Are leopard geckos vegetarian?

Leopard geckos are nocturnal, terrestrial geckos, native to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and western India. Capable but small, these 8-inch-long predators will stalk, capture and consume virtually any creature they can overpower. While insect and other invertebrates form the bulk of their diet, they will readily prey on nestling rodents or lizards -- including hatchling leopard geckos.

Unlike some other geckos that thrive on prepared diets, pet leopard geckos require live insects. Leopard geckos will not eat fruits or vegetables of any kind. In captivity, leopard geckos thrive on a varied diet of commercially available insects: crickets, mealworms, superworms and roaches are excellent dietary staples. Whatever feeder insects you choose, feed them a high-quality diet of fruits, vegetables and grains for at least 24 hours before offering them to your lizard. Refrain from offering your leopard gecko pinky mice, which may cause nutritional problems, or lizards that may transmit parasites or disease to your pet.

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How are geckos born?

Like other reptiles, the leopard gecko’s life cycle starts in an egg. Geckos may be born in captivity, often providing companionship for reptile lovers for up to 20 years when properly housed and cared for.

Adult leopard geckos breed as early as 1 year old for males and 2 years old for females. The female should be older since the eggs may be large and harm her growth cycle. Late winter and early spring are the most common seasons for gecko mating. The male bites the back of the female’s neck and holds her still while breeding.

The female gecko has pairs of eggs that develop on the inside of the female until she is ready to lay them. At this point, she digs a hole and buries the eggs. While maturing outside of her body, the eggs continue to grow. Therefore, the outer shells of gecko eggs are soft. Most breeders remove the gecko eggs and incubate them between 78 and 92 degrees. The temperature helps determine the sex of the gecko. The higher the temperature during incubation, the more likely a male is produced, while lower temperatures produce females, according to the Leopard Gecko Guide. Between 6 and 12 weeks after the female lays the eggs, they become wrinkled and get smaller. Next, baby leopard geckos hatch by using their egg tooth to create a slit in the egg and push their way out. When they first emerge, the geckos are between 3 and 4 inches long. Within the first few days of hatching, the baby sheds and eats his skin, which provides him with nourishment.

During the first few weeks of life the baby leopard gecko does not require much maintenance. A small place to live, a paper towel, water and food meets all of his needs. Geckos prefer live food, so small crickets and mealworms provide nourishment for baby geckos. Avoiding stress is important for the proper growth and development of the baby gecko. Therefore, if she shows signs of aggression, such as an arched back or screeching, try to remove the stress and keep the baby happy.

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Which kind of noises do geckos make?

Leopard geckos can make a variety of sounds, but the most common include chirps, squeaks, barks, and screams. Every leopard gecko will sound slightly different, though the sounds will generally be the same for each pet.

That being said, leopard geckos aren’t particularly vocal. If your leopard gecko is making no sound at all, it is likely relaxed and at peace. Leopard geckos aren’t like parrots or other animals that have to be vocal to feel happy. That’s just something to keep in mind.

Chirping and squeaking are the most common sounds to look for in your leopard gecko. If you notice your leopard gecko making a bit of a chirping sound, you’re in luck. These sounds are typically connected with happiness, enjoyment, and overall pleasure.

Some geckos make this sound as they roam around their tank, whereas others get a bit more vocal during feeding time. Either way, chirping and squeaking is a great sign since it tells you that your leopard gecko is happy and at ease.

Clicking is another common sound in leopard geckos, but it isn’t quite as positive. Leopard geckos often click whenever they feel uncomfortable, annoyed, or stressed. You will often hear younger geckos clicking more than older ones simply because they have not yet grown accustomed to humans.

Most likely, your leopard gecko will click whenever you are handling them, after they have eaten, or before they shed. Remember, this is a stressed noise. Once you hear this noise, stop whatever you are doing to let the gecko relax.

Barking isn’t quite as common as clicking, but it is a sign that your gecko is stressed as well. In many ways, barking will sound like clicking, but it has a slightly hoarser sound. Barking is less common than clicking because it is a more serious response. Geckos often bark when they feel they are in direct danger, not just when they are uncomfortable or annoyed. The least common sound you can hear from your leopard gecko is screaming. Screaming is a key sign that your leopard gecko is scared and feels that it is in danger. Adult geckos rarely scream, though juvenile leopard geckos scream a lot.

If you get a juvenile leopard gecko, expect to hear it screaming quite a bit at first. Be extremely patient and as gentle as possible during this stage. As the leopard gecko grows, it will become accustomed to you and most likely grow out of the screaming phase.

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What happens to the tail of gecko once it falls off?

You might be surprised by a tail drop if you try to grab your gecko by the tail or hold it too tightly when it's trying to escape. The detached tail will wiggle and twitch on the ground as though it were still connected to the gecko's body. While this can be shocking, it's important not to panic.

Losing a particular body part is a defense mechanism called autotomy that many animals use. Gecko tails are specifically designed to drop: Inside the tail is special connective tissue that creates a location where it can readily break off when needed. When this happens, the blood vessels to the tail constrict and very little blood loss occurs. This is helpful to remember if you're trying to determine whether your gecko dropped its tail or lost it due to trauma; very little blood is lost when the tail is dropped.

Eventually, a gecko regrows its tail but it may not look exactly the same. The new tail is often shorter, colored differently, and blunter at the end than the original tail.

In the wild, a gecko's tail loss serves a very good purpose. The tail's movement distracts potential predators and allows the gecko to get away, leaving the predator with nothing but the wiggling tail.

In comparison, geckos are relatively safe in captivity. It's possible, however, for geckos in a group to bully one individual, which could trigger the defense mechanism. If you have more than one gecko in an enclosure, it's a good idea to separate the potential victim from the others before it loses its tail.

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Do gecko’s tails grow back after they fall off?

Most, but not all, lizards have the ability to "drop" their tails. According to Margaret Wissman, DVM, avian and exotic veterinary consultant, reptiles such as green iguanas and bearded dragons will drop and regrow their tails, while others, such as crested geckos, can lose their tails but will not regrow them.

This defense mechanism, termed “caudal autonomy,” happens when a lizard is grabbed by the tail or feels threatened, says Lisa Abbo, DVM, MS, at Woods Hole Science Aquarium and the Capron Park Zoo in Massachusetts. When this occurs, the tail separates from the body along a natural fracture line and continues to move independently from the body, likely to distract the predator and to allow the lizard to escape. This defense is often a last resort, after the lizard has used other less-costly attempts at escape.

“A lizard’s tail won’t drop if, say, your dog is barking at it,” said Wissman. However, it might drop if a person accidentally steps on it, grabs it, or a heavy object falls on it, she added.

Tail regrowth is a fascinating research topic among scientists, said Abbo. Tail regrowth can take weeks to months and depends upon environment, diet and a host of other factors. The new tail may be shorter and different in color or texture from the original tail, and research has shown that regenerated tails are often made up of long tubes of cartilage (rather than vertebrae) and contain longer muscles that span the length of the new tail. At first, the new tail may look like a stub on your lizard until it is able to grow back to a decent length, said Wissman. Also, the regrown tail may be a more muted brown color than the original, brighter colored tail.

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