Advice and information on caring for your Leopard Gecko
An ideal living space would be a moulded plastic tank that is set up with a heat mat taped to the base. The mat should be about half the size of the tank. On to the floor of the tank the substrate is spread as very thin layer of no more than 1 cm. (A thicker layer will act as an insulator and block the heat from the mat.) Repti-Sand or Rain Forest and Savannah Substrates can all be used bone dry as the enclosure base. These will blot up and ‘clump’ any fouling by the Leopard Gecko. Clumps of waste can then be removed without cleaning the whole tank out. Cork Bark Logs could be used to make the environment interesting for the lizard. Draping Repti-Vines in the cage will provide refuges the lizards can hide in or move through to loosen shedding skin. Repti-rock caves and water dishes would lend even more functionality and security. The enclosure should be as large as possible and should be set up to allow an active Leopard Gecko plenty of scope to climb, bask in a hot spot, move to a cooler spot, drink and hunt for food.
Check with a thermometer that the tank is within the acceptable temperature range. Cork Bark could be used to make hide or a Repti-rock cave could be used. A Repti-rock water dish would be the only other essential. Use a heat mat between half and two thirds the size of the space to provide background heating. The hottest spot in the tank should not be above 38ºC while the coolest should not be below 20ºC. A local area of higher temperature may be created with a spot lamp or a ceramic heater. Use the latter two in conjunction with a HabiStat thermostat for precise control. Hot spots should be maintained for the same day length as the lights, fourteen hours in summer, eight in winter. Leopard Geckos require reasonably low humidity and do not like stagnant air. Fresh air moving into the cage is essential. Use the upward draughts caused by heated air rising to flush out the cage and drag fresh air in. A light daily misting with a hand sprayer will provide any humidity required. While obviously soiled clumped waste should be removed frequently, eight to ten weeks would be about as long as the cage could be left before being completely cleaned. A routine cleaner for all nonporous surfaces should be used. Anything that cannot be easily cleaned should be thrown away and replaced.
The more Geckos kept in each tank, the larger the volume should be. The minimum tank size for a hatchling Leopard Gecko would be about 20 cm x 15 cm and this would increase to 35 cm x 25cm for an adult. Other species should be housed proportionately. Mature males will tend to fight and no more than one should be present in any one vivarium. Two males may live without fighting, however, if they have been reared together from juveniles and that they have never had any contact with a female. In any case, there should be plenty of retreats and visual screens to allow individual animals some privacy. Watch out for bullying, particularly among juveniles.
To handle any Gecko or Skink, the whole animal should be gently grasped and held in the hands. One hand beneath, supporting and the other over the head and body controlling it. Most species will just about tolerate being handled but do not really like it. The tail is easily shed and should not be grasped. Once shed, however, a new tail will usually grow back in time.
Insects like crickets and locusts form the staple diet in captivity for small Gecko specimens. Meal- worms can also be fed. Insects should be dusted with Repton, a vitamin and mineral supplement. Other insects that are eaten, including Waxworms, but these are best given only occasionally. Another occasional meal could include commercially prepared, fresh meat reptile diet or a thawed frozen rodent pup. With all food it is important to balance the nutrients. Leopard Geckos grow very rapidly, so any dietary deficiency will quickly result in deformity. Calcium and the associated vitamin D3 being particularly important. Live food is only eaten if it is seen to move and will usually be jumped upon and grabbed with the mouth. One Gecko may eat up to ten or more insects at one meal; it will depend upon their size. Feed your Leopard Gecko every other day with just enough to be completely eaten in fifteen minutes. Try not to leave an excess of uneaten insects in the vivarium. In addition to live food a portion of sweet fruit and possibly a leafy vegetable or salad can be offered daily. A small water dish kept full of fresh water should always be available. The Geckos will drink from this but should not be allowed to bathe in it.
Leopard Geckos live for many years in captivity. They do not suffer from many diseases and veterinary attention is rarely needed. Creating the correct environment and being careful with diet will preclude most problems. The most often encountered disease will be a metabolic bone disorder caused by insufficient vitamin D3 or calcium. Good practice, hygiene and first aid will probably deal with rest. If real disease is discovered, a vet must of course, be consulted. Pet Geckos and Skinks do not pose a real threat to human health. All the normal hygiene precautions regarding humans and animals should, however, be observed. Any little graze or blemish on the animals themselves would benefit from the first aid afforded by dabbing the wound with a specialized cleanser. As far as human hygiene is concerned, surgical scrub will clean hands and surfaces.