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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.

Breeding Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) at Home: Determining Sex

Breeding Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) at Home: Determining the Sex of Your Pets


Adult Leopard GeckoThe ever popular leopard gecko is a good choice as an introduction to the breeding of lizards in captivity. Success, while not assured, is common…yet, these little fellows are so captivating that even zoos and well-experienced breeders continue to work with them.

Spring’s Effect
Leopard geckos are often brought into breeding readiness by the slight changes in temperature and day length that are evident even indoors. With the imminent arrival of spring (writing from southern NY I am happy to report hearing a song sparrow singing for the first time today!), I thought it a good time to discuss how female from male leopard geckos differ in appearance.

The Pores
Take a look at your pet’s vent, which is an opening, used for copulation and defecation, at the base of the lizard’s tail. Directly above the vent, between the rear legs, you will see a series of “V” shaped little bumps, which are known as pre-anal pores. These are large and readily visible in males and tiny and less-evident in females. The pores produce waxy secretions that are used by males to mark territories and, possibly, to attract females.

Between the vent and the base of the tail, mature male geckos exhibit a pair of bulges. These bulges conceal the hemipenes, which are used during copulation to achieve internal fertilization. Male lizards and snakes have 2 hemipenes, and can use either, but only one at a time, when mating.

You may need to look at a number of geckos, or reliable photographs, before being able to reliably distinguish males from females…but once you get the right “search image” the process becomes quite easy. Please remember that only mature animals – males of age 1 year or more, females generally of age 18 months or so – will exhibit noticeable sexual dimorphism (differences in appearance).

Further Reading
Please check out the book I’ve written on leopard gecko care and natural history at http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/prod/240453/product.web.



An Introduction to Geckos

Some of our most familiar and desirable of reptile pets, such as the leopard gecko and the brilliantly-colored day geckos, are members of a fascinating family of lizards that I would like to introduce today.

The 1,050 or more species of geckos comprise the second largest of lizard families, the Gekkonidae (the largest is the Scincidae, or skinks). They range throughout the world, reaching their greatest diversity in desert and tropical habitats. “House geckos” of several species follow human habitation and are widely transplanted, including into the southeastern USA. Geckos range in size from the various Shaerodactylus species, some of which are full grown at 1.2 inches in length, to the New Caledonian giant gecko, Rhacodactylus leachianus, a bulky creature that tops out at nearly 15 inches. Several other species, now considered extinct but which may possibly still survive in Madagascar’s forest canopy, reached 24 inches in length.
Adult Leopard Gecko
Geckos generally lay 2 eggs, although some bear live young. Arboreal types often glue their eggs to tree branches or building walls. Most are insectivorous, but many take nectar and over-ripe fruits as well. The voracious tokay gecko, Gekko gecko, consumes nestling birds, small rodents and bats, snakes and other lizards. A number of species are highly endangered while others, such as the leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, are pet trade staples. Many have a long association with people, being welcome in homes for their insect-catching abilities and sometimes regarded as good luck symbols. Some years back, a store in NYC even rented tokay geckos for use as roach-control agents. However, the males’ habit of calling loudly (“Tokay-Tokay!”) at 4 AM and their pugnacious dispositions rendered the scheme less-than-profitable!

The ability of many geckos to climb sheer walls (even glass) and to run upside-down on ceilings was first recorded by Aristotle in the 4th century BC. Only recently has the secret behind this remarkable phenomenon been discovered. The toes of many species are covered with layered pads known as lamellae, which in turn support thousands of microscopic hair-like structures called setae. Their action against a surface sets up a weak molecular attraction known as the van-der-Waals force, and this, it seems, is the source of their unique method of adhesion. This phenomenon Tokay Geckois being studied with a view towards creating new adhesives for use in industry.

Members of this huge family have evolved startling adaptations to a number of basic themes. To cite just one example – depending upon the species, tails are used to distract predators (by disengaging from the body), plug burrows, extrude noxious secretions, create sound, communicate with others, convey stability while gliding, store food and grip branches.


If you have a special interest in geckos, you may wish to join the Global Gecko Association, or to visit their website for further information:


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