Leopard geckos are resilient pets – they are laid-back and don’t need much to survive. That’s why they are a great option for kids, adult beginners, and those with busy schedules. But how long do leopard geckos live?
Captive leopard geckos usually live for 10 to 20 years. Some even live well into their twenties. There’s even a leopard gecko who lived to 28 years of age. Interestingly, there are rumors that a German leopard gecko has lived in captivity for a whopping 40 years!
Wild leopard geckos usually live for 3 to 8 years. This gives you some idea of how hard it is for geckos to survive in the wild!
What factors affect how long a leopard gecko lives?
The major factors affecting a leopard gecko’s lifespan are:
Interestingly, male leopard geckos tend to live longer than their female counterparts.
While the former live for an average of 15 to 20 years, the latter have an average lifespan of only 10 to 15 years.
This lifespan difference is attributed to the fact that female leopard geckos lay eggs while male geckos don’t. The egg-laying process is usually strenuous on female leopard geckos’ bodies and shortens their lifespans.
However, there are some outliers – some female leopard geckos live longer than their male counterparts, and some males live extremely short lives.
Presence of predators
One of the main reasons that wild leopard geckos have shorter lifespans than captive ones is because they are constantly being hunted.
In the deserts of the Middle East, where leopard geckos are originally from, there are a lot of predators like jackals, birds, and scorpions.
This means that many of them are eaten young.
Diseases and parasites
Leopard geckos that get sick or infected with parasites tend to have shorter lifespans. This is part of the reason why captive leopard geckos live longer.
They usually live in more sanitary and regulated conditions, reducing their chances of getting parasites and diseases.
Also, when they do get sick, they quickly get treated by vets – something that wild geckos don’t have access to.
A leopard gecko with very little food will have a shorter lifespan than one with an abundant food source. Beyond that, leopard geckos who get calcium and vitamin D3 supplements will live longer and healthier lives.
Tank size, setup, and placement
Housing your leopard gecko in a tank smaller than 20 gallons can make them uncomfortable and makes it even more challenging for them to shed.
Male leopard geckos particularly need a lot of space to roam. Putting two or more of these geckos in one tank is a bad idea.
Tank size aside, tank placement is also important when trying to provide your leopard gecko with a longer and healthier life.
For the best outcomes, you need to place your gecko’s tank in a low-traffic area – this will help reduce their stress levels. Also, don’t forget to provide hides, hiding spots, and a basking spot for your leopard gecko.
Humidity and temperature conditions
Both temperature and humidity contribute to your leopard gecko’s health and wellbeing. The further they are from the ideal, the more likely your gecko will get sick and even die.
So ensure you’re always monitoring these conditions and keeping them at optimum.
Keep the humidity levels at 30% to 40%, and keep the daytime temperatures between 84 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintain nighttime temperatures at around 71 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stressed leopard geckos tend to have shorter lifespans than those who aren’t. Some things that can stress a leopard gecko include lack of nutritious food, exposure to predators, diseases, parasite infection, and unsuitable temperature/humidity conditions.
What are the common causes of premature death in captive leopard geckos?
This can easily be caused by ingesting substrates and foods that are too big to digest.
As such, it can be avoided by avoiding loose particle substrates and only offering feeder insects smaller than the space between your gecko’s eyes.
If your leopard gecko still gets impacted after you put in place these preventative measures, you can still help your gecko in a few ways.
For one, you can give them a warm bath and massage their belly.
Alternatively, you can feed them a few drops of olive oil to ease the movement of food. If things don’t change or worsen, take your leopard gecko to the vet immediately.
Metabolic bone disease
This is yet another common cause of premature death in captive leopard geckos. It is particularly common among leopard geckos who aren’t provided with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements.
That’s why it’s important to dust your gecko’s feeder insects with these supplements before feeding time. Also, aim to incorporate feeder insects that have high calcium to phosphorus ratio.
This way, you can protect your leopard gecko from the painful symptoms of metabolic bone disease. These include deformed bones, a painful jaw, and even a lack of appetite.
These can be caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, and even temperature/humidity conditions.
Interestingly, shedding problems can even contribute to infections. It is essential to keep your leopard gecko clean, give it lots of space, and maintain the right temperature/humidity conditions.
What are the life stages of a leopard gecko?
Leopard geckos have 3 life stages. These are:
When leopard geckos hatch, they are usually lighter than one ounce and live off their yolk until they shed for the first time. After this, they then shed every 10 days and eat their old skin – this helps them grow and develop.
One or two days after they eat their skin, they can start hunting a few insects here and there. At this stage of their lives, leopard geckos are usually only 3.5 inches long. They are usually too small to sell at most pet stores.
Juvenile leopard geckos usually weigh one to two ounces and measure around 4 to 6 inches. These leopard geckos are the most available at pet stores. This stage usually lasts for about 10 months and is characterized by exponential growth. This especially happens when your leopard gecko is between 4 to 6 months.
As such, juvenile leopard geckos shed their skin frequently – every 10 days. Beyond that, they eat a bit more than hatchlings. However, they still sleep as much as hatchlings.
For the most part, leopard geckos become adults when they weigh two ounces or reach one year of age. However, they can keep growing until they are 18 months and can reach up to four ounces – keep in mind that they can get overweight, though.
Whatever the case, adult leopard geckos measure around 8 to 10 inches. Moreover, they sleep during the day, hunt at night, and shed their skin every 6 to 8 weeks. Also, adult leopard geckos are sexually mature and can lay fertile/infertile eggs.
How to determine the age of your leopard gecko
You can tell the age of your leopard gecko by observing its weight and length changes as time passes. You can even take things a step further and use a growth chart.
If you notice that your leopard gecko has been growing rapidly within the last 5 months or so, though, they are probably 6 to 10 months old.
However, observing your leopard gecko’s weight and length can only work if they are younger than 18 months. Beyond this age, there are no changes in these parameters.
Another thing you can look at to determine your leopard gecko’s age is its skin. If a leopard gecko is a hatchling, it will have dark bands on its tail and back.
These usually stay the same until they’re 3 months old. Beyond this age, these bands start breaking up and looking like spots. Over time, these spots morph before settling into their final state in adulthood.
Also, the color of your leopard gecko’s skin gets darker with age. So if you have two leopard geckos of the same size, the one with a darker coloration is the older one.
Another thing to keep in mind is that male leopard geckos will start showing aggression at around 1.5 years. At the same age, their female counterparts will start showing signs of nesting.
If you take care of your leopard gecko well, they can live up to 20 years – they can even exceed this if they’re lucky.
Do your best and don’t worry too much. And if you notice that your leopard gecko is sick or rapidly losing weight, get in touch with your vet immediately.