Leopard Geckos are very popular reptile pets. These lovely creatures make excellent pets for both beginners as well as seasoned pet owners. But are these animals hardy enough?
Leopard geckos are one of the hardiest pet reptiles. They don’t fall sick often and don’t die at the slightest problem. They can survive even with no food for 2 weeks. They live longer than many other pets and can brave temperature imbalances and human handling way better than other reptiles.
Leopard geckos are robust pets. This makes them great pets for busy owners or beginners. Since they live long, they are good pets to have in families with children. Let’s see how this wonderful creature is so hardy and what you can do to help it grow even stronger.
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Why are leopard geckos hardy?
Leopard geckos are incredible pets to have. Even though they are a popular reptile pet, these creatures are well-suited for the harsh outdoors. They have the natural ability to brave adverse conditions and are by no means, delicate creatures. Below are the attributes that make your leo hardy.
1. Leopard geckos live long.
Leopard geckos in the wild can live up to six to eight years. But when you take away the threat from predators and harsh environments, they can easily live up to 15 years. The male leos have a longer life than females and some live even up to 30 years. In general, non-breeding females and males can have a lifespan of up to 20 years.
2. Leopard geckos need less care.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Leopard geckos do need care! They just need less care compared to other reptile pets. They need very basic care such as diet and optimum enclosure temperatures.
These are very simple and reasonable needs. They don’t need your constant attention for survival. Leopard geckos are not fussy eaters. They need live feeders which are easy to source and feed.
3. Leopard geckos are easy to handle.
Leopard geckos are easy to handle. They are docile creatures and are rarely aggressive towards humans. Even though you should always be careful while handling your pet leo, they are not overly delicate creatures. This means you can safely handle your pet and bond with it without constantly worrying that you will hurt them.
This is especially true if you get your leo when it is quite young. When a leopard gecko is used to handling from a young age, it is easier to tame them and make handling convenient for both the leo and the owner. Just make sure you never squeeze them and hold them by their tail. And of course, if your leo resists being handled, just leave it be.
4. Leopard geckos can live for a month without heating.
It is widely known that leopard geckos need optimum heating in their enclosures. While this is true, they can survive for a month even if the heating fails. Of course, they need room temperatures that are not too cold. Temperatures in the range of 60 °F can help the gecko survive. But, please do not try this with your pet!
5. Leopard geckos can survive for 2 weeks without food.
Leopard geckos don’t need food every day, even though it is recommended young leos every day to help with their growth. Ideally, adult leos can be fed 2 to 3 times a week. However, they are able to survive for 10 to 14 days (or even longer) without feeding. They store fat in their tails and use the stored fats if food isn’t available.
6. Leopard geckos can survive for 3 days without water.
Leopard geckos need access to clean drinking water at all times. However, adult leos can survive without water for about 3 days. However, you should never push your leo to this limit because dehydration can cause death.
How can you make your leo more hardy?
Although the leopard gecko is a robust creature, it can do with a little help from its owner to enjoy better health. Here are some tips to help you make your leo more hardy.
1. Make sure the leo’s diet is on point.
A nutritive diet is very important for your leo’s good health. Calcium deficiency can lead to metabolic bone diseases in leopard geckos. Also, maintaining a schedule for feeding helps ensure the leo never goes hungry. Leopard geckos rarely overeat. But, ensure they have access to food whenever hungry.
Leopard geckos need supplements, particularly calcium and vitamin D3. Live food dusted in supplement powder is the best way to make sure your leo is getting adequate nutrition. Apart from food, make sure you provide clean water that is free from chlorine in a bowl.
- Main diet: Crickets, hornworms, superworms, mealworms.
- Supplementary diet: Waxworms, Calciworms, Crickets dusted with supplement powder.
- Feeding young leos: 5 to 6 small crickets or worms every day and supplementary diet 2 to 3 times a week.
- Feeding adult leos: 6 to 7 large crickets or worms 2 to 3 times a week and supplementary diet once a week. Use fatty food like waxworms occasionally.
2. Use substrate that is safe for the leo.
Substrates such as loose sand, pebbles, coco fibers, etc. can cause abrasions and impactions to the leo’s skin. A better alternative is reptile sand or a mixture of soil and sand.
Even flat stones are a good option for substrates. This will avoid discomfort and injuries to your pet. Other non-particulate substrates such as paper towels, newspapers, or reptile carpets can also be a good idea.
3. Have an enclosure that is big enough for your pet leo.
Your gecko needs enough space to move around in the enclosure you build for him. A 10 to 20-gallon tank is ideal for housing 2 leopard geckos. Leopard geckos are shy creatures and need hiding places to go to. Thus, you should have hide boxes in the enclosure.
4. Ensure optimum heating in the enclosure.
Leopard geckos need a temperature gradient in their enclosures. One side of their tank needs to be warmer than the other. Below is the ideal temperature range to keep your pet leo comfortable and healthy.
|Zone||Temperature in °C||Temperature in °F|
|Warm End||28 °C to 32 °C||83 °F to 90 °F|
|Cool End||21 °C to 25 °C||70 °F to 77 °F|
|Basking Zone||32 °C to 40 °C||90 °F to 104 °F|
A heat lamp, a ceramic heat emitter, or a heating mat can be used to create a temperature gradient. It is also helpful to have a thermostat to monitor the temperature and keep it at optimum levels.
5. Avoid housing two leos in the same tank.
If you have a big tank, you might be tempted to house two leos in the same tank thinking it might be good for your pets to have company. It doesn’t work like that with leopard geckos.
They are solitary animals. Moreover, if you house two males together, it would be a recipe for disaster. Males can get pretty aggressive towards each other to the extent of injuring each other or even killing!
Housing a male and female together might seem like a good idea, too, and you could have cute little baby leos. But, this, too is not a great idea, especially if you are a beginner. Also, breeding geckos live shorter than non-breeding geckos.
6. Get regular medical check-ups for your pet.
Routine physical examination every 6 to 12 months can help detect health problems early on. A vet with experience in treating reptiles can help. They might recommend a fecal examination every year to check for parasites. They might also suggest blood tests to screen any diseases.
7. Help remove your leo’s retained shed.
After a leopard gecko sheds, some old skin can still be attached to its body, especially the extremities such as the toes, tail, and head. This can cause restricted blood flow and can be harmful to the leo. Gently remove the skin if your leo has trouble with it or take the help of a vet to avoid any problems.
A moist hide is a must if you want to make sure that your leopard gecko is able to shed on its own perfectly all the time.
8. Know about medical problems in leopard geckos.
Leopard geckos are hardy but not invincible. Knowing about the medical problems that can be harmful for your gecko can help you identify them early on. Below are the medical conditions that might need veterinary attention.
- Foreign material in the eye
- Abscesses on the body
- Hemipenal prolapse in male leos
- Clogged femoral pores
- Internal parasites
- Egg binding in female leos
- Metabolic bone disease due to calcium deficiency
- Retained shed
- Gastroenteritis due to bacterial infections
- Respiratory infections such as pneumonia
Even though the above list seems long, leos that receive proper care and nutrition won’t fall prey to these diseases. However, knowing about them will help you seek help early and avoid complications. The more you educate yourself, the better you will be able to care for your gecko.
Leopard gecko vs. other pet reptiles in terms of hardiness
Here is a comparison between leopard geckos and other common pet reptiles when it comes to hardiness. Leopard geckos fare quite well, don’t you think?
|Leopard Gecko||Bearded Dragon||Crested Gecko||Chameleon|
|Average lifespan||15-20 years||8-10 years||10-15 years||4-8 years|
|Ease of handling||Easy||Mostly easy||Fairly difficult||Fairly difficult|
|Overall care||Easy/ Forgiving||Easy/ Forgiving||Easy||Intermediate|
|Survival without food||1 month||3 – 4 weeks||2-3 weeks||2-3 days|
A leopard gecko is not a creature that gets sick quite often even though that does not mean that it never falls sick. However, there is an easy way to identify if a leopard gecko is sick.
Leopard geckos have thick, fat tails. If you see a tail that looks thinner, it can be a sign of dehydration, malnourishment, or an infection.
Also, you need to be wary if your leo isn’t feeding well. Identifying issues early on can help you to seek medical attention quicker, and thus avoid problems escalating into something potentially harmful for your pet. Leopard geckos are hardy, but they still need care!