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Leopard Geckos: The Lizard That Wants to Be Your Pet!

Aug 17, 2007
Leopard geckos are nocturnal lizards, natively found in the deserts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and parts of India. They absolutely adore the heat and love rocky terrain, making their dwelling under the ground during the dry, desert daytime. Leopard geckos are quite unique because they have real eyelids - which is extremely uncommon to most gecko species - and they also lack flat, adhesive pads on their toes. Instead, leopard geckos use their claws to climb, making them unable to cling to slippery surfaces - as many other reptiles can - though it is extremely useful when digging in the dry, desert landscape.

In the wild, lizard geckos tend to live under large rocks or inside subterranean caves, emerging at night to hunt insects such as spiders and crickets - and if they're feeling exceedingly adventuresome, some leopard geckos may even seek out tiny mammals such as baby field mice.

A well-fed gecko can actually live between 19 and 22 years, with the oldest confirmed leopard gecko living all the way to 27 years old! For this reason, they make good pets for children since your child will be able to grow up with the same animal over the course of many years. In the wild, this means that leopard geckos will breed many times during their life, making it an ethical pet choice, as it is not an endangered species.

The natural coloring of these reptiles tends to be a yellowish, creamy color with black stripes, but years of captive breeding have altered the natural coloring of leopard geckos and caused the introduction of new colors to the species, such as: tangerine, lavender, solid white, and even black spots. Though it may seem strange, leopard geckos have adapted remarkably well to captive breeding programs, and are now one of the premier choices for reptilian pets today.

Leopard Geckos at Home

At only 6-8 inches long, both in the wild and in captivity, leopard geckos make a great choice for a small household pet, and they require minimal care as compared to many other pet reptiles. They produce very little odor, and if you take care to handle a leopard gecko while it's still a baby, he'll be quite tame as an adult and almost enjoy being held!

The one thing to keep in mind when choosing a leopard gecko for a pet is his living environment. Since their natural environment is a hot, dry desert, leopard geckos don't fare well in humidity. Thus, their cages need to be free from excess moisture, in order to ensure they don't develop debilitating respiratory infections.

Leopard geckos also need to be handled with care, as their tails can actually fall off when they're scared or anxious. They can grow new tails, however it will be smaller and slightly less useful, since a tail-shed is actually a defense mechanism used by leopard geckos to distract predators in the wild!

Feeding your leopard gecko is relatively simple, but like any reptilian pet, you'll need to keep an eye on making sure your pet has a well-balanced diet. Leopard geckos enjoy eating crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and silk worms, and you can ration these out to make some more common items - like crickets and mealworms - his primary dinner, while offering wax or silk worms as a regular treat! You'll also need to supplement your leopard gecko's diet with a calcium powder, which you can coat the meal insects with before feeding times. Also, place a small dish of calcium powder inside the cage.

Geckos need the calcium to keep their bodies healthy and limber, and if you don't provide this to them, they'll actually try to eat the sand in their cage to get the calcium they need. If this happens, your gecko will be at risk of death from sand impaction, as it hardens painfully inside their intestinal tract. To avoid this, provide your leopard gecko with a calcium supplement, and if at all possible, choose a rocky terrain instead of using sand inside the cage.
About the Author
Learn all about the Leopard Gecko at http://www.leopardgeckoguide.com/
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