Leopard Gecko Care (Philippines)
By Brian Michael L. Uy
There are a lot of care sheets for leopard geckos circulating throughout the web. True enough, most internet care sheets provide good basic information on leopard gecko care, although they don't always have all the answers. Not to mention almost all internet care sheets assume that you live in the United States and not in a tropical country with only two seasons: summer and rain. This little care sheet is for those new Filipino hobbyists that want to start caring for leopard geckos.
Purchasing a Leopard Gecko
Luckily for the new Filipino hobbyist, leopard geckos are well established in the Philippines and are widely available. A Google search for leopard geckos for sale in the Philippines yields numerous ads that sell these geckos. There are many leopard geckos to choose from, or more specifically many “morphs” of geckos to choose from. The prices can be as low as P2,000 to as high as P15,000 for a single leopard gecko depending on its “morph”. (I suggest avoiding hatchlings as these leopard gecko babies require more attention and care than juveniles/sub-adults/adults)
Now before purchasing your leopard gecko, there are a few things that a new hobbyist should know about before handing your money to your seller. (1) You want to make sure that your future leopard gecko is healthy. It’s good to ask for a very recent picture of your leopard gecko before buying it. A leopard gecko’s eyes should be clear and not clouded. If the leopard gecko that the seller is trying to sell you has eyes that almost resemble dead fish eyes, simply walk away. Inspect the tail of the gecko and make sure it is plump and not skinny. Healthy leopard geckos usually have plump tails because this is where they store their fats. A skinny tailed gecko may not be eating well and is most likely unhealthy unless it is a female and has recently laid eggs. Also, the tail of the gecko should be somewhat long and not stubby. A stubby tail is a sign that the gecko has likely once dropped its tail (You may get a lower price for the gecko then). Furthermore, the gecko should be curious and active; lethargy in geckos is usually a bad sign. (2) Make sure you get the right gecko as advertised, check to see if it is a male or a female. A male possess femoral pores that are shaped like a “V” and a huge hemipenal bulge at the base of its tail. Females on the other hand, do not possess these characteristics. (Remember, you have the right to refuse a deal especially if the seller has misled you.)
Housing for your gecko is fairly simple. Get any tub that you think is big enough for your leopard gecko and preferably one with a flat floor. Also make sure you have air holes so that your gecko can breathe. What else do I need? Basic internet care sheets already have the answer for this section but it can be even simpler. Basic care sheets always states that you must have 3 hides in your leopard gecko enclosure: one on the hot side, one on the cool side and a moist hide in the middle. However, to make things simpler, all you really need is a moist hide placed in the hot side of your enclosure for your gecko. To make a moist hide, there are a few things you can use like toilet paper, moss, coco-fiber, etc. I like to use coco-fiber because it holds in moisture very well and my geckos seem to love it. Coco-fiber comes in a block that you just have to soak into water and it breaks apart for use. Two dishes, one for food and the other for water and you’re all set. You can probably get all of these in your local hardware store like Ace Hardware, DIY, etc.
You don’t really need any special substrate for leopard geckos. Yesterday’s newspaper works fine and is very easy to clean and replace. All you have to do is line the bottom of the cage with newspaper and you’re done. You can use other substrates like soil, sand, etc. but you run the risk of your pet getting impacted and ultimately dying if left untreated.
Heating is probably the most important aspect of keeping leopard geckos. You have to make sure that you have a temperature gradient, where in one side is warm and the other side is cool. I’ve heard from a few veteran hobbyists that it’s alright to keep leopard geckos at room temperature and you also don’t need anything special like a heat mat/tape. That is based on the notion that the Philippines is a hot tropical country and that will be enough to heat your leopard gecko.
I on the other hand, beg to differ. The only reason that they can get away with saying that your leopard gecko does not require extra heating is because a lot of these hobbyists keep their leopard geckos outside of their homes. If you keep your leopard geckos inside your house, there will be a significant drop in the temperature between inside and outside.
Flexwatt Heat tape is an indispensible tool for keeping reptiles, especially for your leopard gecko. The heat tape must be placed under the enclosure where you want your hot spot to be. There are also a few things you should know about heat tape. (1) It does not come pre-wired, so you have to wire it yourself to make it work. (2) You’re also going to need a thermostat or a dimmer to control the amount of heat the heat tape is emitting. If you’re going to use a thermostat, make sure that the probe will be attached to the bottom of your enclosure so that you can accurately set what temperature you want the floor of the enclosure to be. If you can’t attach it to the floor of the enclosure without the gecko knocking it around, attach it to the heat tape directly. The problem with this method is that there will be a loss of heat when it travels from the tape to the floor enclosure. What you want to do is set the temperature a little higher to make up for the heat lost. A dimmer on the other hand, requires you to manually set the temperature. Just make sure you have a thermometer in the enclosure to check the temperature in case it gets too hot or cold. You can get heat tape from a number of sources, Cartimar may have some available if you look harde nough or a google search for heat tape/flexwatt in the Philippines may yield results. Everything else can probably be found in your local hardware stores.
You’re probably asking what temperature should I set my hotspot? Many basic care sheets always suggest that it’s best to keep the hotspot at around 85-90°F. I on the other hand, keep my leopard gecko’s hotspot at 93-95°F and so far it has worked for me. You have to consider that the leopard gecko knows how regulate its own temperature. If it’s too hot, it will move to the cool side and if it’s too cold, it will move to the warm side. As long as you provide that temperature gradient for your leopard gecko, it’s smooth sailing from there.
Leopard geckos will feed on almost anything as long as it’s moving. You can choose from crickets, dubia roaches, lateralis roaches, meal worms, and superworms to feed your leopard gecko. Although, probably the most staple food that hobbyists use is the mealworm and superworm. You have to provide a food bowl if you’re going to feed mealworms/superworms to your gecko. Just make sure that the food bowl has a smooth surface so that the worms can’t climb out. You also want to dust what you’re going to feed with calcium or calcium with D3. Geckos need their calcium and vitamins because if they don’t get enough, they might suffer from Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). I use Repashy Calcium Plus for my leopard gecko which is an all in one supplement and I haven’t had any problems.
As for everything else that I haven’t covered about leopard gecko care, basic internet care sheets already have them and they aren’t any different from what I would say. I’ll just update this care sheet when I feel like it.
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