Leopard geckos are adorable little reptiles, and their easy care routine makes them a great first-pet option for those who are interested in having a lizard as a pet.
They have quirky personalities and are native to northwest India, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Normally yellow, white, and spotted with black scattered spots, these lizards have an impressive lifespan, stretching to around 15 years!
This article is going to discuss the lifespan of these little lizards, as well as all the other important information you need to know if you are thinking about getting one as a pet.
The Lifespan Of A Leopard Gecko
In the wild, Leopard geckos can live up to 15 years, but as pets, this increases to up to 20 years. However, the average leopard gecko’s lifespan is slightly lower than this by around 3 to 5 years.
In the wild, these geckos have access to more nutritious insects, but there may be phases where they don’t eat as much due to a lack of insects available.
They also lose a lot of strength in the cold which affects their hunting abilities and may lead to them eating fewer insects.
Leopard geckos are also more prone to catching diseases in the wild than they are in captivity.
There are also many more stressors in the wild, and they may be caught as prey for another animal.
All the aspects mentioned above, are reasons why their lifespans are shorter in the wild.
As pets, these geckos can live longer by quite a few years. This is because of their diet, stable habitat, and fewer stressors.
Behavior And Temperament
As mentioned above, these geckos, also known as leos, are very easy to care for. They are nocturnal, have a docile nature, and are easy to tame.
They don’t tend to bite, and they lack sticky toe pads, so they won’t climb walls. Your little leo can be easily socialised when you first bring it home by handling it gently.
A certain amount of contact can be tolerated by these little lizards, and they also enjoy it, but don’t overdo it as it can become stressed easily.
They tend to be quite vocal, especially when they are hungry, and they are likely to make noises that resemble squeaks and chirps.
One of the main ways they communicate is through their tails.
If you have more than one pet gecko in the same enclosure, keep an eye on their tails. If they begin to wave or raise it, it means they are feeling threatened and may attack.
Therefore, it is best to separate them if you notice this happening.
Like rattlesnakes, leos will rattle the tip of their tail. This normally means they are excited to mate or eat!
The Correct Habitat
In order for your leo to live a long and happy life, you must provide it with the correct habitat.
The minimum size tank for one of these little lizards would be 10 gallons, but a larger one would serve you better.
You can also use an old fish tank that no longer houses fish, as this will provide them with enough space.
If you are to welcome both males and females into your home as pets, then unless you want to deal with breeding, you should house them separately.
These reptiles are solitary creatures and only enjoy company when it comes to mating, so there is no need to purchase several of these reptiles in order for them to have company.
Their tanks should include some entertainment for them, such as half logs, caves, and cardboard box cut-outs in order for them to hide and climb.
In order to get rid of any feces, you should deep clean their cage once a month and disinfect all areas of it, as well as any items inside.
Your gecko should also be soaked in lukewarm water for around 15 minutes once or twice a week. This will help them hydrate, and also helps with shedding.
These little reptiles do not need a lot of UV lighting as they are nocturnal and active at night.
A mere amount of UVA and UVB light, around 2 to 7 percent is enough to keep them healthy and happy.
In the wild, these little guys are active at dawn and sunset as well as during the night, so this is when they get their exposure to sunlight.
In order to mimic the sunlight they would receive in the wild you will need to provide your gecko with some light.
During the summer, provide your pet with around 14 hours of ‘sun’ each day, and in the winter, they will need around 12 hours.
You can purchase lights that come with a timer, so you don’t need to worry about switching it on for them at the appropriate time.
These geckos enjoy basking in the heat, just like many reptiles do, so they will really benefit from having a heated bulb placed in their cage.
They are cold-blooded creatures, so they need to be able to regulate their body temperature themselves.
Therefore, providing them with a daytime basking spot of 88 degrees Fahrenheit, and a nighttime temperature of 70 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit will suffice.
Leopard geckos are desert reptiles, so there’s no need for an environment that is high in humidity.
However, if the humidity levels are below 20%, then they may struggle to shed.
Therefore, the levels of humidity should be between 30 to 40%, which is likely to mimic the humidity levels in your own house.
These geckos are insectivores, which means they feed on a variety of insects, worms, and other invertebrates.
Therefore, you should feed your little leo a mix of wax worms, crickets, and meal worms in moderation.
Young geckos must be fed a variety of crickets each day, but as they reach adulthood, they can go a few days between feeds.
Before feeding them insects, they need to be fed a nutritious meal at least 24 hours before.
The insects you feed them must also be coated in a vitamin or calcium supplement in order for them to receive the appropriate nutrients they need to stay healthy.
You can do this by placing the insects into a zip-lock bag and sprinkling some powder supplement on top and mixing it around.
These insects should then be dropped into the tank for your gecko to feed on.
Young geckos will need this coating during every feed, but adults will only need them during every other feed.
Geckos need to be provided with fresh water each day, and this bowl will also add some humidity to their tank.
Occasionally, a gecko may even soak in their water bowl, so it will need replacing daily.
There should not be any sand substrate in your gecko’s tank, even if it has calcium in it. This is due to the risk of them eating the sand, which can lead to an intestinal blockage.
A good option is to lay down some paper at the bottom of their enclosure. It is absorbent and easy to change.
Another option is to use any outdoor or indoor carpet, but you can also find reptile carpets.
Wood shavings should also be avoided, as they can leave cuts on your gecko’s feet, and the oils used in them can cause irritation.
Illnesses To Watch Out For
In order to extend the lifespan of your leopard gecko, it is vital that you are aware of some common illnesses that can arise in them.
One of the most serious illnesses that can appear, is a metabolic bone disease. This arises as a result of not receiving enough vitamin D, or calcium, just like us, humans.
This can cause deformities in their limbs and spine and can be rather painful for them.
These little geckos can also develop gastroenteritis from a bacterial infection.
Therefore, if you notice your pet has released some watery stools, or its tail has shrunk slightly, it may have developed gastroenteritis.
However, if caught early, it can be treated, so you should make a trip to the store where you bought your gecko, or your local veterinarian as soon as you can.
Leopard geckos may also contract some respiratory infections such as pneumonia. This may result in wheezing or mucus around its mouth and nose.
Lastly, if your gecko is undernourished or is living in conditions with insufficient moisture, it may develop dysecdysis. This can affect your gecko’s ability to shed and affect their vision.
If you notice any of the above conditions, or even if you notice your gecko acting strange, you should visit a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles or make a trip to your local vet.
In summary, leopard geckos can live for up to 15 years in the wild, and 20 years in captivity.
They are able to live longer in captivity because they will have access to consistent food, shelter, and care, and are exposed to fewer stressors, such as weather and predators.
These little reptiles make fantastic pets, as they are easy to care for, and have a very docile temperament.
They enjoy some physical handling and do not need to be paired with other reptiles as they are solitary creatures.
As long as you care for your leopard gecko, it can live a long and healthy life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Longest A Leopard Gecko Has Lived?
Leopard geckos have a lifespan of around 15 years in the wild, and 20 years in captivity.
This is because, in captivity, they are protected from stressors, and are given consistent care.
The oldest known leopard gecko lived until 28 years of age! While this is rare, with the appropriate care, your gecko can live a long and happy life.
How Often Do Geckos Shed?
An adult gecko will shed every 4 to 8 weeks, so your cage needs to be prepared for this.
As young geckos are growing at a fast rate, they will shed more often. It will normally take a leopard gecko around 48 hours to finish a complete shed.
How Can You Tell How Old A Leopard Gecko Is?
Normally, if you bought your leopard gecko from a breeder, they will have a record of their birthdate, so they will be able to tell you how old your pet is.
If you did not purchase your gecko from a breeder, then there are a few others ways you can do this, such as by looking at their size.
If your gecko measures from around 3 to 6 inches, it is likely to be between the ages of 1 to 6 months.
If it measures 8 to 11 inches, it may be around 18 months, and anything larger than this signifies your gecko is an adult.