A leopard gecko is a ground-dwelling, crepuscular lizard. They are found naturally in the highlands of Asia. They are also found throughout Afghanistan and in some parts of northern India. Leopard Geckos possess movable eyelids, but they cannot climb up smooth surfaces. They do not have toe pads like most of the geckos. Leopard Geckos have become a well-established pet in many places.
Leopard Geckos were described as a different species by Edward Blyth in 1854. He is a zoologist. Their species was described as Eublepharis Macularius. The name is a combination of Greek words ‘Eu’ and ‘Blepharos’ meaning good and eyelid respectively. Leopard Geckos have eyelids and it is their primary feature that distinguishes them from other members of this subfamily from other Geckos. They also have a lack of lamellae, bumpy skin and crepuscular behaviour. They are also said to be found awake during the day from time to time. The name ‘macularius’ is derived from the Latin word ‘macula’ which means spot or blemish. This word refers to the animal’s natural spotted marking on the skin. Leopard Geckos are also related to different Geckos, for example, African fat-tailed Gecko and the Banded Geckos.
Leopard Geckos are commonly found on the rocky, dry grassland and desert regions. Their natural habitat is centrally the South-Asian Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-west India. They are also found in some parts of Iran. The temperatures in these areas can be quite low and can drop to 10 degree Celsius. In these conditions, the animals go into semi-hibernation. This state is called brumation as these animals are cold-blooded. Leopard Geckos are cathemeral reptiles. They are basically limited to burrows and shades area throughout the day. They are more active at the dawn and dusk times when the temperature id favourable for them. These Geckos are introverted and do not mix with other animals.
Features of Leopard Geckos
- Leopard Geckos are larger than many other Geckos species. On average they are from 7 to 10 cm in length and weigh about 2 to 5 grams. The adult Gecko females are about 18-320 cm in length and weigh about 50 to 70 grams. The male adult geckos are about 20 to 28 cm in length and weigh about 60 to 80 grams.
- The wild Leopard Geckos are typically more dark, dull and drab colourations that those who are kept in confinement as pets. The one in captivity has a lighter assortment of skin colours and patterns. The skin of Leopard Gecko is very thick and durable and provides protection. Their skin protects them from the rocky grounds and grassland they reside in and is made according to their climatic conditions.
- The dorsal side is covered in small bumps and this gives these creatures a rough texture. The ventral side is thinking, transparent and smooth. Like all the other reptiles, Leopard Geckos shed their skin. Before they shed their skin, their skin turns a translucent whitish-grey colour. The adult Leopard Geckos shed their skin once a month, while the newborns shed skin maybe twice a month. The Leopard Gecko after shedding their old skin eats that skin. The new skin will be of brighter colour. The Leopard Geckos eat their skin because that skin consists of protein and other necessary vitamins for growth.
- Leopard Geckos absorb the warmth and energy during the daytime as they are sleeping. They do this in order to hunt and digest food during the night.
- Leopard Geckos have short limbs which make them more quick and agile. Their small nails help them climb the twigs and rocks.
- Leopard Geckos have openings on both the sides of their heads as ears. There is also a tympanic membrane that covers it and protects it. Leopard Geckos use their ears to hear their prey and hunt it.
- Leopard Geckos have thick fleshy tails. If the tail of a Leopard Gecko is thin then it indicates a lack of good health. These animals are not immune to injury. If a Leopard Gecko gets injured, the Leopard’s tail will shrink and injured part will shed off by itself.
Leopard Geckos have predators such as snakes, foxes and other large reptiles. Their heightened sense of hearing and sight help them escape from the predators during the night. They also have the ability to camouflage themselves from their predators. The sense of taste and smell helps them survive. They hide during the daytime to escape predators and keep them safe and avoid the risk of getting eaten.
What do Leopard Geckos need in their cage?
- When one is keeping a Leopard Geckos in a cage, one should ensure to provide the best habitat for leopard gecko. Leopard Geckos should not be kept on the sand as it might ingest them and they could suffer an intestinal blockage. Paper, however, is absorbent and easy to change. Indoor carpets also work.
- One should avoid wood shavings since they could cut Gecko’s feet. The oils in the wood can also irritate their skin.
- A shallow water dish should be provided to a Leopard Gecko at all times. The water helps in humid weather conditions.
- For their diet, diet, one should provide a variety of options such as crickets, waxworms, mealworms and occasional pinkie mouse if the Gecko is an adult. These insects must be coated with a calcium supplement at every feeding stage for young Leopards. Newborns must be fed a few crickets every day for growth and health reasons.
- Half logs must be provided for climbing. A damp hide box can help with the shedding process. Old fish tanks must also be kept in a cage. A regular white light incandescent heat bulb during the day and a red heat bulb or blue light or ceramic heat emitter can provide supplemental heat during the night. Under tank heating pads must be placed as they can help regulate the Gecko’s temperatures. Never use hot rocks as it could cause burns.
If one is interested in learning more about geckos as possible pets, check out different breeds that are very similar to Leopard Gecko.