Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)
Published: June 26, 2017
Last Updated: May 24, 2023
Leopard geckos are a crepuscular, ground-dwelling lizard native to semi-desert and arid grassland areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. The spotted pattern which serves as their namesake also serves as camouflage among the packed earth, rocks, dry grasses, and shrubs characteristic to the landscape. However as of 2019, they have also been found in dry, forested areas of Nepal.
Wild leopard geckos can be found in holes, crevices, under stones, and under a tree’s loose bark. They are particularly fond of living in old stone walls.
They are 7-10″ (17-25 cm) long, with females generally being smaller. In captivity leopard geckos are known to live long lives: 15-20 years on average.
Leopard geckos are insectivores, which means that they eat primarily insects. In the wild, they eat beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, scorpions, and centipedes. They have also been observed preying on caterpillars, pinky mice, newborn birds, as well as smaller snakes and lizards.
Unlike most geckos, leopard geckos are unable to climb vertical surfaces due to the absence of setae on their toes. They also have eyelids, eliminating the need for using their tongue to clean their eyes—another characteristic gecko behavior. However, they are able to detach and regrow their tail if needed.
- In Pakistan, locals hold a superstition that leopard geckos are related to the common black cobra and are thus venomous. They believe that if you are bitten by a leopard gecko, the “venom” will liquefy the victim’s body, killing them immediately. The skin of a leopard gecko is also believed to be poisonous.
- Aside from being able to regenerate their own tails, according to a study published in June 2018, there is evidence to suggest that leopard geckos are able to regenerate brain cells, too!
If you are planning on a leopard gecko as a pet, PLEASE strongly consider adopting one from a rescue or your local classifieds before purchasing from a pet store. There are many adorable, wonderful leopard geckos that have been rejected by their owners and need a forever home.
The market is already flooded with leopard geckos. By adopting, you discourage the breeding and sale of more unwanted geckos. Plus, you can often adopt a leo for cheaper than you would buy one in the store. It’s a win-win!
Leopard Gecko Care Guide — Table of Contents:
- Introduction to Leopard Geckos
- Shopping List
- Terrarium Size and Cohabitation
- Lighting, Temperature & Humidity Needs
- Substrate (Bedding) Options
- Decorating Your Leopard Gecko’s Enclosure
- What to Feed Your Leopard Gecko
- Handling Tips & Leopard Gecko Body Language
- Common Diseases, Illnesses & Other Health Questions
- Additional Resources
Map modified from “File:Eublepharis macularius distribution.png” by compiled by rbrausse with Quantum GIS Map data: Made with Natural Earth. Free vector and raster map data @ naturalearthdata.com. Distribution based on: Olivier Antonini: Le gecko léopard, Animalia éditions, 2009 Hermann Seufer, Yuri Kaverkin & Andreas Kirschner (editors): The Eyelash Geckos, Karlsruhe, 2005, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.