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hygiene requirements
south east asia
average life expectancy
behavioural traits
geckos
Leopard Gecko Pet Care
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Leopard geckos as pets? Where do they originate from? Are they nocturnal? What are their interesting behavioural traits? How do you keep them? What type of substrate do they require? What are their dietary requirements? What are their hygiene requirements? What are the specific diseases they are susceptible to?

Over recent years there has been an increase in the popularity of geckos as exotic pets. Of these, the largest is the leopard gecko. Endemic to the arid semi-desert and scrub regions of south-east asia, they grow between 6-9 inches in length with an average life expectancy of 15 years. They thrive in temperatures which average 90 degrees fahrenheit with 90% humidity. In colour, they have yellow bodies with black mottled bands which mark them out as attractive and distinctive exotic pets.

Our leopard gecko is nocturnal and sleeps in leaf litter shade and below rocks during the day time. At night, they come out to forage. So therefore they are nocturnal hunters. When they go hunting for prey the diet consists of earthworms, mealworms, small lizards, mice, shrews and rats. With smooth moist skins they require moist shelter during the daytime. Even though they have eyelids to protect them in their natural habitat, their tongues extend far enough to lick and moisten their eyes to keep them clear.

Not every leopard gecko is yellow in colour however. Some are tangerine while others are lavender and cream. Only on maturity do these colours appear. For adolescent geckos may be drab grey and colourless with ochre bandings. With such dedicated enthusiasts there is an entire community of enthusiasts dedicated to the selective breeding of leopard geckos.

From this there have been resulting specimens of leopard geckos which reach 11 inches in size. There are also leopard geckos with extended life expectancies due to excellent nutrition and care and maintenance. Hybrid species of geckos are now beginning to appear from cross-breeding across the smaller species of geckos with unique bandings and mottlings.

Many unique traits characterise your average leopard gecko. Such as shortened claws which prevent your lizard from being able to climb vertically. What is more, they can taughten their muscles to snap their vertebrae and detach their tails while they are threatened. Having the ability to regenerate their tails, legs, eyes, hearts if they are damaged is unique to species such as geckos and newts.

To keep your leopard gecko an average 10 gallon sized plexiglass aquarium tank is adequate with temperatures set at 90 degrees fahrenheit. Either constant sunshine or an undertank heating pad should be able to fulfill this requirement. Substrate should be moist and humid with 3 inch layers of compost, peat, moss topped with decayed tree bark and wood chippings. Abundant leaf litter should be scattered across the top of this substrate with foliage and tree branches.

Climbing frames are also another good idea for exercise purposes. Inverted plant pots with entrance holes, toilet roll tube holder tunnels, open shoeboxes buried in the substrate provide plenty of cover and shade during the hot daytime for your leopard geckos to sleep and rest. Be aware that this type of tank substrate should be kept moist and warm for the female leopard gecko to lie buried in for one month at any time while giving birth and nurturing the baby geckos.

If you keep pairs of male and female geckos there should be some harmony. Both male and female geckos are sexually mature by 10 months so you should keep another tank for the sake of breeding and rearing geckos. Within 30 days baby geckos have hatched from the clutch of eggs laid in the substrate. If temperatures are kept above 90 degrees fahrenheit, male baby geckos are born but if temperatures are kept below 80 degrees fahrenheit female baby geckos hatch.

Signs of mating include your male leopard gecko vigorously shaking his tail while the female gently sways her tail sidewards. Males also have prominent bulges at the bottom of the tail and valley shaped patterns of spots. If you keep two males in the same tank there will be territorial fighting. Therefore only keep pairs of same gender geckos when they are female.

Once you have established the bond with your leopard gecko, you must wash your hands before and after handling geckos to avoid any contact with toxins which they secrete in their skins for defence in their wild habitat. Now you can gently stroke and fondle them to keep them relaxed. If you clean out their tanks every week to change the substrate you can eliminate any bacteria, fungi, pests, parasites.

Leopard geckos make good pets. They are undemanding and entertaining and fun.


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