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Leopard Gecko Care

By: Dr. David Nieves

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Caring for the Leopard Gecko

The leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is currently captive bred in large numbers across the United States. It is a beautiful, inquisitive and fascinating lizard to care for and can be an excellent pet reptile. However, like other reptiles, it has specific husbandry requirements.

The leopard gecko is a nocturnal lizard species that dwells in rocky dry habitats of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India. They spend the day sleeping under rocks or down in burrows. Adults are usually between 7 (17.8cm) and 11 (27.9cm) inches in length and can live more than 20 years.

Leopard geckos have a range of sounds they can emit that sound much like barks, growls and screeches. In their natural habitat they eat insects, spiders, smaller lizards and young rodents. They have a large rotund tail used for storing fat, which helps them survive periods of drought. Wild leopard geckos have a banded pattern as hatchlings, which changes to a spotted pattern as they grow. Due to several generations of captive breeding, leopard geckos are now available in a variety of colors and patterns.

Behavior

Captive-bred juveniles can be skittish at first, but with gentle handling two to three times per week they usually calm down. Take care not to grab or squeeze their tail, since it can break off. It will grow back, but it won't look the same. To pick up a leopard gecko, gently use your hands to scoop the lizard up. Don't try to force the lizard to accept handling. With a little patience, captive-bred leopard geckos make calm, easily handled adults. Once they have calmed down, you do not have to maintain a regular handling regimen.

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