Featured in: Pets and Wildlife  |  May 20, 2019

So You Want to Get a…Leopard Gecko

These good-natured, vocal little lizards come in a variety of colors

The Basics: Leopards are a good choice for first-time reptile owners: They are fairly small, 8 to 10 inches, are not prone to biting and are easily tamed. While the more exotic colors and patterns (known as morphs) can get pricey, your basic yellow-with-black-spots specimen won’t set you back too much.

The Setup: Think warm and dry, as leopard geckos are desert animals in the wild. Look for a 10- to 20-gallon tank with a screened lid for one or two geckos. (Keeping two females is a good idea, as two males may fight and a mixed-gender pair may get busy, leaving you with offspring to deal with.)

Keep the tank between 85° and 95° on one side (using a heat lamp) and about 10° cooler on the other side, and maintain a humidity level of between 10% and 30%. Line the tank with paper or reptile carpeting; calcium sand should only be used for larger animals, as the smaller ones may eat it and become impacted (ugh). Add one hiding spot per gecko, using rocks, branches or hide boxes.

Chow Time: Mealworms or crickets are good. Either should be pre-fed with a powdered nutrient for at least 12 hours before giving them to the gecko, and should be dusted with a calcium/ vitamin D3 supplement at every feeding for young leopards, every other feeding for the adults (who can wait a few days between feedings). Always keep a shallow dish of water in the tank.

Call a Vet: Have your vet examine your new pal, which you shouldn’t handle for a few days to avoid excessive stress. Signs that a vet check is in order include swollen joints; discharge from the eyes, mouth or nose; discolored skin; droppings that are runny for more than a couple of days; and noticeable drop-offs in either eating or drinking.

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