Leopard geckos are growing in popularity. They are small, beautiful, and have unique personalities. They are quickly becoming the pet of choice for many households looking to add a reptile to their family.
Before adopting a leopard gecko, it is important to ensure you know the proper husbandry necessary to take care of them and also have established a veterinarian for any future medical needs they may have.
Here are some common questions we hear at our veterinary hospital.
Leopard geckos live in the desert so, can I put sand in their tank?
While leopard geckos do live in sand in the wild, they also live a very different lifestyle in the wild! They are constantly moving and foraging, eating a variety of food items, and have a much easier time passing ingested sand particulates. In contrast, pet leopard geckos are not as active and are at risk of impaction from ingested sand. This occurs when the gut is unable to move these indigestible substances and the digestive system becomes blocked. We recommend non-particulate material like tile or paper towels on the bottom of the tank.
My leopard gecko has trouble shedding, how do I keep enough humidity with a non-particulate substrate?
Providing a “moist hide” allows your leopard geckos to choose when they need higher moisture levels, such as during a shed, and gives them a safe place to hide. You can provide humidity by filling a hide, or even a tupperware, with damp moss or paper towels. Make sure to change the damp paper towels or moss frequently to avoid mold growth.
What kind of light does my leopard gecko need?
Just as they would get in the wild, they need UV rays! Leopard geckos require low-level UV, such as Arcadia’s Shadedweller, for 12 hours a day. Keep in mind, glass and plastic filter out UV, so make sure your pet is getting direct UV light. Tube lights, such as the Shadedweller, do not produce very much heat, so an additional heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter (CHE) should be used to keep the warm side of the tank around 90 degrees F. The cool side of the tank can remain around 73 degrees, but should never drop below 70 degrees, even at night. Mercury vapor bulbs, such as Megaray, do produce heat and more intense UV radiation, so they should be used at a greater distance from the animal, approximately 18 inches. As mentioned previously, we recommend Arcadia or Megaray brand products due to their proven UV output and 1 year guarantee. Many common UV bulbs produce very little UV and burn out in 6 months!
There are so many vitamins! How do I choose which one is best for my leopard gecko?
There are two main types of reptile multi-vitamins: with D3 and without D3. We recommend the ZooMed brand Reptivite, without D3, dusted onto prey items two times per week. This product contains preformed Vitamin A as well as Calcium Carbonate and other essential vitamins and minerals to help keep your leo happy and healthy. Since adult leopard geckos only need to be fed 2-3 times per week, you can plan on dusting every meal with this vitamin supplement!
When should I take my leopard gecko to the vet?
Just like with our warm-blooded pets, leopard geckos should have an annual exam with a veterinarian and yearly fecal analyses, as they can pick up intestinal parasites from the bugs they eat! Annual exams allow your vet to catch any developing issues, such as calcium deficiency or constricted toes. Otherwise, any changes in their eating habits, behavior, or fecal output or consistency are indicators that a vet visit is in order.
Written by: Lindsay Magill