Your Top Leopard Gecko Questions, Answered.
Leopard Geckos are one of the most popular reptile pets in the world, mainly for their friendly nature and unique appearance. However, many new owners may have questions about the proper care, enclosure size, diets and more. In this article, we'll explore some of the most commonly asked questions about Leopard Geckos, including whether or not they need UVB lighting, how often they shed, and much more. Whether you're a seasoned owner or just starting out, this guide will provide you with great information to incorporate into your Leopard Gecko care routine. Check out our full Leopard Gecko Care Sheet for more in-depth information on some of the topics that will be covered in this article.
How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live?
In the wild, Leopard Geckos have a lifespan of 6-8 years. However, Leopard Geckos can live for 10-20+ years in captivity with proper care, with some exceeding 20 years! Their long lifespan should be considered when debating whether or not to bring a Leopard Gecko into your family.
What Do Leopard Geckos Eat?
Leopard Geckos are insectivores, meaning their diet consists primarily of live insect prey. These animals are opportunistic feeders and will readily consume live vertebrates and invertebrates when given the chance. In captivity, it is best to feed them a variety of gut-loaded, calcium dusted invertebrates.
If you’d like to learn more about Leopard Gecko diet, check out our complete Leopard Gecko food guide here.
Can Leopard Geckos Eat Fruit?
Leopard Geckos are insectivores, and their bodies are not designed to digest fruit or vegetables. Even if your Leopard Gecko is an adventurous eater, it is best to not offer these food items since they are not designed to properly digest them and it can be harmful. Instead, try feeding a variety of vegetables and healthy food to your Leopard Gecko’s insects - this process is called gut loading. Gut loading can offer the benefit of consuming fruits, vegetables, and other non-insect material in a digestible way. By feeding your Leopard Gecko’s insects healthy foods 24-48 hours before offering them to your gecko, your Leopard Gecko will get the benefit of the nutritious foods that are fed to the insects.
How Big Do Leopard Geckos Get?
An adult Leopard Gecko will reach between 7-11 inches and weigh between 50-80 grams, with males growing larger than females on average. The max size of your Leopard Gecko will depend on the genetic background of your pet. Some morphs and lines of Leopard Geckos will reach larger sizes than others.
Are Leopard Geckos Nocturnal?
Leopard Geckos are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. During this time, they typically emerge to hunt and explore. Do not be alarmed if you do not see your Leopard Gecko out and about often during the daytime; it is normal for them to be curled out of sight sleeping. It is best to avoid excessive handling during the day to minimize stress to your Leopard Gecko. If you must disturb your gecko during the day, it is best to gently wake them so they are given the chance to notice you before you remove them from their enclosure, so they are not excessively startled.
Do Leopard Geckos need UVB?
Since Leopard Geckos are generally asleep during the day, they do not require UVB. However, UVB can be beneficial to all living animals and we would recommend offering a low wattage UVB light for your Leopard Gecko. The Arcadia ShadeDweller, ZooMed 5.0 linear, or Arcadia 6% are all great options for a Leopard Gecko. Your gecko may not come out to bask, but may still participate in a process known as cryptic basking, where they will expose a small part of their body to the light in order to absorb the benefit of the UV rays.
To learn more about Leopard Gecko lighting and UVB, check out our Complete Leopard Gecko Lighting Guide here.
How Often Do Leopard Geckos Shed?
Young Leopard Geckos may shed every 1-2 weeks, while adult Leopard Geckos will shed every 4-8 weeks. Do not be alarmed if you do not notice your Leopard Gecko shedding. Leopard Geckos eat the shed from their bodies, and since they are nocturnal, they may complete the entire shedding process overnight without you realizing. It is important to offer a moist hide to your Leopard Gecko where they can retreat during the shedding process. A moist hide should contain moistened substrate and maintain a higher humidity than the rest of the enclosure.
Keep a close eye on your Leopard Geckos’ toes to ensure no shed is left behind. Stuck toe shed can cause restriction of blood flow to the toes and can eventually lead to necrosis and the affected toes falling off. To assist a Leopard Gecko in removing stuck toe shed, put your gecko in a small container of moist paper towel or a very shallow pool of water for 15-20 minutes. Once the shed has loosened, use a moist cotton swab to work the shed off of the toes.
What Size Reptile Enclosure For A Leopard Gecko?
The minimum enclosure size for a Leopard Gecko is 36” x 18” x 18”. Of course, larger is always encouraged as this species loves to explore and will often utilize all of the space they are offered!
We recommend the Zen Habitats 48"x24"x16" PVC panel enclosure for a spacious home for your Leopard Gecko!
Where Can I Buy A Leopard Gecko?
Leopard Geckos are a popular pet reptile and are readily available at pet stores, expos, rescues, and online!
We recommend going to a responsible breeder or rescue to get a Leopard Gecko. Reptile expos can be a great place to talk to Leopard Gecko breeders and ask questions. A good breeder will be happy to answer all of your questions and offer advice and support when purchasing a Leopard Gecko. You may be tempted to purchase a Leopard Gecko from a chain pet store, and while this is very tempting, it should be noted that pets from chain pet stores come with the increased risk of disease and injury due to being sourced from large reptile breeding mills. Cryptosporidium (also known as stick tail disease) is an oftentimes fatal illness that is known for occurring most frequently at crowded reptile breeding facilities that supply many chain pet stores. To be safe, it is best to avoid the risk and instead go to a responsible breeder, small local pet shop, rescue, or reptile expo where you can ask questions about the animal you are interested in and decide if they are a good fit for you.
There are many Leopard Geckos waiting for homes in rescues as well. Checking with your local reptile rescue or online can lead you to many Leopard Geckos waiting for homes or owners looking to rehome their Leopard Gecko.
Do Leopard Geckos Like To Be Held?
Leopard Geckos, like most reptiles, do not possess the ability to love or show the affection that us humans may be used to. However, many Leopard Geckos are very tolerant of handling and can learn to enjoy coming out of their enclosure! Though they may not want to snuggle with you or want to be taken everywhere you go, Leopard Geckos are interactive pets that seem to enjoy interacting with their owners and engaging in enrichment activities.
To learn more about offering your reptile enrichment, check out our reptile enrichment article!
Can I Keep Leopard Geckos Together?
Leopard Geckos are naturally solitary creatures and can oftentimes be quite territorial as well! While female pairs can sometimes be cohabited together, they can also injure or kill each other if they become territorial. Males and females kept together run the risk of breeding, which can result in babies that will need individual enclosures, lighting, feeders, and eventual homes! Female Leopard Geckos can experience numerous breeding related health issues, such as egg binding, which can be fatal if not caught quickly, or at the very least can be an expensive vet visit! For this reason, we do not recommend keeping Leopard Geckos together. Keeping them together is not worth the risk, or the stress that it could bring to your animals. If you are looking to breed your Leopard Geckos, it is best to consult a reputable Leopard Gecko breeder for guidance.
If you have Leopard Geckos that you are looking to separate, Zen Habitats Leopard Gecko enclosures are able to be stacked on top of each other to maximize vertical space. Check out our Design Your Dream Setup tool to create your beautiful Leopard Gecko stack! Your geckos can enjoy a solitary, Zen life - and they’ll thank you for it!
What Do I Do If My Leopard Gecko Dropped Its Tail?
Leopard Geckos can drop their tails when they are startled or feeling threatened. This process is known as “caudal anatomy”. While this may look alarming to us, this process is part of the Leopard Gecko’s natural defense system and is not a reason to panic. The Leopard Gecko’s tail will continue to thrash and twitch for several minutes due to the nerves in the tail activating. In the wild, this would serve as a distraction for a predator and give the Leopard Gecko some extra time to escape.
If your Leopard Gecko drops their tail, it is best to give your gecko some space and allow them to calm down. If they are out of their enclosure, return them to their enclosure or if they are in their enclosure, remove yourself and whatever startled your gecko and give them time to relax. Although there may be a bit of blood initially, the tail is designed to close off quickly to avoid excessive blood loss and any bleeding should be minimal. You do not need to apply any creams, ointments, or medication to your Leopard Geckos' dropped tail. In fact, applying any creams without the instruction of an exotic veterinarian can even prolong the healing process, or even harm your Leopard Gecko.
Remember - this is a natural process that the Leopard Gecko goes through all of the time in the wild. They are designed to lose (and regrow) their tails! If you are concerned about infection, you can always put your Leopard Gecko into a temporary sterile quarantine setup for a few days while the injury heals over, but this is often not necessary since the wound typically closes itself off within mere seconds of the tail dropping.
How Long Does It Take A Leopard Gecko To Regrow Their Tail?
Leopard Geckos are able to begin regrowing their tails within 30 days after dropping them! Though their tail may not look the exact same as their original tail, it will still serve the same purpose of storing excess fat and can also be dropped again if necessary. The regrowth process typically takes 2 - 2.5 months.
How Many Times Can A Leopard Gecko Regrow Their Tail?
There is no set number of times that a Leopard Gecko can drop and grow their tail. Some geckos may drop and regrow their tail 2+ times in their lifetime. It is more common for younger Leopard Geckos to drop their tail, and it is believed that Leopard Geckos lose their ability to regrow their tail once they reach old age.
Are Leopard Geckos Poisonous?
Although nature typically gives the brightest, most dangerous looking colors to venomous and poisonous reptiles - the Leopard Gecko is neither poisonous nor venomous. This means they are completely harmless to you, your family, and any pets that may accidentally run into your Leopard Gecko.
Even though Leopard Geckos are not harmful to other pets, you should avoid allowing interaction between dogs, cats, and reptiles. The bacteria found in the saliva and on the claws of household pets can easily kill a reptile - so interspecies interaction should be avoided completely.
If you have a curious cat, or a determined dog that is wanting to become friends with your Leopard Gecko, we recommend our Zen Habitats enclosure for secure, pet proof enclosures to keep your animals safe! One of the leading causes of pet reptile injury is due to pets breaking through enclosure screens and harming reptile inhabitants.
Our Zen Habitats screens can easily hold the chonkiest of cats, and even a large breed dog! Check out our Zen Habitats test video to see our enclosure put to the test, including our screen holding over 100lbs of weight! Check it out here: We Put Zen Habitats Products TO THE TEST! | Testing The Zen Habitats Reptile Enclosure and MORE!
Can Leopard Geckos Be Kept On Loose Substrate Safely?
Leopard Geckos can be kept on loose substrate safely provided they are being given proper husbandry. With correct care, Leopard Geckos can easily pass small amounts of ingested substrate without issue.
Substrates like calcium sand and crushed walnut shell should be avoided due to their inability to easily pass through the digestive system. Reptile carpet should also be avoided, since it cannot be cleaned easily and can harbor harmful bacteria and also snag Leopard Gecko nails and toes, leading to injury.
To learn more about proper Leopard Gecko substrate, check out our complete Leopard Gecko substrate guide here.