Who else wants to know how to take care of a leopard gecko? Caring for a leopard gecko is relatively simple and is a good project for younger children or classrooms. The unique personality of the gecko is the seed of healthy pet relationships which makes it a perfect addition to any adult home, as well. Geckos are quiet animals requiring low maintenance, inexpensive keep, and are small enough to store in the tiniest apartment.
An interesting feature of the leopard gecko is his tail which drops off when threatened. The tail of a healthy leopard gecko is quite pudgy, a storage unit for fat which the animal uses when the climate in his natural habitat brings times of little food supply. When others handle your gecko, you should warn them that the tail could drop if grabbed or pulled. The gecko uses this for defense; the disconnected tail continues to wriggle and flop in an attempt to distract the predator at hand giving the gecko plenty of escape time. If his tail drops off, don’t panic for it will heal virtually on its own.
The gecko’s home should be clean and functional. There’s some controversy over what type of substrate (flooring) should be used, but most research suggests staying away from sand or other materials that are loose. Sand tends to be kicked up when the gecko “hunts” his prey and can be accidentally ingested causing impaction on the digestive system. Other materials such as cedar shavings or cat litter can shed toxic particles that can cause respiratory problems. Unprinted newspaper is the best choice and can be purchased cheaply at your local newspaper office.
Heat is extremely important in the care of your leopard gecko. There should be a warm side and a cool side in their cage. Geckos thermo-regulate their bodies from the outside in and keeping a steady temperature aids in their digestion and improves their immune system. You can heat the cage with a variety of techniques, but the best choice seems to be using an under tank heater (UTH) available through any reptile supply shop. Heat from the UTH goes directly onto the gecko’s belly which is the best way for him to absorb heat. You can also use heat tape, hot rocks, or red incandescent lights. An ideal enclosure offers three temperature zones with a range from about 74 to 90 degrees.
Keeping your gecko nourished is easy; most of his nutrition will come from crickets. These insects are easy to obtain and cheap to keep. It’s best not to give a gecko insects that are longer than its head. Feeder insects can include crickets, mealworms, superworms and a variety of other worms. Before your gecko is fed an insect, the insect must be “gut loaded” at least 24 hours before feeding time. The worm is fed with a nutritious food full of vitamins that varies according to the type of worm. This guarantees the highest level of nutrition to the gecko upon eating the worms.
Keep your gecko’s cage clean and be sure he has water available at all times. Once you get a routine set up, you will be able to relax and enjoy your new friend.