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Leopard Gecko is ground-dwelling reptiles belong to the genus Eublepharis and come under the order Squamata. These geckos live a solitary life and have an average lifespan of 15 years.
They reside in dry rocky grasslands and weigh around 54 to 65 grams. This genus comprises 3-5 species that are commonly found in Asia and the Middle East. The leopard gecko has been adapted as a pet by many and maybe the first lizard species to be domesticated.
The species include E. macularius commonly known as leopard gecko, E. fuscus known as West Indian leopard gecko, and E. turcmenicus, known as East Indian leopard geckos.
Leopard Gecko Physical Description
The genus is named for the fully functional eyelids present in the species they comprise. These sturdy small lizards are referred to as leopard geckos due to the presence of spotted patterns in shades of brown and yellow.
They possess long tails that are the same length as their torso. They use their tails to evade predators and later regenerate them. The regenerated tail would be less symmetrical and may be shorter than the original tail.
The adult length measures up to 20.5-27.5 cm and they have tough bumpy skin around their neck, back, and head. They also shed their skin as they grow. The sexes have subtle differences and can be segregated only on close inspection of their undersides.
Leopard Gecko Range, Habitat, and Behavior
They are native to the Middle East and southwestern and eastern Asia where they dwell in rocky grasslands. During the day they often live in burrows on the ground to escape the heat and are commonly nocturnal.
They have strong eyesight that helps them to hunt insects at night. They ambush small insects like mealworms, crickets, and caterpillars. Their predators are reptiles like snakes and foxes and other mammals.
These predators also eat their eggs. They employ their sense of sight and hearing to avoid predation. They camouflage well with their surroundings and may utilize this to hide from their predators.
Burrowing helps them not only to stay cool but also to avoid their predators. There is not enough information on their interactions with other members but they do come together for mating.
In the wild, they abide in loose colonies but live a solitary life. Whereas in the case of captivity also they usually are kept alone.
Leopard Gecko Reproduction
Breeding occurs in the summer months in the wild. The females store sperms and produce 2 eggs at a time, and they may lay about 20 eggs in a period of one month. After 3 to 4 weeks of copulation, the first eggs are laid.
The incubation period of eggs may vary due to factors like humidity and temperature; they typically require about 30 to 90 days for the young to hatch. The young ones on hatching weight only 3 gram and has a length of 6.5 to 8.5 cm.
They are independent from the moment they hatch. The sex of the young is determined by temperature as in other reptiles. The temperature of their environment during incubation determines their sex.
At around 26-29°C that is in colder temperatures, more females will be produced. While in case of warmer temperatures more males are produced. This process of temperature determinant sex determination happens in the first 2 weeks after an egg is laid.
Fun Facts about Leopard Gecko!
These beautiful lizards are docile geckos. In recent times there is an increasing trend of adopting them as pets as they are not large or venomous. They exhibit various interesting characteristics.
They cannot climb well like other geckos this can be attributed to their size and shape. They also do not have adhesive lamellae that help other geckos to cling to smooth vertical walls or surfaces. The fact that leopard geckos enjoy hot, dry conditions is a misconception that may arise due to the ranges they occur in.
They are usually found in dry hot regions like Afghanistan. They are adapted to such conditions for their survival in these regions. They often inhabit the coolest regions of the range like rocky grasslands and may prefer them over desert plains.
But this becomes disadvantageous for the geckos during winter months when they come close to near freezing conditions. During such times they enter brumation after moving in their burrows.
Brumation is the state of semi-hibernation that utilizes a similar hibernation as seen in cold animals but differs in terms of their metabolism processes. Before going into brumation, the gecko will try to increase their fat reserve stores. During the winter months, they burrow deep and live there without food for months.
They the temperature increases then they may wake up sometimes, to drink some water. They unlike hibernating mammals are influenced by ambient temperature changes.
This species is a common pet species with approximately 3 million individuals bred in the United States itself. They also have more color morphs due to selective breeding than their wild species.
Leopard Gecko Citations
- Constitutive cardiomyocyte proliferation in the leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius). J Morphol . 2018 Sep;279(9):1355-1367.
- The nocturnal leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) uses UVb radiation for vitamin D 3 synthesis. Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol . 2020 Dec;250:110506.
- The tongue of Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius): LM, SEM and confocal laser study. Anat Histol Embryol . 2020 Jan;49(1):51-59.