What Is a Panther Gecko?

L.K. Blackburn

A panther gecko is a small, ground-dwelling lizard that comes from the coastlines and forests of Madagascar. It is named for its speckled appearance, and has light brown spots and a dark brown hide. Many people choose to own the panther gecko as an exotic pet because it is small and relatively low maintenance.

Panther geckos often eat silkworms.
Panther geckos often eat silkworms.

In the wild, a panther gecko lives underneath fallen trees, leaves, and scrub brush. It primarily eats insects, including roaches, crickets, and silk worms. When kept as a pet, it should only be fed small insects. A good way to measure appropriate insect size for the lizard is to never feed it a creature that is any larger than the lizard's own head.

Panther geckos often eat crickets in the wild.
Panther geckos often eat crickets in the wild.

The pet panther gecko should also be provided with a multi-vitamin and a calcium supplement. Feeding schedules for a panther gecko vary based on the lizard's age. Younger lizards need to be fed daily, while an older lizard can be fed once every two weeks.

Panther geckos are nocturnal, and this environment should be replicated for them as best as possible when they are kept as a pet. This means turning off heat lamps and other light sources at night, and only handling the lizard during the evening. As pets, panther geckos require time to become comfortable with their owners handling them. Some will always remain skittish, and caution is advised because many have been known to jump out of a person's hand.

Male panther geckos live substantially longer than the females. Females live up to 2 to 3 years of age, while males can survive for up to 10 years. The geckos regularly shed their skin, and the first time they shed is a good indication of the lizard reaching maturity. This usually happens around 9 months of age for both genders. Size wise, the panther gecko will grow to be around 4 to 8 inches (10.16 – 20.32 cm).

These geckos are prolific breeders. Once reaching maturity, a male can be discerned from a female by small bumps on the end of its tail. The female lays eggs 2-3 weeks after insemination, and the baby lizards hatch after 60 days. Female geckos can retain sperm internally, so they can lay eggs every 14 days a limited number of times.

A humidity box should be used in a panther gecko's tank to provide up to 80% humidity daily. An appropriate size for the glass tank is 10 gallons (37.9 liters). Hiding places and a basking spot should be provided, with the basking spot heated to 85°F (29.4°C).

Panther geckos come from the coastlines and forests of Madagascar.
Panther geckos come from the coastlines and forests of Madagascar.

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