A Little Help with a Leopard Gecko


New Member
About six months ago, my mom bought my twelve-year-old sister a leopard gecko. The only time the gecko's cage was cleaned in that time was on the two occasions I cleaned it out myself. Every time I go to my mom's house I cringe at the sight of the cage. The poor little guy is always covered by crickets and gives me a look of "help me" :(. So, yesterday I took him home and added him to my herp collection :).

I know that many of you on this site own leopard geckos and I want to make sure that he is properly cared for now.

His set-up:

* Cage Type - Glass aquarium 2' long 1.5' tall 1.5' deep
* Lighting - He has no light source
* Temperature - I need to check his temps, but he has an undertank heat pad under his hiding rock that is always left on. I took away the heat pad last night just in case it is wrong for him.
* Humidity - I need to check his humidity
* Plants - One fake desert plant
* Location - The current cage location is in our living room away from any vents or the air conditioner

Gecko Info:

* My Gecko - A male (as told by the pet store) African Fat Tailed Leopard Gecko. He has only been in my care as of last night.
* Handling - My sister handled him on a regular basis and he is very sweet.
* Feeding - He was only fed large crickets. My mom would put an entire dozen into the cage with him. Last night I removed all of the crickets and plan to feed him tomorrow with only a few appropriate sized crickets. I also plan to try some wax worms with him to add variety.
* Supplements - I believe my mom was dusting some of his crickets with some kind of special gecko supplement. I have no idea if she used it much after purchase though. Also, I know for a fact that she never gut-loaded the crickets as I asked her to. I have gut-loaded crickets to feed him, but I have no idea how much or what supplements to use.
* Watering - He has a shallow dish for water that was not changed regularly and my sister used tap water after I told her not to. I thoroughly cleaned out his dish last night and put filtered water in it.
* Fecal Description - Very large light brown feces. I think maybe he had sand in his feces or something.
* History - He was purchased from a local pet store in March of this year and has been in my sister's care ever since. Recently, he was left out of his cage over night and found days later. My mom said he even bit her and her boyfriend. Now, I think he is just very tired from the whole ordeal.
* Current Problem - He seems to be healthy aside from the strange looking feces.

My main concern at this time is creating a proper supplement schedule and understanding his lighting needs. Which supplements do I use and how often? Does he require a heat lamp during the day to keep desert-like temperatures? Should he really have a heat pad? Also, should I add some real plants to the cage for humidity?

Any thoughts would be most helpful in creating a better quality of life for this little guy :eek:.


New Member
for me I just use paper towels at the bottom with a basking lamp. Give them two hiding spots. One dry and one with wet paper towels under it for moisture. They are very easy to take care of even with an absent minded owner. ( thats what I've read on the internet) haha. Just make sure you gut load your crickets. I like the way they hunt their food.. They approach them, wiggle their tail and then lunge forward. pretty cool.


Chameleon Enthusiast
This is an entire care sheet....parts of it will not apply to you since you only have one gecko...

Leopard geckos, Eublepharus macularius, are found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northwest India. They live on the ground in dry to semi-arid habitats where temperatures fluctuate greatly between day and night. They are active at night or during the twilight hours, but will occasionally bask in sunlight. In captivity, leopard geckos have been known to live over 20 years with proper care. They become sexually mature between 16-24 months, but may not be ready to breed until their third year. Leopard geckos have eyelids that can blink unlike most other geckos that come out in the evening and nighttime. They have toenails. They lack the adhesive pads on the feet so they can't climb glass. Hatchlings are about 3 inches long and generally striped, and adults can reach 12 inches total length and come in many colors and patterns. They generally and can learn to accept handling. Adults rarely bite, and tend to move slowly once acclimated to their surroundings. They tend to hide during daylight hours but will come out to investigate disturbances to their cage. Babies will make a shrieking noise when disturbed for the first couple of weeks of life and then they get used to you and don't do it anymore. Despite their small size they will lunge at you and try to bite for the first few weeks too.

ENCLOSURE: A 25 gallon aquarium will be adequate for keeping up to a trio (one male and two females) of leopard geckos if several hiding shelters are available. The bottom of the enclosure should be covered with something safe and easy to clean...paper towels, etc. Don't use substrates like soils or sands for babies because they tend to ingest it and might become impacted. NEVER use calcisand, wood chips, mulch or gravel. Regular washed play sand is acceptable. You can provide low branches climbing on, natural rocks to bask upon, and shelters to hide in. Warning: Do not stack rocks on top of each other to form a shelter...they might fall over and injure the lizard. Plants may be added either artificial or real...but wash both before using...both sides of the leaves.

LIGHTING: Its controversial as to whether leos need UVB light to be healthy, however since using one on the cage should cause no problems as long as the gecko has a hide to go into to get away from the light as it would in the wild, I would use one. The UVB may be beneficial. UVB tube lights can be purchased from a reptile shop. The UVB florescent bulb must be placed no more than 12 inches from the basking site, and should be on a timer to provide about 12 to 14 hours of daylight and 10 to 12 hours of darkness. The UVB willl serve no purpose if it passes through glass or plastic. It must be replaced every 6-9 months because the UVB fades. A balasted fixture can be purchased at places like Can.Tire and Home Depot and sometimes, Walmart. (Non-balasted fixtures will not come on with a timer.) I recommend putting the lights on a timer. I use the kind with the little pegs since the digital ones usually need to be reset each time the power goes off and the peg type just continue on from where they left off. A regular incandescent light in a hood can be used to provide heat...but be careful not to overheat the cage. It should be placed at one end of the cage. Make sure it is not possible for your animal to come into contact with the bulb as this will cause burns. A human heating pad can be placed under one end of the cage on a timer so that it comes on at night when the other lights go out. The idea of putting the heating pad under the tank is that it will not come into direct contact with your animal. Having the heat-light and the pad at the same end of the cage provides a variation in the temperatures from one end of the cage to the other so that the gecko can move to where its comfortable. This light can be put on the timer with the UVB light. Do NOT use heat rocks as these can get to hot and may burn your leos. Remember these lizards are ectothermic (require heat from outside sources).

TEMPERATURE: The daytime temperature of the tank should be between 80-86° F with the basking spot of 88-90° F. Select the wattage of the bulb to provide the proper temperature within the tank. At night the temperature should drop to 70-75° F. When room temperatures are below 68° F at night, use the heating pad . Two thermometers can be in use to monitor these temperatures....one at the hot end and one at the cool end of the cage.

HUMIDITY: Locally humid spots can be created...but most of the cage should NOT be humid.

WATER: Provide a shallow water dish that is large enough for the whole gecko to soak its body. Lizards often defecate in their water, so it must be replaced daily and the dish disinfected at least once a week. Sometimes they will chose to lay their eggs in the water dish...so if you are going to breed them, you need to be aware of this. The eggs will be no good if they sit there for very long.

FEEDING: Leopard geckos are insectivores. Insects should be chosen by size (appropriate size for the size of the gecko). Hatchling leopard geckos should be fed daily and eat two-three week old crickets. Hatchlings can eat as many appropriately sized crickets as they can eat in a couple of minutes. Adults will take six-week old (full grown) crickets. An adult will usually eat between five to seven crickets at one feeding...and can be fed every second day. Adults and subadults can be fed crickets, superworms, silk worms, and once in a while waxworms that have been fed a nutritious diet and “gut-loaded”. Pinkies (infant mice) may be offered occasionally after the gecko reaches one year of age, and can be useful to help condition adults for breeding...but I don't usually use them as a food source. As I said...the insects should all be gutloaded with a nutritious diet before being fed to the geckos. For crickets I use greens (dandelion, kale, collards, endive, ROMAINE lettuce, etc.) and veggies (potato, carrot, sweet potato, sweet red pepper, celery leaves, squash, zucchini, etc.). Do not just use one or two of these things steadily.

SUPPLEMENTS: leopard geckos require phosphorous-free calcium supplementation dusted on the insects at most feedings....especially important for hatchlings. A small lid of calcium powder can be left in the cage as well. (Fruit flavored TUMS crushed to a powder works well.) Most feeder insects have a poor ratio of calcium to phosphorous so this helps to make up for it. I also dust with a vitamin powder twice a month making sure that it is one that has beta carotene as its vitamin A source. Preformed vitamin A can lead to overdoses but beta carotene can't. Excess preformed vitamin A can prevent the D3 from doing its job and lead to MBD (metabolic bone disease). I also use a phos.-free calcium/D3 powder twice a month. D3 from SUPPLEMENTS can build up in the system too...so don't overdo it.

HEALTH: A young leopard gecko can suffer from MBD if it doesn't get enough calcium or produce or get enough D3 or if it gets too much PREFORMED vitamin A. It will have rubbery a jaw and limbs, may not be able to hold its body up off the ground when it walks, etc. If the gecko can't get the shed off its toes or tail tip its important that it is removed. This retained skin can cut off circulation. Never mix new geckos into established colonies until they have been checked out and in quarantine for at least 6 months. Every new reptile you get should be quarantined from any you already have...even if they are CB (captive bred).

REPRODUCTION: Female leopard geckos can produce eggs even without being mated (infertile, of course). Mating will start in about February and will continue until about May each year. The females will produce one or (usually) two eggs at a time once they are sexually mature. One male and several females may be kept in the same cage...but two males should never be kept in the same cage once they are 4 or so months old. The eggs will be soft shelled and should be removed for incubation. Place the eggs inside a plastic deli-type (approx. 4" high type) container on dampened vermiculite and cover the container with a lid and place it into the incubator. One or two tiny holes can be punched in the lid to allow air exchange. The vermiculite should be the coarse type and when you take a fist full of it when its moist, you shouldn't be able to squeeze any more than a drop or two of water out of it. Check the container every few days to make sure the vermiculite maintains moisture and to let fresh air into the container. Make sure you check the containers often when its close to hatching time and remove hatchlings as soon as they have hatched. The sex of the hatchlings is determined by what temperature the eggs are incubated at. To produce females the eggs should be incubated at 80-83F degrees. To produce mostly males incubate from 85-88F degrees. The eggs usually hatch out at about sixty days, depending on the temperature incubated at. The higher the temperature in the incubator the sooner the eggs will hatch but remember, the higher the temperature in the incubator the more males you will produce....and if the temperatures get too high or low you will kill the embryo. The hatchlings will not feed until they have had their first shed, which usually takes about five days after hatching.

Good luck with your leopard gecko!


New Member

Congratulations on your new gecko! They really are so cool, and surprisingly easy to care for :)
It seems like whoever posted before me really gave you a good outline/care sheet, so i would follow that, but as for your question on the sand in the feces... Sometimes geckos will eat the sand in their tank to a)get some calcium (depending on the type of sand you use, some is made from calcium rich minerals) and b) to help aid in digestion. The former could be a result of him not getting supplemented regularly (you mentioned that you werent sure whether your mom kept up with it...) and the latter is more behavioral. This eating of sand can result in blockages however, so i would monitor whether he poops regularly and keeps up with his appetite. As long as that is normal you shouldnt have much to worry about....
another thing about teh supplementation... most reptiles need some UV in order to process the calcium and supplements into vit. D3, so i know you mentioned taht he was in yoru living room, is there any glancing rays that might come through a window and reach him? Being able to bask in some natural sunlight could also help him absorb more form the supplement youre giving him...
Enjoy your new buddy!! :D


Chameleon Enthusiast
Sunlight passing through a window will not provide any UVB light.

This chart shows that the amount of UVB that passes through a leopard gecko's skin is higher than many chameleons but lower than a panther chameleon's skin allows. This would indicate that they need to spend less time in the UVB than some chameleons would to get the same good from the UVB....so don't overdo it!

There is another paragraph further down that talks about it....


New Member
You said "* Fecal Description - Very large light brown feces. I think maybe he had sand in his feces or something."
Was he kept on sand? If there is in fact sand in his feces this can be a very serious problem, watch out for large 'bruises' on his stomach, if he swallowed sand, he may be impacted.


New Member
You said "* Fecal Description - Very large light brown feces. I think maybe he had sand in his feces or something."
Was he kept on sand? If there is in fact sand in his feces this can be a very serious problem, watch out for large 'bruises' on his stomach, if he swallowed sand, he may be impacted.

But if he is pooping, he isn't impacted...


New Member
I use under the tank heater for the night and I use a sun glo heat light for them during the day.

We have 27 gallon long tank with 3 caves, 1 on the cool side(70*f,20*c),1 in the middle fall of moss(dampened) and 1 on the warm side(86*f,30*c). We have 2 dishes in the tank 1 with water and the other with calcium. Water gets change every day and calcium every 2 day.

We clen there homes every 2 days and give a big clean up every week,which means everything comes out and the tank to gets cleaned. I bleach the tank and rise to dry, I do this until the smell is gone. I put there homes,plants dishes is a hot,hot,hot pot of water & soap and let it sit there for half a hour then rise clean.

We feed our adults every 2-3 days crickets that been gut loaded 24 hrs with fruits,veggies plus greens and every 2 weeks they get a treat either wax worms,meal worms,super worms,silk worm,butter worm,tomato worm or a pinkie(once a month). All these worms have also have been gut loaded 24hrs before they are fed to our 4 leos. We feed them at since that is when they are up.

When they are fall we remove the crickets so they don't bite the leos and keep them up during the day.


New Member
I believe the first thing that needs to be cleared up is if its a Leopard Gecko or a Fat-tailed gecko. While they both have similar dietary needs, Leopard geckos are semi-arid while Fat-tails like it a little cooler with a bit more humidity.

Try 6-8 3/4" crickets a night, with an appropriate supplement 2 times a week (T-Rex makes one) and a calcium supplement (Rep-cal) 2 times a month.

My brother keeps his breeders on that expandable coco mulch stuff with great results. You can leave the heat pad on under the hide rock, and a night bulb for basking is ideal. I use a stronger one during the day to simulate warmer temperatures but it is shut off during the night. A UV bulb is more for aesthetic reasons since they only come out after its dark.

Try to have 2 hides in the tank. The one with the pad under it should be the humid hide while the other does not need extra moisture.

Other than that, follow the previously posted guide.


New Member
I took in a leopard gecko that was a rescue. The poor thing was impacted, not eating & was having a hard time shedding. The first thing I did was take out the sand. I replaced it with ceramic tile that was cut to fit the tank. I have an under tank heater which warms the tile up nicely along with a heat bulb at one end. An added bonus is that the tile wipes clean for easy clean up.
It took me about 2 months to get the poor thing back to healthy. (Well, she could still stand to gain some weight, but we're getting there.) This is 2 months of feeding her a mineral oil, baby food, calcium & vitamin mixture through an eye dropper 2x a day & slowly slacking off to every 2 days. She's finally eating on her own. She still has a hard time catching the crickets, but she's learning. I think her previous owner only fed her wax worms. it just goes to show ya what happens when they end up in the wrong hands.
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