It’s no secret that all leopard gecko owners love and care for their pets deeply and would do anything with them even if that meant bringing them with us everywhere we went. But because they require a certain type of environment to stay alive, doing so just isn’t possible. And when life gets in the way and your job requires you to go on a trip or if you just simply want to take a vacation, this question might pop into your head.
Can I leave my leopard gecko alone for a week? No, but if you have someone who will watch over them while you’re gone, then yes, you can. Without supervision, your leopard gecko could run out of food, water, and might even overheat if your tanks temperatures get too high.
Although leopard geckos are little troopers, they’re not invincible and will need human care in order to survive. Absolutely anything could happen while you’re away and one wrong thing could put your gecko’s life at risk. It can be done, but only when someone is frequently checking up on them and providing them with what they need. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do before leaving.
Make a Care Sheet
If you’ve decided to go on that trip and have found someone who can watch over them, then make sure you write a very detailed sheet with all the information the caregiver will need to know while you’re gone. This list should consist of things like when to feed them, how to feed them, when to give them water, and a few other things that you do when caring for them.
Making a list like this should give them everything they need in order to be experienced enough to properly take care of them and will give you a peace of mind knowing that they’re basing their information on a sheet rather than just memory.
Keep in mind that when you’re making this list to be as detailed as possible and don’t leave anything out. If you have to write a book to get your point across, then don’t hesitate to do just that But, make sure you format the list in an orderly fashion so that whoever is watching over them doesn’t get confused. Also, make sure your handwriting is very clear so that steps don’t get mixed up or mistaken for something else.
You can either have one caretaker or multiple, it doesn’t matter. It’ll just be up to you to make everything as clear as humanly possible. Treat it as if it were a school essay and you’re trying to get an A+ on it. Just give it everything you’ve got.
Clean Your Tank Out
Before giving your gecko to a caregiver, it’s best to clean the tank out so that you can avoid putting that unnecessary burden on the person or people caring for your gecko. They likely already don’t know much about them, so you can bet that they definitely won’t have a clue on what to do when it comes to cleaning their tank out.
If you leave it up to them, then they might subject your gecko to chemicals that can be very harmful to them such as bleach or any other type of cleaner. Products like these are very fumy and can cause a lot of irritation or possibly even issues worse than that if the equipment that’s within the tank that the gecko uses often gets contaminated with it.
Not only that, but all the touching around inside the tank can cause your leopard gecko to react negatively by hissing or even biting if they feel threatened. Not to mention the stress they’ll be under in the process as well.
So before you go, just pick up around the tank as you usually would. Clean out all bowls and pick up any poop laying around. Substrate lasts awhile without having to be cleaned depending on how often and where your gecko poops and pees, but replace that as well if that’s dirty and needs to be changed.
You might already know this, but leopard geckos love to be clean and keep their area nice and neat. When under the supervision of a caregiver, they can easily stack up a decent amount of poop within a week that might actually end up stressing them out, so do what you can now to make sure is everything is fresh within the tank so that their environment won’t be too contaminated by the time you make it back from your trip.
Make Sure to Prep in Advance
Whenever we go on these trips ( especially vacations ), it’s extremely easy to rush and forget things out of excitement in the process. You can think you got everything right and brought everything along with you that you needed just to realize that there’s something that you forgot to do or get before you left the house. And usually, this thing that you forgot to get or do is usually very important.
That’s sort of what it’s like when you forget to do something for your gecko before you leave. I mean, I guess you could always make a phone call and have a friend or family member make a trip to your local Walmart to pick up something like substrate if you forgot to change it out, for example.
But, what if your leopard gecko is on a strict diet of one particular type of food ( or foods ) from a specific online store that you shop at for all their needs and you happen to leave and forget to restock.
This might not seem like a huge issue, but some geckos won’t eat unless they get what they’re used to being fed, so sometimes storebought foods just won’t cut it with them. There have been some who have debated over whether or not they can or can’t go a week without food, but I don’t recommend doing that. Especially for babies who have to eat every day.
Just like how they won’t eat dead food, they also sometimes won’t eat a different type of food if they’ve never had it before as well. Luckily, we live in a day and age where most people have phones and can order whatever they need from wherever they’re at, but unless you’re spending a ton of extra cash on faster shipping, most of the insect deliveries can take anywhere from 4 days to a week.
So, at that point, your gecko might potentially not be eating until you get back. You would think that when they got hungry they would eventually eat whatever was given to them, but leopard geckos are known for going on what people call a ” hunger strike ” and won’t eat at all until they get what they’re craving. They can be quite the divas sometimes ( even males ).
Aside from that, though, that’s just one issue that could happen. Without proper preparation, there could be a million other things that you might forget to provide your gecko with before leaving. You might even forget to make the list for the caregiver. To prevent any of these things from happening, make sure to create a checklist and prepare for your trip weeks ahead of time.
Call Your Local Reptile Shop
Most people have a close friend or family member that they can go to whenever they need help with something, but unfortunately, some don’t. I myself have a pretty small family, so I know how hard it can be to get help with something when you don’t have very many people to rely on.
In that case, though, there’s still hope. If you have a local reptile shop, sometimes they will store them for you for a set price whenever you have to go out of town for a while. Large businesses like PetSmart might not be willing to do something like this, but if there’s any kind of shop that specializes in the care of reptiles, then don’t hesitate to give them a call.
The best way to do this is by looking at their reviews first and then determining whether or not you’d want them caring for your reptile. Although these stores are meant for reptiles, sometimes their care can be a little questionable depending on what type of shop it is.
The reason why I know this is because I have a shop just like this in my area and wouldn’t allow them to touch my gecko with a 10-foot pole. So, just like before you buy an item online, make sure to take a quick look at their reviews or what others have commented before making that call.
I understand you want to leave or are required to due to job demands, but taking your gecko to a place that isn’t trustworthy just isn’t worth the risk. If you have to, reach out to other shops in nearby cities to ensure that your gecko is getting the best possible care while you’re gone.
Brief Your Caregiver
Writing a detailed list for your caregiver is an absolute must if they have no type of knowledge when it comes to leopard geckos, but it isn’t quite enough to ensure the gecko’s safety. Physically show them what they need to do and how to do it so that they get a better understanding of what you’re talking about on your list.
Many people are better at learning new things by watching someone else do it rather than just reading instructions off a piece of paper, so briefing your caregiver is always recommended. Also, because your leopard gecko likely doesn’t know the person who’s caring for them, this can cause them to stress out pretty heavily.
A lot of this stress can happen whenever they go to feed them or give them fresh water, so pretty much anything that warrants them to put their hand in the tank. Luckily, there are two ways to help reduce this if you’re someone who frequently leaves or would just like to cut this problem out altogether.
The first solution is to actually get a better tank. You might be wondering what a tank has to do with your leopard geckos stress, but it does actually play a huge factor in it more than you might think.
This is because when you have a tank that only allows access from the top, this actually spooks them out every time you reach in, especially with new people. To reduce this, I recommend a tank with front opening doors.
Having a tank like that will allow your leopard gecko to see what’s approaching it and won’t be as scared whenever it’s time to feed them. Shoot, they might even build a bond with the caretaker while you’re gone.
Anyone that knows anything about leopard geckos knows that stress is their silent killer. It can lower their immune system, cause them to not eat, and even go into hiding for long periods of time without coming out, even if they’re hungry. So making an investment like that is definitely worth it for not only this trip but for future trips that may be even longer as well.
As far as their water goes, I also highly suggest a water reservoir. A regular water bowl will do just fine while you’re at home, but just to keep that stress down to an absolute minimum, I think it will work great for a situation like this.
You fill it up and it lasts for quite some time. Depending on how thirsty your gecko gets, it might not even have to be replaced until you get back. If it does need to be filled, though, then make sure your caregiver knows that the water has to either be filtered if it’s tap or buy water that is safe for your gecko and let them know where it’s at so that it’s readily available when it’s time for a refill.
Don’t Just Leave Them
Sometimes, whenever owners don’t have anywhere to take them or anyone who will watch over them, they will be tempted to just leave them in hopes that they’ll be alright once they get back. This is not advised at all. There are just way too many things that could go wrong if there is no one to watch over them. Just think of the potential risks.
What if it rains heavily and you have a power outage that takes out your tanks heating source or throws your thermostat off. What if your leopard gecko starts a shed while you’re gone and it’s a bad one because your moist hide isn’t moist enough.
What if they eat substrate and become impacted. I mean, just take a look at this article here that I recently wrote and scroll down to the section titled ” SIGNS OF IMPACTION “ just to get a better idea of how serious that alone can get.
My point is that there are a million things that could go wrong, so leaving them there to fend for themselves is just way too risky. If you’re absolutely in desperate need to find someone to watch over your leopard gecko, then consider going to Craigslist and finding other reptile owners who might hold your gecko for you while you’re gone.
That site gets a bad rap sometimes, but you’d be surprised at how nice some people are when it comes to needing a favor done. Basically, just do whatever you can to get them the proper care, but never leave them alone. If you’re someone who takes trips often and never has a reliable source to care for them, then it may be time to rehome until you have more free time in the future.
In a world where people are constantly working or having to travel due to various different reasons, I know how hard it can be to constantly care for your gecko. So there’s no shame if you have to rehome until you’re ready. Sometimes things happen in life that are out of our control.
We love our leopard geckos, but that doesn’t mean that owning them has to be a life sentence in our own homes. If you want or have to take a trip, that’s perfectly fine. But make sure you have everything set in place way in advance so that you won’t have to worry about anything at the very last minute.
Find a reliable and trustworthy caregiver that will take good care of your gecko while you’re gone and make sure they clearly know what they need and what has to be done until you get back. There have been a couple of times where I’ve gone on vacation to various different places and have had to have someone watch over my gecko, so I know how it feels to have to deal with this.
With the right preparation and planning, things can go very smoothly while you’re away, so don’t stress it too bad and know that it can be done. The first time you do it might take you and the caregiver a little while to get used to things, but if you stick with the same person for every trip, then over time your gecko might even build up trust with them and everything will just be a lot easier for everybody.