect Does MBD Have on a Leopard Gecko?
Visually, the signs of MBD include:
- Bent leg bones
- mis-aligned bottom jaw
- kinks in the spine
Internally, not on view, a Leopard Gecko with MBD can begin to suffer organ failure. Eventually this can cause death.
What To Do If You Think Your Leopard Gecko Has MBD
If in any doubt – take your Leopard Gecko to a good Reptile Vet. They can provide you with special high-dose calcium liquids for syringe feeding by mouth to your Leopard Gecko to try and help recover the Calcium levels to something more normal.
Leopard Gecko Genetics
Have you ever wanted to know how the genetics of Leopard Geckos work to produce all the amazing morphs we know and love today? Here we try and cover how the various genetic traits found in Leopard Geckos work.
The basic thing to understand is how morph “genes” work in Geckos.
Genes are found in chromosomes. A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes.
Chromosomes “live” in pairs. It’s the combination of each pair of genes between a pair of “living together” chromosomes which determines what morph a leopard gecko is.
Each gene “pairing”, between 2 chromosomes, behaves in a particular way – Recessive, Dominant and In-complete Dominant. There’s also a 4th term that gets used in leopard gecko genetics – either “Line Bred” or “Polygenic” – we will cover this further down the page.
Recessive Gene Pairs
Recessive gene pairs are “weak” genes. Recessive genes only cause a gecko to “show” a particular morph trait when both sides of the pair of genes are positive for that recessive trait. If we take the example of “Tremper Albino”, a very well known recessive trait:
We shall use “balls” to represent a gene in a gene pair. There are 4 possible combinations of the pair of genes.
If we use “A” to represent a gene carrying “Tremper Albino” and “N” to represent a gene NOT carrying “Tremper Albino”.
- NN – Both genes not carrying Tremper Albino
- AN – One gene (left) carrying Tremper Albino – this would be called a “Het” Tremper Albino
- NA – One gene (right) carrying Tremper Albino – this would be called a “Het” Tremper Albino
- AA – Both genes carrying Tremper Albino – this would be a Tremper Albino
Earlier, we mentioned how recessive genes are “weak” genes. They only cause a gecko to show a trait if BOTH genes in the pair are carrying the particular morph trait. So, in the above examples for Tremper Albino, only the example where both genes in the pair are carrying “A” would you see a gecko showing the “Tremper Albino” trait. Both the “het” combinations and the “not at all” combination would not cause the leopard gecko to show the “Tremper Albino” trait.
Dominant Gene Pairs
Dominant gene pairs are “strong” genes. Dominant genes cause a gecko to “show” a particular morph trait when either side or both of the pair of genes are positive for that dominant trait. Using the example of “Enigma”, a very well known dominant trait:
We shall use “balls” to represent a gene in a gene pair. There are 4 possible combinations of the pair of genes.
If we use “E” to represent a gene carrying “Enigma” and “N” to represent a gene NOT carrying “Enigma”.
- NN – Both genes not carrying Enigma
- EN – One gene (left) carrying Enigma
- NE – One gene (right) carrying Enigma
- EE – Both genes carrying Enigma
In the above examples, only the “Not at all Enigma” combination would result in a gecko that wasn’t showing as an Enigma. The other 3 combinations, carrying either one or two Enigma genes, would cause the gecko to show the Enigma trait.
In the world of Leopard Geckos, the term “het” (carrying only one copy of a gene) is usually only used for Recessive genes, not Dominant. Usually with Dominant genes, the number of copies of the gene is stated, rather than stating “het” for a one-copy type.
Incomplete-Dominant Gene Pairs
Incomplete-Dominant gene pairs are “medium-strong” genes. Incomplete-Dominant genes cause a gecko to “show” a particular morph trait when either side or both of the pair of genes are positive for that incomplete-dominant trait but, unlike a dominant gene trait, if there’s only one copy of the gene present, the effect of the gene isn’t as strong as when 2 copies are present. Using the example of “Mack Snow”, a very well known incomplete-dominant trait:
We shall use “balls” to represent a gene in a gene pair. There are 4 possible combinations of the pair of genes.
If we use “M” to represent a gene carrying “Mack Snow” and “N” to represent a gene NOT carrying “Mack Snow”.
- NN – Both genes not carrying Mack Snow
- MN – One gene (left) carrying Mack Snow
- NM – One gene (right) carrying Mack Snow
- MM – Both genes carrying Mack Snow
In the above examples, only the “Not at all Mack Snow” combination would result in a gecko that wasn’t showing as a Mack Snow or Super Snow. If the gecko carries one copy of the Mack Snow gene, it will show the Mack Snow trait. However, if it carries TWO copies of the Mack Snow gene, the effect of the genes is much stronger and causes the gecko to show the Super Snow trait.
Polygenic / Line Bred Genetics
Sometimes you will hear the term “Line Bred” or “Polygenic” used when talking about traits in Leopard geckos.
“Tangerine” is a pretty common example of a line-bred trait. As is the “blood red” you see in some Hypo geckos and Lavender. Patterning also goes under the “polygenic” category – stripe, reverse stripe, patternless-stripe, jungle, etc – all are polygenic traits.
“Polygenic” simply means “Multiple genes” / “many genes”. A Polygenic / Line Bred trait is one that occurs because of several genes carrying particular little characteristics which, when combined together, cause a gecko to display a certain trait. The reason for calling them “Line Bred” traits is that certainly quite a few of the traits can be “made stronger” by breeding 2 geckos together that both show some of the trait. For example, if you cross a good Tangerine gecko with another good tangerine gecko, you will quite likely end up with geckos that are even more Tangerine than the parents were. Repeating that again and again was what eventually produced the first blood-red hypos.
How does it work if I want to breed 2 Leopard Geckos?
So, how does all of this work when it comes to breeding 2 Leopard Geckos together? Well, for Line-Bred / Polygenic traits, that’s covered in the Polygenic / Line Bred Genetics section.
For other traits (recessive, dominant, incomplete-dominant): It’s all about the pairs of genes your two “parents” carry.
Your baby geckos will take one of each pairs of genes from each parent.
There are a variety of different types of leopard gecko morphs that we will try to go into in this article. Keep in mind that this list isn’t comprehensive – there are always new mutations and we’ll do our best to stay on top of them and add them as they become more mainstream.
- Homozygous: visually displaying a given genetic trait.
- Heterozygous: carrying the gene for a given trait, but can only be passed on through reproduction.
- Recessive: the genetic trait stays “hidden”. Such specimens are heterozygous.
- Co-dominant: the trait is passed on visibly, following the same rules of inheritance as heterozygous and homozygous.
- Polygenetic: visually appearing marks, patterns or colors. Can be improved or reduced through generations of selective breeding.
- Line Bred: a trait or traits that are continually being expressed to a higher degree by breeding related animals together.
Leopard Gecko Morphs
Albino Leopard Gecko Morphs
Since 1991 when the first designer leopard geckos hatched, there has been a huge interest to breed these lizards with new and exciting color and pattern variations. This is one of the main factors that makes these little critters so fascinating.
It’s important, no, CRITICAL to note that these three albino genes cannot be combined. By breeding animals together of different strains, there will be no expression of albinism, and the genealogy will be compromised. This is by far the most taboo subject in the world of leopard geckos.
Leopard gecko mutations include:
- High Yellow
When we refer to the albino leopard geckos, there are three different strains:
- Rainwater (Las Vegas)
All three strains of albinos are recessive traits. Meaning, if you were to breed a Tremper albino with a Rainwater or Bell albino, all of the babies would be normal looking but not albino. Recessive traits are the result of a mutation of certain genes that control a specific part of the development of the animal. These traits are usually manifested randomly, so there is nothing that can be done to increase the probability of discovering a new recessive trait. This kind of specific breeding depends on just plain luck.
In addition, it is very difficult to tell the differences between the three strains of albino leopard geckos. Sometimes, it is just an educated guess as to which strain an adult albino leopard gecko is.
Tremper Albino Morph
The most common of the three albino strains in leopard geckos is the Tremper strain. They were the first of the albino strains to be categorized. A lot of times these albino geckos are actually brown and are then marketed as the “Mocha Strain”. To make things even more confusing, they can also be bright white or pink in color.
Eye color can range from slightly lighter than a “normal” non-albino leopard gecko eye, to bright red. Furthermore, the color of the body as well as the eye color can differ in geckos that are incubated at different temperatures. Typically, a higher incubation temperature leads to a leopard gecko that is slightly darker in color.
Rainwater albinos are the next most common of the three albino strains. It is thought that sometimes they are pinker then the other strains but that is not always true.
It is the Bell strain of albino leopard geckos that is still relatively rare. They often have more high contrast, with “pink” areas that are a lot of the time much darker than other albino strains. The eye color of the Bell albino leopard geckos is the reddest of the three strains. While the red eye color of young animals often changes as the animal get older, to the normal beige color typical in the other albino strains. The Bell albino eye color has a tendency to stay red or pinkish even in adult animals.
All three strains of albinos are sensitive to bright lights, and will close their eyes tightly if exposed to them. Plus, many albinos will not feel comfortable eating during the daytime because of their sensitivity to light.
Be aware that with any mutation, especially the albinos, there is greater chance for health problems later in life.
As leopard geckos continue to gain in popularity due to their easy-to-care-for nature, the potential for different color variations and patterns will grow. It is possible that many more dominant recessives will be identified in the next few years. The breeding of mutations with mutations will accelerate the rate of variation, making these already unique animals even more fascinating.
Murphy Patternless Leopard Gecko Morphs
A unique trait whereby the gecko matures with a solid yellow/brown body without pattern. Hatchlings will have a mottled/spotted pattern. The tail will be white, and usually have orange at its base. Still erroneously referred to as “leucistic” at times. This trait is simple recessive.
Blizzard Leopard Gecko Morphs
Another patternless mutation, only the babies hatch a solid steel-gray, and remain so all the way into adulthood. Sometimes a yellow tint garnished the scales, and some specimens can get very dark. Possibly the true leucistic morph in leopard geckos. This trait is simple recessive.
Blizzard leopard geckos are one of the most recognizable morphs available and have been since their discovery in 1995. They have a pretty diverse range of colors, from albino-white to lighter shades of gray to a dark yellow shine. As they mature, they tend to become darker or lighter based on their genetics.
Their lighter color palate makes them extremely popular among breeders – the recessive trait that all of them share make the blizzard a perfect candidate to create new and stylish morphs. They may not have any discernible patterns but that doesn’t make them any less desirable, they are one of the most sought after morphs on the market.
This is a mutation of leopard gecko that hatches patternless and remains patternless. Their eyes are black to blue black. Blizzards range from mainly white to yellowish to brownish or even a purple color. And more rare are the pale blue black color. The yellow ones are called Banana Blizzards. Dark ones are being offered as Midnight Blizzards. These variations can be line bred and to some degrees also be affected by incubation and cage temperatures.
Mack Snow Leopard Gecko Morphs
Anerythrism whereby yellow and orange are nearly unable to be expressed. Co-dominant, specimens in the heterozygous form will sometimes develop considerable amounts of yellow, but usually have bolder or more speckled markings than a normal gecko. The “super” form is black and white, and very unmistakable.
Giant Leopard Gecko Morphs
Proven co-dominant by several breeders, this is a genetic mutation that affects the overall size of the gecko. Giants tend to be very variable, and can be the same size as a non-giant, normal sized gecko. Super giants, however, grow much longer than normal geckos and are fairly easy to pick out by one year of age. Some breeders believe there to be physical indicators such as elongated snouts, limbs and tail, but I’ve found that this may indeed be polygenic expressions within the gene. Some of my super giants are much more stout and stocky, while others are longer and more lanky. Further seasons of breeding will allow for more conclusive observation.
Jungle Leopard Gecko Morphs
One of the early mutations in leopard geckos, “jungle” refers to an aberrant patterning on the body and tail. Animals typically have a swirling pattern, or defined blocks of color outlined by black. Polygenetic in nature.
The jungle phase is how the first stripe leopard gecko was produced. The jungle phase is highly variable and can produce geckos that look totally different from one to another. This pattern consists of irregular, asymmetrical, dark body blotches or marbling with a non-ringed tail. A non albino jungle phase has dark spots on it’s limbs. There are also a couple sub categories of the jungle phase. One is the “four eyed” jungle and one is the “bandit” jungle morphs. These variations of the morph do happen with some frequency. The four eyed had two round white circles, mostly with a black dot in the center, and one over each of the gecko’s eyes. The bandit variation is a jungle phase leopard gecko with very distinct broad dark band running across the nose area between the nasal openings and the eyes Both the four eyed and bandit’s traits are genetic and occur within the jungle phase.
High Yellow Leopard Gecko Morphs
Animals selectively bred for reduced spotting and larger areas of yellow ground coloration were termed “high yellow”. This is likely the first “morph” in leopard geckos, originating in the early-mid 1990’s.
Stripe Leopard Gecko Morphs
Likely tied to the jungle trait, stripes are selectively bred to have a solid line of black down each side of the back and through the tail. Today there are several different designer striped variants, including the bold stripe, the red stripe, and lavender stripe.
Bold Leopard Gecko Morphs
Animals displaying thick black markings that do not fade away with age are termed “bold”. Another polygenetic trait, and the base of other traits such as the bandit.
Bandit Leopard Gecko Morphs
The designer jungles, stripes and bolds all resulted in a very meticulously crafted gecko with distinct, sparse and bold head markings. A bandit should have a strip of thick black across its nose, in front of the eyes, giving it the appearance of having a “mask”.
Halloween Mask Leopard Gecko Morphs
This is another designer morph that originated in the late 90’s. Similar to the bandit, animals have thick black marking on their head which may express a pattern or “mask”.
APTOR Leopard Gecko Morphs
One of the ground breaking morphs in leopard geckos, the APTOR was created through a dedicated approach to line breeding, whereby the combination of several polygenic and recessive traits all come together to display a nearly patternless, highly colored animal. Lacking any true “patternless” gene, this is a man-made animal, using striped and reverse striped specimens to create an unstriped result. The Eclipse gene was discovered during the creation of this morph. Exceptional specimens should have thick orange head markings, a patternless body, and a high degree of carrot-tail.
Eclipse Leopard Gecko Morphs
The eclipse gene may be one of the most fascinating amongst leopard geckos. Seemingly tied somehow to the combination of reverse stripe and striped genes, the eyes will have some degree of black filling, sometimes in total. Specimens with trace amounts of black or partial filling are referred to as “snake eyed”. Determined simple recessive, the gene has been bred into all three albino lines, as well as most any other morph.
RAPTOR Leopard Gecko Morphs
Adding and “R” to APTOR signifies the eclipse form of the morph. Simply an APTOR with eclipse eye pigmentation. Since it’s albino, the eyes will be red instead of black, but may be hard to see as such without good lighting.
Diablo Blanco Leopard Gecko Morphs
Crossing the RAPTOR with the blizzard gene results in the “Diablo Blanco”. A solid white gecko with red eyes. At its simplest, it’s an eclipse blazing blizzard.
RADAR Leopard Gecko
The Bell albino version of the RAPTOR. An eclipse Bell albino.
Typhoon Leopard Gecko
The Las Vegas albino version of the RAPTOR. An eclipse Las Vegas albino.
Carrot-tail Leopard Gecko
Probably the most popular of all of the leopard gecko morphs was the super hypo tangerine carrot-tail. Selectively breeding for increased orange coloration over the span of fifteen plus years has resulted in some truly colorful, nearly solid orange geckos. There are several well known “lines” of tangerine, including the “Torrid Tangerine”, “Tangerine Tornado”, “Electric”, “Firefox” and “Gecko Genetics”. These are all believed to be polygenetic. Hypomelanism refers to the lack of black pigmentation over much of the gecko’s body.
When it was first introduced to the pet market in the late 1970s, very little information was known about the carrot tail leopard gecko. They were first caught in the wild and then shipped to the United States to be sold as pets. In reality, wild leopard geckos can be categorized into species and subspecies. Since this information was not well known then, the geckos imported for the pet trade were bred together without that much concern about their difference in specie. This has resulted to many genetic variations in leopard geckos that the we see today.
In the leopard gecko world, there are what are referred to as morphs. These are leopard geckos that differ in size, color, and/or genetics vis-à-vis the “normal” ones. Genetics is the reason for these variations in colors and patterns and these genetic traits will be passed to the next generations of leopard geckos through selective breeding.
Many of these morphs started as a mistake or fault in genetics that’s why they look different from the common leopard geckos. These geckos stand out and are easily picked off by their predators in the wild. Nowadays, there are many morph varieties that are commercially available. This includes dominant morphs like Enigma and recessive morphs like Blizzards and the Murphy Patternless. There are also others like polygenetic morphs like S.H.T.C.T., complete dominant ones like Macksnow, combo morphs like R.A.P.T.O.Rs, and co dominants like the Giants.
What has been appearing in various morphs is the carrot tail trait. This trait is mostly seen in the R.A.P.T.O.Rs and in Albey’s Tangerine line. It can also be commonly seen in the Hypo and Tangerine morphs, the leopard gecko albino strains, Murphy Patternless and a little in Blizzards.
Leopard geckos with more than the average amount of orange color in their tail are those that are called carrot tail leopard geckos. While there are those that have up to 90 percent of their tail covered with this orange pigment, it is typically located at the base of the tail in other leopard geckos. A leopard gecko must have a minimum of 15 percent to 25 percent of its tail to be in orange for it to be classified as a carrot tail leopard gecko. This extent of orange coloring in their tails varies from just a small band to, in most extreme cases, a solid orange tail.
This trait of being a carrot tail is line bred. If you breed two carrot tail leopard geckos, their offspring are most likely to have carrot tails also. If you want to improve this carroting in the next generation of your carrot tail leopard geckos, you should breed together the ones that have the most carroting.
The carrot head is also another trait that is line bred. A carrot head is one that has orangey spots on its head. This trait is usually exclusive to Tremper albinos, though.
Anybody can breed carrot tail leopard geckos just as long as the requisites of time, space, and resources needed to take care of the breeders and their offspring must be provided. Be prepared to house and take care of them when they don’t sell right away. Though breeding leopard geckos may have its rewards, breeding them is replete with repsonsibilities.
Tangerine Leopard Gecko Morphs
Many leopard geckos display orange coloration nowadays, which is mostly believed to be polygenetic in nature. However, there is a school of thought that there could be more than one tangerine genetic at play, specifically derived from selectively breeding the Tremper albino morph to express more orange. This particular tangerine, referred to as “tangelo”, may in fact be recessive. Test breeding over the next few years should illuminate the true nature of this trait.
“Other” snow morphs
There are three other occurrences of the faded, “snow” type traits in the hobby. The TUG snow, the GEM snow, and “line bred” snows. None are considered to be the same as Mack Snow, but TUG and GEM have been proven allelic in that they can produce super snow variants if bred to a Mack Snow specimen.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do you determine a leopard gecko’s gender?
On the left is an adult male leopard gecko and as you can see that the bulge behind the vent is quite noticeable. That is where the hemipenes are located. You can also readily see the row of femoral pores shaped like a “V” in front of the vent. On the right is a leopard gecko and as you can see, she has neither the bulge nor a noticeable row of pores. There is a row there, but it is really not that noticeable but you will have to wait till the Gecko is old enough, over 6 months at least to really be sure. Be careful though, juvenile male Leopard Geckos look very much like females.
What is a leopard geckos lifespan?
The average lifespan of a leopard gecko is around 20 years, though in some cases it can be significantly longer or shorter than that. For instance, breeding females only live for 7-9 years while the oldest known male leopard gecko was 32 years old!
How big do leopard geckos get?
Their size varies but is generally somewhere between its two closest relatives, typically 7 to 8 inches for females and 8 to 10 inches in adult males, with a weight of over 160 grams. Hatchlings and babies are born around 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10cm) long. After hatching they tend to grow another 3 to 4 inches depending on their diet and health. Giant and even longer Super Giant Leopard Geckos (a specific morph in Leopard Geckos) can reach about 12 inches (30cm) in length. The current world record for the longest and heaviest is held by Godzilla – a Super Giant Tremper Albino. He measured 11 and 5/8 inches (29.5cm) long and weighed in at 170grams!