Do Leopard Geckos Pee and Poop?


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Leopard Geckos are part of the reptile species, cold blooded and kin to many different kinds of geckos and lizards.  Most geckos are nocturnal and prefer very hot and dry climates, Leopard Geckos are rather different than others. They all excrete waste the same way, but not nearly the same way that other animals do. 

leopard gecko on bark

Do leopard geckos pee and poop? No, leopard geckos do not pee and poop.  Now, they do excrete waste in the form of urates which are just soft white chunks of waste their body no longer needs.  This way of excreting waste helps them conserve water so they can survive in their hot, dry environment.

Now, since Geckos are so much different than other animals in the way they rid their bodies of waste, we need to look for a few different things when watching for signs of health issues. 

What Your Leopard Gecko’s Poop Is Telling You

Most of the time, you can tell when things aren’t normal by looking at a gecko’s urates.  Geckos excrete feces, but also a chunky substance that turns into a white powder when crushed.

You will know something is wrong if the urate is yellow. That is usually a sign of dehydration. Check their water, watch them for a few days and everything should be back to normal. 

Geckos who eat regularly, poop regularly.  So, if your gecko is not pooping regularly, it’s because they are not eating enough b. But how do you know if they are eating enough? This varies for different ages of geckos. 

  • Babies (Under 12 months)
    • Eat multiple small meals a day, should poop multiple times a day
  • Juveniles  (12-18 months)
    • Depending on their stage of development may go a day without eating or pooping
  • Adults (Over 18 months)
    • Usually only eat once every few days, will only poop once every few days

Their poop (separate from urate) is dark brown and holds its shape.  Any change in diet can change the consistency, but if it is runny for more than a few days, this can be a cause for concern. 

Leopard Gecko’s Health

leopard gecko closeup

If they don’t excrete waste the same way we do, how are you going to know if they aren’t healthy or if they aren’t getting enough food or water?  There are a few ways to tell if your gecko isn’t doing well, but first we have to know exactly what they need to thrive. 

Food and Eating Habits

Just as in the wild, your Leopard Gecko needs live animals for food as they do not eat any plants. Usually you can just feed them mealworms or crickets. They are also allowed a few special treats like waxworms, or superworms, but no more than once a week is recommended. 

Gut Loading and Nutrient Powder

When feeding your pet, you have to prepare the insects before they ingest them. You have to feed the insects a powder diet that is rich in nutrients, or you can drop them in a container filled with hog mash (available at feed stores) 24 hours before you feed your gecko.  This is called gut-loading and is necessary for your pet to thrive in its environment. 

You can also dust your insects with a nutrient rich powder that will help the gecko reach its nutritional needs.  You can also just keep a jar of this powder in the corner of their habitat and as the gecko needs it, it will lick up the powder.

You don’t have to worry about it eating too much because your gecko will only take in the amount it needs, its body knows exactly what it needs. 

Your Gecko also uses belly heat to digest food.  This means you will want to make sure you keep a constant eye on the temperature on the floor of the tank. 

If the temperature isn’t right, your gecko won’t be able to digest food properly and will stop eating. Usually, you will want to keep the temperature between 88-93 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Water

Leopard Geckos need a source of water that is changed frequently. It needs to be in a stable dish that won’t spill or splash because their habitat needs to stay as dry as possible.

You also need to make sure whatever dish you purchase, your gecko, especially if they are young, they can crawl in and out of it effectively, so make it pretty shallow just to be safe.

Holding Your Gecko

boy holding pet reptile

Your Gecko will need some time to settle into its new environment after you get it home. You will want to start making sure it’s used to your touch; however, a couple things have to happen first, 

  • Once its new home becomes its normal
  • Once it grows over 6 inches in length

Once both of these milestones are met, the best way for you to help your gecko acclimate to your touch is to start with small 10-15 minute sessions letting it crawl through your fingers or hand over hand. Usually it only takes 7-10 days for your gecko to be used to you holding and touching it. 

Make sure to never grab their tail as it can fall off.  While the tail can grow back, it can take up to 40 days and its extra work the gecko has to do, and it is easily avoidable. 

What Is a Leopard Gecko’s Environment Like?

In the Wild

You might find leopard geckos in the desert, in arid grasslands or anywhere that is hot, dry and rocky.  Leopard geckos are native to Afghanistan, west India, Iran and Iran. They are limited to burrows and shaded areas during the day, but usually come out during the evening when the temperature is less extreme. 

In Captivity

pet leopard gecko on a rock

If you are wanting a Leopard Gecko as a pet, you will need a specific habitat set up for them.  They need quite a few things:

  • A source of freshwater
  • Source of food
  • Heat source(usually with a heat lamp or under tank heating pads)
    • Under tank heating pads are preferred because geckos digest food with belly heat
  • A place to hide and cool down(you can buy fake burrows for tanks)
  • Flooring – usually newspaper or fake flooring from pet shop
  • 10-20 gallon clear tank for your pet to live
    • 20-30 gallon if you are getting more than one
  • A mesh top to the tank
  • Floor thermometer
  • A moist, warm and cool hide
    • These are so your gecko can self-regulate its body temperature
    • This will also help your gecko shed so make sure they are tight fitting

You do not want to use sand or any fine particle flooring as a young gecko can consume these particles and it can cause health problems. 

You also don’t want to leave the top of the cage off.  Even if you have to simply step away for a second, please don’t leave the top off.  Leopard geckos aren’t particularly fast moving, but they can jump right out of the tank if there is no lid on it.  This means they won’t have food, water, or anything to help regulate their body temp. 

Light and Your Gecko

Leopard geckos are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dusk or dawn when light is fading. In captivity, they don’t have specific lighting requirements, but you will want to make sure you give them some time where they feel like it’s dusk or dawn so they can be active and move. 

Unlike other species of geckos, Leopard Geckos do not bask in the sunlight, and they are not nocturnal. 

Adopting a Gecko 

Overall, Leopard Geckos aren’t terribly hard to care for if you follow instructions and are good with routines.  Having any pet that depends on you is a responsibility, but due to the habit forming Leopard Gecko, the responsibility raises a little. You could keep a checklist, or a care sheet somewhere near the tank to help remind you of the things you need to do until it becomes a habit for you. 

Sources:

April

I'm an avid animal lover, former veterinary assistant, and blogger. My undergraduate work included a pre-veterinary curriculum and some graduate work along those lines as well from Cal Poly in Pomona, CA (GO BRONCOS!). These days I blog about all sorts of animal-related topics. Many I have or currently personally own, some I don't but am just interested in. Nothing in this blog should be construed as veterinary advice. I am a 100% advocate that if you think something is wrong with your pet, take it to a vet.

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