As far as owning reptiles is concerned the leopard gecko is among the most straightforward, this is likely why they are widely considered to be an ideal choice as a first reptile for many. As with most pets you will need to get everything set up for them before you bring them home, which will have initially set-up costs, then you must make sure you budget for their cost per week once you’ve brought them home.
Setting up a habitat can be one of the costliest parts of keeping a leopard gecko but once you have this the month by month costs will not be as costly and you’ll have a happy, healthy leopard gecko. Cost can vary depending on your preference. Remember, your gecko’s habitat will need to mimic its natural environment. You can read about housing your leopard gecko here.
You will need;
The prices for vivarium’s differ, you will want to make sure you get something of a reasonable size for your gecko. If you don’t want to fork out for a brand new one, you can pick up a second hand one, which would cost less. SwellReptiles are currently offering a VivExotic Repti-Home Vivarium for £77.
Infra-red lamp and basking lamp
These lights will mimic your gecko’s natural environment, one will be used during the day and the other during the night – this may sound like a lot but it’s just like turning your lights off at night, except you’ll be turning one off and one on. The basking lamp is the one used during the day and the infra-red at night. You should be able to pick both up for around £20 or so.
Using UV lighting for your gecko is a topic that is debated, you may wish to do some research into this and come to a decision on your own. If you do choose to go the route of using UV lighting, then you will need to make sure it is used for short periods as your gecko will absorb the ray into their bodies quite quickly. If in doubt, have a chat with your exotics vet for advice.
A heating mat
You can pick up a heating mat for your leopard gecko from SwellReptiles from £10 . These heating mats will mimic the warm rocks of your gecko’s natural environment.
You will be able to pick these up for around £20 and up. You do need to make sure that your gecko has a vivarium with a temperature gradient (a warm end and a cool end) to again mimic their environment and provide them with this choice. You will need to make sure you measure the temperature in the vivarium and the moisture levels so they’re not too extreme for your leopard gecko.
You will also need to make sure the vivarium is kept humid. To do this, you can use a water spray or provide a water bowl.
These can be upwards of around £1.50 but they will provide your gecko a place to feel safe and secure and where your gecko can digest their food.
Your leopard gecko is an insectivore, so it’s not just mealworms and crickets that they can eat – they can have a many different insects.
You can pick up crickets for £1.99 for 500 from SwellReptiles and mealworms for £1.99 for a 60g box.
You can also feed your gecko other insects such as grubs, cockroaches and waxworms. There are, however, some things you will need to do before you feed your gecko.
You will need to gut load your gecko’s food. To do this is simple, you need to feed the insects something nutritious around 24 hours before they are fed and eaten by your gecko, so they are as healthy as possible. You can buy formula for gut loading.
You will also need to make sure that you dust the food with a calcium powder with a vitamin D3 supplement, again, you can buy these online, SwellReptiles have a 125g pot for £5.29. The D3 will help your gecko synthesise the calcium in the power, which your gecko will need to avoid risking metabolic bone disease, which they are susceptible to.
It is worth noting you must feed your gecko live food, you should never feed them dead or dried insects or fruit and veg. Also, make sure you don’t feed them insects that are too big for them – nothing bigger than the size of the space between their eyes.
This is mostly down to your preference, the one thing you must keep in mind is that whatever substrate you choose will need to be easy to clean and remove. There are a few options you have, sand is not recommended, carpet (must be kept clean), lino, paper towels, newspaper, reptile carpet, tiles or newspaper.