If you have never had a reptile before, leopard geckos are one of the best to start off with. Unlike most other reptiles, they can tolerate beginner mistakes and can live quite a long time, especially with an experienced owner. A leopard gecko’s average lifespan is around 20 years.
Still, the average lifespan for a pet leopard gecko can be twice as short as a wild leopard gecko. This proves that leopard geckos can still die from poor care, and often do. Only by caring for your leopard gecko properly can you ensure it lives as long as possible.
To learn about how long leopard geckos live on average, keep reading. This article fully explains what you can do to help your leopard gecko live as long of a life as possible.
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Leopard Gecko?
The average lifespan for a leopard gecko is between 10 and 20 years. The exact length often depends on whether or not the gecko is in the wild or in captivity. In captivity, leopard geckos typically live between 15 and 20 years. In the wild, most leopard geckos live to be about 20.
Interestingly, the lifespan of a captive gecko has a wide range. Poorly cared for geckos may only live to be about 10 years old, whereas leopard geckos that live the life of luxury can live as long as 30 years. This proves how important it is to care for your leopard gecko carefully.
Why Do Some Leopard Geckos Live Longer Than Others?
Even though the average leopard gecko lives between 15 and 20 years, there are some factors that impact how long the gecko lives. By considering these factors, you can understand why some captive geckos live longer than others. Here’s a look at the most important factors that impact leopard gecko lifespan:
1. Enclosure Size
One of the biggest determiners of a leopard gecko’s lifespan is its enclosure size. Male geckos are especially territorial and need a lot of room to roam. If you have a couple of leopard geckos, it’s still important to offer enough space. For best results, get a terrarium that is between 15 and 20 gallons for one to three leopard geckos. If you have enough space for a large terrarium, get that instead. The larger the terrarium, the better.
2. Enclosure Placement
Enclosure placement is just as important as enclosure size. Even though leopard geckos handle being touched and played with better than other geckos, they still can be stressed out and overwhelmed relatively easily. If you place the enclosure in a high-traffic area, it is likely that the gecko will feel overwhelmed and stressed, resulting in a shorter lifespan. Instead, try to put the enclosure in a relatively low foot traffic area so that the gecko doesn’t feel too stressed.
3. Environment Monitoring
Like most other reptiles, leopard geckos are cold-blooded, which means they have very particular environmental needs. This includes temperature, lighting, and humidity. If you don’t provide your leopard gecko the right environment it will easily get sick and die. For starters, make sure that you have a thermostat-controlled heater so that you can maintain the proper temperature. During the day, keep the temperature between 84 degrees Fahrenheit and 89 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure that the leopard gecko gets enough sleep, you will need to decrease the temperature whenever it becomes nighttime. During the night, the warmest part of the enclosure should be between 71 degrees Fahrenheit and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure there is a cool part in the cage too. Leopard geckos must be able to cool themselves down by going to a shaded part of the enclosure when needed. This area only needs to be kept at room temperature. Leopard geckos also need a particular amount of humidity. Use a hygrometer to ensure that the cage is kept between 30% and 40% humidity. You might need to mist the cage occasionally to get the right amount of moisture in the air.
4. Enclosure Setup
As mentioned above, the enclosure needs a cool and warm side. If you do not provide both, the leopard gecko will get hot or cold and eventually die. Make sure to provide hides in both sides of the enclosure so that the gecko has an area to hide if stressed or scared.
5. Proper Diet
Leopard geckos need a diet of gut-loaded insects, such as worms, cockroaches, crickets, and flies. Make sure to provide your leopard gecko with additional calcium as well because it is required for a healthy gecko. Even if you offer your leopard gecko a well-balanced diet, it still may not be getting enough calcium needed to survive.
Even though leopard geckos are relatively hardy, they can easily get calcium-related diseases. Calcium deficiencies can lead to many problems. By providing your leopard gecko calcium supplements, you are largely preventing the most common diseases in leopard geckos. More so, leopard geckos need a specialized exotic vet. Leopard gecko parents that take the time to get a responsible vet often have happier and healthier leopard geckos in the long run.
The 3 Life Stages of a Leopard Gecko
Like most other reptiles, leopard geckos have three stages of life: hatchling, juvenile, and adult. Let’s learn about each one of these life stages now.
The hatchling phase of a leopard gecko is when it is first born. Often, hatchlings weigh under an ounce. During the hatchling phase, you can expect your leopard gecko to sleep a lot and eat very little. Often, pet stores don’t have hatchlings because they are so small.
It is most common for pet stores to sell juvenile leopard geckos. The juvenile stage for a leopard gecko is equivalent to our teenager stage. Most juvenile leopard geckos will weigh slightly under one ounce or up to two ounces. Most of the gecko’s growth will happen during this stage. It will sleep a lot still, but it will start eating more.
Once your leopard gecko has reached the adult stage, it is as large as it will be. Adult leopard geckos often weigh between two and four ounces. That being said, leopard geckos can easily become overweight if overfed. Most adult leopard geckos sleep all day but hunt for food at night.
Most geckos reach adult stage whenever they are two ounces or one year old, but they may continue growing until they are 18 months old.
How To Tell Your Leopard Gecko’s Age
The easiest way to tell your leopard gecko’s age is to pay attention to its patterns. As the gecko goes through its stages, the pattern will change.
During the hatchling phase, leopard geckos have dark bands over their backs and tails. Often, these bands will remain on the gecko’s body until the hatchling is about 3 months old.
Once the leopard gecko enters the juvenile phase, the hatchling bands will often start breaking up, almost looking like spots. These spots will continue to morph until the leopard gecko is an adult. At this point, the gecko will have its final morph.
Leopard geckos tend to live a long time in captivity, especially in comparison to other reptiles. They simply aren’t as sensitive as most other reptiles and geckos, making them a great choice for first time reptile owners.
If you take proper care of your leopard gecko, you can expect it to live 20 years. It may even live longer if you do everything you should to keep the leopard gecko as happy, healthy, and relaxed as possible.
Featured Image Credit: Reinhold-Leitner, Shutterstock