Leopard Geckos are found throughout Southern Asia in south-eastern Afghanistan, western India, Pakistan and Iraq. Their habitat consists of semi-desert and arid grasslands, built on sandy-gravel, and rock, and there they inhabit the limited vegetation, shrubs and coarse grasses.

Morphs

The name Leopard gecko comes from their natural spotted markings similar to leopard print, but in captivity there are many more colours and patterns available called ‘morphs’ that may look very different from the wild type.

Popular Leopard gecko morphs include Mack Snow, Jungle, Carrot tail, Albino, Blizzard, High yellow and Tangerine.

Substrates

Correct substrates for Leopard geckos is a controversial subject in reptile keeping. To create a natural looking vivarium, and one that your Leopard gecko is built for, we recommend sandy, rocky substrates or desert mixes which incorporate sand and soil.

Some see these choices as detrimental to the animal due to an issue called ‘impaction’; where the gecko eats the substrate and the gut becomes impacted to the point of being a health risk to the animal.

However the act of the gecko eating the substrate comes from their attempts to find extra nutrition, usually due to this nutrition being absent from the diet.

Following the correct nutritional needs and supplementation as well as using substrates that can pass easier through the gut will eradicate this risk, and is why we still recommend more natural substrates.

Diet

A common link to impaction is incorrect supplementation. Leopard geckos require calcium as well as a multi-vitamin supplement, usually in the form of a powder which is dusted onto the live food provided to the animal.

A dust will be required each time the gecko is fed, with the calcium being used more often than the multivitamin. Guides to the best supplements can be provided by Swell Reptile and Swell Superstore staff.

Being insectivores, Leopard geckos eat crickets, locusts, cockroaches, mealworms and waxworms. It is always recommended that variety is provided to your animal as different food items will have different nutritional values. Once dusted, the food items can be placed into the vivarium to allow your gecko to locate and hunt the food itself.

As well as being more natural, this opportunity also provides good exercise, and keeps your gecko physically and mentally active.

Heating

Leopard geckos cannot regulate their own body temperature and require both a hotspot and cool area. The best heating option, and one which creates the best temperature gradient, is a heat bulb, however heat mats are also used and can be adequate depending on a number of factors.

Either option would require a thermostat to regulate and prevent over-heating. A hotspot of 30 - 32°C  will need to be maintained in the vivarium  throughout the day, with the cooler area being around 22 - 25°C.  The vivarium can fall to room temperature at night as long as this isn't below 10C.

Lighting

In the natural environment, your Leopard gecko would be exposed to UVB/A despite being a nocturnal species. UVB is required for your Leopard gecko to use the calcium provided in maintaining healthy bones, and research has also found its significance in other metabolic processes.

UVA benefits your animal's eyesight and both can be found in a good quality UV tube. We recommend tubes over compact lamps as it will provide UV throughout your vivarium more effectively, like the sun would, rather than a very specific spot provided by a compact bulb.

UV bulbs are used in a 12 hour cycle, and should be switched off during the night. Bulbs need changing every 6-12 months depending on the brand, as after this time the UV will not be effective.

Your Leopard gecko requires 30 - 40% humidity. However we recommend having a moss hide which would be a very specific humid area to promote good shedding for your animal. The moss hide can be sprayed with regular tap water to keep it moist. Tap water can also be used in the water bowl of your animal and should be changed at least every other day.

At least one other hide should be available as well as a variety of decoration for cover and enrichment purposes. Good decoration and slight changes every now and then in positioning will keep your gecko active and stimulated.

Shopping list

  • Vivarium
  • Heat source
  • Guard/Protector
  • Thermostat
  • UVB Lighting
  • Thermometer
  • Hygrometer
  • Water bowl
  • Substrate
  • Hides
  • Door lock/ wedge
  • Decoration
  • Calcium and Multivitamin
  • Cleaning Equipment

Buy a complete Leopard gecko starter set here

Species factfile

Name: Leopard gecko

Species name: Eublepharis macularius

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Length: 20 - 25cm 

Temperament: Docile, easily tamed

Origin: Southern Asia 

Vivarium size: 3ft x 2ft x 2ft

Temperature gradient: 22 - 30°c

Humidity: 30 - 40%

Lighting: Low - Mid level UVB

Feeding: Live insects