Leopard geckos are a good choice if you are looking to care for your first reptile. They are also suitable for more experienced reptile keepers. They are easy to care for so long as you understand their requirements. Here's how to care for leopard geckos:
- Choose your supplies. You'll need at least a ten-gallon tank with a secure screen lid for a leopard gecko, although a 20-gallon tank is preferable. You'll also need a hide (a small "cave", for example) and a water dish. You'll also need to choose a bedding. Sand works well for this, as long as your gecko is over 6 inches, but be sure to buy sand sold specifically for reptile bedding. Don't just buy sand at your local home improvement center. You can also use paper towels, reptile carpet, or tile.
- Buy a heat source. To keep your leopard gecko warm, choose an infrared basking lamp with around 50 to 75 watts. Make sure you also have a thermometer to make sure that the tank is kept at a constant temperature. Set up the tank so that there is a cool side, with the water dish, and a warm side, with the hide. The temperatures should range from 75 degrees on the cool side to 85 degrees on the warm side. During the summer months, you may want to turn off the heat lamp if your home is warm enough. Because they are nocturnal, they do not need a light source.
- Feed your gecko. Geckos eat live crickets or mealworms, both of which can be bought at your local pet store. They also require calcium powder, which can be purchased wherever you buy reptile supplies. You can dust the crickets or mealworms with this powder to give them much-needed calcium. You should also leave a small amount of the calcium, such as in the lid from a 2 liter bottle, in the tank at all times. Your leopard gecko should eat once or twice per week, with young geckos eating more than older lizards. Feed only what your gecko can eat in about 15 minutes, and remove any remaining crickets when he is done eating.
- Provide water. Remember to refill the water dish regularly. Your leopard gecko will frequently climb into the dish, and crickets may end up stuck in the dish. It is also a good idea to spray the inside of the tank using a spray bottle, which can add humidity to the tank.
- Clean the tank. Do not neglect the tank. It should be cleaned regularly by scooping out and replacing the bedding. You should scoop out the sand every other day, and change the sand once every few weeks or once per month.
- Treat your gecko with care. Do not handle him roughly, or you could pull his tail off or stress him out. A gecko's instinct is to detach from its tail if something grabs it by the tail. Loud noises or other disturbances can make your gecko upset.
Leopard geckos are popular for good reason, as they make beautiful and interesting pets. They usually grow to be around 6 to 9 inches long, and can live up to fifteen years in captivity.