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Leopard Gecko

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Dołączył: 14 Sty 2007
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PostWysłany: Pon 3:30, 15 Sty 2007    Temat postu: Leopard Gecko

The leopard gecko gets its common name from the adult coloration of wild specimen, which is generally a cream to yellow ground color with black spots/stripes. However, artificial selection in captivity has produced a number of color morphs, distinct from this 'wild-type', possessing many varied colors and patterns. Some of these include: High yellow, orange, striped, patternless (no spots or stripes), lavender, blizzard (which are solid white or gray), and amelanistic (no black pigments in markings).
Albino and Patternless Leopard Geckos
Albino and Patternless Leopard Geckos

The leopard gecko, is one of the few geckos that don't have pads. Pads are the visible "flat" (if you will) areas on the toes. In these areas are covered in many microscopic hairs that allow the gecko to stick on to trees, leaves, rocks, glass ect. The leopard gecko does not have these pads and instead uses claws for climbing.

The average size of Leopard Geckos is 6-8 inches. In captivity, genetic variants have occurred leading to some reaching sizes of 9-11 inches("giants")[1], though these are rare.

Leopard geckos are one of only a few gecko species (all of them members of the subfamily Eublepharidae, a small family of tropical/subtropical species found in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. ) that have eyelids. This helps the gecko keep its eyes clean and particle-free in its dusty environment. Most geckos clean and moisten their eyes with their tongues. Another interesting difference in leopard geckos from most other gecko species is the absence of adhesive toe pads. Instead, they have small claws. Leopard geckos cannot climb walls or glass, although their claws give extra traction on the ground and are helpful in digging; the same applies for the same group of old world geckos having eyelids. Like all geckos, they shed their tail, in a process called caudal autonomy if frightened or disturbed. Muscles at the base of the tail constrict to snap the vertebrae, severing most of the tail. The tail distracts the predator (wiggling and writhing on the ground) as the gecko makes its escape. Although they will eventually grow a new one, the regenerated tail will differ from the original, appearing bulbous and inferior. If handled often as a baby, they may become accustomed to handling.

In its natural environment, the leopard gecko lives under rocks or in small caves to avoid temperature extremes. Like many desert dwelling species it is nocturnal or active at night. It hunts insects, spiders, and other small insect species. Occasionally they will hunt very small mammals.

Incubation temperatures of 78-82 degrees produce females, 82-84 degrees produce both sexes, and 84-90 produce males.

As pets, leopard geckos will gradually adopt non-nocturnal behavior, however, some remain the same. The best way to ensure this is to handle them frequently, and only during day time. It sometimes is best to keep their night habits, as they see better during that time.

[edit] Distribution
Area inhabited by Leopard Geckos
Area inhabited by Leopard Geckos

The Leopard Gecko is native south-eastern Afghanistan, most of Pakistan, and north-west India, and inhabits primarily the rocky, dry grassland regions of these countries. As nocturnal creatures, they spend the day hidden under rocks or in dry burrows to escape the daytime heat, emerging at dusk to hunt insects.

[edit] Leopard Geckos in Captivity

Leopard geckos are often recommended to beginning herpetoculturists for several reasons: their small size, ease of care, cleanliness (they tend to defecate in one corner of their enclosure), long life span (up to 35 years), tolerance of handling, and wide color range. They can usually be handled well by older children, but the close supervision of an adult is still recommended as the gecko's tail can fall off if stressed or frightened.

Leopard geckos are easily available commercially. They are one of the few lizard species regularly bred in captivity in large enough numbers that captive-produced specimens are easily obtained at pet stores. As with crested geckos, leopard geckos are a good choice for someone who wants a pet lizard but doesn't want to keep wild-caught animals. These geckos are very inexpensive especially in contrast to other reptiles and in the context of their beauty, tolerance of being handled, simplicity of care, simplicity to breed & other plusses.

A 'regular' leopard gecko generally consists of mostly yellow, black & green blotches & stripes. Such a gecko can be purchased at most pet stores that have a reptile department.
A Patternless leopard gecko.
A Patternless leopard gecko.

In recent years, breeders have created special morphs of leopard geckos to obtain more attractive colouring patterns. These morphs range in terms of costing, and are typically more expensive than one with an ordinary colour phase. Patternless leopard geckos can cost a great deal more than those with regular markings, and are often referred as "albinos". Generally these expensive morphs will not be found in most pet stores and need to be ordered from breeders who specialize in selective bred or newly discovered morphs. Some may carry genetics for these morphs though. Most pet stores do however carry leucistic leopard geckos, characterized as the name implies by a white, often colourless skin. Many stores also carry leopard geckos with reduced or unusual spotting, which often have anything ranging from unusual bands to no pattern at all.

[edit] Reproduction

[edit] Sex Identification

Leopard geckos are only slightly sexually dimorphic, with the males being somewhat more heavy-bodied than females, and have a thicker, more defined head and neck. Males also possess a V-shaped row of 9-14 enlarged pre-anal pores on the tissue between the legs and a pair of hemipenal swellings at the base of the tail. Females have less obvious pre-anal pits in the same position as the males, and lack paired swelling at the base of the tail. Gender is differentiated during egg incubation and is dependent on the incubation temperature, but gender characteristics are not visible in young geckos.

[edit] Mating

Leopard Geckos become sexually mature at around 15-30 months of age. In order to produce healthy hatchlings, females are best at a weight of 45 grams. Males however do not need to be of any specific weight once sexual maturity is reached (though an obese male may be reluctant to mate).

Leopard Geckos usually breed from around March to September, though it may begin as early as January and finish as late October. They are also influenced to reproduce by subtle drops in temperature during winter.

If upon inspection of the translucent abdominal skin on a female there is the visual appearance of developing eggs, the female should mate immediately when introduced to a male. Two matings should be allowed to take place in order to insure that successful fertilisation has occurred.

When a male and female are introduced, the male begins to beat his tail against the ground producing a thumping noise. In response, the female silently sways her tail from side to side along the ground. Following this, the male will lick her to obtain her scent, then begin gently biting her from the lower body upwards. If the female does not wish to mate, she will bite back and the male will cease his activity. If she accepts, he will continue up to her neck, making his body parallel to hers and placing his hind leg over her tail, and inserting one of his hemipenes.

Roughly a month later, the female will lay either one or two eggs. Clutches of two eggs will then be laid monthly throughout the rest of the mating season, though this varies from female to female according to age, with older females laying less.

[edit] Egg Incubation

Leopard geckos are temperature sexed. In captivity, if during the incubation stage an egg incubated at 79-83 degrees Fahrenheit (26-28°C) will yield a female where an egg incubated at 84-90 degrees Fahrenheit (29-32° C) will typically yield a male. Eggs incubated at too low of a temperature, below 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26° C), will yield sterile, mutated babies which will eventually die due to poor development. It is also important to keep the eggs in a moist environment and water-retaining soil, such as vermiculite.

[edit] Hatchlings
Juvenile Leopard Gecko
Juvenile Leopard Gecko

Approximately 6-12 weeks after being laid, the eggs will hatch. First, the gecko will break the surface of the egg and push its head out, remaining in this position for as little as 2 or as many as 4 hours. During this state, it is important that the hatchling is not touched or otherwise disturbed, as they are gradually adapting to lung breathing and obtaining oxygen from the egg membraines as well as absorbing yolk from inside the egg.

A Leopard Gecko's markings at birth are extremely different to those of an adult. The skin has no spots, instead large dark-green and light-green bands cover the body from head to tail.

For the first few days of life, the gecko will turn down any food offered, its hunger sustained by the absorbed yolk still in its system.

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