Leopard geckos are a popular pet reptile known for their docile nature, ease of care, and wide range of morphs and colors. An important consideration when acquiring a leopard gecko is deciding whether you want a male or female. There are some key differences between the sexes that potential owners should be aware of. This guide will outline the major distinctions and help you determine if a male or female leopard gecko is best for you.
The most obvious difference between male and female leopard geckos is size. Males are generally smaller, averaging 7-10 inches in length when fully grown. Females are larger, averaging 8-11 inches in length as adults.
Males also have broader heads and necks compared to females. This gives them a stockier, more muscular appearance. Females have slimmer, more delicate heads and necks.
The underside of a male leopard gecko has a V-shaped row of pre-anal pores. These pores secrete pheromones for mating purposes. Females lack these pores entirely.
Finally, males possess hemipenal bulges at the base of their tails. These bulge out slightly on either side of the cloaca and contain the gecko’s paired hemipenes or sex organs. Females do not have hemipenal bulges.
When it comes to temperament, male leopard geckos tend to be more outgoing and explorative. They are often more handleable as pets and interact more with their owners. Females, on the other hand, tend to be more timid and reclusive. They typically prefer to hide more often.
However, temperament depends on the individual gecko. With regular gentle handling from a young age, females can become quite tame and handleable too. But in general, males seem more curious and adventurous compared to females of the same age and environment.
Male and female leopard geckos have the same basic habitat requirements. A 20 gallon tank for one gecko, with proper heating, humidity, substrate, and hides. However, a few adjustments may need to be made depending on sex.
For example, two females typically get along well when housed together. But male/female or male/male pairings can lead to conflict and even violence. The safest option is to house leopard geckos separately by sex.
Females may also benefit from an additional moist hide wFhen gravid (carrying eggs). This helps them retain proper hydration and successfully lay their eggs. Otherwise, the habitat needs of males and females are quite similar.
There are no major differences in the dietary needs of male and female leopard geckos. Both sexes should be fed a varied diet consisting of:
- Mealworms and crickets
- Waxworms and superworms
- Small pest roaches
- Calcium and vitamin gut loaded insects
- Occasional treats like hornworms or silkworms
Adults should be fed every other day, while growing juveniles can be fed daily. High quality calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are essential 2-3 times per week for proper bone and egg development. Always ensure fresh, clean water is available at all times. Monitor food intake carefully during breeding season as males often go off food while courting females.
Breeding and Egg Laying
The main consideration here is that only females lay eggs. Female leopard geckos reach sexual maturity around 9-12 months old. They will then lay 2 eggs approximately every 4 weeks during the breeding season (February to September). The egg laying process can be stressful on females if proper care is not provided.
Be sure female geckos have an appropriate laying bin or incubator set up prior to breeding season. Offer an extra moist hide several weeks before expected egg laying. Monitor for signs of straining, loss of appetite, or retention of eggs. Retained eggs can be fatal if not passed or surgically removed.
Males reach sexual maturity around 9 months old. Though they do not lay eggs, they do undergo sperm production and will mate readily with females during breeding season. Ensure housed male/female pairs are compatible prior to breeding to avoid injuries.
On average, female leopard geckos tend to live slightly longer than males. Females may live 8-10 years or more with proper care and husbandry. Males average 6-8 years, though 10 year old males are not unheard of.
The slightly shorter lifespan of males may be due to increased stress and activity levels during breeding season. Females investing energy in egg production may also contribute. But again, every gecko is an individual. With attentive care, both sexes can meet their lifespan potential.
When deciding between a male or female leopard gecko, consider your priorities. Males tend to be more active and socialized, while females are often more shy. Females exclusively lay eggs, so plan for appropriate breeding setups if desired. Either sex can make an excellent pet with their calm dispositions. But factor in the key differences outlined above when choosing your new leopard gecko companion.
FAQs About Male vs Female Leopard Geckos
Do male and female leopard geckos require different care and husbandry?
Male and female leopard geckos generally have similar care requirements, including temperature, humidity, and diet. However, female geckos may have additional needs during the breeding season, such as a nesting box. Overall, their care is quite similar, with minor adjustments for breeding conditions.
Can male leopard geckos be housed together? What about females?
It’s not advisable to house male leopard geckos together, as they may become territorial and aggressive. Female leopard geckos can sometimes coexist peacefully in groups, but it’s essential to monitor their behavior closely. Breeding pairs should be housed separately outside of the breeding season.
Are there differences in coloration or patterns between male and female leopard geckos?
In most cases, there are no significant differences in coloration or patterns between male and female leopard geckos of the same morph. However, some rare morphs may exhibit slight variations in coloration between genders, but this isn’t a reliable method for sexing.
Do male or female leopard geckos make better pets?
Both male and female leopard geckos can make excellent pets. The choice largely depends on personal preference, as their behavior and care requirements are quite similar. Some may prefer the potential breeding opportunities that come with females, while others may opt for males to avoid potential egg-laying complications.
What is the lifespan difference between male and female leopard geckos?
There is typically no significant difference in the lifespan of male and female leopard geckos. With proper care, both genders can live for 15 to 20 years or even longer. Factors like genetics, diet, and overall health have more influence on lifespan than gender.