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Tag Archives: Leopard Gecko Health

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Leopard Gecko Care – The Ideal Gecko Terrarium – a Zookeeper’s Thoughts

Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) possess distinct personalities, accept handling, are easy to breed, do not require UVB radiation and are content with modestly-sized terrariums – surely as close to a “perfect reptile pet” as one can imagine.  However, while some have reached ages of 20+ years, Leopard Geckos will not thrive if their specific needs are not met.  Drawing from my work with this and related species at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos, today I’ll describe the type of captive habitat these fascinating lizards require, and some useful products that will help you excel in Leopard Gecko care.  I’m also hoping to publish a revised edition of a book I’ve written on Leopard Geckos…I’ll try to include any interesting observations you might post below.

Male leopard gecko

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by MKGeckos

Natural History

Understanding an animal’s natural history is a critical first step in successful captive care and breeding.

The Leopard Gecko is found in southeastern Afghanistan, western India, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran, where it frequents desert fringes and arid grasslands. Its habitat is characterized by sand, gravel, rocks, tough grasses and low shrubs (please see photo).  In the course of the year, temperatures may range from 41-104 F. Please see the article linked below for further information on Leopard Geckos in the wild. Read More »

Feeding Leopard Geckos – Beyond the “Cricket and Mealworm” Diet – Part 1

Leopard GeckoThe Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius), a pet trade staple, is sometimes promoted as an easy-to-keep “starter-lizard” that requires little more than heat and some vitamin-powdered crickets.  Those who follow this advice may keep their pet alive for a few years, and may even feel satisfied that they have provided it with a good life…similar to the mentality that doomed millions of Red-Eared Sliders to early deaths years ago.  However, the Leopard Gecko’s captive lifespan should be measured in decades, not years – animals in their teens are common, and the record-breaker exceeds 30 years of age. Following are some tips to help you provide the best possible diet for your pet. Read More »

Leopard Gecko Shedding Concerns – Retained Eyelid Lining

After shedding, leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) sometimes exhibit a condition that superficially resembles what snake owners know as “retained eye caps”. However, the structure of a leopard gecko’s eye, and that of the closely related banded and fat-tailed geckos, is nothing like that of a snake’s, and problems following shedding must be addressed in a very different manner.

Leopard Gecko Eye Structure

Leopard GeckoLeopard, banded and fat-tailed geckos are classified in the gecko subfamily Eublepharinae, and differ from all other geckos in having movable eyelids. In fact, the genus name, Eublepharis, means “true eye lids”. The eyes of all other species in the family Gekkonidae are covered by a transparent cap, or spectacle, which is fused to the eyelids (like snakes, they cannot blink their eyes).

The eyelids of leopard geckos and their relatives are lined with a thin layer of skin. This eyelid liner is replaced along with the rest of the gecko’s skin when shedding occurs. However, if conditions are too dry in the terrarium, the eyelid lining may stick to the lid and be retained after shedding. This will lead to an irritation. Eventually, an infection will set in and cause the eye to swell.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The retained skin is thin but visible, so check your gecko carefully after it sheds. Geckos so affected will also blink a great deal, and may rub the area.

While experienced hobbyists may be able to remove retained eye caps (brille) from pet snakes, retained eyelid liners are an entirely different matter. This problem must be attended to by an experienced veterinarian only.

Avoiding Problems: Humidity and Diet

An overly-dry environment seems to be the main factor leading to retained eyelid liners. Although geckos are native to quite arid habitats, like all desert animals they are able to find moist retreats, usually below ground, when necessary. It is easy to overlook this when keeping desert animals. For years zoos kept Gila monsters, native to one of the driest places on earth, in bone-dry exhibits. Field research showed, however, that these lizards actually spend 90% of their time in burrows where humidity levels are quite high.

Shedding aids are useful for lizards of all types, especially desert-adapted species.

Low Vitamin A levels have also been implicated in gecko shedding problems. Be sure to provide your lizard with a varied diet and appropriate vitamin/mineral supplements. Please write in if you need detailed advice on feeding your gecko.

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