What is a Leopard Gecko?

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  • Written By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Edited By: Sara Z. Potter
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2020
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Leopard geckos are brightly colored geckos native to Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of India. They are usually some variation of yellow and dark brown, although they can have other colors, including white and pale pinkish lavender. These geckos are fairly easy to take care of, making them an ideal pet for someone new to reptiles.

There are some unusual traits that make leopard geckos stand out among other species. They are among the few types of geckos that have movable eyelids. In fact, their scientific name is derived from this trait, Eublepharis Macularis; Eublepharis meaning "true eyelids" and Macularis meaning "spotted."

Hatchlings are usually striped yellow and dark brown, although there are variations to this pattern. As they grow, their stripes turn to spots, giving them their common name. They usually reach about 8 to 10 inches (approximately 20 to 25 cm) as adults. The males and females are hard to tell apart, although male geckos have slightly thicker necks and wider heads than the females.

Being nocturnal, leopard geckos find shelter during the day, usually under rocks or in hollows or caves. In captivity, they need a couple of "hides" — boxes or other structures that provide shelter. As they are from the arid desert regions, these geckos also need a heat source in their habitat, although hot rocks should not be used since they can burn the animals.


One gecko can be comfortably housed in a 10 gallon (37.8 liter) tank. Two or three leopard geckos can live in a 20 gallon (75.7 liter) tank, but two males must never be put together. There are various substrates that can be used in their tanks, including paper towels, wood shavings, sand, and bark, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Leopard geckos are easy to clean up after, as they will choose one corner of their tank to be their "bathroom" and not use any other area.

These reptiles are carnivorous and eat crickets, worms, locusts, and "pinkie" mice, among other things. In captivity, they need their crickets or other staples to be coated in vitamin and calcium powder. This is especially important for females who may be laying eggs and hatchlings.

Like most lizards, leopard geckos are able to break off their tail when in danger. This is a defense mechanism that lets them distract or escape from a predator. Because of this, the geckos should never be picked up by the tail and, in fact, the tail should be touched as little as possible. These lizards are able to regenerate their tails, but they will never be as attractive as the original.

Leopard geckos are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at most pet stores that carry reptiles. They make excellent class pets as well as "beginning" reptiles for those unfamiliar with owning these animals. There are many color schemes and they are usually considered quite attractive. When looking at the animals' quirky faces, it is easy to see why they are growing in popularity.


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Discuss this Article

Post 18

We've had our leopard gecko for a few months. He was doing great and thriving, but he has now lost interest in eating for almost two weeks. He's also shedding for the second time in a few weeks.

We are feeding him meal worms and live crickets, but he's not interested. We're worried he's dying. Any suggestions?

Post 17

number 1: Don't worry! This can be fixed. He's just shedding. Just give him a bath in lukewarm water every day. Do not use soap! His old skin should come off eventually. (You may need to help him peel it off, but only when it appears somewhat baggy.)

If the middle of his tail reaches 1 cm, pick a cricket up with something (not your fingers) and dangle it in front of him. If he does not eat it, touch the shiny part of his mouth under his nose with the cricket. If he still doesn't respond, contact a vet immediately.

You can trust me. I have two leopard geckos, (my little sweethearts, Rebel and Tanner) and I am an expert on them. Good luck, hope this helps.

Sincerely, Salyssa

Post 15

i have a female leopard gecko with eggs that started to lay them about a week ago and then just stopped. she still has her eggs but her tail is real skinny and she is not eating. is this normal?

Post 14

number 12: they may be in season at the same time therefore always irritable. consider getting a bigger tank or selling one.

Post 13

at what age is a leopard gecko considered an adult? what can i feed my leopard gecko to fatten him up? he got sick and lost a lot of weight. He has put most of it back on but is still not at a healthy weight.

Post 12

i can't get my two female leopard geckos to stop fighting. they are almost the same size but keep biting each other. i know for *sure* they're females.

Post 11

my female leopard geckos is not yellow with spots. she is a pinky color. is this normal or is there something wrong with her?

Post 10

do geckos can lay on their backs? and why do they do this?

Post 9

For the person who asked the question about the not opening of the eyes, I have had one for about 5 years, and it has happened. The cause for mine was that he would get "snot" or something in his eyes, and then when he would shed it would stick. It would sort of form like a coat over them and he would just keep them closed. I usually just hold him and drop little bits of water into his eyes and peel it out, but my suggestion to you would be to bring him to a vet or pet specialist. Mine is very calm about it and I have very steady hands, so I can do it with ease.

Post 7

I can't seem to find leopard gecko tanks or things to research. Help!

Post 6

My gecko stands up and does a little "dance" in the corner. She is more interested in that than the live crickets in her tank. Is this normal?

Post 5

We have a gecko and he has not opened his eyes in weeks. What to do?

Post 4

Our Leopard Gecko is about 3 years old. Last week we were on holiday and the pet sitter did something that caused the lizard to lose the last inch or so of his tail. It is starting to heal, but we would like to know how long it will take to grow back. We know it will not be the same as the original. The wound is healing, although still very ugly. Since his injury 3 or 4 days ago he has not eaten and is not happy about being handled. Prior to this, he was very well hand trained.

Post 3

The temperature in its habitat may be too hot or too cold. Also, are you feeding your leopard gecko live crickets? Some of them won't eat the canned or freeze dried ones. And are you coating the crickets with vitamin/mineral powder?

Post 2

A skinny tail is a sign of poor health and not eating, but I'm not sure what to do. Do you have a reptile vet in your area or a good reptile pet store? They would know.

Post 1

i have a leopard gecko. we have had him for about 2 years, and he has seemed happy and healthy. i noticed today that he is more white in color than usual, and his tail is much skinnier than it used to be. he is also not eating the crickets i just fed him. what is wrong with him? could he be dying?:( help please!

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