Leopard geckos are one of the most popular pet lizards kept in captivity. Their small size, docile temperament, and relatively simple care requirements make them an excellent reptile pet for beginners and experienced herp enthusiasts alike. One question that often comes up when researching leopard geckos is just how big do these lizards get? Let’s take a closer look at the growth rate and full adult size of leopard geckos.
Typical Growth Rate
Leopard geckos are fairly slow growing lizards. When they first hatch from the egg, leopard gecko hatchlings are just 3 to 4 inches long from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail. They will reach about 6 inches in length within their first year of life.
From one to three years old, leopard geckos will reach their full adult size of between 8 to 11 inches in total length. The growth rate does slow down as they mature. Most of the significant growing happens in the first 12 months, and they put on weight more so than length as adults over 3 years old.
Average Adult Size
Once fully grown at 3 years old, the typical adult leopard gecko size is between 8 and 11 inches long from snout to tail tip.
- Males are usually slightly smaller than females, reaching 8 to 10 inches long.
- Females are generally between 9 and 11 inches in full length.
In terms of weight, most healthy adult leopard geckos weigh between 45 and 80 grams. Again, males tend to remain on the smaller end of this spectrum, while mature females become heavier set.
It is not unheard of for some leopard geckos to reach 12 inches long as especially large adults, but this is not the norm. Anything over 11 inches would be considered above average size.
Factors Affecting Size
There are a few factors that can influence the final size a leopard gecko reaches. Here are some of the considerations:
- Genetics – Some bloodlines and morphs tend to produce larger geckos. For example, “giant” and “super giant” leopard gecko morphs are bred to be larger than typical.
- Diet Husbandry – Proper nutrition from calcium-rich feeders and appropriate housing temperature allow a leopard gecko to reach its growth potential. Poor care can result in stunted growth.
- Health Issues – Parasites, illness, or physical disabilities can restrict a leopard gecko’s growth if left untreated. Only healthy geckos will grow to full size.
- Gender – As mentioned above, females generally reach slightly larger dimensions compared to males once sexually mature.
With good genetics, care, and health, most leopard geckos can be expected to stay within the typical size range for their gender as described earlier. Let’s now look closer at what is considered a large leopard gecko versus a small one.
What is Considered a Large or Small Leopard Gecko?
Given their average adult size of 8 to 11 inches in length when fully grown, here are the general thresholds used to describe large and small leopard geckos:
- Large – Any leopard gecko over 11 inches long would be on the bigger side. 12+ inches is exceptionally large.
- Average – The normal range for most healthy adult leopard geckos falls between 9 and 10 inches long. This is an ideal size.
- Small – Leopard geckos under 8 inches in total length are on the smaller side once matured. If under 7 inches, it may be due to poor care or health issues.
These size designations most accurately apply to adult leopard geckos over 3 years old. Younger juveniles are expected to be smaller as they still have growing to do.
Is Bigger Always Better?
When it comes to leopard geckos, bigger is not necessarily better in every scenario. Here are a few pros and cons to larger size:
Pros of Larger Size:
- More intimidating/deterrent to potential predators
- Ability to eat larger prey items
- Generally able to produce larger clutch sizes for breeding
Cons of Larger Size:
- Potential for obesity if overfed
- Require larger habitat space
- Not quite as easilly handled compared to smaller geckos
- Males may have trouble breeding with substantially smaller females
An ideal leopard gecko is one that falls within the average 9 to 10 inch size range as a healthy mature adult. But whether small, average, or large, responsible care and maintenance is most important when keeping leopard geckos as pets.
In summary, the answer to “how big does a leopard gecko get?” is typically between 8 and 11 inches as a fully grown adult. Hatchlings start very small under 4 inches, but reach adult dimensions within 12 to 36 months based on the factors discussed. With proper genetics, nutrition, environment and health care, leopard geckos can live for many years at a healthy mature size. Responsible owners should be prepared for their pet gecko to reach at least 9 inches long within the first few years of life.
FAQs About How Big Does a Leopard Gecko Get
How quickly do leopard geckos grow to their full size?
Leopard geckos typically reach their full size at around 12 to 18 months of age. However, growth rates can vary among individuals, and genetics, diet, and environmental conditions play a role in determining how quickly they mature.
Are there variations in size between male and female leopard geckos?
Yes, there are size differences between male and female leopard geckos. Males tend to be slightly smaller, averaging around 7-8 inches in length, while females are generally larger, reaching 8-10 inches. These size variations are more noticeable as they mature.
What factors can influence the size of a leopard gecko?
Several factors influence the size of a leopard gecko, including genetics, diet, temperature, and overall health. Genetics determine their potential size, while a balanced diet, proper temperature, and good husbandry practices help them reach their genetic potential.
Do leopard geckos continue to grow throughout their lifespan?
Leopard geckos do not continue to grow significantly throughout their entire lifespan. While they may experience minor size changes due to factors like diet and health, their most significant growth occurs during their first year. After that, they mainly maintain their adult size.
How can I measure the size of my leopard gecko accurately?
To measure the size of your leopard gecko accurately, gently extend it from nose to tail and measure in a straight line. Use a soft ruler or a piece of string, and then measure the string’s length. Measure from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, excluding the tail’s curvature.