Minimum requirements for adult Leopard Geckos and Fat-Tail Geckos
All heating should be positioned inside and at same end of the vivarium, creating a hot basking end. The opposite end should have no heating, creating a cool end. Place your thermometer and/or thermostat sensor on the substrate in the middle of your vivarium, making sure your thermostat sensor does not sit directly above your heat mat. At this point in your vivarium the thermometer should read 82°F/28°C give or take a couple of degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to achieve an accurate temperature is with a thermostat. Most geckos do not require a night time drop in temperature; doing so may cause failure to digest large meals, causing illness.
UV lighting is not essential for leopard geckos, but tests have shown that they do benefit from it and it can prevent a multitude of problems. If you choose to use UV lighting, it is suggested for 12-14 hours a day. The UV tube should start against the wall at the hot end and span 2/3 the length of the ceiling thus creating a UV gradient much like your heating. Or better. Place a compact bulb UV in the back corner of the hot end. Reptiles have adapted to living with strong UV radiation from above. Placing the UV tube level or within 45° of the eye could damage it severely (photokeratoconjunctivitis or cataracts) symptoms include swelling of the eye and area around it or cloudy eyes. This is thankfully not too common but it is better to be safe and not allow your animal to sit alongside or within a few inches of your tube.
Always remember to replace your UV tube every 6 months unless the manufacturer suggests otherwise. The tubes UV producing capability will degrade in this time leaving the tube looking no different to normal. As far as we can tell only the Arcadia D3+ and T5 range last 12 month and give a virtually guaranteed 12% UV for the duration of that time. If you choose not to provide UV keep a close eye on symptoms of Metabolic Bone Disorder.
Never place your vivarium near radiators, direct sunlight, drafts, busy areas or appliances that create a lot of noise.
Substrate choice is a difficult one, a good quality orchid bark is recommended, and it is certainly the safest. Sand and beech chip have been used with some success, although sand and beech chip have been seen to cause compaction in all ages of Leopard geckos, and difficulties with shedding, among other issues and problems. Definitely don’t use gravel, saw dust or peat as a substrate. There are however some clay based sands that seem very good and promote natural burrowing behavior.
Spot clean your tank regularly. If done properly a full vivarium clean should only be necessary once a month. Only use disinfectants specifically designed for reptiles. Soaps, detergents and other disinfectants can be toxic.
Always provide your Leopard gecko with clean fresh drinking water; tap water is fine, although there are water treatments available if you doubt your water quality.
It is very important to remember Fat tail geckos require an area of humidity. The easiest way to achieve this is to put some peat and live sphagnum moss in a plastic tub. Put 6-10cm hole in the side just above the substrate to allow the gecko access. Place this tub in the middle of your vivarium, and then just remember to keep the moss damp. A leopard gecko may also benefit from this, especially to aid shedding.
Leopard geckos are insectivorous. Unfortunately many large breeders are using mealworms as a staple diet for their geckos. This means that mealworms are now essential to most geckos’ survival. Removing Mealworms from a leopard gecko already established on them could result in stress and illness. However Mealworms are perfectly ok to use as the majority part of your geckos diet provided you feed the Mealworm well and use vitamin powder. We suggest you leave a small bowl of them in the enclosure for 4 days a week. Top up the Mealworms as they go. After you remove the mealworms for 24 hours introduce a meal of crickets or locust. It is worth pointing out that it is a complete myth that a Mealworm will eat out of your animal if not properly chewed.
The best way to judge what quantity of crickets and locust constitutes as a meal is to drop a limited amount (half a dozen) into the vivarium. If your animal is hungry it will eat immediately, if it does, continue to put a couple of insects in every time it finishes and continue until your gecko appears full. Remember never leave a large excess of crickets or mealworms loose in the vivarium, they can cause injury to your animal! You can also offer your adult gecko the occasional pinkie; don’t worry if it won’t eat it though.
A good quality vitamin and mineral supplement is very important to the well-being of your animal, always read the packaging carefully. We suggest 2 out of 3 meals or every meal if you are not providing a source of UV. Failure to maintain a good supply of vitamins and minerals will result in irreversible illness, such as Metabolic Bone Disorder.
Do not handle your Leopard gecko immediately after a move; leave at least four weeks to allow your animal to settle. Or until your animal is feeding well and has been for 3-4 weeks. If you don’t, one of two things will happen.
1. Your animal may become defensive and aggressive
2. Your animal may become reclusive and fail to feed properly
After the initial four weeks handling may begin slowly. Leopard geckos are naturally friendly. You do not need to restrain or excessively handle them to make them good pets. Always handle your animal near to a surface, accidents can happen and Leopard geckos don’t fly!
Most geckos are very shy animals, so it is very important you follow these simple instructions as failure to do so will almost certainly lead to high levels of stress in your animal. A high stress level in geckos generally lowers the immune system and leaves your gecko open to viruses and infections. Always use common sense when handling animals. It is also important to remember not to touch or grab your gecko’s tail. Geckos can drop their tail when they feel threatened.
When it comes to your animals health, if you are ever in doubt ask a respected dealer for they’re advice, and if still in doubt go to a specialist veterinarian. There are a few simple things to look out for.
Avoid putting your gecko in with any other animals, they are very territorial. They will generally live with each other if the correct sex ratios are followed. If purchasing a second Leopard gecko, make sure they are of compatible size and get equal amounts of food to ensure the same rate of growth. Ask a respected dealer for information.
On a final note and to summarize, Leopard geckos are semi nocturnal, so you may not see a great deal of them. But they are naturally friendly, clean and easy to maintain, and in nearly all cases Leopard geckos make great family pets.