If you’re looking for a unique and fascinating pet that’s easy to care for, leopard geckos may just be the perfect addition to your home.
With their striking appearance, docile temperament, and low maintenance requirements, these small reptiles have become increasingly popular among pet owners in recent years.
But are leopard geckos good pets, or are they better left in the wild? In this blog post, I’ll take a closer look at caring for these curious creatures.
I’ll asses the benefits and drawbacks of owning one. Ultimately, I’ll help you decide whether a leopard gecko is the right pet for you.
Reasons Leopard Geckos Make Good Pets
Leopard geckos are considered low-maintenance pets compared to many other reptiles. Their diet consists of insects, making it easy to provide them with proper nutrition.
You don’t have to worry about maintaining a colony of live insects or frequent trips to the pet store as you would with other carnivorous lizards.
Also, their habitat requirements are straightforward and require minimal adjustments once set up correctly.
As a beginner reptile owner, you’ll find that leopard geckos are one of the more beginner-friendly reptiles to have as a pet. They have specific requirements for heat and humidity, but these can be easily managed compared to other reptiles. This makes them excellent first-time pets for those looking to venture into reptile ownership.
Docile and Easy to Handle
One of the great traits of leopard geckos is their docile and easy-to-handle nature. They are not aggressive, making them ideal for interaction and handling, even for new reptile owners.
Their perky personalities and interesting movements also provide amusement as you watch them in their environment.
Small Size and Minimal Space Requirements
Leopard geckos do not require much space, making them suitable for homes with limited space availability.
Their small size allows you to create a comfortable enclosure without taking up too much room in your home. This can be especially appealing if you live in an apartment or a smaller house.
Variety of Colors and Patterns
Leopard geckos come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. This makes them visually attractive pets. There are many different morphs to choose from, which makes choosing one a lot more fun!
Initial Setup Costs
The initial setup costs for leopard geckos are relatively affordable. You can find a leopard gecko at pet stores or online, with prices varying depending on its morph.
Normal and hypo leopard geckos can be found under $50, while high yellow morphs are typically under $100. More exotic morphs, such as tangerine and blizzard, start around $60 to $75, whereas super giant morphs may cost at least $200.
For housing, a 20-gallon tank is a suitable choice, and it can be found at most pet stores for a reasonable price. Alongside the tank, you’ll need to purchase accessories like a hideout, heating pad, thermometer, and substrate to make your leopard gecko’s habitat comfortable and safe.
Leopard Geckos are cheap pets to keep. On average, you can expect to spend around $400 per year, about $33 per month.
- Food: Leopard geckos require a diet of live insects, such as crickets and mealworms. The cost of these insects will vary, but it’s important to factor them into your monthly budget.
- Lighting and Heating: You need to maintain the appropriate temperature and light in the tank. This may entail electricity costs for using heat lamps or pads.
- Veterinary Care: Regular veterinary checkups are crucial to maintaining your leopard gecko’s health; treatments or medications may sometimes be needed.
- Enrichment: Providing toys and activities for your leopard gecko can help keep it entertained and stimulated. These items may need to be replaced occasionally.
While leopard geckos are generally considered low-cost pets, budgeting for these expenses is essential to provide the best possible care for your new companion.
Downsides Of Leopard Gecko Ownership
Although Leopard Geckos make good pets with many positive qualities, there are a few potential challenges you should be aware of before deciding to bring one home.
Live Food Requirements
A diet that includes live insects is essential for a healthy Leopard Gecko. To meet their dietary needs, you’ll need to maintain a supply of live insects such as crickets, mealworms, and other small invertebrates.
Feeding your reptile live insects can be a hassle for some, especially if one is squeamish or unwilling to keep live insects at home.
Leopard Geckos are crepuscular animals, meaning they’re active primarily at dusk and dawn. As a result, they might not be awake or active when you are, which can limit interaction during the day.
You may have to adjust your schedule to spend time with your gecko during the early morning or late evening when they are most active.
Risk of Salmonella
Like many other reptiles, Leopard Geckos can carry Salmonella bacteria. Although this doesn’t generally affect the gecko itself, it can be transmitted to humans through contact.
To minimize the risk of Salmonella infection, it’s important to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your gecko, its habitat, or any other items that come into contact with the gecko.
Basic Care and Needs
When it comes to caring for leopard geckos, understanding their basic needs is essential. This section will guide you through the various aspects of their care, such as housing, heating and lighting, substrate, accessories, and diet and feeding.
For your leopard gecko, a properly sized enclosure is important for their well-being. Babies can be housed in a 10-gallon tank, but as they grow into adulthood, a 20-gallon tank is necessary to provide enough space.
Heating and Lighting
Leopard geckos are nocturnal creatures, and maintaining the right temperature in their habitat is crucial.
A temperature gradient should be established, with a basking area at 88-92°F and a cooler side at around 75°F. Nighttime temperatures should not fall below 70°F.
Since leopard geckos do not need UVB lighting, a simple heat mat or ceramic heat emitter can be used to maintain proper temperatures.
Choosing the right substrate for your leopard gecko can help prevent impaction and other health issues. It’s best to avoid loose substrates like sand. Instead, use a solid substrate such as reptile carpet, paper towels, or slate tiles.
Providing a variety of accessories in your leopard gecko’s habitat will enhance their quality of life. These should include hiding spots such as caves or hollow logs, a humid hide for shedding, and a water dish. Adding climbing structures and other elements for stimulation and exercise is also important.
Diet and Feeding
Leopard geckos are insectivores, requiring a diet mainly consisting of insects such as crickets and mealworms. Be sure to provide a balanced diet and dust the insects with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements to support your gecko’s nutritional needs. Providing fresh water in a shallow dish is essential for easy access.
Handling and Socialization
Proper Handling Techniques
When handling your leopard gecko, you should always be gentle and patient. Start by sliding your fingers under their chin, often encouraging them to climb onto your hand voluntarily.
Support their body and legs, and avoid squeezing or holding them tightly. It’s advisable to handle your gecko a couple of times each week for about 10 to 15 minutes to help them get used to your presence.
Socialization with Humans
Teach your children to be gentle and to always wash their hands before and after handling the gecko. Patience is key when building trust between humans and your leopard gecko.
Interacting with Other Leopard Geckos
While leopard geckos can be social with humans, they are known to be solitary creatures when interacting with other leopard geckos. These reptiles prefer to spend time alone and only come together during mating sessions.
Refrain from housing multiple leopard geckos in the same enclosure. This can lead to aggression and stress for the animals. If you have more than one leopard gecko, monitor their behavior closely and provide separate enclosures if conflicts arise.
Common Health Issues
Although leopard geckos are typically low-maintenance pets, it’s important to be aware of potential health issues.
One of the most common health problems among pet leopard geckos is metabolic bone disease. This results from an improper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in their diet.
Make sure you provide your gecko with supplements to prevent this condition. Salmonella is another concern with reptiles, so wash your hands thoroughly after handling your gecko to minimize the risk of infection.
Shedding and Proper Care
Leopard geckos, like other reptiles, shed their skin as they grow. It is essential to provide your gecko with a moist hide to aid in this process, as improper shedding can lead to health issues like retained shed skin on the toes.
This can eventually result in the loss of a digit. Ensure that their enclosure has proper humidity levels, and add a moss-filled box into their habitat to help them shed easily.
Signs of a Healthy Gecko
Knowing the signs of a healthy leopard gecko will help you in taking proper care of your pet. A healthy gecko will have clear eyes and nose, a plump tail that stores fat, and exhibit regular shedding.
They should be active during dusk and dawn, have a good appetite, and show no signs of lethargy. Monitor your gecko’s behavior and appearance regularly to ensure they remain in good health.
Leopard Gecko Morphs
Morphs refer to the different colors and patterns found within this species of lizard. Many morphs are available. Some result from spontaneous mutations, while others have been created through selective breeding.
Morphs can affect various aspects of the leopard gecko, including size, color, and skin patterns.
Here’s a list of some popular leopard gecko morphs:
- Tremper Albino
- Mack Snow
You can find even more morphs available through reputable breeders, displaying various colors and patterns. If you’re interested in breeding for specific morphs, research the genetics and inheritance patterns to understand the process better.
Keep in mind that selective breeding should be done responsibly and ethically. We have put a full list of leopard gecko morphs together here.
So Are Leopard Geckos Good Pets? Some Final Thoughts
Leopard geckos are great pets. They are easy to take of, live a long life, and are very cost-effective. If you are looking for a low-maintenance pet that won’t break the bank it doesn’t get much better.