Leopard geckos get their name from their distinctive light and dark pattern. Unlike most lizards, they have claws and movable eyelids. The crepuscular and nocturnal animals are interesting to watch and can be tamed. The relatively undemanding desert dwellers are also suitable for beginners.
Acquisition and Maintenance
Leopard geckos are available from hobby breeders, pet stores, or reptile sanctuaries. A healthy leopard gecko has no injuries or remains of molting, and the toes and tail are normally developed. He will not roll over on his back without resistance, but otherwise shows no signs of stress.
Requirements for the Terrarium
Leopard geckos are ground-dwelling. They spend the day under stones, in caves, or in holes they dug in the desert. The natural habitat sets the requirements for the terrarium.
Glass terrariums keep the heat in, the cold out, and make it easy to observe the animals.
The minimum size is 6 x 6 the body length of the largest animal in the area and 2 x the body length in height. For each additional animal, add 2 x 2 the body length of the largest animal in the area. At least 140 x 45 x 45 cm are required to keep two adult leopard geckos in a species-appropriate manner.
The terrarium belongs in a quiet place protected from draughts.
The substrate should consist of about 10 cm deep, loamy sand. Either this is always kept moist in one place or a wet box lined with moist moss is offered. Stacked stones, roots, and caves made of bark or cork on the floor and on the back wall provide sufficient hiding and climbing opportunities. A small water bowl made of clay also belongs in the terrarium.
During the day the soil temperature should be 26-28 °C, in some places up to 35 °C, at night 20-23 °C. Heat lamps, spotlights, and a thermostat ensure the optimum temperature at all times.
In addition to basic lighting with fluorescent tubes in the terrarium lid, UV lamps provide natural daylight and support the health and vitality of the animals. A timer provides 14 hours of lighting in summer and 6 hours in winter.
The humidity should be 40-50% during the day and 50-60% at night. In the morning, the soil is moistened with a spray bottle. This refreshing morning weed dries throughout the day. The value can be checked with a hygrometer.
Feces and urine as well as leftover food and skin are removed daily with a substrate shovel or tweezers, and the drinking bowl is rinsed out with hot water.
Windows, sliding doors, and dirty equipment should be cleaned with the steam cleaner once a week.
Complete cleaning can be carried out once a year and the substrate renewed.
Hands and tools must be disinfected before (and after) each access to the terrarium.
The sexes can only be easily distinguished from a weight of around 12 grams, even by laypeople.
The body of the female is smaller, the neck and head are narrower, and the tail is more rounded in the middle than that of the male. In males, the V-shaped preanal pores above the cloaca are more pronounced, and next to the cloaca there are two rounded hemipenis pockets.
Feed & Nutrition
Leopard geckos receive live food, such as house crickets, grasshoppers, or cockroaches. These are best moistened slightly and sprinkled with vitamin powder. A bowl of cuttlefish provides calcium. Adult leopard geckos eat two to four prey animals about three times a week.
Acclimatization and Handling
Leopard geckos can be kept singly or in small groups of similarly sized animals. Due to the aggressive reproductive urge, a male must be kept alone or with at least two females.
In mixed groups, females produce a clutch of two eggs several times a year. If you do not want to breed, you should remove the eggs immediately or only keep females.
Leopard geckos need a hibernation of about 4 to 8 weeks once a year. About two weeks before that, you start to slowly lower the temperature to 15 °C, shorten the lighting time and reduce feeding. After hibernation, the temperature, duration of lighting, and feeding are slowly increased again.
Molting occurs in adult leopard geckos every 3-4 weeks. The remaining skin debris must be removed from the holder with tweezers.
Important: Never touch the leopard gecko by the tail. A shed tail grows back but is monochromatic and beet-like in shape.
The species-appropriate keeping of the leopard gecko is relatively easy and an ideal and interesting introduction to terrorists.