Complete Leopard Gecko Care and Setup Guide | 2018 Edition

Welcome to the complete Leopard Gecko care guide Today we’re gonna go in depth of every part of reptile husbandry that I think you need to know to care for leopard geckos. The things i’m gonna be telling you are based on my research and experience over the past 4 years. I guess i’ve cared for over a dozen leopard geckos now and they’ve all done wonderfully So I am confident that everything I’ll be giving you today should be helpful of course there is more than one way to care for any reptile uh so remember to do more research find more resources but i’m gonna tell you everything that I know about them and how to keep them happy and healthy Before we get started, goherping has more merchandise on the shop. No leopard gecko mech right now but if you keep following, maybe there will be some in the future there is a few designs over there so you can check that out also at goherping.com/leopardgeckos you can find the complete updated care guide of everything I’ll be talking about in this video so you can follow along by reading or it can just be a great resource to go back to if you have a certain question about about a specific type of husbandry. Finally, last thing before we get started, all the supplies I use to care for my leopard gecko is linked down in the kit below, everything is just laid out you can buy directly on amazon, you can buy all at once if you want or select different items you want to use. So if you go to kit.com/goherping or the link below You can find everything I use And I also get a partial commission on everything on that list So its a great way to help out. So now we can get started in the care First off lets go ahead and get into the enclosure Size wise there is a lot of argument over this and everything i’ll be talking about in this video but size is the very first thing. A single leopard gecko, some people will say can be fine in a 10 gallon some say 15, some say 20, some say larger Personally I suggest a 20 gallon or larger for a single leopard gecko So giving them space to explore is beneficially along with the fact you’ll want a temperature gradient in the enclosure we’ll get to this later when we get to the temperature stuff so I think giving them this extra space to move around and explore is pretty beneficially along with the fact that you’ll want a temperature gradient in your enclosure this means that basically they can choose what temperature they’re gonna be because they are ectothermic or coldblooded so you want to give them the option to actually be warmer or cooler since they can’t regulate that with their body but we’ll get to that with temperature later but having more space means that there can be more options as to what temperature your animal wants to be at Now what about housing multiple geckos together and how much space will they need Well I recently did a video on housing leopard geckos together. I have done it with 2 or 3 pairs of female geckos lets go ahead and get this out of the way male geckos will probably fight to the death a male and females will probably have eggs which maybe that’s what you’re into, if you want to breed geckos This is not the video for you, you’ll need to find actual gecko breeders and 2 females together might sometimes do okay but like I said, its very iffy there is a lot of things to it so I suggest go watch the full video I did On whether you can house them together Short answer is technically maybe But its best not to. And if you do still wanna house them together 20 gallons will be pretty tight for two animals you can use glass, wood, plastic or whatever kind of enclosure you want. As you can see I tend to prefer glass but other types do work these do change different variables when it comes to the actual husbandry and setting up the right temperatures and humidity in your enclosure. So basically I won’t even argue about it, just use what you want as long as it’s the right size, they all work perfectly fine as long as they’re set up correctly Lets go ahead and hop into substrate This is probably known as the most debatable topic when it comes to leopard geckos you’ll often see or hear about sand. I’m sure this is something you’ve heard of if you looked into leopard geckos kind of at all Should you use sand? Can you use sand? Will it kill them? How quickly will it kill them There is a lot of stuff about it. Right off the bat I have used sand once. I highly regret it That was not fun And luckily I removed it before anything kinda serious happened Leopard geckos do not live on sand in the wild They’re from places like Afghanistan, its rocky and i’m sure obviously there is gonna be dry types of soil around, probably with some sand mixed in Lets go ahead and get this out of the way If you think leopard geckos live 100 percent completely on sand in the wild You’re wrong To say they don’t ever interact with sand naturally is also pretty wrong because of course there is gonna be a lot of variation and they live across a pretty vast landscape uh however, just bc something is natural doesn’t always mean it’s gonna be best. I say this a lot, there are reasons that animals’ lifespans are longer in captivity than in the wild in most cases. Of course there are certain species where their husbandry just has not been perfected or if they just just can’t live in captivity like i dunno Orcas or something. I dunno about sea life don’t ask me

Long story short, leopard geckos are pretty much always gonna live longer in captivity bc you can take away those dangers Why is sand dangerous according to some people? Myself included That’s because there’s a thing called impaction which in animals is essentially when their gut just gets filled with stuff that they either can’t digest or pass when they consume it. The reason not all substrates cause impaction are many are not loose substrates. A loose substrate is something that is- ya know is loose like dirt or sand or gravel or whatever because its loose, i don’t know how else to say it and non loose substrates are things like paper towels, reptilecarpets uh tile newspaper things like that so I always use non loose substrates but we’ll get to some loose substrates in a minute but anyways back to impaction, uh loose substrates can be ingested by animals leopard geckos specifically, they-they just lick everything that’s how they sense stuff so they’re just always gonna be licking and every so often they might pick up a couple pieces of sand. If they’re fed directly on the substrate, like you just toss an insect in and they eat it off the substrate. There is a pretty decent chance they’re gonna get a mouthful of substrate with that. Even if you do feed in a bowl, they still lick a lot of stuff You might say I’m being over protective but why not be? Sand isn’t that amazing if it was like some ridiculously amazing like this 10 times better than any thing else, then I might consider taking that risk but I don’t really see the reason for that when there is so many other really good options that you can use. And the reason that some of these substrates will work while sand does not, is that sand is made from quartz or rocks and that takes a long time for the body to digest the stomach acids can eventually break that down but it takes a long time so this means that it often builds up in the animal before they can past it or digest it, uh that’s why things like maybe coconut fiber, if an animal ingest some of that its soft, it’s just a type of dirt its pretty easy to break down and pass, it doesn’t get clog or stuck in the animal. ideally you don’t want them to eat any substrate but that’s why sand and walnut shells tend to be on the top of what you should not use. People also argue that you can use sand 100% just fine if your husbandry is perfect bc you’ll have no problems The thing I don’t understand about this argument is just personally I’ve gotten so many really depressing emails and pictures of people’s dead animals why did they die? They get an autopsy, they check it themselves or whatever, turns out their gut was filled with sand and they were impacted they could not ingest any food, they were getting no nutrition They just basically died. And lets say your husbandry has to be 100% perfect, whatever that is in order for it to actually ingest sand if an animal’s husbandry can be 90% perfect and everything is fine except for the fact it can’t pass sand then is it still really worth taking the risk with sand? uh for one you can’t tell if an animal is impacted until it’s really bad or until its essentially too late You might be able to do a surgery For one, its a very tiny animal, it’s very hard thing to do that kind of thing but most of the time, once you can see their gut is completely filled its kinda just like welp it might die. Uh I’ve done a video on impaction its really old though so I might do an updated one that;s the best little summery I can do to say I personally suggest you don’t use sand with your leopard geckos which should you use? Well like I said, I like using non loose substrates So stuff like -I-I generally use reptile carpet the thing with reptile carpet is that it can be a little more difficult to clean like paper towel is nicer bc you can just pull all the sheets out put new sheets in and it’s all clean but paper towel is kinda ugly. It does the job, it works perfectly You can feel free to use that. I still use it with temporary leopard geckos bc it’s just easy and efficient but reptile carpet does look nicer and it can be washed sometimes I just wash it with water if there is a little bit of stuff on and occasionally you can just throw it in the wash, throw it in the dishwasher Some people say that fibers will come off uh and your gecko will eat those I’ve used reptile carpet for about 4 years and I have not seen any fibers on the brands that i’ve used that come out at least I’ve heard people say their claws will get stuck in it and get torn out the shortest thing I can say is that I’ve never had this happen and I guess anything is possible. There are these little things personally I do feel comfortable using that if you don’t you can go with newspaper or paper towels and although I don’t like using loose substrates with leopard geckos dry coconut fiber is a pretty common option for them Uh you can get this as eco earth from zoomed or plantation soil from exoterra uh the only thing about this is because you want to use it while it’s dry it tends to get dusty in my experience, and I do sometimes worry that dry animals will end up inhaling a lot of this dust and, am I being over protective? Maybe but that’s how I roll But I do love using eco earth and other coconut fibers with animals that need higher humidity bc it works wonderfully when it is moist but leopard geckos come from dry areas and having moist substrates can cause issues which we’ll get to soon that was a long substrate segment but uh hopefully that helps out

lets go get into hiding places for your animal uh hides are basically a necessity for every reptile out there or at least a lot of the common species and the reasoning for this is so that they can stay hidden and feel safe and secure and not just out in the open all the time how many hides or hiding places should you have well the very first thing I tend to say is it doesn’t necessarily have to be some like reptile hide you don’t have to buy it from the store and it says like reptile hide there is a lot of ways to make hiding places for your animal whether it’s using plants, live or fake different pieces of whatever decor that they can hide under, hide around, get themselves kinda into whatever. It doesn’t have to be through like real hides. I use fake plants alot for this but that is the easiest and most effective way to make it really nice and dark in there for them so they feel super comfy. how many hides do you use well for one gecko, the general rule is to use 3 hides bc you want one on the warm side of the enclosure one on the cooler side of their enclosure, which again we’ll get to temperatures soon and one called a humid hide or a moist hide or whatever you wanna call it this hide makes it easier for your gecko to shed off it’s skin because if you don’t know, reptiles shed their skin just all in one piece like people do,mine- I’m kinda shedding right now I guess bc we all are but geckos, like other reptiles, do it all in one piece and when it’s more humid in a certain area it loosens up the skin, it’s not as crackly and dry and it just peels off more easily. So you can make it easier for your gecko to do this By creating a humid hide. Personally I just take a plastic tupperware tuurperware? Personally I just take a plastic tupperware, cut a hole in it make sure to sand it down or melt it or smth so it’s not sharp around the edges and put something like paper towels or you can use coconut fiber but it gets everywhere so I like using papertowels and I spray it down every couple of days to keep it moist in there can I just like put a moist hide in there when my gecko is shedding? thats a somewhat common question The problem is that leopard geckos go into shed so quickly that you can’t even tell like one hour they’ll look perfectly normal an hour later they’ll be all like dull and look like they’re bout to shed and a couple hours later it comes off so this might all happen in the middle of the night. You might never see your gecko shed they also eat it bc they reabsorb the nutrients from the shed it’s weird I know. They’re just eating their dead skin but it works, it’s efficient, it’s effective that’s why you’re never gonna see shed in your enclosure There might be little bits that they missed and stuck shed is a thing that can happen in geckos but hides, make as many hiding places as you want just try and make sure your gecko can stay comfortable on the cool side comfortable on the warm side and have a place to go to that is more humid to make it easy to shed that- hopefully that covers it well Next up water. This is pretty quick but something that goes in your enclosure Put a water bowl in there, they might wanna drink they can go a long time without moisture bc they are from very dry areas but keeping a water bowl filled with nice fresh clean water as often as possible is great. You can change it our daily, multiple times a week multiple times a day if you want, the more the better I mean that’s a lot of water but it works tap water is something I don’t suggest you use bc it has chemicals like chlorine, chloride and ammonia uh if you’re using city water, well water, it depends on what you, your city, your family or your neighborhood puts in it But I did whole video talking about all the types of water short answer is that I have found reptisafe is the most effective you just add some drops in and its done but if you want to be cheaper and not spend that much money on reptisafe there are home remedies you can do to make it safe again you can watch that video with the i card below or the link below I mean i card above, link below Next up to temperature and humidity, first lets go over temperatures short answer is I keep my geckos at about a 90 to 94 degree hotspot, usually just around 91 if it’s 1 degree off, who cares, I mean it’s good to be like accurate but they’re not gonna notice, but uh 90 is the general consensus in the community of what works best based on their natural habitat and just with breeders and keepers and stuff uh how should you heat your leopard gecko up some people use heat lamps, some use undertank heaters (uth) I highly suggest using uth, this is because they’re not basking animals so the quickest and easiest and most comfortable way to get that heat into your animal is when the animal can just lie down, get their belly on some heat and its so nice, well its a heat pad, that’s what it does it heats their belly up, make sure you use a thermostat with these although technically I do get buy without using a thermostat with a couple of my animals, it’s much harder, its much more complicated and you can say it’s much more riskier I’ll link some thermostats down below they range from what, 20-50 dollars but what a thermostat does is that you can just set it at a temperature and it does it the rest for you. plug the heat mat into the thermostat you put the probe of the thermostat beneath the enclosure

where you want the temperature to be right and you just set the thermostat to what you want now uh what I do is put this to one side of the enclosure uh there is a lot of sizes to heat mats some people say you should have a heat mat that is half the size of your enclosure thats pretty big, uh usually I go with a quarter to a third of the enclosure usually a third is best but because leopard geckos are smaller it’s pretty easy to get an area that can cover their entire body and as the enclosure goes down, as the gecko walks across the enclosure ideally it’s gonna get cooler the cool side there is no exact number for this usually I just make sure it goes down to 80 degrees it could go cooler because if they can get to the warm spot then it doesn’t matter too much but about 80, maybe 75, that’s a bit lower but that works, just so your gecko doesn’t over heat at night, personally I just leave my heat mats on 24/7 because they do have the cooler spaces they can go to if you want you can turn the heat mats off at night whether it’s cuz you wanna save electricity i dunno why else, but if you do wanna do that that can also drop to bout 80 maybe lower, they can like survive in 70 degrees they’ll probably not enjoy it very much. I would not want to do that for very long but just somewhere around the 80-90 degree area at night on the warm side of the enclosure, and in the middle of course, will just be a random gradient oh it’s 84 degrees here, it’s 81 degrees here but your gecko can figure it out from there as long as it has the options humidity is quite easy to deal with because there are from pretty dry areas usually the average house hold will be just fine for it but essentially just keeping this nice and low will be ideal dehumidifying an area can be a bit more difficult than actually adding humidity but it can be done, often the heating just naturally decrease like the humidity, it dries it up but if your humidity is too high the exact numbers varies a lot personally I would not feel comfortable with a gecko over- or a leopard gecko over like 50%, 60% if it was over 60%, then I would be pretty concerned and at that point they can have things like respiratory issues, other illnesses their scales and skin may be effected because it’s just so damp in there it’s like if you wore shoes that were wet all the time your feet are not gonna be healthy after awhile it’s that kind of thing, just keep it lower. It doesn’t have to be exact and the humidity hide is the place your animal can go when it does need that dose of humidity, that dose of moisture and of course there will be a water bowl in there uh if your gecko is soaking in the water bowl frequently, this probably means that your temperatures are way too high in the enclosure and it’s trying to cool off and uh-and snakes and stuff, soaking also means mites personally I haven’t dealt with geckos having mites so i can’t vouch for this personally but that is another possibility the animal is trying to sooth the itchiness of the mites or drown the mites or whatever uh mites are not very common with leopard geckos but it’s still something good to know about, just don’t like panic about it it really doesn’t need to be at the front of your mind Next up lets go to lighting your enclosure do you need light, what kind of light lights, do-do you use them? Um well personally I kinda just have lights all over the room so that is generally pretty bright in here during the day and one, it makes it nice for videos makes it nice for me to look at and it makes it so that animals actually know its day time so leopard geckos are crepuscular animals meaning that they are active during dawn and dusk hours of the day lots of people mix this up with nocturnal. It’s important that they know when it is day time so that they’re not living in the dark 24/7 why do some many people do that? I don’t know. They keep their geckos like in their closet where it’s dark all the time they love it right? I don’t want to be in the sun all the time, it’ll be so annoying just freak out and have a mental breakdown if it was never dark, well I guess Alaskans can deal with that in certain areas But i’m, I don’t want to and neither does your gecko give it some day time, give it some night time a direct lamp is not necessarily required if you have a heat mat under there even just- there is a window right here indirect window light is often enough direct window light might heat your enclosure up, so I don’t suggest that I can- I usually keep animals right by the window I just have to make sure the pattern of the sun does not shine right into the animal cuz once it hits the glass, it’s gonna heat up and turn into an oven now what type of light should you use? So many details, I know Uh there is lot of different lights. There’s just random incandescent , leds Pretty much any of that works, uvb is a little bit different I’ll get to that in just a second, but red lights that’s a very common option, animals cant see them right? No they can see them, they just might not always see the color i- I don’t know why they exist honestly I mean they work for heat usually but why does it have to be red? They can see it, it’s just sometimes a little dimmer Keeping a red light on at night is a big o nono in my book uh just cuz thats kinda the equivalent to it always being bright That does for any animal btw Now I guess you could use a red light during the day if you wanted to Some people have told me that eventually red lights will damage your animal’s eyesight

I personally haven’t seen proof for this yet, I’ve only looked into it a little bit So is a red light actually dangerous, it’s hard to say it’s another debate I haven’t had bad luck with it but I also don’t often use red lights UVB is the other thing a lot of people will say I wouldnt keep any animal without uvb Crepuscular animals, like I said before, are active during the dawn and dusk hours now during these hours its its been shown that uvb uh rays from the sun are really, pretty nonexistant they’re very dull and there’s really not much that you can benefit from the sun during these hours this means leopard geckos naturally do not really get any uvb out in the wild since they will be hidden away and sleeping during the day so uvb is not something I would consider a requirement the other thing is though, many people say that albino animals are damaged by uvb bc their skin are much more delicate and sensitive and the uvb can do more harm than good there is not a ton of research on this yet until there is, I just say don’t use uvb on albino leopard geckos it gets even spicier if you get into the world of animals that are albino but still need uvb but we won’t get into that today Now lets go ahead into food what should your gecko eat? how often and what should you supplement with They are 100% insectivores, no veggies, no fruit No… meat… just-just stick to insects please heh. Either crickets, mealworms, dubias superroach- superroaches heh. Superworms other types of roaches, other types of worms, wax worms hornworms, calciworms. There’s a lot of options the 4 most common that are fed to leopard geckos are crickets, mealworms, superworms and dubia roaches now leopard geckos are a pretty weird species bc they often just decide they don’t like a food anymore for example, Goldie my leopard gecko 4 years ago when I got him,the- he was being fed super worms by the breeder all a sudden he was like neh I don’t like superworms so I had to start trying a bunch of insects and he started eating mealworms? maybe it was crickets and then eventually he was like i don’t- i don’t really want crickets and then he switched to mealworms and they often times they will eat lots of different stuff we had some of the weirdest, pickiest geckos ever there was one that would eat nothing but superworms and we just started buying every insect on earth and finally superworms was the thing that it took, so basically what i’m trying to say is that although I’m about to suggest the insects that I prefer your gecko might not agree and you’re just gonna have to go with what it wants I use to feed just meal worms but dubias are often considered the healthiest and even if they aren’t the healthiest, they tend to be the softest like you can just tell that they are softer and easier to digest unfortunately I’ve had bearded dragons and leopard geckos that can’t just digest the hard shell of mealworms and superworms and it’ll come straight out in their poop undigested and that’s just doesn’t seem okay with me but dubias are consistently given the animals some nice solid but soft poops I know you wanted to know that. I mean it’s important for them to poop well and dubias seem to be the best way to do that a lot of you are gonna say but i- I live in florida or I live in canada where uh dubias are illegal so sorry about that, luckily there are plenty of other options I’ve avoided crickets for 4 years now bc they’re just the worse they stink, they’re loud, they escape I kill them really easily but they do work, I can’t hate on them too much bc they keep animals alive I still hate them tho but I mean it’s just a personal grudge it’s fine, theyre healthy, they keep your animal doing well but dubias are my insect of choice and a variety is always good to have. You can get lots of other types to just occasionally give them the only thing about variety is that your animal might refuse them but it doesn’t hurt to try it. Next up is supplements there are three different types of supplements know to be used with leopard geckos. There is calcium with d3 calcium without d3 and a multivitamin supplement I don’t super understand the breakdown of each little components in these so i’ll just tell you what I do and what’s been working based on my research and when I dust my insects, I dust it with multivitamins and calcium with d3 the ratio I use is about a 1/4 multivitamin to a 1/3 multivitamin with the rest being the calcium wiht d3 so I usually just do 1/3 multivitamin 2/3 calcium with d3 you can mix this all up I just have a container with this mixture already done or you can just do it every third feeding you give them multivitamin instead of calcium leopard geckos are pretty good at knowing when they need more or less calcium so what people often do is put a little bowl of calcium in the enclosure this bowl is calcium without d3 why, I will try to explain it but its better if you refer to other people for that because i’ll just be copying what other people will say but it works just fine they’re happy and comfortable doing that uh overdosing with calcium is something we rarely often see about half the animals, or well half the leopard geckos we’ve gotten in here

will usually have calcium over doses you can tell bc there will be these big squishy packets under their armpits like literally you can squish them and it’s just big o’ lumpy bubble. This means that you’re feeding your animal too much calcium all you have to do is bring it back maybe take the calcium out, put less in their food and over a couple of weeks to a couple months, usually it just a few weeks works for us of no calcium at all and it’ll be back to normal then just feed them with less calcium than before and that should be fine uh if they have big squishy packets for just a little bit that should be fine but in the long run just it’s good to avoid it so that their calcium overdose does not cause something more severe in the gecko how often you should feed is very hard to say because every gecko is different The tail of your gecko is the best gauge as to how fat or thin they are. You want a nice chunky meaty tail (ss:O.O) but you don’t want other parts of their body to look to flabby themselves and a thinner tail, if its- if it’s looking like a crested gecko’s tail you’re having some problems. Its really depressing seeing those it needs to be nice and fat uh again without the rest of their body showing it so if they have flabs around here up here or around their neck, then maybe you’re feeding them too much their tail is where they keep their fat reserves so… like… if they end up starving they can live a long time off what’s in their tail but personalty I essentially free feed my my- Goldie, my leopard gecko, dubias They’re pretty much always in his bowl and he doesn’t like eat himself to death he’s not a fish or anything. However sometimes you might have to actually regulate it whether it’s a couple dubias every couple days a lot of dubias twice a week or whatever. There is lots of ways to do it and it’s hard to tell you what you should actually do especially since its based on the insect but when I get a new gecko and I’m not sure how much to feed it I kinda just watch it and see how much it eats every day and take out what it doesn’t eat just so that I can keep track and if it’s getting too fat I reduce it, if it’s not gaining enough I might just keep the food in there or change to a slightly fattier insect Leopard geckos are often known to be pretty docile Pretty good at handling. Some are more often scared Especially if they haven’t been handled in the past and others are just perfectly fine with it from the start we had few little geckos that have come in from like hoard conditions and immediately they just crawl out and crawl all over you and it’s so cute don’t be discourage if your gecko does not do this if you work with it uh frequently, uh maybe a few minutes every day or a few times a week for like 10 or 15 minutes, just getting it use to handling will help if the gecko starts getting scared, don’t just immediately put it back bc if it knows it can just defend itself and get away then it’ll just keep doing it, just keep handling it just show it that it’s okay leopard gecko do bite, it’s not common it surprisingly hurts more than you might think but in the end it’s really more like you’re basically not ever gonna draw blood it’s not gonna break your bone or anything it’s just gonna be a nice pinch on the finger or where ever they bite you but uh don’t let the fear or discouragement of a bite stop you from handling it, just keep working with it a little bit at a time right when you get your gecko it’s best to give it a few days to actually adjust to the new home it might be good to make sure it starts eating before you do it because there can be a lot of stress in a new place but in the end, they’re often a great animal that you can play around with and handle and get cute pictures of with don’t forget that they can drop their tails, like i said, this is their fat reserves its very important. We’ve had geckos with dropped tails and its- it does grow back surprisingly quickly in a number of weeks but it can be a bit more risky you have to be really on top of things um bc they might not have as much nutrition at that time don’t worry about it, I’ve never had a gecko drop it’s tail when I’ve been caring for it and I have over the years accidentally pulled at their tails or whatever avoid that as much as you can but most of the time you should be all good worse case scenario they do drop their tail and it’ll need a little more attention here or there but don’t let that stop you from getting that gecko so there we go i’m pretty sure I covered everything I’m gonna be editing this and realize like I forgot that thing I wanted to say but uh that’s why you can go and check out the leopard gecko care guide at goherping.com/leopardgeckos cuz I update that super frequently again all the supplies I use are linked below I coown a company called emerald scales that sells animals so you can check that out its still generally small so we might not have leopard geckos at the time but you can follow our emerald scales on instagram and keep up to see what’s new. Again merchandise we got uh frogs and snakes right now maybe more to come, you can check that out at goherping.com/shop hopefully this helps you on the channel I do lots of care guides and other reptile stuff if you’re still watchingthen cool, you’re like a dedicated researcher and I appreciate that again don’t forget to google some other things to compare sources and other stuff to make sure I didnt mess anything up hopefully that helps, feel free to ask questions

join the discord or facebook if you want more help I’m plugging a lot of stuff right now but I think that’s everything So I’m Alex And thanks for watching