This care sheet outlines the basic info on how to look after your new pet.
Planning to bring a gecko home?
Eublepharis macularius, commonly known as leopard gecko lizard, or simply gecko, is one of the most popular pet lizards in the world. Various households throughout the U.S. have bred this reptile for over 30 years. Easy to keep and simple to care for, these hardy reptiles come in a range of sizes, colors, and patterns. They make great pets and let you experience the joys of housing a friendly little dinosaur in the comfort of your own room.
If you are looking for basic care information about keeping gecko lizard as a pet, you are in the right place.
This care sheet for a gecko lizard highlights all that you need to know about this reptile in general, as well as tips for setting up your pet’s new home and keeping them healthy and happy in the long run.
About Gecko Lizard
Gecko is a species of lizards in the Gekkonidae family. They are native to certain parts of South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Gecko lizards typically measure 3 to 4 inches long at the time of hatching, and 8 to 10 inches long when mature. Some females can easily grow up to 12 inches in length.
Leopard geckos have an average lifespan of ten years but can live for more than 20 years if they are properly cared for.
Setting Up a Home for a Gecko
Compared to other lizards, housing a gecko is relatively simple and trouble-free. They come in plastic bins and can stay in them just fine. However, it is preferred to move them to a proper glass enclosure, such as a terrarium. Many online pet supplies stores sell vivarium kits specially designed for gecko lizards.
If that is not readily available, you can use a regular 10-gallon fish tank to house your gecko instead. Any glass aquarium will work well as long as it is covered on top.
Ideally, your gecko enclosure should be at least 24 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 15 inches high. Moreover, it must be well ventilated. A lack of fresh air will not only prove detrimental to your pet’s health, but also promotes the buildup of bacteria on the walls. This, in turn, makes it difficult to clean the tank regularly.
Like all reptiles, geckos regulate their body temperature according to the environment. To ensure that they stay healthy and active, you need to provide a thermogradient in the tank. Install a heat lamp in one corner of the tank and use a thermostat and thermometer to control and measure the temperature inside, respectively.
- Maintain a temperature of 28 – 30 degrees Celsius during the day (the cooler end should be around five degrees lower)
- During the night, switch off the heat bulb and aim for a steady temperature at about 18 degrees Celsius
- Make sure the temperature doesn’t fall below 15 degrees Celsius at any time
- Use a heat mat to prevent temperature drops when the bulb is turned off
Since gecko lizards are nocturnal desert animals, they are mostly active at night when the temperature is relatively cool. Make sure to provide them with the ideal environment; otherwise, they risk falling sick.
Leopard geckos originate from the dry grasslands and desert regions of South Asia. So, it’s only obvious why they prefer a dry environment. Try to maintain the humidity in the tank at around 30% to 40% to ensure that your saurian friend stays in good health.
As we mentioned earlier, geckos are nocturnal lizards, which means that they will mostly lie idle during the day. Therefore, you do not need specialized lighting to keep your pet active. Ambient room light will be sufficient to give your gecko an idea of the day/ night cycle.
However, installing a UVB light in a gecko cage is never a bad idea because geckos need a little exposure to ultraviolet light to thrive. Consider installing a UVB bulb rated between 2 to 5% as it will help your gecko build up vitamin D and store other vital nutrients in their body.
There is a lack of consensus amongst owners as to which substrate is the best for a gecko lizard cage. Some owners opt for fine sand while others go for gravel or any other similar material.
However, the best option is to change the substrate as your gecko ages. For young geckos, use a paper towel or a gecko cage carpet. For geckos more than a year old, it’s better to use fine reptile sand that mimics the natural environment where these animals originate from.
To create a naturally enriching landscape for your reptile companion, you must provide them with a hiding place. This can include half logs for crawling and resting and low and sturdy rocks for climbing.
Feeding Your Gecko
One of the best parts about keeping a gecko lizard as a pet is that they aren’t picky when it comes to food. Leopard geckos will be more than satisfied whether you feed them common staples like mealworms and crickets, or treat them with something special like Phoneix worms, flies, roaches, and so on.
Pet geckos require calcium supplements. You can either dust their food items before feeding it to them or provide them with calcium powder in a shallow dish.
Also, avoid feeding your gecko in one go. Instead, give them smaller proportions three to four times a day.
Gecko lizards are friendly, inquisitive, and full of personality. Whether you are planning to bring one home for research or recreational purposes, by all means, go ahead! You have definitely made the right pick.
Hopefully, this care sheet for gecko lizard would have given you a detailed overview of how to look after these reptiles to the best of your abilities.