Leopard geckos can have remarkably long lifespans, under the right conditions. In captivity, leopard geckos can live well into their twenties, with the oldest reported leo living until it was 38 years old. Because of this, the decision to become a leopard gecko keeper is a big commitment.
Average Leopard Gecko Lifespan in the Wild
Although they are a hardy creature, leopard geckos in the wild live in very harsh conditions. Originating in the mountainous desert regions of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, leopard geckos have to endure…
Harsh weather conditions
The desert is not a friendly environment. The harsh weather conditions of the leopard gecko’s natural desert habitat include months of drought, extreme heat during the day, and cool nights. Because of their need to regulate their body heat, wild leos have to seek shelter from the harsh desert sun during the day, and warmth from the cool air at night. This causes the leos a great deal of stress.
There are no exotic animal vets in the wild. If a leo gets sick, it’s on its own. Some of the major health conditions that leopard geckos face in the wild include:
- Metabolic bone disease (MBD)
- Difficulty shedding
- Reproductive disorders
- Respiratory disorders
Any one of these health issues could spell disaster for a wild leo, as illness and weakness makes it more susceptible to…
Leopard geckos are small lizards. As such, they tend to be preyed upon by a number of other animals, both large and small. Some of their most common predators include:
- Carnivorous lizards
- Even spiders!
With all of these stressors constantly hanging over their heads – plus the fact that their only real source of defense is tail dropping – it’s no wonder that the average lifespan for leopard geckos in the wild is estimated to be between six to eight years.
How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live in Captivity?
As you would expect, the average lifespan of a leopard gecko in captivity tends to be quite a bit longer than their wild relatives.
It’s not uncommon to hear of leopard geckos living well into their twenties in captivity.
This longevity is dependent on a number of factors, the biggest one being that captive leopard geckos live in highly controlled environments. In general, experienced leopard gecko keepers provide their leos with environments that include:
- Consistent temperature gradients for basking and cooling
- Optimal humidity levels
- Highly nutritious diet of insects bred and raised in captivity
- A living environment that’s cleaned regularly
- Close monitoring for health conditions
- Access to a veterinarian
All of this adds up to very low-stress living conditions that are perfect for increasing a leopard gecko’s lifespan to 10, 15, even 20 years and up.
How to Increase Your Leopard Gecko’s Lifespan
By now you’re probably wondering what you can do to help your leo live its happiest and healthiest life, and increase its life expectancy to that 20+ year mark.
Since leopard geckos are some of the easiest lizards to manage in captivity, there are only a few basic things you need to do to keep them happy, healthy, and full of life.
- Purchase from a reputable breeder – Some breeders are overly concerned with creating fun leopard gecko morphs. However, many morphs come with built-in health conditions. For example, enigma morphs are prone to neurological issues. It’s best to purchase your leopard gecko from a breeder who’s more concerned with raising healthy leos than creating fascinating morphs.
- Offer proper nutrition – Leopard geckos are insectivores. As such, they need a varied diet of highly nutritious, gut-loaded insects that have also been dusted with a good calcium/vitamin D3 supplement. The best insects for staple feeders are live crickets, Dubia roaches, and mealworms, supplemented with the occasional hornworm, superworm, wax worm, or darkling beetle as a treat. To learn more about what and when to feed your leopard gecko, check out our article “How Long Can Leopard Geckos Go Without Food.”
- Create an optimal environment – Your leo’s enclosure should be at least 30” x 16” x 16” and have a gradient of temperatures that range from 85ºF-90ºF for basking, to 75ºF-80ºF in the cooler area. Provide UVB lighting for 10-12 hours per day, understanding that leopard geckos are crepuscular creatures, active mostly at dusk and dawn. They need a minimum of three “hides” where they can go to cool off, relax, and even shed. And they need fresh water in a shallow dish to drink and soak. You should also clean your leopard gecko’s enclosure once per week.
Examine regularly for abnormalities and signs of illness. One great benefit of being a leopard gecko keeper is having the ability to observe it for signs of stress and illness. Be sure to look out for signs of stress or illness, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty shedding
- Weight loss
- Changes in feces
- Visible injuries
- Liquid excrement from nose, mouth, or eyes
- Difficulty breathing
Takeaway: Although Leopard geckos typically live between six and eight years in the wild, with proper care they can live up to twenty years or more in captivity.
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