SleepyDee Geckos

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Leopard gecko caresheets
Basic care-guides for Helmeted Geckos; Viper Geckos; Barking Geckos; Knob-Tailed Geckos and Mourning geckos DIY hides, caves and bark

Basic Hatchling Care

Example of a hatchling box
Example of a hatchling box

Raising hatchling or young leo's requires greater care and attention than that of adult and although some of the conditions needed are the same there are differences.

The most important thing to note is choice of substrate. Hatchlings and young leo's less then five inches in length should not have sand or loose particule substrates as they are at a far greater risk of impaction - the only safe substrates for leo's this size is kitchen-towel, plain paper etc.
For the first two weeks or so I use ventilated 3lt containers for the hatchlings then as they grow they are moved into larger tubs/rubs. A typical hatchling box should have a hide, humid/moist hide (hatchlings and young leo's shed far more often then adults as they grow), a dish with calcium powder and water dish.
Small, plastic lidded tubs
with either a layer of damp kitchen paper or damp moss inside make ideal humid/moist hides, small flowerpot trays and toilet rolls (cut in half lengthways) make ideal hides, plastic milk tops and jar lids do for water and calcium dishes. When it comes to heating I keep the hatchlings in the same temperature range as adults ie: hot end at 88*F-92*F/ 31*C-33*C and position the tubs so that a temperature gradient is provided.

Example placement of hatchling tubs on heat source to allow for ample thermoregulation

With regards to lighting ~ I have noticed that newly hatched hatchlings seem to be light sensitive so for the first two weeks I lay a single layer of kitchen paper over the top of the tubs to diffuse any light.
Hatchlings and young leo's can be housed in small mixed sex groups in large tupperware containers, plastic flatpacks, terrariums or faunariums etc but care must be taken to remove those that are growing quicker and getting bigger then their clutchmates or those that are not thriving as well; I prefer to keep them either singly or in pairs. I seperate all males ~ from each other and females ~ before they are three to four months old as males mature quicker then females and this not only prevents the developing males from fighting but also prevents them from trying to mate with the females.

Handling ~ hatchlings and young leo's are quite fragile, easily hurt and stressed; can be defensive ~ having a young leo try to bite and hiss at you will make you jump lol ~ and real quick to move! They really shouldn't be forcibly handled; instead let them become used to your hand first a little at a time keeping your hand still and near the viv floor (leo's will jump if frightened) ~ they'll eventually climb up for a look.

Feeding ~ newly hatched leo's don't tend to eat for the first few days; instead they absorb any remaining eggyolk until they have their first shed, usually you can tell when this has happened as their first stool is pale in colour. You can start offering small livefood round about day three ~ small hoppers, small crickets, mini mealworms etc; try not to offer food that is too small or too large ~ as a guide all food should be the appropriate size ie no more then the length of the leo's head or wider then the width between the leo's eyes.
Feeding times/frequencies ~ daily; I put mini mealies in shallow dishes such as jamjar lids while crickets, etc are put in loose a few at a time.Young leo's appetites will rapidly grow until they eat between 10 - 15 livefood items everyday. It is important to remember to dust all food with the correct supplements ~ usually calcium powder five times a week and vitamin powder once or twice a week
~ and ensure all livefood is well gutloaded.

Shedding ~ young and growing leo's shed their old skin more often then older or adult leo's and on average will shed every two - three weeks. First their skin will turn (or start to turn) white/grey and they will either start spending more time in their moist-hides and/or try to rub against any viv furnishings to help remove the dead skin which they will generally eat. It is important to check that all old shed has been removed from areas such as toes, end of tail and head.

Cleaning ~ unlike older leo's hatchlings will defecate pretty much anywhere until they start picking one area; ~ I use kitchen-paper as substrate which I just remove and replace with clean daily along with removing any dead crickets, debris etc. Sometimes they'll pick their moist hide; what I have found that works to stop this is to thoroughly clean the hide to remove any scent and replace it in a different area. Water dishes should be cleaned daily and fresh water given; this prevents any build-up of algea and more importantly bacteria. I would recommend cleaning the entire hatchling tub/rub along with all hides at least every week.

How hatchlings markings and patterns change as they grow
Faffy at a few hours old
Faffy at three weeks old
Faffy at seven weeks old
Faffy at three months old


*The information written on my website and in my various care sheets has been gathered
through my own personal experiance and research over the years ~
Please do not use or replicate any information or photographs without permission ~ thankyou *

Interesting Facts

Leo's are originally from south-eastern Afghanistan, throughout Pakistan, north-west India, and into Iran.

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