Best Starter Reptile: Leopard Gecko

So you have been looking around online and you think you know what kind of pet reptile you want. Think again. A lot of people claim that bearded dragons are the best pet and best starter reptile. Well, they are good but do you want to spend $150 up front just for their cage? I don’t think so! Most lizards that get tame need UVB light and that will cost you over $50 just to buy the things you need for it. Also, those lizards need a better balanced diet. Like fruits, vegetables, and some kind of animal protein! So now you are thinking that you don’t want to get a pet lizard any more… Well I have your solution…. The Leopard Gecko! The Leopard Gecko is a great starter reptile or great for a collection. Leopard geckos are not huge lizards and they are not small, they get about 8 inches. Now I will tell you how you need to take care of them and why they are the BEST!

[snip left2][/snip]A Leopard Gecko you’re thinking. ” A lizard that will jump out of my hand and run up my wall to my ceiling!” Well you are wrong. These guys are ground dwellers and well to tell you the truth they are not to fast. This wonderful lizard is nocturnal meaning it sleeps during the day and comes out at night. So when you are at work or school it’s at home sleeping but when you get home and you are done eating dinner they are ready to party. Well you finally get one and your afraid to pick it up because you think it will bite…well I have never been bitten by a Leopard Gecko and if they do bite they will not hang on, they will almost immediately let go! So now you pick it up and you think of your friend who has a snake and how he is always complaining about picking up its shed skin. Will your geckos shed? Yes, all reptiles shed but well, get this…. Leopard Geckos actually eat their shed skin! That is wild! So you got it or you are going to get one what will you keep it in.

So you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a cage for you gecko. Well you don’t have to. One or two can live in a normal 10gallon tank. You can get those for under $10! Or if your thinking of keeping more like 3-4 you should get a 20 gallon long tank. So now you have the cage but what to put at the bottom? Well these guys don’t care. You can put old newspaper in there if you need to. There are a lot of substrate (bedding) materials out there at pet stores. Well what to get? You can get almost any of them and it will work fine! The main ones you need to stay away from are cedar chips. They contain chemicals that could kill a lot of reptiles. So now you have got the tank and the bedding but what else do you need? Well they need heat. I have found that if you have a single gecko or two of them in a 10gallon tank all you need are your regular house light bulb! Get a bendable desk lamp and a 75watt bulb and that will work great. All you need to do is put it so it is shinning in on one side of your tank! If you get a bigger cage or you want to make sure your gecko will be fine you should get an under tank heater. All you need to do is put it under one side of your cage. Also make sure you get a thermometer and keep it in the hot end! Make sure that the temperature does not get above 90F. Leopard geckos like to hide and need a moisture box so why not make a hide/moisture box for you geckos? All you need is an old butter or cool whip style container. Keep the lid on it because that will be the bottom. All you need to do is cut a hole in the side so the gecko can get in and out. Think of it like a door to a house. Now put a piece of paper towel on the lid and spray it so it is moist. The paper towel should be on top of the lid on the bottom. All you need to do is spray it daily. I have found that you should put the hide/moisture box half on and half off of the heated end. Leopard geckos will spend most of their time in the box during the day so you should make sure they are well heated. If you gecko is not well heated it will not eat and will get sick causing death! Make sure you have a 12/12 light cycle. You also need a water dish which can be as simple as a jar lid. So lets summarize, you will need the following: Cage, Light fixture, Light Bulb, Under Tank heate,r Hide/Moisture box, Water dish.

So you have its cage and every thing now what to feed your geckos? Leopard geckos do not need fruits or vegetables all they need are insects. The majority of owners feed Leopard Geckos crickets and mealworms. Both of these are great. I personally feed mine mealworms. Mealworms seem to be easier to care for and keep longer. You can go to the pet store and buy crickets when ever you need them but if you get a lot you need to provide them with food and water. You can buy crickets and mealworms at about any pet store. Leopard geckos need calcium and the insects out there do not have enough to keep your gecko happy and healthy. So all you need to do is go to the pet store and buy a bottle or jar of the calcium out there. Then you can get an old lid or the lid to the calcium and put some calcium in it and leave it in your gecko’s cage. This way when ever it needs it, it will go and get it. Make sure you always have calcium in the cage for your geckos. So now you have your cage and food. Now it is time to get the gecko.

There are a lot of different morphs out there of leopard geckos. You can get ones that are albino, orange colored, the normal kind with spots, ones with spots that have weird designs, and many more. Once you figure out which morph or phase you would like how to pick out a good and healthy one. When they are younger they will be more scared and active so when you see the leopard gecko dealer reach their hand in there, the young ones should run. That is a good sign. Also make sure the geckos eyes are bright and alert, they should have no puss or discharge. A good way to tell if the gecko has been taken cared of is if it still has its original tail. If it doesn’t its not the end of the world but it could tell you that the environment is bad or that it has had some one who has handled it poorly. Also check around the toes and feet to see if it has any old dead skin from its last shed if it does that most likely but not always means that the climate inside the cage is not correct. So you got your new friend but how do you tame it?

Leopard geckos when they are young are more frightened like when you where a little kid and was afraid of strangers. So when you have a young one you will have to be more careful not to drop the little one. Do not grasp the gecko but scoop it up from underneath or put one hand down and with your free hand tap the geckos tail so it will move onto your hand. Do not hold the leopard gecko down, because it will not like that and will be prone to bite then, just simply make sure it doesn’t run away or off your hand. When they are young you should make sure when you are handling it to keep it close to a flat survive because if it jumps out of your hand it well hit the ground hard which could cause death. At first it will seem not to like you but don’t worry it will grow to love you and learn to eat right out of your hand. Most of mine when I take them out will climb up my arm and sit on my shoulders for hours at a time. So now you have got every thing you need to know on this great pet. Good Luck with your new Leopard gecko.

By: Matt Tinney
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