Leopard geckos are brightly colored geckos native to Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of India. They are usually some variation of yellow and dark brown, although they can have other colors, including white and pale pinkish lavender. These geckos are fairly easy to take care of, making them an ideal pet for someone new to reptiles.
There are some unusual traits that make leopard geckos stand out among other species. They are among the few types of geckos that have movable eyelids. In fact, their scientific name is derived from this trait, Eublepharis Macularis; Eublepharis meaning "true eyelids" and Macularis meaning "spotted."
Hatchlings are usually striped yellow and dark brown, although there are variations to this pattern. As they grow, their stripes turn to spots, giving them their common name. They usually reach about 8 to 10 inches (approximately 20 to 25 cm) as adults. The males and females are hard to tell apart, although male geckos have slightly thicker necks and wider heads than the females.
Being nocturnal, leopard geckos find shelter during the day, usually under rocks or in hollows or caves. In captivity, they need a couple of "hides" — boxes or other structures that provide shelter. As they are from the arid desert regions, these geckos also need a heat source in their habitat, although hot rocks should not be used since they can burn the animals.
One gecko can be comfortably housed in a 10 gallon (37.8 liter) tank. Two or three leopard geckos can live in a 20 gallon (75.7 liter) tank, but two males must never be put together. There are various substrates that can be used in their tanks, including paper towels, wood shavings, sand, and bark, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Leopard geckos are easy to clean up after, as they will choose one corner of their tank to be their "bathroom" and not use any other area.
These reptiles are carnivorous and eat crickets, worms, locusts, and "pinkie" mice, among other things. In captivity, they need their crickets or other staples to be coated in vitamin and calcium powder. This is especially important for females who may be laying eggs and hatchlings.
Like most lizards, leopard geckos are able to break off their tail when in danger. This is a defense mechanism that lets them distract or escape from a predator. Because of this, the geckos should never be picked up by the tail and, in fact, the tail should be touched as little as possible. These lizards are able to regenerate their tails, but they will never be as attractive as the original.
Leopard geckos are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at most pet stores that carry reptiles. They make excellent class pets as well as "beginning" reptiles for those unfamiliar with owning these animals. There are many color schemes and they are usually considered quite attractive. When looking at the animals' quirky faces, it is easy to see why they are growing in popularity.