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Leopard Gecko Care

By: Dr. David Nieves

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Shedding

Leopard geckos periodically shed their skin. When you see the lizard's skin become pale with a white sheen, it is about to shed. The leopard gecko often eats the skin as it sheds, but this is normal behavior.

If you see remnant skin still on the lizard after the shedding process, he may need some help. Mist him lightly with room temperature water. When misted they usually protest with a loud screeching sound, but they are not hurt, just annoyed. A more effective solution is to keep damp sphagnum moss in their hide box.

Remember that wild leopard geckos spend their days sleeping in cool damp burrows. If kept too dry, they will have problems shedding skin from their toes and their tail. This unshed skin will constrict the flow of blood to these areas, which can result in their loss.

Nutrition

Crickets, mealworms, superworms and waxworms are all acceptable food. A leopard gecko can swallow a food item slightly smaller than his own head. Insects caught outside might have pesticide contaminants, so buy or raise your own. When feeding crickets to your lizard, place only enough in the cage that will be eaten within 30 minutes. Once the leopard gecko is full, it will ignore any excess crickets. Later these extra crickets will climb on, stress out and even bite the lizard. This can lead to infections and other problems. Some adult leopard geckos eat pinkie mice.

It is important to use a calcium supplement to dust the gecko's food. This dusting should occur every feeding when they are young, and every third or fourth feeding when they are adults. This is critical to their growth and health. For optimum long-term health, use a separate multivitamin supplement in addition to the calcium. Keep calcium and multivitamins in your freezer to extend their shelf life.

Single juvenile geckos can be fed as much as every day or as little as once a week. Young geckos caged together should be fed at least every other day, so they don't nip at each other's tails. Adult animals usually eat once a week but will sometimes fast for a few weeks or even a month. This is normal, as their metabolism is slower than a juvenile's metabolism. As long as their tail remains thick do not worry.

Illness

If any of the following occur, take your lizard to a veterinarian:

  • The tail becomes thinner and thinner
  • Injuries resulting in swelling or bleeding
  • Not eating, swollen stomach
  • Bloody or excessively runny stools
  • One or both eyes remain closed
  • The tail is accidentally broken off and does not stop bleeding right away; pus and signs of infection within a few days of the break

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