Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Leopard gecko

By MSA 2005 Map showing rocky deserts, scrub habitats in southcentral Asia


Class Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Genus and species: Eublepharis macularius

Leopard geckos are generally yellow or white with dark brown spots. Gecko skin is soft despite its many knob-like bumps. Unlike many other lizards, leopard geckos have eyelids. Another unusual trait is that leopard geckos do not have clinging toe pads. This absence makes it impossible for them to climb vertical surfaces.

Similar to other lizard species, leopard geckos can detach their tails if they are caught by a predator. A new tail will start to grow within a few weeks, but it may not be identical to the tail that was lost.

As nocturnal animals, leopard geckos spend their days burrowed underground or hiding under rocks. At night, they feed mostly on insects such as crickets, mealworms, and locusts.

Because females have the ability to store sperm, one mating can fertilize all the eggs produced for at least the next 15 months. During the breeding season, females lay a pair of eggs every month or so for four to five months. The sex of the hatchlings is determined by the incubation temperature. Those eggs incubated at 80 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit will produce male leopard geckos, while those eggs at 86 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit will produce females.

Learn about another reptile or amphibian: