Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why Leopard Geckos are Awesome

There are many reasons why leopard geckos are awesome. They are a gecko with moveable eyelids yet still sometimes lick their eyeballs anyway. They are a hardy species. They stay small (average around 8" in length). They are also easy to take care of. I would definitely list this reptile as a good beginner pet. A single gecko can live in a 20 gallon tank with a lid. They mostly just need some places to hide. Like all reptiles, they require a temperature gradient in the tank. This means that one side of the tank has to be warm, another cooler. I achieve this by using a small heat pad underneath the tank. If it is really cold, I have a heat bulb that emits a blue light.

This is a good setup example:

Notice that this person uses paper towels as the "substrate." I highly recommend this to avoid impaction. I know it doesn't look as pretty, but it makes it safer. If you feel like you have to use a sand, I recommend teaching your leo to be tong fed directly and never let food hit the ground or hang out in a tank.

This is my current tank set up. I use advertisement flyers that are non-glossy.

Another important piece to gecko welfare is a moisture box. This is often missed in novice gecko care. Typically every month, a gecko sheds its skin much like most reptiles. In order to have a proper shed, the gecko must be hydrated. To assist in their shedding in a non-invasive way, a moisture box should be created for them. The majority of gecko owners make their own since a really good one doesn't exist yet in the market. Basically, buy a plastic storage container that is big enough for your leo to lay in. Cut a hole on one side and make sure to soften the edges. Then, put moss in it. It is important to make sure it stays moist. I leave a small spray bottle by his tank and spray it down every day.

Another cool thing about geckos is what and how they eat. They are insectivores and should be given gut-loaded worms, crickets, etc. This is where we typically lose people in the pet department. Most people don't like the idea of having live worms or crickets in their homes. If you want a reptile, as I mentioned before, it is necessary. I don't even find it abnormal that I have multiple worm containers hanging out with my milk carton. (Many worms need to be refrigerated.)

The best part of owning a gecko is watching them eat. My boy Helix really gets into it. He reminds me of Jurassic Park when Alan says the T-rex's vision is based on movement. It seems that way for our gecko! Take a look at this video:

Regardless of what I say, always do your homework before taking home any reptile. Be sure to understand the reptile's needs for its entire life. Also, it is best to have everything set up ahead of time before getting a new pet. If you've ever had to move into an apartment without furniture so you had to sleep on a pile of clothes on a wooden floor, you'd understand why.

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