Guide to Pet Geckos

All About Keeping Geckos as Pets

Leopard Gecko
David A. Northcott / Getty Images

The gecko is a small to medium species of lizard that is found in the more temperate and tropical regions of the world. Geckos are more commonly found around the Equator and in the Southern Hemisphere although a few species of gecko are found north of the Equator in warmer regions. Geckos are found in a wide variety of habitats in these warmer parts of the world including rocky deserts, mountains, jungles, rainforests, grasslands and even in urban areas.

There are thought to be over 2,000 different species of gecko found around the world and it is widely believed that there are more species of gecko that are yet to be discovered. Geckos are found in a wide variety of colors and have various different markings on their bodies depending on the species of gecko.

Most geckos are nocturnal, which means they are active at night, but day geckos are active during the day and nibble on insects, fruits, and flower nectar. Most geckos make noises such as chirping, barking, and clicking when they are defending their territory or attracting a mate.

Geckos as Pets

Geckos come in a variety of beautiful patterns/colors depending on the species. There are many types of geckos, and several are kept as pets. The most common is likely the leopard gecko (Eublepharis ​macularius); it’s a good starter reptile that’s also popular with experienced owners. They are docile, relatively easy to tame and also pretty easy to care for.

Hatchlings measure 3 to 4 inches long. Adult females are typically 7 to 8 inches, and males are 8 to 10 inches.

Several other species of gecko, such as the crested gecko, are becoming quite popular and are also suitable for beginners.

Feeding and Care

Leopard geckos do not eat plants or vegetables - live insects are a must.

The best food to use is mealworms or crickets, but you can treat your pet to waxworms or superworms once a week if you wish. All insects must be first given a nutritious powdered diet for at least 12 hours before being fed to your leopard gecko. This process is called "gut loading,” and it is very important to the health of your pet. Leopard geckos are long-lived compared to some reptiles. On average you can expect your gecko to live six to 10 years, but many males live 10 to 20 years.

However, as always, know what you are getting and what will be needed to provide a good home for a gecko. The requirements and difficulty of care will vary with different species, as will temperament.

Never grab a gecko by the tail, as they will often drop their tails (a natural defense against predators). If this should happen, however, don't worry. It will grow back, although it may have a different shape and/or color. The gecko should be well fed (and ideally separated from their cage mates) until the tail has regrown.

Species-Specific Information and Links

Here is more information about gecko species: