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Leopard gecko care
Information also transferable for fat-tailed geckos

Leopard Gecko.jpg

Minimum Requirements

  • A 3ft x 18” x 18” vivarium or bigger. (LxHxD)

  • UVB lighting 7% T5 fluorescent tube.

  • A heat bulb on an appropriate thermostat with a heat guard protects the animal from the heat source.

  • A broad range calcium and vitamin supplements.


Owning a pet is a rewarding experience and ensuring your animal has everything within its environment will allow it to thrive. Each element is just as important for a happy and healthy reptile.

Heating: All heat sources should be positioned at the same end of the vivarium to create a hot basking end. This allows for a temperature gradient so that the opposite end is the cool end.  Leopard geckos require a basking spot of 32C, to achieve this use a thermostat and set it to 28C. Place the thermostat probe off-centre within the third of the vivarium where the heat source is.

Thermostats regulate the temperature for you allowing for a stable and accurate temperature at all times within the vivarium.

A night-time drop of no less than 18C on the cooler side can be beneficial as this is a natural occurrence for them and enables them to be more active during the day.  Do not worry about your leopard gecko being cold to touch in the morning as they will bask to warm up. If your house is too cold this is not advised.

The recommended heat bulbs are deep heat projectors or halogen heat bulbs. We do not recommend using heat mats for this  species. For more information please ask.


NOTE: Always use a heat guard to prevent animals climbing/jumping and burning themselves or you burning yourself! These heat bulbs get hot.

UVB: UVB lighting has not been seen as being essential for leopard geckos in the past due to their crepuscular nature, however, there is evidence that they benefit greatly as it replicates their natural environment. We recommend 12 hours of UVB using the arcadia 7% shade dweller. The benefits of the T5 range including the shade dweller, are that the UVB wavelength can reach a further distance with a 12-month virtually guaranteed UVB output.

Using a reflector increases the amount of UVB reflected down. Ensure you position the UV lighting on top of the mesh lid and not at eye level or within 45 degrees of the eye as this could cause severe damage (photo keratoconjunctivitis or cataracts). If other UVB tubes are used ensure to replace them every 6 months unless the manufacturer advises otherwise.

Using UVB lighting for leopard geckos can reduce the chances of floppy tail syndrome along with many other problems such as MBD.

NOTE: The UVB output will continue to degrade even though it will continue to give off light.

Cleaning, Substrate and Furnishings

There are many opinions as to what substrate should be used for your leopard gecko. We recommend our leopard gecko bedding/life or a good quality corn cob substrate. Though there has been some success with beech chips, there are certain products known to cause impaction in all ages of leopard geckos, some more than others. However, providing the appropriate supplementation, lighting and thermal gradient, the risk of impaction is significantly reduced. We favour a loose substrate compared to carpets as this encourages natural behaviours such as digging. Never use gravel, sawdust or peat as substrate.

The vivarium should be spot cleaned on a regular basis, if done thoroughly a full clean should only need to be done every 4-6 weeks. Ensure you only use disinfectants specifically intended for reptiles. Other products can be toxic. 

Ensure décor/furnishings are from a recognised dealer to ensure they’re safe for use for your leopard gecko.

Leopard geckos require an area of humidity to assist with the shedding process. Sphagnum moss is the easiest substrate to achieve the humidity required. Place this in a cave or you can use a plastic tub and put a 6-10cm hole on the side to allow the gecko access. Place at the cooler end of the vivarium and always remember to keep the moss damp.

Diet & Nutrition

Your leopard gecko is an insectivore and requires just insects. Hoppers should be fed every other day. Safe insects include locusts, crickets, mealworms, Dubai roaches and wax worms. The best way to determine the amount of food your gecko requires is to start with 6 hoppers and if they are all eaten straight away provide your gecko with more until they actively stop chasing the food. We recommend locusts over crickets as they have the tendency to feed on the geckos' faeces and aid in wasting disease for your gecko when digested, known as ‘crypto’. Mealworms can be given in a bowl to allow grazing throughout the day and should be topped up as needed. Unfortunately, many large breeders use mealworms as a staple diet which means now mealworms are essential to most geckos’ survival. Removing them from an already established gecko can lead to stress and illness. This can be resolved by ensuring your mealworms are well gut loaded and vitamin supplementation is used.

Remember never to leave excess food loose in the vivarium as they have the potential to cause injury to your animal.


A good quality vitamin, mineral and calcium supplement is necessary for the health and wellbeing of your leopard gecko. ALWAYS read the packaging carefully. We recommend a nutrobal twice a week. If this duty is not fulfilled there is a risk of irreversible illness.

Leopard geckos have a natural instinct to when they need more calcium in their diet. Place a small dish of pure calcium such as CalciumPro so your gecko can help themselves.

Health & 

If you are worried about your animals' health, seek advice from a respected dealer and if still in double contact a specialist veterinarian. There are a few symptoms to monitor:

  • Unusual lethargy

  • Prolonged lack or loss of appetite

  • Dehydration – eyes sinking into the back of the head

  • Cloudy, unclear or sticky eyes

  • Discharge from the nose

  • Prolonged diarrhoea

  • Weight loss in the tail

  • Trouble shedding especially around feet, toes, and tail.

  • Shaking or twitching

  • Bone structure forming abnormally – this can usually be seen in the tail or spine.

It is important that you allow your gecko to settle in before you start handling. 1-2 weeks is usually sufficient as long as your gecko is feeding and expressing natural behaviours. Leopard geckos are naturally friendly and good at being handled so there’s no need to excessively restrain or handle them as this could cause defensive, aggressive or reclusive behaviours and feelings for your gecko. Take your time in getting to know your gecko and not force handling so take your time and build up how long you spend handling without causing your gecko stress.




Always handle your gecko near a surface as accidents do happen. Remember do not to touch or grab your gecko by the tail as your gecko can drop its tail when they feel threatened.

Leopard geckos can be territorial so it is advised you house them separately.  However, can generally live with each other happily under the correct conditions. This includes the correct sex ratios, that the animals are of compatible sizes and that they receive equal amounts of food to ensure the same rate of growth. Always ask a respected dealer for further information.


So, you think you're ready to take home your new leopard gecko?
Download our check sheet to be sure:


Pop in store for a free print out of this care sheet, or download a PDF version here:


Don't forget that the team at Small World Reptiles are always here for you - whether you are a first-time snake owner or an experienced one. 

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