The Leopard Gecko
The Leopard Gecko has been a readily available pet for several years now. They are normally a very mellow and inquisitive gecko which makes them great pets. They are fairly low maintenance too and can even recognize their keeper.
Description: Though the Leopard Gecko has been bred into several different types of morphs (albino, tangerine, etc.) you average Leopard Gecko looks as you might guess from its name - a sunny yellow with brown, dark purple, or black spots.
Unlike most geckos, they do not have sticky feet and are ground dwellers. When healthy, they have a very plump tail about the same width as their stomach, tapering off to a tip. They can also lose their tails (even just segments of it) and it will regenerate. Regenerated tails have a smoother appearance and tend to be slightly shorter than the original. Their fat tails serve as a back up supply of nutrition. So when food is not accessible their bodies will start to use up the fat stored in the tail. This is one way that helps them survive in their native wild.
My male leopard gecko, Jack, was nearly starved to death by his previous owner. He was an adult when I got him, but his legs were as thin as tooth picks and his tail wasn't much better.
Food: The Leopard Gecko is a hardy eater. It seems many people feed their Leos strictly on mealworms, but this is not recommended as a healthy diet not only due to the lack of various nutrients, but because a diet of just mealworms can be very fattening. An obese Leo is not a good thing.
I recommend a diet with dusted crickets as the staple, feeding mealworms and waxworms on the side.
3-4 crickets twice a week is fine for an adult. Juveniles need to eat a bit more frequently because they are growing.
Waxworms and mealworms are especially good for weight gain and breeding females.
Tank Setup: The Leopard Gecko comes from areas of the Mid-East like Pakistan and Iraq, so sand makes a good substrate for adults. Sand should be avoided with babies, however, due to the risk of impaction (the sand accidently being swallowed and getting stuck in the geckos intestines). Alternatives to sand include reptile carpets and paper towels.
They will need a heat lamp on one end of the tank to keep their temps between 80 and 85 degrees. They also need a water bowl and food bowl (for the waxworms and mealworms).
A nice hollow cave or log will make a comfortable bed a nd retreat. Bedding this with a bit of moist moss is a great way to promote healthy shedding. This, however, is the only place that should be kept moist except for an occasional misting of the tank (I only do this every month or so). Too much humidity for these arid geckos could lead to respiratory problems.