September 6, 2005
Leopard Gecko. Eublepharis macularius
Scientific Name: Eublepharis macularius
Total Length: Around 8 inches
Range: Afghanistan, northwestern India, and Pakistan
Habitat: They may be found in dry habitats under rocks, logs, and in cool holes.
Sex Determination: Males have broader heads and thicker necks than females. Males have a V-shaped row of pre-anal pores and hemipenile swellings at the base of the tail. Females have pre-anal pits rather than pores.
Reproduction: The breeding season is from January to September. Under controlled conditions, they can be made to breed at any time of the year except for a 3 – 4 month rest period. They will usually start breeding by the age of 16 – 24 months. Make sure they are healthy before you breed them. Get your geckos ready to mate by shortening their photoperiod to less than 12 hours of daylight per 24 hours. Also cool the temperature to as low as 65 degrees F at night and 72 – 76 degrees F during the day for 4 – 8 weeks.
Females can store sperm in their bodies for up to a year. During breeding, females should be fed at least every other day coated with a vitamin/mineral mix.
Egg-Laying: After breeding, you will soon be able to see the eggs through the female’s belly. You can use two methods for collecting eggs. One is to leave the set up as it is. Mist it daily so that the substrate is slightly damp, and check the tank once or twice a day for eggs that may have been layed.
The other method is to make an egg-laying chamber. Get a plastic container with a cover and fill it half with vermiculite or sand. The container must be larger than the female. Add water so that it is moist but not soggy. Cut a hole in the side of the container just above the moistened medium. Females will sometimes choose this egg-laying chamber as a laying site. The advantage of this method is the eggs will have a better chance of surviving since the conditions are right and you won’t have to look all over the tank for the eggs.
Females will lay multiple clutches of two eggs while the younger and older females lay single egg cluthes. Young breeders produce 1 – 3 clutches during their first year and, with age, will produce up to five clutches of eggs. Sometimes people can get their females to lay up to eight clutches of eggs a year. When Leopard geckos get old, they will stop breeding altogether. Fertile eggs quickly harden and are covered with a thick, chalk-white membrane while infertile eggs often remain thin and soft.
Egg Care: You should remove the eggs (including the substrate they are attached to) and put them in an incubator (which should be standing ready). Be careful not to change the position of the eggs while removing them. The embryo may be smothered by the yolk if the position of the egg is later changed. If the eggs are attached to the side of the terrarium, tape a plastic cup or dish over the eggs. This will protect the eggs or the hatchlings from being harmed or eaten by the adults.
If the eggs are incubated at 79 degrees F, almost all of the offspring will be female. A temperature of 85 degrees F will produce an equal ratio of males and females. At 90 degrees F, most of the offspring will be male. At 92 degrees F, almost all of them are male. Females hatched at high temperatures (hot females) will be aggressive, have male behavior traits, and won’t be good breeders.
The young will hatch in 6 – 12 weeks under normal conditions.
Young Care: You can house the young separately or in groups. If kept in groups, separate the large ones from the small ones.
During the first week after hatching, they will live off of their yolk reserves. They will start eating after their first shed which occurs in the first week. Hatchlings and juveniles should be fed three week old vitamin/mineral supplemented crickets every 1 – 2 days. Water should be available at all times. Mist them 2 – 3 times a week to increase the humidity and help them shed.
Care In Captivity:
- Tank Size: A maximum of two geckos in a 10 gallon tank would be alright. To prevent fighting, one should be male while the other female or both can be females.
- Substrate: Use an inch or more of fine, store-bought sand as a substrate. Do not use coarse sands because this can be swallowed and can cause sand impaction. Avoid ultra-fine silica sand used in sandblasting.
- Decorations: You can have a log, bark, sticks, rocks, and fake plants in the tank. You can use live plants if you like, but you will have to replace them when they die.
- Water Bowl: You can use a plastic lid from a plastic jar. Any shallow container can be used. The top of the water bowl should be level with the surface of the sand.
- Tank Lid: You can have a flip top lid, a screen, or any other type of lid on the tank. There should good ventilation.
- Heating: If you are using a flip top lid, you can use two incandescent heat bulbs. In the summer, if it gets too hot, you should use only one bulb. If you are using a screen lid, the best thing to get is a heat lamp that rests on top of the screen. At night you may use a nocturnal incandescent heat bulb which is used for nocturnal animals. The light is a blue/violet color so it won’t disturb you or the geckos. If you don’t have this type of bulb you may use a heat rock, a heating pad, or an electric blanket.
- Lighting: No additional lighting is needed but you may use a bulb with ultraviolet radiation if you want. You can reverse the day/night cycle by providing light during the night and partially darkening the tank during the day. Now the geckos will come out in the daytime and you’ll be able to see them more often.
- Temperature/Humidity: The temperature should be 84-88 degrees F in the day and around 68 degrees F at night. From November to February, a constant temperature of 68 degrees F will stimulate hibernation. Doing this makes them healthier and encourages them to breed. You should have an air thermometer in the tank. The humidity should be moderate/high to prevent shedding problems. You can create more humidity by spraying the tank with warm water every few days with a spray bottle. You may use a humidity gauge which will show you how much humidity is in the tank.
- Feeding: The diet should have variety. Feed them crickets, flies, moths, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They should all be sprinkled with vitamin and calcium supplements. Feeding your geckos regularly at night will give you many opportunities to see them.
- Maintenance: Keep the tank clean and change the water bowl every few days. Spray the tank with warm water every few days with a spray bottle. Also, pay special attention to the toes during shedding. If skin is left around them, the geckos won’t be able to climb.
Other Information: These geckos are pretty active at dusk and by night.
The two main color phases are the regular phase (a light tan background) and the yellow phase (a yellow, yellow-orange, or purple background). It is easier to distinguish between the two phases when they are juveniles. Regular phase hatchlings have dark and light tan bands while yellow phases have dark and bright yellow bands. A rare phase is the “chocolate” phase which has a solid chocolate phase.
If they are attacked or disturbed, their tail will fall off.
These geckos live in loose groups. They have their own territory but also need the nearness of other geckos, to greet, threaten, or court.
These geckos will live for years in captivity.
Some have been known to live for up to 20 years.