Welcome to The Leopard Gecko Blog’s complete care guide for all aspects of leopard gecko husbandry. The aim of this care guide is to provide speculating owners with key information they may need to know, a new owner with facts , and even experienced owners seeking suggestions on how husbandry could be improved to better the welfare of their animals.
PART 1: BIOLOGICAL BACKGROUND
As with any species, a solid understanding the leopard gecko’s natural history, evolution, and life in the wild will vastly benefit keepers who strive to deepen their understanding of more complicated husbandry aspects.
Kingdom: Animalia (animal life)
Phylum: Chordata (chordates)
Subphylum: Vertebrata (vertebrates: animals with a backbone)
Class: Reptilia (reptiles: non-mammalian or avian amniotes)
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles: snakes, lizards, and relatives)
Family: Gekkonidae (geckos)
Genus: Eublepharis (geckos with eyelids)
Species: E. macularius (common leopard gecko)
✎ THE GECKO’S NOTES:
- The binomial name Eublepharis macularius loosely translates to “true eyelids” and “spotted”, respectively.
- There are over 5 subspecies of leopard geckos, but individuals found in the hobby under the common name are likely a muddled mix of several.
- Within the hobby, there are in fact many distinct “pure” species in the Eublepharis genus beyond E. macularius. Examples include E. angramainyu and E. fuscus. As one may expect, these species are far less widespread and are usually only available from specialized breeders, much unlike E. macularius, which can be found at virtually any reptile store.
Leopard geckos are native to the arid and semi-arid shrubland, grassland, and forest regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq, as well as some parts of Nepal and India.
The above images showcase the beautiful Pakistani terrain on which wild leopard geckos are found in abundance.
✎ THE GECKO’S NOTES:
- Like all reptiles, leopard geckos are NOT domesticated animals. Domestication is “the permanent genetic modification of a bred lineage that leads to an inherited predisposition toward humans” (Driscoll et al.), and by this definition, leopard geckos cannot be considered domesticated.
- Rather, leopard geckos may be considered “tame” – the extent to which an animal is willing to accept the presence of humans (Price). Many leopard geckos grow to tolerate regular human interactions such as feeding and handling without exhibiting stress behaviors. To that degree, leopard geckos remain wild and undomesticated animals “at heart”, but are regardless not difficult to tame or adjust to captive environments, especially through several generations.
PART 2: ENCLOSURE SETUP AND HUSBANDRY
An enclosure, also known as a terrarium, setup, or tank, is the environment in which a captive animal lives. Ideally, an enclosure accommodates for the exhibition of natural behaviors and physiological choice, as well as promotes a space in which the animal can be free from stress, discomfort, and harm.
Convoluted as this matter may be in mainstream reptile keeping, the physical amount of space provided by an enclosure is a critical aspect in ensuring the welfare of a captive leopard gecko.
For an adult leopard gecko, an enclosure with a floorspace no smaller than 36″ x 18″ (90cm x 45 cm) should be used. A great starting point would be a 40 gallon “breeder” tank, which measures 36″ L x 18″ W x 18″ H (90cm L x 45cm W x 45cm H).
Smaller enclosures are not recommended, especially for adults. 40 gallons are the recommended minimum size for a couple of reasons:
- They are big enough to allow an appropriate heat, UVI, and humidity gradient. This allows the animal to choose exactly which conditions they desire within the enclosure.
- They are cheap, widespread, and common. A 40 gallon “breeder” tank is a very standard size that can easily be found in most aquarium and pet shops.
- They aren’t so big that they discourage people from owning leopard geckos or improving their husbandry. In an ideal world, every owner would be striving to achieve perfect husbandry and provide a massive enclosure. Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s already very difficult to convince the reptile community at large to use a 40 gallon tank, due to myths about leopard geckos that have circulated from the very beginning. A 40 gallon tank is not an unreasonable size, and in general, it’s an achievable goal for many keepers.
✎ THE GECKO’S NOTES:
All that having been said, the bigger the enclosure is, the better! Leopard geckos have virtually no limitations on space in the wild, and a “super-sized” enclosure such as a 4′ x 2′ x 2′ reveals a whole plethora of exciting capabilities — such as multiple basking spots, enhanced climbing opportunities, and more — to the keeper looking to “go the extra mile” in their husbandry.
Heating, lighting, and humidity
Article Title: Leopard Gecko Care Guide
Author: Gavin Long
Website Name: The Leopard Gecko Blog
Page URL: https://www.theleopardgecko.com/care
Last Updated: January 30, 2022
Original Publish Date: February 21, 2021
- Kahn, Muhammad Sharif. (2009). Natural history and biology of hobbyist choice leopard gecko Eublepharis macularius. Accessed 30 January 2022.
- Driscoll, C. A.; MacDonald, D. W.; O’Brien, S. J. (2009). “From wild animals to domestic pets, an evolutionary view of domestication”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Accessed 30 January 2022.
- Price, Edward O. (2008). Principles and Applications of Domestic Animal Behavior: An Introductory Text. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781780640556. Accessed 30 January 2022.