Eublepharis maculariusCommon Leopard Gecko

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Geographic Range

Leopard geckoes can be found throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Northwest India (Henkel 1995) and Pakistan (Hunziker 1994, de Vosjoli 1990).

Habitat

Dry and semi-dry desert regions (Henkel 1995) and arid grasslands (Hunziker 1994).

Physical Description

Ground color is usually yellow with irregular black spots and a white ventrum. As a side note, due to the popularity of these animals in the pet trade, other color patterns may be found, such as the "high color" or "yellow phase" (Hunziker 1994, de Vosjoli 1990) where very little black or purple markings are found on a bright yellow ground, as well as "chocolate" leopard geckoes, and "albino" geckoes, which simply lack yellow and brown colors; no amelanistic leopard geckoes have been found as yet (de Vosjoli 1990). Leopard geckoes have a segmented tail which may be autotomized, and movable eyelids (Henkel 1995) with a vertical slit pupil (Hunziker 1994) unlike many geckoes. They also lack toe pads, having clawed toes instead (Hunziker 1994). Another interesting feature of the leopard gecko is the ear - due to the auditory system structure, when viewed from the side, light shines right through the gecko's head (de Vosjoli 1990). Adults grow to approximately 220 mm (8") and may reach 10" although this is rare (Henkel 1995, Hunziker 1994).

Reproduction

Females prefer damp, humid environments for egg laying, (Hunziker 1994) and bury the eggs in the substrate (Henkel 1995). Clutches almost universally consist of two eggs, although a healthy female may produce as many as six clutches per year (Hunziker 1994). The eggs measure approximately 28 x 15 mm, and hatch after 45-53 days at 28 degrees Celsius. Hatchlings are about 85 mm in length (Henkel 1995). Animals reach sexual maturity at around 18 months (Hunziker 1994) but this has been known to range from 16-24 months in captive bred animals (de Vosjoli 1990). Leopard geckoes are subject to temperature sex determination (Henkel 1995, de Vosjoli 1990, Hunziker 1994).

  • Average number of offspring
    2
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    55 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    400 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    400 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Leopard geckoes are nocturnal, sheltering under rocks or in burrows in daylight (Henkel 1995, Hunziker 1994). During periods of activity, the gecko tends to be an inquisitive animal, and although a ground-dwelling species, the clawed toes of the leopard gecko allow them to climb rocks and branches where they can easily absorb heat ventrally (Hunziker 1994). As with many other reptiles, these lizards shed periodically. This species eats the sloughed skin (Henkel 1995). In captivity, this species has a life span of approximately 22 years (Henkel 1995).

Food Habits

Leopard geckoes are very adaptable, and are known to eat scorpions, centipedes, spiders, and beetles in the wild (Hunziker 1994). In captivity, leopard gecko diets usually consist of crickets, mealworms, waxworms, pinkie or nestling mice, locusts, grasshoppers, and springtails (Hunziker 1994, Henkel 1995).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Leopard geckoes are a very popular pet animal. Most pet store stock is believed to be captive bred at this time, with a mainly Pakistani ancestry (Hunziker 1994, de Vosjoli 1990).

Conservation Status

No information was found on the status of this species in the wild.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated

Contributors

Vickie Woods (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

chaparral

Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Henkel, F., W. Schmidt. 1995. Geckoes : biology, husbandry, and reproduction. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company.

Hunziker, R. 1994. Leopard Geckoes : identification, care & breeding. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications Inc..

de Vosjoli, P. 1990. The General Care and Maintenance of Leopard Geckoes and African Fat-tailed Geckoes. Lakeside, CA: Advanced Vivarium Systems.