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How do I properly house a leopard gecko?
10 April 2019
How do I properly house a leopard gecko?
Leopard geckos are very popular as pets today, and with the right information, anyone can give a leopard gecko a good home. Bear in mind these lively lizards can live for 10 years or so and can grow to between 15-25cm (6-10in) long.
A 15 to 20-gallon tank is large enough to house two or three leopard geckos, while 10 gallons should suffice for one baby gecko. If you choose to keep more than one, it’s important to make sure you have enough room for them to live together harmoniously, by providing hiding spots, allowing one cool, one warm and one moist retreat per gecko; this means each gecko can have its own retreat.
For cool or warm hiding spots, you can use a hollowed log or if you’re feeling creative, you can create a fake rock formation with polystyrene. Just remember when gluing and painting to wait until everything is thoroughly dry and the paint has lost its odour, as this could be harmful to your geckos.
You need to provide a temperature gradient along the length of the geckos’ enclosure, with one end being warmer than the other. Use a thermostat to regulate the temperature gradient here, keeping the warm side at 30-32°C (86-90°F) and the cooler end at 24-27°C (75-81°F), allowing the temperature overall to fall to this figure at night. As a way of providing heat on the warm side, a heating pad can be an option; a heat lamp is not needed as leopard geckos are not basking lizards.
However, your gecko will benefit from low levels of ultraviolet light. A 2-5 per cent UVB bulb will be adequate, allowing your pet to make vitamin D3 in its body, which is in turn essential to control calcium levels here.
Other décor needed will include a substrate of tiles and flat stones to create a textured surface which your leopard gecko can walk on. A moist hide will soften the skin in preparation for shedding from the humidity.
This will be similar to the cool hide, sited away from the heat source, but you will need sphagnum moss or a damp paper towel to line the hide. Other plants can help to create the appearance of natural habitat look but using live plants instead of artificial plants is trickier.
Feeding and bonding with your pet
Juveniles should be fed daily; adults every other day. Top up your gecko’s nutrients with supplements too. Ask your vet for advice on the best supplements to use. A diet of insects including crickets, waxworms and small locusts can be fed to your gecko. Small locusts should be no bigger than the size of the gecko’s head and waxworms should be fed sparingly as these are high in fat. To avoid your gecko from swallowing and digesting the substrate by accident, if you are using sand, offer the food in a bowl.
Leopard geckos can become used to handling, which is helpful when checking their health. Never grab your gecko though, as this will cause stress and lead it to struggle and bite. Scoop it up with both hands and support its feet. Never apply any pressure to the tail as the gecko can shed this as a defence mechanism. The tail can grow back but it is dangerous for the
gecko’s health as it will have to rebuild its fat stores. If your gecko backs away when you try to pick it up or attempts to bite, it is best to leave it alone. Be patient when taming your gecko. Do not take your lizard out of its quarters for longer than 10- 15 minutes at a time; this is so your pet’s core body temperature doesn’t drop. Keep other pets away, regardless of how safe they may seem around your gecko. Clear, bright eyes are one of the signs of a healthy leopard gecko. They should be active, and the belly should not touch the floor, apart from when resting.
British Pet Insurance Services offers a range of exotic pet cover levels, insuring; lizards, snakes, tortoises, parrots, birds of prey and small mammals. With up to £5,000 vet fees and a range of optional extras, select the level of cover to suit your needs.Get a quote today