Eublepharus macularius - Leopard gecko

Eublepharus macularius - Leopard gecko

Postby froot » Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:12 pm

Invasive in SA?

Citation from 'the list':
A disjunct Southwest Asian distribution, including Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India. Taxon originates from similar
climatic zone and inhabitats rocky outcrops in semi-desert and montane
regions of the Middle East, from Iran to Pakistan - similar habitats to those
found in SA. Potential reproductive and niche competitor to SA Gekkonidae.
Many specimens in captivity in SA
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Postby Bushbaby » Thu Oct 13, 2005 9:23 am

Native Location
Leopard geckos are originally from southern Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, western India, Iran). They live in the deserts, grasslands, and rocky steppes, so they are used to warm daily temperatures and are comfortable at room temperatures during the night. But the geckos that you find in the pet stores are the result of captive breeding.

General Physical Description
Leopard geckos come in many color and pattern combinations. Breeders have had a lot of fun creating many variations on the usual theme! Leopard geckos get fairly large – up to 8-10 inches or so. They generally have a yellow background with brownish spots, although the young are sort of striped looking. Their bellies are white. The tail usually has a purple-tinged color and is rather swollen looking. Some of the captive breeding variations include albino, orange, high yellow, striped, jungle, and other unusual patterns. Males and females are hard to tell apart. If you look at the underside of the gecko, the adult males will have an obvious V-shaped row of dark pre-anal pores or bumps. The pre-anal pores of the female are not at all obvious; they are light colored and not at all bumpy. The males also have a wider tail base from the swelling of the hemipenes. Healthy leopard geckos have been known to live to 25 years or so!

The leopard gecko is nocturnal. It may appear that it is not eating but if you watch the gecko after the sun goes down, you will find that it is hunting crickets and mealworms! Just like its lizard relatives, the gecko has a tail that can break off easily when grabbed (by you or a predator)! The fat tail makes a tasty treat for a predator, since it is a fat storehouse providing the gecko with a food source during lean times. While the predator is filling itself with the tail, the gecko has taken off. The new tail that the gecko will regenerate will be fatter and shorter than the original. The leopard gecko has a wonderfully gentle disposition and is very unlikely to bite. If it does bite, the bite is not very painful and certainly not dangerous. Because of their movable eyelids, leopard geckos will close their eyes when they sleep. They are terrestrial and do not have the toe pads of other geckos. Instead, leopard geckos have claws. They cannot climb out of their habitats as easily! They are carnivorous; a leopard gecko will grab its prey in its strong jaws and then gradually work the food into its mouth.

Food and Feeding Schedule
Mealworms and crickets will make up the majority of the leopard gecko’s diet. An occasional wax worm and pinkie mouse make a nice treat. Wax worms are too fatty for a regular diet. Even earthworms can be used once in a while. However, be careful with feeding the leopard gecko any random insect. Lightning bugs, for example, have some sort of toxin that has been known to kill lizards. The leopard gecko should be fed once every day or every other day. The best feeding time is early evening since the gecko is nocturnal. Feed as many crickets or mealworms as the gecko will eat in one feeding. Remove any uneaten food. Crickets hopping around the cage seem to stress the gecko! Calcium or vitamin powder should be provided in a small dish. The leopard gecko should lick the supplement right out of the dish!

You can put one male with 3-4 females. Two males together will result in fighting! Leopard geckos will usually mate in January or February and lay the first eggs shortly after that. Females will continue to lay clutches of about two eggs each – up to a dozen clutches in a season. This is because they retain sperm from the initial mating and sort of “dole it out” over a period of time! There should be a closed container in the cage with an opening for the geckos. Keep 2-3 inches of vermiculite inside the container (for egg laying) and mist the vermiculite to keep it damp. The eggs can be removed for incubation if you wish. Just put the eggs in a plastic, shoebox-sized box with moist vermiculite, cover the box and place it into an incubator. Open the box every few days to let a little fresh air in and check for moisture. The eggs take about two months to hatch. Remove hatchlings. They will not eat until after their first shed (usually takes about 5 days).

Fun Fact
The gender of leopard gecko hatchlings depends on the temperature! Males come from slightly higher incubation temperatures (85-90). Females come from slightly lower temperatures (80 or so). Females hatched at higher temperatures sometimes are too aggressive for breeding!

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