Why Do Leopard Geckos Have Spots?

One of the first things people tend to notice about leopard geckos is how many are covered head to tail with spots. In fact, that’s how they got their name — having a similar pattern to that of a leopard!

Leopard geckos are covered with black spots to absorb heat. (Flashback to science class: darker colors absorb heat, while lighter colors reflect it).

They are, of course, native to the sunny arid regions of the Middle East. Spots help them receive energy from the sun very efficiently. 

There have also been observations of leopard geckos camouflaging with their unique skins among the rocky terrain. This is partially due to their spots, but their natural brownish/yellowish color also plays a large role in such occurrences as well.

Most leopard geckos are covered from head to tail in spots. Image: Wikimedia

That said, many of the fancy morphs available on the market lack these spots due to selective breeding. Such morphs cannot absorb heat as efficiently (with the obvious exceptions of black nights and the like) as their standard counterparts. They are not particularly good at camouflaging, either! However, those are captive individuals and even standard albino variants are relatively rare in the wild.

Can leopard gecko spots change?

Yes! In many morphs, leopard geckos will appear to gain or lose spots as they grow and shed. Something different happens for all geckos — mine personally went from having almost no spots at all to being completely covered in them.


Thank you for reading… stay tuned for more leopard gecko posts!

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