Panther Geckos (also known as Pictus Geckos, Ocelot Gecko) are quite small geckos that live in deserts and other hot areas. They are about the size of a penny to an inch long as a hatchling and grow to about two times its size in about two to three weeks from hatching. They grow this large when they are still very young, for their life span is is five to seven years for males and about two to three years for females. Their fully grown body is usually 6” long. Panther geckos are born with stripes on their backs, but the stripes slowly turn to spots with each time they shed their skin. Panther geckos are nocturnal lizards, so expect them to move about more at night.
Care items needed for your gecko
Now, let us talk about what you will need to take care of them. You will need a terrarium that is 10 gallons (18-20” long) with a screened lid. You will need two heat lights for night and day. You will need a thermometer and hygrometer inside the terrarium. Panther geckos eat small-sized meal worms and small-sized crickets. Please make sure that the worms and crickets are not longer than the length between your gecko’s eyes. For the crickets, you will need a cricket house with water gel and cricket food. You will also need at least one hiding spot for each of your geckos. Clean wood from a store with holes is a great example for hiding places. NEVER use wood from the yard or any other outdoor place, it may harm your gecko with sickness. You will need carpeting on the bottom of your cage, NOT sand. You will need a small-sized water bowl for your gecko to wade in. Panther geckos also need a spray bottle to spray water in the cage. While your gecko is young, you will need to coat its food in calcium. Panther geckos often have bone problems as you will read later.
Everyday care for your gecko
Everyday care for your gecko is crucial. Clean your geckos cage about every month or earlier if there are too many poops around (see Health Problems). You must put in about three meal worms each day and about five crickets every few days and remember to dunk meal worms in calcium powder. Your gecko should have the night heat light on at around 8:00pm and should have the day heat light on at around 7:00am. If your gecko has shed its skin, you do not need to pick up the skin. Your gecko will eat its shed skin at night. Panther geckos need water so please empty and fill your water bowl with water once every day. Also for moisture, you will need to spray water into the cage. About six sprays a day should do it (be sure to spread these sprays throughout the day). Keep the temperature about 75-90 deg. F for day and about 65-75 deg. for night. Humidity levels should be at about 30-50%.
Handling your gecko
DO NOT hold your gecko as soon as you get it. Only handle it after a week, for it to get used to it’s surroundings and you, and even then move slowly and if it runs, let it. If your gecko tries to run out of your hand while you are holding it out of the cage, ONLY THEN do you keep it in your hands. NEVER hold your panther gecko by the tail. Panther geckos can lose their tail, but will NEVER grow it back. Do not force your gecko to get in your hand, it WILL bite you (EXTRA WARNING. These geckos sometimes carry diseases). Your gecko will eventually let you hold it without a fuss (this only happens if you hold it for a long time and if you do this every day).
Panther geckos have a few (not exactly a few) health problems. The main one is bone failure. Panther geckos need a lot of calcium and can die if they do not have enough. A few ways to look for this is: lethargic behavior, standing in odd positions, figures and odd shapes visible on the skin. Other signs of other illnesses or problems: runny droppings for more than two days, weight loss or lack of eating/drinking, swollen joints, discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth, shedding problems, discolored skin, avoidance of the basking areas, or more time spent hiding. If any of these occur, contact a veterinarian or reptile doctor.