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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Faqs About Leopard Geckos

FAQs About Leopard Geckos

John Gerstenberger

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Q: What is the best diet for leopard geckos? Should I feed my leopard gecko mealworms, crickets or an alternative? Can you give them grasshoppers from the wild? Is it safe to feed my leopard gecko vegetables?

A: Great question! A respectable leopard gecko diet includes a variety of “gut-loaded” live insects,including mealworms, crickets, waxworms, and superworms (FYI – superworms are for larger geckos). The bulk of their diet should consist of mealworms and crickets followed up with the occasional offering of waxworms and superworms. It’s also important to dust your gecko’s insects 2 – 3 times a week with a powdered vitamin or mineral supplement. As an alternative to insect dusting, you can leave a small dish filled with the powdered vitamin in your leopard gecko’s habitat.

While some Pet Parents have leopard geckos that have eaten vegetables, leopard geckos are by nature insectivores, animals that eats mainly insects. A varied diet, as noted above, is the best for the long term health and maintenance of your pet.

I do not recommend giving your leopard gecko insects from the wild. The biggest concern, is not knowing whether or not the insect came in contact with any type of pesticide or poison, which could harm your pet.

Q: I recently got a jumbo leopard gecko, and it seems like he is still a bit timid and skittish. Is there anything I can do to calm him down a bit? He's fine if I pick him up and have him on my shoulder, but if I put him down on a surface, he wants to dance away, and he gets skittish in his terrarium sometimes as well. 

A: Like people, leopard geckos have their own individual personalities and some may be more reluctant to “hop” in the spotlight than others. Since most animals look at larger animals as possible predators, your gecko could be looking at you as a threat and therefore scurrying away for safety when released from your hand. This is something they may never get over. That said, I recommend short but frequent doses of interaction to help your gecko get used to you and learn that you aren’t a predator. You may even want to try offering a single mealworm with tongs to your gecko, which will teach your gecko not to fear you, and that you are their buffet ticket.

Q: At what age can you tell if they are male or female? We have a young leopard gecko "Sobe" who is around 7-8 months old, starting to show a hint of colored v-shape. 

A: Most first time leopard gecko pet parents can determine their pet’s gender somewhere between 4 and 7 months. The best way to tell is actually something you’ve already noticed, the “V” shaped pores towards the base of the tail, which are called “preanal pores.” Males have them and females don’t. 
Although it takes the average person 4 to 7 months to determine the gender of a leopard gecko, professionals with the right equipment can tell the gender as soon as a leopard gecko hatches.

Q: Do leopard geckos have good eyesight? I'm the pet parent of a female less than a year old, and she seems to have a hard time seeing meal worms squirming on her reptile carpet. 

A: In general, leopard geckos are drawn by movement, which is why I suggest “live insects” for feeding. That said, your gecko may have a hard time differentiating the worm from the carpet due to coloring. My recommendation is to use a small smooth sided dish to put the worms in for feeding; this way the worms are contained, the gecko will learn to eat from the same spot, and clean-up is a snap! 

Q: What kind of personality do leopard geckos have? Are they calm or jumpy? Do they like to be handled? Do they like to sunbath? Can I take them for a walk on a leash?

A: In general leopard geckos have a wonderful personality, but like people, their personalities vary from pet to pet. Leopard geckos tend to be jumpier when they’re younger and calmer when they’re older. 

How about handling? As far and handling leopard geckos, I personally feel they tend to tolerate being handled, rather than actually enjoying the action. (Although, they do seem to have that permanent grin on their face.) 

Since leopard geckos are nocturnal, “sunbathing” is not natural for them. Instead, they rely on general ambient habitat temperatures and an under-tank heating pad to keep the habitat between 85 and 95 degrees, the proper overall temperature.

Although it sounds tempting, due to their size and potential dangers of being outside, I would not recommend taking your leopard gecko out for a walk.

Q: Is it okay to change the sand in my leopard gecko’s habitat? Our leopard gecko has lived with calcium sand, but a pet shop owner recommended using coconut bark instead. What would you suggest? I hesitate to change using the sand since it is what he is used to.

A: Absolutely! The best advice I can offer is to change the sand and disinfect the habitat monthly to ensure a clean home for your pet (for a 20 gallon habitat). More frequent cleanings are needed for smaller habitats and less frequent cleanings for larger habitats. Regarding bedding, I’m a big fan of your choice: calcium sand versus coconut bark, as it is safer for your pet if ingested (and would actually provide your pet with extra calcium). When setting up your leopard gecko’s habitat, it’s important to remember that even though leopard geckos are “arid” reptiles they still need an area with moisture, similar to a burrow they would have in the wild. To best replicate this in their habitat, you should provide a hiding place lined with moistened peat moss. Check it daily and mist to keep moist as necessary.


John has extensive expertise in those cute little critters we call specialty pets: fish, birds, small pets, and reptiles. He spends a lot of time identifying which animals are suitable pets and carefully plans for their care while they are in our stores. John also oversees the care and maintenance of all of the fish housed in PetSmart’s fish distribution centers. John is a pet parent to three dogs (Ali, Barley and Hannah), two Leopard Tortoises, and four Greek’s Tortoises.



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