Best Reptile Pets For Handling – Beginner Pet Lizards – Leopard Gecko As Pets

best reptile pets for handling leopard gecko beginner pet lizzard

Leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) make for great beginner pet lizards for hobbyists of all ages.  Crepuscular in nature, they are the most active during twilight around dusk and dawn.  Due to their gentle and docile temperament, leopard geckos are one of the best reptile pets for handling.  They are usually skittish when they are young, but they become much more docile and calm as they get older.

Best Reptile Pets For Handling

Leopard geckos tolerate handling very well.  They are coldblooded animals, so they will often lay on the palm of your hand to enjoy the warmth of your hand.  Unlike other gecko species, leopard geckos are ground-dwelling lizards with claws instead of sticky pads on their feet.  You can feel their claws when they hold on to you, but it won’t hurt as their claws are very small.

Leopard geckos rarely bite unless threatened.  Key to not spook a leopard gecko is by slow movements.  When approaching them with your hands, try to approach from the side of them and scoop them up.  If you approach from the backside and touch their tail first, they may get spooked.  When you see a leopard gecko wave their tail slowly back and forth, that’s their defensive posture.  This tail waving behavior means they are spooked and you should wait until they calm down before attempting to pick them up.

 

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Leopard Gecko Feeding – Feeder Insects Nutritional Value Facts

leopard gecko feeding feeder insects nutrition dubia roaches

Leopard geckos are insectivores, they must be fed on live insects.  In this guide we will explore leopard gecko feeding options and nutritional value of common feeder insects.

Leopard Gecko Feeding – What feeder insects to use?

Leopard geckos can be fed on a wide variety of insects, popular choices including, but not limited to, crickets, mealworms, superworms, dubia roaches, hornworms, waxworms, phoenix worms, silkworms, butterworms, and more.  Some feeder insects are more readily available so they are more affordable and easier to find.  We will review some popular feeder insects used for leopard gecko feeding.

Crickets

Nutritional Information:  Moisture 69.07%, Fat 6.01%, Protein 21.32%, Fiber 3.2%, Ash 2.17%, Ca ppm 345, P ppm 4238, CA/P ratio 0.081% (source)

Pro:  Easy to find, cheap, low fat, high protein, easy to care for, gut-loads well, erratic movement stimulates feeding

Con:  Noisy, unpleasant smell, short lifespan, jumpy, hide in crevices hard to fish out of the tank, can bite your gecko, can carry parasites

Mealworms

Nutritional Information:  Moisture 62.44%, Fat 12.72%, Protein 20.27%, Fiber 1.73%, Ash 1.57%, Ca ppm 133, P ppm 3345, CA/P ratio 0.040% (source)

Pro:  Easy to find, cheap, high protein, easy to care for, decent lifespan (can be prolonged by refrigeration), no mess or smell, easy to breed your own feeder colony

Con:  Higher fat content, bad calcium to phosphorous ratio, doesn’t gut-load as well (small digestive tract), slow movement may not stimulate your leopard gecko feeding as much

Notes:  Giant mealworms are mealworms treated with juvenile hormone analog, S-Methoprene.  S-Methoprene is an insect growth regulator, it prevents the mealworm from pupating.  We have an article if you wish to learn more about how giant mealworms are created.  Read the article so you can decide for yourself whether you want to use giant mealworms as feeders.

Superworms

Nutritional Information:  Moisture 59.37%, Fat 17.89%, Protein 17.41%, Fiber 6.80%, Ash 1.20%, Ca ppm 124, P ppm 2320, CA/P ratio 0.053% (source)

Pro:  Easy to find, cheap, decent protein, easy to care for, long lifespan (no refrigeration needed), easy to care for, no mess or smell, easy to breed your own feeder colony

Con:  High fat content, lower protein, may not be suitable for younger/smaller geckos, bad calcium to phosphorous ratio, doesn’t gut-load as well, can bite

Dubia Roaches

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Why buy from leopard gecko breeder? Why price differences? Worth it? Difference between pet store gecko and breeder gecko

why buy from leopard gecko breeder

If you are just getting into leopard geckos, you might be wondering why buy from leopard gecko breeder as opposed to buying from local pet stores.  You might be asking why there are such price differences, and is it worth it?  Here we’ll explore the differences and hopefully help you make your purchase decisions easier.

So what do we know about pet store geckos?   Well, very little.

  • We know pet stores often stuff 5+ geckos into the same display container, a container size suitable for 1-2 juvenile leopard geckos at best.  There’s no temperature gradient, and they’re often all crammed inside one small hide.
  • We know they often use wood barks, sand, or repti-carpet for substrate, none of which are ideal for leopard geckos.  While repti-carpet does not pose direct health risks unlike bark & sand, carpet traps bacteria and is very hard to clean.
  • We know often they have crickets crawling all over the place, sometimes even on the geckos themselves.
  • The geckos often look skinny, malnourished, and frail.  Many have injured tail or bite marks on them.

Now what don’t we know about pet store geckos?

  • We don’t know their sex, and when asked, store employees won’t know what temperature the geckos were incubated in.  So you can’t temperature sex them or even make an educated guess.  If you are looking specifically for a male or female, you just can’t be sure.
  • We don’t know their genetic background, or the morphs of the parents.  So there’s no way to tell what geckos are het for or what kind of mix they are.  This leaves you out from ever breeding them ethically.
  • We don’t know the hatch dates of these geckos, so you won’t ever know their age.
  • We don’t know their weight.  Without knowing their age + weight, it’s hard to gauge their growth rate or know if the geckos are healthy.
  • We don’t know the breeders these geckos are from, so you’ll have no idea if you are buying from ethical breeders or just another gecko farm where they cram multiple hatchlings in small tubs.
  • We don’t know the reputation of the breeders these geckos are from, therefore we won’t know the conditions they were bred & raised in.  This means the geckos could be raised in poor conditions, and likely will carry parasites or diseases which will pose threats to your existing geckos.  Not to mention if the geckos get sick, you’ll face huge vet bills.
  • We don’t know if these geckos are being cared for properly in the pet stores by knowledgeable individuals.  We know their living condition is less than stellar as noted above, but are the feeders getting gutloaded?  Are the feeders being dusted properly with multivitamin powders prior to being fed?  Is the belly temperature inside the display tanks at the proper 88-93 degrees?

But I’m rescuing the geckos from poor conditions. Continue reading “Why buy from leopard gecko breeder? Why price differences? Worth it? Difference between pet store gecko and breeder gecko”

Leopard gecko calcium powder – what reptile supplement to use – how to dust feeders – calcium with D3 or without – best multivitamin – how often do I dust – feeding guide

leopard gecko vitamin supplements calcium multivitamin dusting feeders giant tremper sunglow

What leopard gecko calcium powder do I use?  Calcium with D3 or without D3?  What brand of vitamin is best?  How do I dust feeders?  How often should I dust my feeders?  Should I gutload feeders?  These are all very common questions from leopard gecko hobbyists.  We will go through all these questions and hopefully clear things up for you.  Here is an easy to follow comprehensive gecko feeding/supplement guide.  So let’s get started!

What multivitamin for leopard geckos and african fat-tails?

There are two brands we recommend, they are Repashy Calcium Plus, and Zoo Med Reptivite with D3.  We have used these two commercial multivitamins extensively for over 5 years.  They have worked very well for us.  These are all-in-one leopard gecko calcium and multivitamin supplements, they contain vitamin D3, calcium, other vitamins, trace minerals, and carotenoids for dusting insects .  If you use one of these two products, you will not need additional supplement on the side.

As a breeder, I lean towards Repashy Calcium Plus.  It is a slightly more potent formula.  When our female breeders go through 6-7 months long of breeding season each year, sometimes laying up to 15-20 eggs, their bodies get really drained and exhausted.  Repashy Calcium Plus has worked wonders for us.  For general hobbyists not breeding, Zoo Med Reptivite with D3 will do just fine.

Here is Repashy Calcium Plus ingredients list and guaranteed analysis:

INGREDIENTS: Calcium Carbonate, Dried Kelp, Dried Brewer’s Yeast, RoseHips, Calendula Flower, Marigold Flower, Paprika, Hibiscus Flower, Algae Meal, Turmeric, Rosemary Extract, Natural Fruit Flavor, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Manganese Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Copper Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Selenium Yeast. Vitamins: (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Calcium L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Beta Carotene, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B-12 Supplement).

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein min. .2%, Crude Fat min. .2%, Crude Fiber max. 4%, Moisture max. 8%, Calcium min. 17%, Vitamin A min. 200,000 IU/lb, Vitamin D min. 20,000 IU/lb, Vitamin E min. 2,000 IU/lb.

How often should I dust my insect feeders?  Do I still need to gutload?

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Leopard gecko heating temperature requirement. Under tank heating pad. How to install UTH. Digital thermostat.

leopard gecko heating under tank heat pad zoo med

Leopard gecko heating requirement

Leopard gecko heating and temperature requirement is an important topic.  We’re happy to provide you some factual information and clear a few things up for gecko hobbyists.  Leopard geckos require belly heating in order to digest food properly.  This is why under tank heating pads are preferred.  Some people mistaken leopard geckos with diurnal species such as iguanas and bearded dragons.

Difference between diurnal and crepuscular species

Diurnal species require basking light as they absorb UVB and heat through their backs.  They are active during the day when the sun is shining bright, and they sleep throughout the night.  UVB triggers vitamin D3 synthesis, and with vitamin D3, they are able to absorb calcium properly.  Where as leopard geckos are crepuscular, they are the most active during fading light, such as around dusk and dawn.

Leopard geckos wake up early in the morning to hunt for food.  They will sleep through the day, often burrow deep underground or inside rock crevices to hide completely away from sunlight.  Then they wake up later in the afternoon to hunt for food again.  This is their normal daily cycle, the very definition of crepuscular species.  Their exposure to sunlight is very limited in the wild.

Leopard gecko heating requirement is different, they absorb heat through their belly instead.  It’s through belly heating that they are able to digest food properly and have a healthy life.  In the wild heat traps underground and inside rocks long after sunset.  Leopard geckos are able to find belly heat throughout the night.  They are also known to navigate at night using natural moonlight.

Leopard gecko heating with under tank heating pad

Under tank heating pads, or UTH for short, come in all different sizes.  What you want is for your UTH to cover roughly 1/3 of your tank.  Zoo Med ReptiTherm is a popular brand, we’ve been using them for over 7 years with great success.

Here is how you would install this under tank heating pad.  First you stick the pad under your tank, like this:

leopard gecko heating under tank heat pad zoo med

leopard gecko heating under tank heat pad zoo med uth

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