Dragoon Gecko FAQ
Please click on one of the questions to see the response.
What do I have to think of before buying a leopard gecko?
First, do buy some literature which you can find in your local pet shop as well as in any bookstore. For the German market we recommend the book “Leopardgeckos: Pflege, Zucht, Erkrankungen, Farbvarianten” written by Karsten Grießhamer and Gunther Köhler.
These books contain all important information about how to correctly keep your future pets. This is how you can ensure that you get correct information from your pet store and breeders when buying your geckos and everything they might need.
Another source of useful information is, of course, the internet and forums about pets. However, they also circulate a lot of false information, therefore be careful when reading them, as they cannot replace a good reference book.
Furthermore, you should find a trustworthy breeder who will also help you after you have bought your gecko. Animals from pet shop are at a high risk for various illnesses and if you have any problems later, you will be on your own.
Before buying a gecko, you should also ensure that all(!) family members agree with getting a new pet, so that the gecko can stay with you permanently. Keep in mind that if you keep a leopard gecko well, it can reach an age of well over 20 years! (source: Henkel, Knöthig, Schmidt)
Something you should also arrange for is someone to care for your pet while you are away on vacation.
How do I see if the leopard gecko is healthy?
A healthy leopard gecko has good fat reserves on his body and tail. Under no circumstances these parts of the bodies should appear thin or even gaunt.
The tail of an adult animals should be as thick as a thumb at the widest point, that of young animals proportionally less thick.
The animal should have bright colours with a healthy and smooth skin (no white scales or crusts on the skin). Also check the animals of remains of the last shedding of the skin at the toes. Missing toes can happen – if they do not occur on a regular basis, that is. The bellies and sides should not be gaunt but look well-rounded.
The eyes must be clear and dry, the gaze alert and curious, the upper and lower jaw should close in one smooth line. The animal’s movements should look quick, easy and effortless, especially if you are dealing with a young animal.
It is important to know that, generally spoken, it is expensive to ensure that the young animals are raised under good circumstances and therefore will always result in a certain price. Therefore beware of bargains - breeders selling their animals under market value have to save money elsewhere which can yield disastrous results: how they raise their young animals (may result in weakness or even illness), the quality of the parents, the health of their animals, general hygiene (prevention of illnesses), etc.
Such animals may quickly cause you problems which cannot even be remedied by good care and nutrition at their new home, such as deformations of the skeleton.
By supporting serious breeders you do not only help in maintaining the general health and quality of leopard geckos. You also reduce the risk of buying weakened and ill animals, as the fees of a vet may quickly exceed the cheap price you paid and without the help of a vet, these poor animals usually die quickly!
For these reasons you will be much better off by buying a healthy animal from an expert breeders on the long run and save yourself and your new pet a lot of suffering and sadness.
Should I keep a single animal or better a group?
If the available space is limited or if you do not want to have more than one animal right away, I would recommend you to have only a single male. Although it is being said on the Internet that a mixed group would be preferable, there are no studies showing that males would miss female companions. They thrive without any problems in a terrarium without female company and can therefore be kept alone as well.
Since the females display less territorial behaviour and show distinct social behaviour, they should best be kept in small groups of 2-4 animals per terrarium. It is very important to ensure that all females are at approx. the same age and size so that no animal can be dominated by another or pushed away from feeding and sleeping places.
It would therefore be ideal if the females would also be a good fit in terms of character. Like with other species there are also “shy” and “gutsy”, “courageous” and “careful” types among leopard geckos. A good breeder knows his animals and can give you information about the parents and help you select the best fitting young animals.
We of Dragoon Gecko have tried for several years to include the animal’s individual character and lay great emphasis on it in our daily work.
Can I keep males and females together?
As beginner and someone who does not want to breed you should not keep them together under any circumstances! The animals will mate and reproduce quickly and way too soon and you’ll have a lot of problems faster than you can think!
Similar to humans and other vertebrate, the female organism of a leopard gecko is way too immature directly after puberty to already withstand the rigors of an immediate pregnancy without damage. In such cases, leopard gecko females will become eggbound which can be deadly.
Nevertheless even adult females can be highly stressed by the presence of a male which may result in exhaustion and various other problems after some time. Because of this, we at Dragoon Gecko keep our males and females separate from each other apart from the mating season to ensure the protection of our females.
This makes us tell you that it is surely wiser to either keep a single male or a group consisting of females only. Another viable alternative might be to have a male with several females – provided the male has been castrated BEFORE putting it together with the females. This little surgery can be done easily by your vet. As leopard gecko males have a so-called hemipenis, it must be ensured that all male reproductive organs are removed completely and correctly.
Can I keep several males together?
Under no circumstances you should do this. They would fight each other to the death.
What do I have to think of if I want to buy young animals?
Many buyers like young animals a lot because of their bright colours and their potential for further developments. However, their care differs a lot from that of already grown animals. As a consequence, you as a potential customer should keep the following points in mind before buying one:
- Higher requirements for daily care
The skeleton of young animals is not fully grown yet, therefore they need more calcium as well as an adequate amount of vitamins. In addition, many offspring are pickier when it comes to their daily food. It is also a given that they will deteriorate faster than adult animals because they do not yet have enough fat reserves – quite similar to young children.
If you want to ensure that your new gecko develops correctly and remains healthy, think in advance about whether you want to do this as a beginner.
Our advice: If you are unsure if you have enough time and are able to watch your animals closely, older or adult animals are an ideal alternative: They will get settled faster, are normally much tamer and will also be more forgiving to beginner’s mistakes.
Another important point is that you cannot predict the future sex to 100%, as a leopard gecko’s sex can be influenced by the temperature they are incubated in: Lower temperatures usually produce females, higher ones males.
It can happen anywhere, though, that an incubated female will develop into a male and vice versa. Because of this, a serious breeder will tell you the animal’s sex only when it is at a certain age and certain size.
Our advice: If you wish to have a group consisting entirely of females, we recommend you to select older and “visible sexed” females or raise the young animals separately during the first 6-8 months of their lives. Thus, you ensure that no female can be mated early by a “hidden male”. An additional advantage is that even small and “fragile” young animals will grow nicely in special boxes from specialist stores. These boxes are cheap and allow you to watch your animals exactly until the day they can move into their terrarium.
If your animals are still quite young and small ( under 6 months and 25 grams), we recommend you to not put them into their terrarium directly. The reason for this is that especially young leopard geckos tend to eat sand and other small particles which might cause an obstruction of the bowels. At this tender age this might well end with the death of the animal.
The second reason is that their food will literally run away from them in such a big terrarium. Young geckos still have to learn how to hunt and, as young and petite animals, just are not fast enough to go after their food successfully.
Our advice: A special box completely with hiding places and opportunities to climb and laid out with kitchen roll and proper heating will do the trick until your geckos are big and old enough for their future living place.
Young leopard geckos might be cheaper, but their care is much more demanding if you do not want anything to go wrong. Therefore we tell our customers for whom raising their animals separately and monitoring them intensively is too much to go for older and more robust animals where we can tell their sex for sure. These animals can – after some time in quarantine – be safely moved to a big terrarium.
What do I have to think of if I want to breed?
Breeding successfully includes:
- Getting acquainted with the matter thoroughly by reading books
- Enough experience in keeping geckos
- Ability to monitor your geckos
- Learning about the special needs your animals will have while breeding
- Optimal care of your animals
- The correct age of the parents: you should not mate animals below 12 months of age because this would stop their growth
- Healthy breeding animals of high quality
If you want to buy animals with which you might want to breed later on, you need to be extra careful when selecting them: The best will only be good enough and if you save money in the wrong spots, you might have serious problems later on. Buy your animals from an experienced breeder who is able to help you select the best animals for your needs.
You will profit from his specialist knowledge, get valuable advice and are better prepared for what will await you.
Is it wise to start breeding as a beginner?
As an experienced breeder and someone who has been watching the international gecko scene for years I feel I have to discourage you from breeding. The reasons for this are as follows: During the last years, the marked has been flooded because of the many “how-tos” and misinformation on the Internet which seem simple and promising without pointing out the risks of breeding.
Furthermore, it is still recommended to keep a male together with several females which will of course result in reproduction. However, only few people have the courage to throw away such eggs. So, they end up incubating all eggs from lack of knowledge about whether the parents are even suitable for breeding and then will not have anyone going to buy the resulting babies. This will put you at a high risk of producing weak offspring which, in spite of a lot of care, will develop growth problems or grave health deficits with time.
Thus, thousands of geckos of questionable origin are thrown on the market every year which, by now, can only be sold with difficulty. The current economical crisis did its share.
This makes it especially difficult for beginners without any previous experiences or references to sell their young animals to a good place. In addition, they cannot charge the same as an experienced breeder with a good name. If they want to appropriately bring up their babies, they will have the same expenses, though, and will have to invest more than they will earn during the first years. Keep in mind that the costs will encompass much more than only water and food!
Every once and again, beginners will have problems raising their young animals and the risk for being eggbound will be higher than with experienced breeders. These facts can be explained perfectly well, as many things have to be learned via “learning by doing” in the course of several years. Often it also happens that beginners incubate too many eggs and will find themselves overstrained by the hassle of caring for them.
The brief how-tos on the Internet usually do not prepare you for these very practical problems – every breeding stock is different, so they actually cannot render that service to you, anyway.
Summarily, this implies that you will have to expect a significantly higher amount of visits to the vet and, in consequence, higher costs. It is a given that something can go wrong when you are only beginning to breed and every responsible breeder will get his animals to a vet in such cases.
Breeding for financial reasons will surely disappoint you as long as you are not willing to invest several years and quite a bit of money into building a good and responsible breeding stock. This takes a lot of time and can quickly become a fulltime job!
What do I have to keep in mind when selecting the right animals for my needs?
If you want to keep your animals in groups, take care that they fit in terms of age and character. This reduces stress and your geckos will thank you by being healthy and vital. Ofer them more than one hiding place and feeding place to avoid quarrels.
What is important when raising and caring for Giants?
If you have bought one of our Giants or Supergiants you should be aware of a few additional issues. Apart from their genetic makeup, their growth is influenced by several other factors. In order to grow to their full size, you should raise the young animals alone and feed them well. Lack of food and jealousy about food might hinder their growth.
Another thing is that Giants and Supergiants (like Great Danes) need more time to grow to their full adult size! If you mate them too early this will, in the most cases, immediately stop growth irreversibly. As Giant and Supergiant females will reach sexual maturity at an age of 6-8 months, you should keep both sexes apart at all costs! Similar to mammals, the fist ovulation does not indicate that the female is fully grown and strong enough to reproduce successfully!
What is important when raising and caring for Ghosts?
As already mentioned on our Collection page, Ghosts are quite alterable geckos with a wide spectrum of colours. Apart from their natural disposition of changing their colour from time to time, you, their new owner, can influence their colour.
Similar to young Giants, where enough warmth results in good growth, Ghosts need a hot spot of 32 degrees to develop their colours to their full extent. If you keep them at lower temperatures, some animals will develop an interesting smoky colour covering the crème and lavender-coloured parts like a slight shadow.
Both variations have their own distinct flavor and our customers love them both. Therefore we would like to share with you that this is your free choice alone according to your taste: You alone decide and how your Ghost will look at its now home at your place. :)
What should I do if my leopard gecko falls ill?
In order to avoid illnesses from the beginning, it is recommended to quarantine all new animals for at least 12 weeks and to have their excrements examined for parasites. Especially important is the Eliza test for cryptosporidiae which can be done at the University for Veterinary Medicine at Vienna.
This test is based on detecting the genes of the bacteria and is therefore the safest test in existence so far.
Generally spoken, reptiles deteriorate much faster than dogs or cats. If you are disquieted by the state of your animals, you should act quickly to give it a high chance of getting well again. Consult a vet specialized on reptiles immediately and do not waste time looking for information on a forum.
Why is quarantine important?
All new geckos should be put under quarantine in order to see and treat any problems. 3 months of quarantine are furthermore the only way to protect your animals from dangerous and infectious diseases. Quarantine of less than 3 months does not provide appropriate protection.
Even in an ideal breeding stock it can happen that the geckos get parasites from their food, however, their concentration should be in the normal range. This does not harm a healthy gecko, but worming them if you get them is never a bad idea to prevent their number to rise unnecessarily, especially if it is a slender young animal. Good breeders will have their animals checked for parasites to keep the degree of infestations as low as possible.
Our advice: Use the quarantine phase to have the excrements of your new animal checked for parasites and cryptosporidiae.
Where should quarantine be implemented?
By no means in the same room as your other animals!
The “quarantine room” is best set up as far as possible from your other geckos. This reduces the risk of you transmitting any germs inadvertently. Think of disinfecting your hands and that some diseases such as cryptosporidiae can also be transmitted via contaminated hands and items.
Our advice: If you already have animals at your home, buy extra equipment only intended for your quarantined animals and do not mix it with the stuff your other animals have. Avoid having the new animals climb around on your clothes if you want to wear them later on still. This is how you ensure the greatest possible level of safety for yourself and your animals. :-)
How do I implement quarantine?
Special boxes which can be bought at every pet store are best suited for this task. This box (and everything to go into it!) must be disinfected properly using disinfectant from the pharmacy before using any of it.
Its floor must be laid out with kitchen paper which must be changed regularly. Make it more comfy for your animal with a café, a basin with calcium powder, a low water basin (if you do not spray the water in) and a root (or something similar) for climbing. Everything should consist of a material such as ceramics, … to allow for disinfection.
A heat source can consist of a heating lamp warming the gecko from above or a heating band for terrarium on which you put the box warming the gecko from below. Both variants are equal for quarantines and isolated raising of animals (e.g. if the geckos are still too small for your terrarium). The only important thing is that you only heat 1/3 of the box floor, as the 2/3 are needed by your animal to retreat to a cooler area if needed.
The power of your heating is determined by the room temperature: In a warm living room you will need less heating than in a cellar. If the temperature is too high, this might lead to burns (especially at the tail), and too low temperatures will probably lead to reduced activity and lack of appetite. Ideally, a hotspot with 30-32 degrees and a much cooler area should be created.
If the room is well-lighted (ca. 12 hours of light) you do not need any additional light sources.
Our advice: Set up your quarantine boxes on time before your new animals arrive. This allows you to check the temperatures with a thermometer and optimize it if needed.
Are leopard geckos suited for children?
Leopard geckos can be very tame, but do normally not want to be stroked like cats or dogs. If the children are still young, the parents should monitor how they care for their pets to ensure that the geckos are well cared for.
Please explain to younger children that you should not take reptiles from their terrariums at all times and least of all outside of their active hours, especially during the first days of getting settled at their new home! Too much stress might lead to lack of appetite and, in consequence, to diseases with could have been avoided with proper handling.
Leopard Geckos and other pets
If you have more pets than only your geckos, ensure that the geckos cannot escape from their terrarium. This can be achieved, e.g. by using a special lock at the terrarium doors. Thus, even clever cats cannot open the terrarium. Another alternative might be putting the terrarium into a room which other pets cannot access.
If the animals escape, they are in danger, especially if a cat shares your home. They might be caught and killed as the cat’s toy, as they fit exactly into its prey pattern.