Are Leopard Geckos Good Beginner Pets?

Some may think that picking out your very first pet is easy, but really, it’s not.  On top of the million different options you have to choose from, you have to also take into consideration how much maintenance will go into them, how easy they will be to care for, and how loving and friendly they will be as well.  With that said, let’s get straight to the question.

Are leopard geckos good beginner pets?  Yes, they are.  Leopard geckos are great pets for beginners because they don’t require a lot of upkeep, they’re very sweet animals, and unlike some other reptiles, they don’t grow to be that large.

Leopard geckos aren’t one of the most popular pet reptiles for no reason.  They’re animals that are loved by many proud owners across the world and surprisingly enough, they have a very long lifespan that allows them to be a part of the family for many years to come.  But, that’s not all. Let’s take a look at some of the other reasons why they make great pets for beginners.

They Require One Size Tank Their Whole Life

While leopard geckos do grow up to around 9+ inches in size upon entering adulthood, they do not require a lot of space like a lot of other lizards, or even reptiles, for that matter.  While a 10-gallon tank is the bare minimum when it comes to housing them when they’re babies (0-2 months old), they will need a 20-gallon tank as they get older, but after that, that’s it.

Because leopard geckos grow so quickly, many people, including myself, think it makes more sense just to buy a 20-gallon tank from the very beginning in order to avoid buying one tank and then shortly after buying another one.  If you’d like to know which tank I used when my leopard gecko was a baby and still currently use, then I recommend checking it out here on Amazon.

It’s 20 gallons, but it is great for leopard geckos of all ages and will last you forever.  You can always go with a 10-gallon tank, but after your leopard geckos reach 2 months in age, you will need a new one to make up for their size.  Leopard geckos that are housed in small tanks after they are babies become very stressed out and won’t have enough room to comfortably move around the tank.  

They’re Very Clean Animals

Unlike other animals who don’t care too much about their cleanliness, leopard geckos actually take pride in keeping and staying clean at all times.  You will find that most of them ” use the bathroom ” in one spot every time, therefore, making it a lot easier on you when picking up their poop.

Their bowel movements are very small and although they are icky, they are extremely easy to clean up.  In addition to this, they also eat their own skin after a shed.  Now, this isn’t only to keep their area clean but to also make it harder for predators to track them down as well.

They might be in a tank, but they’re reptiles, so they will always have that reptilian instinct that tells them to take the measures necessary in order to avoid becoming another animals lunch.  And whether or not they keep clean to stay protected or because they just simply like to have their area be nice and cozy, they still do a pretty good job at it.

With an animal like a cat, for example, you have to worry about cleaning out and removing their litter on a pretty frequent basis, but with leopard geckos, that’s not the case.

And believe it or not, I actually wrote a full, in-depth article on the topic of whether or not they do, in fact, poop in one spot or not.  You now know that they do, but to really get a full understanding as to why in greater detail, I suggest clicking here and checking it out so that you can be a little more educated on the topic.             

They’re Inexpensive

Leopard geckos come in many different colors (morphs), but because some are rarer than others, the price of them can differ quite a bit.  Luckily, though, when it comes to the most common leopard geckos that most of you are likely used to seeing with the black spots all over them, they are not as much.  With those particular leopard geckos, you can expect to only spend about $20-$40 dollars give or take.

Compared to other animals, that’s actually pretty cheap.  Plus, considering how long they can live (up to 20+ years), paying that much for a leopard gecko is well worth the investment.  There are common household pets, like hamsters, that sometimes cost more but don’t live nearly as long.  So, with these cool looking little creatures, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.

On top of that, they’re also fairly easy to breed as well.  So, that means that that one leopard gecko that you bought can turn into many more that will last for the rest of your life. And if one leopard gecko can live up to 20 years, that means that 5 leopard geckos can last you all the way until you’re 100.  If you look at it that way, buying a leopard gecko is the best thing that you could ever do.

They’re Great for People with Pet Allergies

According to this source, it has been reported that up to 10% of people suffer from an allergy from a household pet.  And usually, when we think of allergies and pets, the first two that pop into our minds are cats and dogs (especially cats).

This is very unfortunate, but luckily for those who suffer from allergies when it comes to certain pets, leopard geckos are a great alternative to have.  They don’t contain any fur or protein that animals, like cats, carry that can cause an allergic reaction.

They’re hairless (as most of you probably already know) and they stay contained inside of a tank their whole life.  So, with that said, there are no worries of sneezing or getting stuffed up like you would do anytime a cat or dog comes around.

And even if you don’t personally have an allergy to cats or dogs but your friends or family do, then that’s another reason why they’re great alternative pets to have.  You’re loved ones and lifelong friends care for you deeply, but it can be hard for them to want to come around if there’s a pet in the house that’s causing them to have bad allergies.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just extremely uncomfortable.

They’re Low Maintenance

Aside from the fact that cleaning their poop up is extremely easy, they’re also pets that are very low maintenance and don’t need a ton of special attention in order to take care of them.  The only thing you have to worry about when caring for a leopard gecko is feeding them, making sure their tank isn’t too hot or cold, and honestly, that’s about it.

They’re great at taking care of their self as long as you provide them with what they need to survive and unlike other animals, you don’t have to constantly take them out of their tank for a walk, worry about your furniture getting smelly, or even worry about having to always brush your clothes off because of hair that might be stuck to you.

They’re also great pets for those who enjoy the company of having a pet in the house without a ton of extra responsibility.  There are a few things that you’ll have to stay up on when it comes to them, but it’s not nearly as much as you would have to with other pets.  So, if you’re looking for a pet that won’t give you much trouble for many years to come and are pretty easy to maintain, then the leopard gecko is definitely for you.     

They Don’t Stink

I’ve owned many different types of animals outside of reptiles so I know how badly some of them can stink up a room, but when it comes to leopard geckos, you won’t have to worry about that as much as long as you’re picking up their poop every day (which usually only happens once a day).

It’s no fault of the other animals why the naturally smell the way they do, but sometimes, having a bad smelling room or house from a pet can have its downfalls for many different reasons.  One reason is that it can actually make guests not want to come over.  Yes, that sounds bad, but it happens.  Some people just don’t enjoy being in a home that smells like an animal, which is fine.

Another reason is that if the smell is strong enough, it can actually make the things in your room smell bad as well, such as your clothes.  This is bad because the smell can carry on all day, even when you do leave the house.

Those issues might not be a big deal to some, but I personally like to keep my home smelling good, so leopard geckos are perfect for that.  If you’re anything like me, then they’re perfect for you as well.  Just keep in mind that you WILL have to stay on top of the poo.  Obviously, if poop stays in a tank too long it will start to smell bad.  Luckily, though, that’s not hard to maintain at all.

They’re Easy to Tame

Leopard geckos can be a little feisty when first bringing them home because they haven’t adapted to you or your environment yet, but fortunately, they are pretty easy to tame.  Taming will involve patience, holding them every day, talking to them (yes, talking), and making sure you’re respecting them by not causing them any stress.

If you’d like to know how to do that, then I recommend checking out this article here that I wrote so that you know exactly what steps you’ll need to take when that time comes.  It’s an easy process that takes up to and sometimes a little over a month to really gain their trust, but it can be done much sooner depending on your leopard geckos individual personality.

With that said, though, it can also take a little longer as well.  Again, this will completely depend on your leopard gecko and how patient you are with them.  Once you get past that little hump, though, you will gain their trust and respect forever unless you ever happen to give them a reason not to.

Most animals take way longer to tame when it comes to their behavior, but as you can see with leopard geckos, the process can be pretty quick.

They Enjoy Being Held

Once you have that strong bond established between the two of you, they actually are very affectionate little lizards that do like to be held regularly.  Keep in mind that they are very fragile, though, so you will have to handle them with care.

Because they’re cold-blooded lizards, they really enjoy the warmth of your body and will even snuggle up in your hand or on your lap and soak up some of that natural heat.  They are animals that generally like to stay to themselves, though, so they don’t like to be held too much.  But, when they do, they’re really loving.

Another thing to remember is that when you first bring them home to not be too touchy because this can easily irritate them and mess up the bonding process.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just that they’re hardwired to be defensive towards anything new because most things to a leopard gecko are seen as threats.

Also, when they’re trying to shed, they definitely don’t like to be held.  Shedding is very stressful for them, so just know that when this happens, you’ll have to give them just a little space until it’s over and then you’ll be able to hold them again with no problems.

They Don’t Take up a Lot of Space

Depending on what size tank you decide to get, leopard geckos generally don’t take up a whole lot of space.  Assuming you go with the 20-gallon tank that I recommended at the beginning of this article, you will have a ton of different places to comfortably fit your tank.

That 20-gallon tank is only 24 inches long and can fit on most surfaces that people tend to like to set their tank on.  This can include a computer desk, the top of a dresser, or maybe even a homemade stand.

The good thing, like stated above, is that you will never have to go any bigger than this unless you want to.  20 gallons is the minimum size for an adult gecko, but you could go all the way up to 75+ gallons if you wanted to.

This could be for reasons such as wanting to cohabit (house two leopard geckos together), wanting to add more equipment to your tank, or just overall wanting a larger tank for personal reasons.

If we’re just talking about a 20-gallon tank, though, which is what most leopard gecko owners use, then you definitely won’t have to worry about them ever taking up too much space in your room.

They Can Be Left for a Short Amount of Time

When buying a leopard gecko, you have to understand that they are a big commitment that will require you to make some sacrifices over the years, but if you’re a busy person who has to go to work and school on a regular basis and are frequently not at home, then leaving them alone for most of the day is just fine as long as you feed them and give them water beforehand.

Leopard geckos that are under 6 months in age have to eat every day, so leaving them home alone for longer periods of time is not possible.  But, once they’re over 6 months and they start eating less, which is what most leopard geckos do as they get older, then you can leave them home alone comfortably for as long as two days.  You may even be able to get away with an extra day depending on how much your leopard gecko eats.

Any longer than that though, you will need supervision for them.  This means that you will have to have someone that you trust and is careful to watch over your leopard gecko while you’re gone to make sure everything is running smoothly.

If you’d like to know exactly how you can do that including the steps that need to be taken before leaving your leopard gecko for longer periods of time, then take a look at this article here that I wrote.

Every leopard gecko buys their gecko with the intention of loving them and taking care of them to the fullest, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be bound to the house for the rest of our lives because of it.  As long as you have someone watching over your leopard gecko, they will be just fine.

They’re Monthly Expenses Are Cheap

After you buy all of the equipment that you need for your leopard gecko, there are really no other big expenses that you have to worry about after that.  The only two things that you will have to keep up on is there food and substrate, and even those only have to be bought about once a month.

What type of food you get them will depend on what you want to feed your leopard gecko, but just keep in mind that it is recommended that they have a balance in their diet in order for them to stay healthy all the time and get the right amount of nutrients that they need.  For the many different food ideas that are available to them, I suggest taking a look at this food list that I put together.

You’ll get a lot of people that will recommend just feeding them mealworms and crickets, but they can eat so much more than that.  As for their substrate, that’s also very low in cost.  One bag of this stuff here from Amazon can last you up to one whole month and sometimes even longer depending on how much your leopard gecko uses the ” restroom “

The prices of their food will vary, so it’s impossible to let you know how much that will be a month, but all of their food options are usually pretty cheap, so you don’t have to worry about that being too much if that was ever a concern.

Their Bugs Are Easy to Care For

Many people shy away from buying leopard geckos because they think that maintaining their bugs will be too hard, but that’s hardly ever the case.  When caring for most of their bugs, all you will have to do is put them in a container where they can breathe, but can’t escape, and feed them whatever is required to keep them alive.

For example, if you buy crickets for your leopard gecko, the only thing you will need to do is put a couple of pieces of fruit in their container and then let them have at it.  When dealing with crickets, 2 or 3 grapes can last for days.

The same will go for other feeder insects as well, you’ll just want to make sure you know what to feed them.  For example, bugs like silkworms will need special leaves in order to survive called mulberry leaves.  They are great for leopard geckos, it’s just that the leaves can be hard to obtain sometimes.  Don’t worry, though, there are many other options to choose from, that was just an example.    

Their Tank Doesn’t Have to Be Cleaned Often

Because their poos and pees are so little and are usually in one spot within the tank, cleaning out their tank isn’t something that has to be done very often at all.  If you have multiple leopard geckos living together then you’ll maybe have to clean your tank twice a month, but for just one, once a month should do just fine.

A good time to clean the tank is when you’re changing your substrate.  Since that also has to be changed about once a month, I usually just do both together.  Whatever you do, though, will depend on the type of substrate that you have and also how many leopard geckos you decide to have in one tank as well.

They’re Friendly

Unless they’ve been mistreated, not properly cared for, or haven’t had the chance to fully get comfortable around you, then leopard geckos are generally very sweet, friendly, and loving pets.  There will be times where they will be a little bit moody such as when they’re about to lay eggs or shedding, but that’s normal.

They love attention from their owners and sometimes even do well with other leopard geckos.  There are some factors that could make them aggressive, but usually, it’s just because they’re going through something or are irritated from uncomfortable circumstances within the tank.  To help you get a better understanding of what can cause them to be this way, then take a look at this article here that I wrote.

Some of the things that I listed in that article can’t be prevented, but a lot of them can.  So, check it out so that you can know what not to do to make them aggressive and also how to prevent some of these things as well.

Just remember that your leopard gecko will act as nice as you treat and care for them, so keep that in mind before bringing them home.

They’re Active

Although leopard geckos are nocturnal animals, they are still very active when they’re awake.  It may not seem that way because while we’re up, they’re asleep and while we’re getting ready to go to bed, they’re up.  But, that’s just how leopard geckos are.  

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t active at all during the day because sometimes they are, but most times you will see them sleeping until around 7:00 PM.  This is late, but it isn’t too late.  Most people are still up around this time and are able to play with their leopard geckos before they go to bed.

If you’re looking for a pet that is more active during the day, then maybe leopard geckos aren’t the best choice.  But, this doesn’t seem to be an issue for many people since they still have plenty of time to interact with them at night.

Conclusion

Leopard geckos are probably one of the best lizards to own for anybody looking to buy their first pet.  Getting the hang of taking care of them can take a little while, but once you get it, everything becomes very easy.

They are not complicated animals to maintain and are way less of a hassle to care for than other pet reptiles.  Not to say that there aren’t other reptiles out there that aren’t good pets, but if I were to recommend a first pet to anyone, then the leopard gecko would definitely be that pet.