On this page, you'll find everything you need to know about caring for your new leopard gecko. To keep your pet healthy and happy, it's important to make sure their set-up mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible.
Watch our video on how to care for your leopard gecko below.
All about leopard geckos
A leopard gecko can grow to around 15 to 25 centimetres and live for 10 to 20 years in captivity, so owning one is a big commitment. They prefer to live alone but can become used to being handled if done so carefully.
A healthy gecko has clear, bright eyes and a thick tail. Its belly should only touch the floor when resting.
Read more about handling geckos and monitoring their health in our leopard gecko care sheet.
Setting up a vivarium for your leopard gecko
Your leopard gecko will quickly outgrow a reptile starter kit, so when you're buying new equipment it's better to get a large enclosure from the start.
There are a few essential things your leopard gecko vivarium will need:
- An adult gecko needs a tank at least 60cm long, 40cm high and 30cm deep.
- To ensure bacteria doesn't build up, the tank needs to be easy to clean and well ventilated.
Temperature, heat lamps, UV lights and humidity
Leopard geckos use their environment to regulate their body temperature. That's why it's important to provide a 'thermogradient', with a heat lamp at one end and a cooler area at the other. Use thermostats to regulate the temperatures. You'll also need to remember:
- Basking area: this should remain between 28 and 30 °C during the day, and the cool end 24 to 26 °C.
- At night: turn off the heat lamp, but use a heat mat or ceramic heat lamp to ensure the temperature doesn't dip below 18 °C.
- Dry environment: leopard geckos need a relatively dry environment. Measure the humidity at the cool end of the tank with a hygrometer - it should be between 30 and 40%.
- Ultraviolet light: your gecko will need low levels of ultraviolet light. A twoto five% UVB bulb will provide this, allowing them to make vitamin D inside their body - an essential mineral that allows your gecko to store and use calcium.
Hiding places and flooring
To mimic your leopard gecko's natural environment, you'll need to provide hiding places and low, sturdy branches or rocks for climbing.
The floor covering, known as the substrate, also needs to be natural to minimise the risk of impaction - a potentially fatal issue where particles become lodged inside your gecko's belly and cause a blockage. Never use 'caci-sand' or beech wood chips, as your leopard gecko can't safely eat these.
What do leopard geckos eat, and when?
Leopard geckos eat a diet of live insects, which can include crickets, 'calci worms', waxworms and small locusts (no bigger than the size of your gecko's head). You'll also need to provide fresh vegetables and clean water to keep these insects hydrated.
You should feed young geckos every day and adults every other day. You'll need to top up your gecko's nutrients with supplements, too. Ask your vet for advice on the best ones to give your pet.
Leopard geckos are small relatively easy to care for reptiles. They can reach an adult size of 5-10 inches, and can live 10-15 years with good health care, a clean environment, and proper feeding.Is a leopard gecko easy to take care of? ›
Leopard geckos are small relatively easy to care for reptiles. They can reach an adult size of 5-10 inches, and can live 10-15 years with good health care, a clean environment, and proper feeding.What are the care requirements for a leopard gecko? ›
Dry environment: leopard geckos need a relatively dry environment. Measure the humidity at the cool end of the tank with a hygrometer - it should be between 30 and 40%. Ultraviolet light: your gecko will need low levels of ultraviolet light.How often should you take your leopard gecko out of its cage? ›
They are the few types of reptiles who like to be handled, but make sure to give it time before you can handle it, as it may be stressed out. Only bring it out of its terrarium 10 - 20 minutes at a time, as it may get cold (you can check by feeling its belly).Is it OK to put a leopard gecko in water? ›
Offer fresh water daily in a water dish large enough for the lizard to soak its entire body in. Additional soaks in shallow warm water for 15-20 minutes 2-3 times a week are helpful, especially during a shed. If he will not go into the water on his own, place him in a shallow container 2-3 times a weak to force soak.Can I leave my leopard gecko alone for 2 days? ›
As a general rule, most geckos can survive without any intervention for one or two days. If you plan to be away for a weekend, it's probably safe to leave your gecko alone, though it's always a good idea to have someone available in case there's a household emergency such as a power outage that will impact the geckos.Do leopard geckos need baths? ›
Leopard geckos generally do not need to be bathed and can keep themselves relatively clean if kept in a tidy habitat. However, your gecko may need to be washed if it is having a hard time shedding its skin, develops a skin condition, or becomes noticeably dirty.When should I start holding my leopard gecko? ›
Once you've brought your gecko home, it's tempting to start playing with him or her right away. But wait 2 weeks after buying before beginning handling — your gecko needs time to settle into their new home, and handling on top of that can cause additional stress.Do leopard geckos need fruit? ›
Some research has revealed that Leopard Gecko's can eat fruit and vegetables, however, as they cannot digest it, it's unlikely that it'll do them any good.Do leopard geckos need light or just heat? ›
For instance, leopard geckos don't need a heat lamp but they do need a heat source of some kind so they will appreciate a heat lamp if nothing else is used to give them a temperature gradient. Some geckos, like day geckos, will prefer a heat lamp over a heat mat or heating pad.
- Enjoys exploring his enclosure.
- Moves around effortlessly.
- Reacts when you touch him.
- Approaches the front of his enclosure when you approach with food.
- Flicks his tongue around (to taste his environment)
- They enjoy relaxing in the warm spot of their enclosure.
Leopard Geckos should have 14 hours of daylight during the summer months and reduced to 12 hours during the cooler winter months. Although Leopard Geckos are most active in hours of mostly darkness, many have been observed emerging for short periods during the day to bask - especially in the hours of dawn and dusk.Should I mist my leopard gecko? ›
When maintaining your Leopard Gecko, a light mist daily is recommended to provide hydration opportunities as well as light humidity spikes. Dew drops are readily drank by this species and will appreciate a light misting daily.How long can a gecko have its lamp off for? ›
Leopard geckos will be able to reach the top of their enclosure without decorations to climb on so the basking lamp must be surrounded by a guard. The basking lamp is left on for 10-12 hours per day. At night, all of the lights should go off and the enclosure should be completely dark.How long can a leopard gecko go without crickets? ›
Many adult leopard geckos can go without food for ten days to two weeks because of the fat storage in their tails. It is completely normal for leopard geckos to go without eating for long periods. Unlike mammals, reptiles do not require food every day to survive, particularly during the winter.How long does a pet leopard gecko live? ›
Leopard geckos can live 10-20 years in captivity with good healthcare, proper environment, and a healthy diet.How painful is a leopard gecko bite? ›
So, do Leopard Gecko bites hurt? No, generally the bites of a Leopard Gecko don't hurt. While the bites of baby Leopard Geckos don't hurt at all, the bites of adult Leopard Geckos are nothing to be worried about as they don't have big teeth.Is a 10 gallon tank good for a leopard gecko? ›
Can I keep a gecko in a 10 gallon tank? In short, yes some species of gecko can thrive in a sufficiently equipped 10-gallon tank. Some smaller species of gecko can even be kept in enclosures smaller than 10 gallons. A 10 gallon tank would be considered a healthy minimize size for an adult leopard gecko, for instance.Do leopard geckos need to be warm at night? ›
At night, leopard geckos can tolerate a drop in temperature down to 60°F (16°C). Studies show that a nightly drop in temperature is healthier than maintaining the same temperatures as during the day, and is greatly beneficial for a reptile's long-term health.Do leopard geckos recognize their owners? ›
While they do have good eyesight, Leopard Geckos will recognize their owners mainly by their scent.
Feeding leopard geckos dead crickets is not recommended for several reasons. Dead crickets have little to no moisture or nutritional value. Besides that, dead crickets attract parasites and bacteria that can harm your gecko's health.Can leopard geckos eat anything other than bugs? ›
Leopard geckos are insectivores, meaning they only eat bugs. Their bodies aren't even designed to digest fruits, vegetables, or any other kind of meat. Just insects.Do leopard geckos need plants in their tank? ›
Do Leopard Geckos Need Plants In Their Tank? Leos do not require any plants in their tanks, living or fake.How many mealworms should I feed my leopard gecko? ›
Baby Leopard Geckos should be fed 5-7 small crickets or mealworms every day until they reach about 4 inches. Larger food should be offered every other day until they become full grown in about 10-12 months. Adults can be fed 6-7 large crickets or mealworms 2 to 3 times a week.What size tank does a leopard gecko need? ›
For these reasons, ReptiFiles recommends that adult leopard geckos be housed in no smaller than a 36″ x 18″ x 18″ enclosure with at least 4.5 sq ft of floor space. Floor space is the most important consideration here, as leos are terrestrial (ground-dwelling) lizards.Do leopard geckos prefer hot or cold? ›
Ideal temperatures Leopard Geckos range from 75-80°F on the cool side and 80-85°F on the warm side. Provide a 90-95°F basking area on the warm side.Do leopard geckos like to be left alone? ›
Do geckos prefer to be alone? You may be worried that your gecko gets bored or lonely alone, but they're perfectly happy lounging around their cage. Since they are cold-blooded animals, they are naturally inactive, and are adapted to sit still in warm spaces.Can you feed a leopard gecko just mealworms? ›
Crickets are a viable option for many people, but for those who do not want to deal with the smell, noise, and other disadvantages of crickets, a mealworm-exclusive diet may be the way to go! As a quick fact, the majority of leopard geckos who hold longevity records have been fed nothing but mealworms!How much attention do leopard geckos need? ›
These colorful creatures are small, have minimal care requirements, and can be left alone for several days if necessary. They are also quiet, don't smell, and don't need a lot of attention.How do you gain a leopard gecko trust? ›
Put your Hand in the Cage
Our southeast Michigan reptile owners have had some success with being patient, putting their hand on the other side of the terrarium, and letting the gecko come inspect you on their own time. Do not rush or force this as that would be counterproductive to building a trusting relationship!
Geckos only need heat at night, but during the day they need both lighting and heat. This can be achieved with a mix-and-match combination of several different lighting and heat lamp combinations.Do leopard geckos need darkness at night? ›
Their activity often extends into the night, true, but it is not when it begins. What is this? Their sensitivity to the time of day means that to maintain a healthy internal clock, leopard geckos require a balanced day (light) and night (darkness) intervals.Do you have to wash your hands after holding a leopard gecko? ›
Be careful as reptiles can carry Salmonella. Wash your hands before and after handling the gecko or its equipment to reduce the spread of infection between you and the lizard and other animals.Why do you have to wash your hands after touching a leopard gecko? ›
Reptiles and amphibians may carry Salmonella on their bodies, even when they appear healthy and look clean. Anything they touch can be contaminated. The germs can get on cages, aquariums, terrariums and the water reptiles and amphibians live or swim in. People become infected with Salmonella by hand to mouth contact.How hot is too hot for a leopard gecko? ›
The ideal daytime temperatures for leopard geckos are 75° to 85°F (24-29 °C), with up to up to 90°F (32 °C) under the heat lamp. The nighttime temperatures should never drop below 65°F (18°C). The ideal humidity is between 30-40%. What is this?What makes a leopard gecko happy? ›
HOW TO KEEP YOUR LEOPARD GECKO HEALTHY, HAPPY AND SAFE! mist the hide box substrate daily. provide low level UVB light. As a nocturnal animal, leopard geckos may be adapted to low light intensity, and thus may require lower levels of supplemental UVB light in captivity than many other reptiles.How do I know if my gecko likes me? ›
Unlike other pets, reptiles do not expressly show affection. Leopard geckos have subtle body and behavior cues that show that they trust you and you have formed a bond with them. What is this? A sign that your leopard gecko likes you is when it automatically goes on your hand when you reach out to it.What do leopard geckos like to sleep in? ›
Leopard geckos like to hide when they sleep, whether under tree bark, crevices in rocks, piles of leaves, or wherever they feel protected from predators. So, no matter whether your pet leopard gecko wants to take a nocturnal sleep or nap during the day, ensure it has a snug, safe place undercover to hide away.How often do you feed a leopard gecko? ›
You should feed young geckos every day and adults every other day. You'll need to top up your gecko's nutrients with supplements, too. Ask your vet for advice on the best ones to give your pet.Will leopard geckos lay eggs without a male? ›
Similar to birds, female geckos are able to produce eggs even without a male. However, the eggs they produce are unfertilised. This means the genetic information which would normally come from a male is not present, so a baby cannot develop inside the egg.
Multiple females can be kept together with a male, but multiple males should not be kept together, even with several females, since they will fight over territory.What is the easiest gecko to take care of? ›
Leopard Gecko. Let's begin our adventure with one of the easiest geckos to keep. The leopard gecko (E. macularius) is the gecko gold standard in herpetoculture, with a long list of reasons why it is an ideal beginner gecko.What is the easiest gecko to care for? ›
1. Leopard Geckos. Leopard geckos are easy to care for, making making them one of the best pet lizards for beginners and children over the age of 8. With an average length of 9 inches, leopard geckos are easy to handle and have a gentle disposition.What is the easiest pet lizard to take care of? ›
1. Leopard Gecko. A leopard gecko is a hardy and peaceful pet that is ideal for beginners. These spotted geckos are quiet and easy to care for, making them ideal household pets.Are leopard geckos good house pets? ›
They're a family pet.
Due to their docile, placid nature, Leopard Geckos really are a pet for all members of the family. They're happy to be held by children of all ages and will slowly walk across gentle hands. They're not aggressive by nature but like all animals should be treated with respect.
Since geckos are naturally solitary and territorial creatures, they do not get lonely if placed alone in a cage or left for some time away from their keeper. They much prefer having their food and heat to themselves rather than sharing it with another gecko.What is the friendliest pet gecko? ›
The leopard gecko is a popular choice for most beginner lizard owners due to their slow, docile attitude and simple, low-maintenance care needs. Leopard geckos come with a coat of dark spots, like a leopard cat. However, their colors range from yellow to white to orange.What is geckos weakness? ›
Study reveals way to overcome lizard's stickiness
But like any superhero, the reptiles have their kryptonite. A new study shows that soaked surfaces and wet feet cause them to lose their grip. The key to the gecko's sticking success lies in tiny hairlike structures, called setae, found on the base of its toes.
The ideal daytime temperatures for leopard geckos are 75° to 85°F (24-29 °C), with up to up to 90°F (32 °C) under the heat lamp. The nighttime temperatures should never drop below 65°F (18°C). The ideal humidity is between 30-40%.Do geckos prefer light or dark? ›
Geckos tend to stay near porch lights or other light sources around your home while they wait for insects they eat, like moths and cockroaches. They can also be found around your home's exterior or in cracks and crevices in your home's structure – all the more reason to keep your foundation maintained.
Leopard geckos are known for their calm nature, which makes them easy to handle. Their small size, ranging from 7 to 10 inches long, adds to their manageability, and many will happily climb all over their owners.How big of a tank does a leopard gecko need? ›
For these reasons, ReptiFiles recommends that adult leopard geckos be housed in no smaller than a 36″ x 18″ x 18″ enclosure with at least 4.5 sq ft of floor space. Floor space is the most important consideration here, as leos are terrestrial (ground-dwelling) lizards.Do leopard geckos need a heat lamp? ›
For instance, leopard geckos don't need a heat lamp but they do need a heat source of some kind so they will appreciate a heat lamp if nothing else is used to give them a temperature gradient. Some geckos, like day geckos, will prefer a heat lamp over a heat mat or heating pad.Are leopard geckos cuddly? ›
Finally, leopard geckos are usually quite shy and may not enjoy too much human attention. If you're looking for a cuddly pet, a leopard gecko may not be the right choice. However, if you're willing to provide them with the care they need, these delightful creatures can make wonderful pets.What are the cons of having a leopard gecko? ›
|Why Leopard Geckos May be Good Pets||Why Leopard Geckos May Not be Good Pets|
|Live a long time, typically 10 to 20 years in captivity||More unusual color morphs and patterns can become very expensive|