Leopard Geckos are one of the most popular reptile pets for beginners and experts alike. Leopard geckos have adorable features, a low maintenance lifestyle, and long lifespans. How long exactly do Leopard Geckos live in captivity?
In the wild, Leopard Geckos can live for up to 15 years. In captivity, they can live quite a bit longer, usually between 10 and 20 years. Their lifespan depends on their care, food quality, and genetics.
The Leopard Gecko’s expected lifespan is usually a few years less than their maximum life expectancy, and this is especially true for wild Geckos. In captivity with excellent attention to care and their health, it is not unheard of for a Leopard Geckos to reach 20 years of age.
In this article, we will take a look at this long-lived lizard and find out how you can get the most out of the life of a Leopard Gecko.
Lifespan Of A Leopard Gecko
Because they can live up to twenty years in captivity, you might think that a leopard gecko takes a while to mature. This is not the case at all. Leopard Geckos reach adulthood surprisingly fast when compared to other popular reptile pets.
For a lot of lizards, their sexual maturity is based on age. When they get to a certain age, say, two to three years old, they have reached their peak growth and they become sexually viable and can now breed.
Not for the little Leopard Gecko. A Leopard Gecko reaches maturation when they reach a certain weight, which is around 1.2 ounces or 35 grams. This usually takes anywhere from one year to two years, though again, they are considered mature as soon as they reach that target weight.
Hatchlings come out of their eggs at around 3 inches in length. The males of the species can reach up to a foot in length but usually stay between 7 and 10 inches long, whereas the females tend to be on the smaller side.
They do grow a bit beyond sexual maturity as well, usually weighing between 45 to 60 grams. It is also not unheard of for Leopard Gecko to reach upwards of 100 grams or 3.5 ounces.
How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live In Captivity?
Geckos that are bred in captivity never see the kinds of stressful things that their wild relatives must put up with every day. That’s not to say that there aren’t majorly stressful events that happen to these creatures, but they just don’t compare to being chased by hawks, or a wild dog or another larger reptile.
And as long as they are taken care of well, they should never have to deal with periodic starvation.
Another stressor that captively bred lizards don’t have to deal with, as much, is disease. In the wild, if a leopard gecko was to be infected with any sort of disease, their only option is to wait it out and hope that their body’s natural immune system can fight off the illness.
In captivity, these lucky lizards get access to veterinarians and medicine which can add a significant number of years to their average lifespan.
Leopard Geckos are specially adapted to living their lives as pets. Their docile nature lends itself well to living in our homes and being pampered. With that high-quality lifestyle comes that extra-long lifespan.
How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live In The Wild?
It should come as no surprise that the average leopard gecko lifespan is shorter than their captive cousins. Though there are certainly some benefits to living in the deserts and forest of the wilds, the downsides are quite stressful on the creatures.
In the wild, these animals have access to a lot more variety and nutrition in their diet. Wild Geckos are always on the hunt for their prey. They will seek out and eat all manner of creepy crawlies like crickets, locusts, larvae, springtails and will even take nesting mice if they are given the opportunity.
All of this varied diet combined with the lengths that the lizards must go through to feed themselves results in a very healthy lifestyle.
But, here comes the downsides. In the wild, they eat better, but nothing is certain. They may be forced to go without food for long periods of time when prey is scarce or when larger, hungrier creatures that eat the same foods move into their area.
There is also a decent chance that the leopard gecko becomes someone else’s dinner as well. There was a study done in New Zealand showing the extreme lifespans of geckos where there where no mammalian predators.
Those larger, hungrier creatures may also see the Leopard Gecko as prey and this can significantly shorten the lifespan of one of these little reptiles. Even if they are not eaten by a predator, or starve to death in the desert, the stresses of life in the wild can really catch up to a Leopard Gecko. This is why their lifespan usually tops out at fifteen years.
Are Leopard Geckos Hard To Keep Alive?
A Leopard Gecko’s needs are fairly simple. Two of the most important things you can give a Leopard Gecko to ensure a long life is proper housing and a high-quality diet.
Proper Housing Can Affect A Leopard Gecko’s Lifespan
Because of their small size and relatively relaxed temperament, they don’t require much space. This is one of the many reasons that this species is so popular as a beginner pet.
Leopard Geckos can be housed alone, grouped with one male and several females, or with multiple females and no males. It is not a good idea to group multiple males together as this will trigger some aggressive territorial behavior that is not healthy for anyone.
A 20-gallon aquarium is sufficient for up to two geckos. Another interesting note; Leopard Geckos lack the sticky pads that many species of gecko have on their feet. Those sticky pads enable geckos to scale nearly every surface, including glass.
Some people will say that a 10-gallon tank is enough for a leopard gecko but I think it is better just to opt for a 20 gallon instead.
Leopard Geckos don’t have these pads and can’t cling to surfaces, so they don’t require a tall or super large tank. Another bonus for beginners.
Let’s talk about what you will need to go with your leopard geckos enclosure. A proper enclosure with the proper equipment will help the chances of your gecko living a long life.
Proper Temperature Is Important For A Long Leopard Gecko Lifespan
Leopard geckos are cold-blooded, meaning they rely on the outside environment to regulate their body temperature. Because of this, the proper temperatures are essential for a long lifespan of a leopard gecko. Set up your leopard gecko enclosure with a warm side and a cooler side.
The warm end of the tank should stay between 82 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cooler end should stay between 75 and 78 degrees. Provide a basking area on the warmer side during the day that reaches 90-95 degrees.
At night the ideal temperature should be around 70-72 degrees. That said, you can turn off your heating equipment so long as your home stays at 70 degrees or higher at night.
How Humidity And Lighting Affect The Lifespan Of A Leopard Gecko
The proper humidity is essential for the long-term health of a leopard gecko. These lizards are native to the dry semi-desert lands of places such as Iraq and Iran. So they prefer dryer environments than many other pet reptiles. Keep humidity at about 30-40%.
Leopard geckos need UV light to process vitamin D, so it is probably a good idea to provide UV light during the day. Though many people say that UVB lights are not needed for leopard geckos, they are still a good idea for optimal health. If you choose not to do this, however, then you should at least invest in vitamin D and calcium supplementation.
Since leopard geckos are very active in the evenings and even at night, many people will also provide a light made of blue glass such as the Moonlite bulb by Zoomed. These lights can help produce heat while also giving you a light to watch your leopard gecko while it is more active. Unlike other lights these bulbs will not interfere with its sleeping patterns.
Leopard Geckos need a substrate in their tank, like sand, soil, paper, or bark. Something that mimics their natural desert habitats. That said, make sure the substrate you choose is safe for your leopard gecko first. Don’t go outside and find your own sand or soil. Something like Zoo Med Reptisand would be a great choice.
They also need hides in their enclosures. Hides are anything like a tunnel, den, or small shelter that they can conceal themselves in for sleeping or just hiding to feel safe. This will help them live less stressful lives and could have effects on the lifespan of your leopard gecko.
A Healthy Diet Is Key For A Long Leopard Gecko Lifespan
Leopard Geckos feed primarily on insects. This would include crickets, mealworms, and the occasion superworm if you want. It is best practice to feed them various food sources so that they get a good mix of nutrients.
Always use gut-loaded insects when feeding your leopard gecko. This simply means that you are loading these crickets up with nutritious foods.
You should also dust your leopard geckos food with a reptile calcium supplement about 3-4 times per week. In addition, you should dust their food with a reptile multivitamin once or twice per month as well.
Ideal Food Sources For Leopard Geckos
Some of the best foods for these lizards are crickets, calcium worms, and wax worms. Though some people will say they can eat pinky mice, I would advise not doing so. They are likely still too large for a leopard gecko, even though they might eat them in the wild.
You will also need to provide your leopard gecko with fresh clean water daily. Use a dish that is not too deep to ensure that they do not drown. This is especially true when they are still juveniles. Use clean water that has had chlorine and other harmful chemicals removed. Do not use distilled water.
These small lizards don’t require too much more than that. As long as they are fed and watered, housed properly, and handled with care and attention, these cute little reptiles can be with you for quite some time. Twenty years is a long time for any pet to live.
Leopard geckos can live up to 20 years in captivity if they are healthy and properly taken care of. As you can see there are a variety of things that can affect the lifespan of a leopard gecko. The things that have the biggest impact on how long leopard geckos live is their diet, housing, temperature, and environment.