The leopard gecko is a small lizard measuring 20-25cm (8-10in) long. As their name suggests the coloration resembles a leopard. Their body is yellow with black spots and bars running across it. On the underside the body is white. Their tail is banded with black and yellow. On the back and tail are small warts.
Leucistic pattern geckoes exist in captivity.
At the end of the foot is five toes each of which end with a small claw.
At the end of the body is a broad tail which can be used to store food. During times of abundant food the tail will grow and when food is scarce they metabolize the food and it shrinks. When threatened they may discard their tail to distract a predator. This is not done as readily as other geckoes. They can only remove the tail once in their life and the one which grows to replace it has an irregular shape and pattern.
In contrast to other geckoes who lack an eyelid, geckoes in the genus in which leopard geckoes are classed have a moveable eyelid. They retain the ability to lick the eyelids as well.
Males are larger than females. Their weight varies between 50 and 80g (1.8-2.8oz).
Leopard geckoes are carnivores. They feed on insects such as crickets, mealworms and moth larvae. Small mice may also be taken.
The leopard gecko can be found in Asia throughout India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq.
They make their home in rocky deserts and grasslands. The areas they call home are rocky with clay-gravel soil below the sand. This is used to create a burrow in which they can spend much of their day.
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Breeding takes place between January and March. This is after the geckoes have emerged from their winter dormant period.
Males will battle one another for breeding rights with the female. They will bite one another’s tail and wrestle with the victor gaining mating rights.
Despite their efforts the female may still reject the male and chase him away.
Females may produce as many as 5 clutches each breeding season. Each clutch includes two eggs which are buried in the sand. The eggs are visible through the females stomach while they develop.
The gender of the hatchlings is determined by the temperature at which they incubate. At higher temperatures males are produced while lower temperatures will produce males.
Following an incubation period of 45-53 days the eggs will hatch.
For the first week of a hatchlings life it survives on the yolk from the egg. They will undergo their first moult at the end of this week and at this time they begin to feed on their own. No parental care is provided to the hatchlings.
Sexual maturity is determined by weight occurring when the hatchling reaches 30g (1oz). This usually occurs between 1.5 and 2 years old.
Communications used by the leopard gecko include a chirp if annoyed or alarmed. They also click to communicate with other geckoes. Shakes of the tail may be used to communicate.
During winter the leopard gecko will retreat to a burrow where they enter a semi-hibernation.
They are primarily nocturnal and emerge at night to hunt. During the day they shelter in a burrow or under a rock.
Throughout the year the leopard gecko will shed their skin. Once they remove the skin they eat it.
Predators and Threats
Humans may collect them for the pet trade. This can lead to them being released in areas where they are an invasive species. They are readily bred in captivity and this has helped to remove this pressure.
Leopard geckoes are among the most popular pet reptiles.
A leopard gecko is unaffected if it is stung by a scorpion.
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Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2020. Leopard Gecko | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/leopard-gecko> [Accessed 24 September 2020].
Seaworld.org. 2020. Leopard Gecko Facts And Information | Seaworld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <https://seaworld.org/animals/facts/reptiles/leopard-gecko/> [Accessed 24 September 2020].
Woods, V. 2001. “Eublepharis macularius” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed September 24, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Eublepharis_macularius/
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