Like many good things that come in small packages, the leopard geckos surely are one — with their lovely smiles!
These tiny beings with their happy faces make amazing pets and are ready mood-lifters by nature.
In terms of lineage, leopard geckos belong to the reptile family, same as other lizards, but they do not climb walls (thank god for that!).
They do not have those sticky padding under their feet that makes running up and down the wall a cake walk. Instead, the leopard geckos are happily grounded.
That is one reason why many people love to keep these creatures as pets at home.
They naturally inhabit the highlands of Asia, all of Afghanistan and some parts of North India.
The leopard geckos are practically ‘no nonsense’ beings. And coming to the best part – they have a wide smile right across their face. Yes, you read it right.
If you have not seen one yet, Leopard geckos are famous for having a perpetual smile on their faces. Here’s it look like:
Okay, now you may ask, do they really smile? Are they always happy? What is the truth behind their smiles?
What makes them smile?
Do all leopard geckos smile? And so on…
The answers to all of these perhaps rest in the line – that’s just how God has created them.
Yes, leopard geckos are born with a smile. That is to say, their lips are shaped like a happy curve, stretching from ear to ear, giving it the appearance of a wide grin.
That is the truth behind these cute little creatures and their often-discussed smiles. Their mouth is shaped like a smile, the perfect curve!
That gives the geckos the illusion of a permanently fixed smile on their face.
But if you thought they smile like humans when happy, that is not the case. Their smile is more to do with a physical feature than emotional state.
Do Leopard Geckos Have Emotions?
If leopard gecko smiles are a part of their physical appearance, does that mean they don’t have emotions?
Well, no. All reptiles have emotions, but that is primarily of fear and aggression, said Dr. Hoppes of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
However, Dr. Hoppes also mentioned that reptiles experience positive emotions of pleasure too when they are given food or are gently stroked.
Their pleasure emotions do not manifest in smiles though. So, fact remains, the smiles of leopard geckos are part of their appearance and not a behavioral manifestation of the pleasure emotion.
Having said that, it is true that leopard geckos are not like other lizards and reptiles, primarily displaying fear and aggression.
Quite contrary to typical reptile behaviors, these animals are amicable species, friendly and highly sociable.
Although they do not exactly like to live in groups, they are by and large timid, unless you keep too many leopard geckos confined in one place.
Food triggers a lot of positive emotion in leopard geckos and they are gluttonous by nature.
They are also charming to have in your home or flaunt on the top of your palm as they easily become hand-tamed.
So if you are looking to bring home a new pet, why not go for these leopard-colored, smiley-faced, friendly geckos?
The Goodness of Smiles
Smiles are wonderful things in our otherwise stressful days. To smile and to see someone smile both work wonders to boost our emotional health.
Smiles, leading to happy energies, release the feel-good pleasure hormones in our system called endorphins.
These endorphins are natural painkillers, produced 100% by our bodies and relieving us off most of our daily stress.
So, when you keep a leopard gecko as pet, what you effectively do is bring happiness home.
The moment you look at their smiling faces, chances are that you would smile too!
And your endorphins will take over to keep the stress hormones at bay. That is the goodness of smiles, and the goodness of geckos as pets.
Now that we are talking so much of these wonderful little lizards andtheir overwhelming smiles, why not know them a little more in detail? Here aresome more facts about leopard geckos.
Leopard Gecko Fact Files: All YouNeed to Know
The brightest part of their demeanor is the wide grin they hold. But thereare more.
Scientific name: Eublepharismacularius
Family: Lizards (Gekkonidae)
Genus variants: The Dusky Leopard Gecko, the East IndianLeopard Gecko, the Turkmenistan Eyelid Gecko, and the Iraqi Eyelid Gecko
- Physical – big eyes (have eyelids unlike other lizards), leopard spots, broadsmile
- Behavioral – Nocturnal, docile, ground-dwelling, slow-moving
Size: 6 to 9 inches (sometimes even a littlelonger)
Food: Kingworms, cockroaches, Mealworms, wax moth, cricket,spiders, scorpions, beetles, centipedes, etc. Needs water at all times.
Eating style: They generally do not eat dead animals. Theyare prowlers and love to catch their own food.
Breeding: Summer is the season when leopard geckos breed. Female geckos lay twin eggs at a time and bury them for incubation.
The sex of the baby gecko is determined by the temperature it receives during the incubation period.
Female geckos are born if the temperature is between 79°F to 84°F and male geckos form when the temperature stays in the range of 88°F to 91°F. The incubation period is generally between 45 and 53 days.
Please note that these creatures breed on their own and you practically have no headache!
Terrarium: 10 gallon tank/aquarium for a single leopard gecko, 15 gallon for 2 and 20 gallon for 3. You should never keep more than 3 in one tank.
Also, it is never a good idea to keep two male geckos together as they fight over territories. So, always keep female geckos with 1 male gecko if you must keep 3 of them together.
Substrates: Paper towels, slate tiles, sand mats,newspapers, etc.
Preferred habitat: They do not climb. They prefer dry, sandy-gravels, coarse-grassy, or step-like areas.
So, rocks and logs are favorable for a gecko habitat. You may also keep flat bowls or boxes inside the box for some variety and also to allow space for shedding.
Just ensure that the geckos are not close to any drafts. Best not to keep the tank/aquarium near doors and windows.
Suitable temperatures: These creatures love warmth. Daytime temperatures should be around 80°-85°F with a basking spot having around 90°F.
At nighttime, temperatures in the range of 70°F are suitable.
Humidity: They need moderate humidity – neither too high nor too low.
Humidity below 20% makes shedding difficult for the leopard geckos.
Humidity in the range of 40% to 60% are suitable for leopard geckos during shedding.
Life span: 15-25 years, even in captivity.
Conservation: Not endangered
As pets: Very good. However, you need to buy geckos from reputed breeders.
Also, do not over-attend to your gecko the first time you bring it home, although they are social animals.
Remember, the leopard gecko would still look like smiling even when it is stressed.
So chances are that you will stress the poor animal in a new environment if you keep it in your hand and play with it for too long. The best part of these smiling little geckos is that they are non-venomous.
They are safe to be with children and are never seen biting anyone. When held in hand, they gently walk over your hand, flashing that smile all over.
Leopard Gecko Smiles Can Be Confusing
This charmer of an animal, the tiny leopard geckos, can sometimes be confusing too because of their smiling demeanor.
For example, you wouldn’t even know when it is upset if you just look at its face. The solution is to look beyond the smile, because the truth behind this smile is only nature.
They would still smile when they are prowling and looking for a prey or about to attack it. So, you need to watch out for other signs.
If you find your gecko waving its tail and holding up that natural smile, wouldn’t you be tempted to think that it is happy?
You may think – that is what dogs do when happy, they wag their tails, so why not the geckos?
Well, on the contrary, geckos would wave their tails when they feel threatened and are on the verge of attacking another gecko.
So you may need to isolate them from each other right away.
While tail waving is a warning sign, tail rattling is not. When leopard geckos rattle their tails, it signals that they are excited.
Excitement generally triggers when they are given food (gluttonous geckos, remember?) or when they are about to mate.
So, all in all, leopard geckos are cute and amazing animals, aren’t they?
Whether you have them or not as pets yet, you must agree that their faces are wonderful nature’s creations and the positive energy these tiny creatures generate by their sheer presence is priceless!
So love their smiles, know why they smile, and keep smiling.