Because of how simple they are to care for, how peaceful they are, and how beautiful they are, leopard geckos are among the most popular reptiles kept as pets. It can be difficult to pinpoint a gecko’s exact age, even though many pet owners can make an educated guess based on size and general look.
This article will discuss how to age a leopard gecko using a variety of factors, including morphological characteristics, behavioral traits, and medical examinations. Leopard gecko owners may properly care for their pets, including giving them a balanced diet, a suitable environment, and any necessary veterinary care, by knowing how to reliably calculate the age of a leopard gecko.
Leopard geckos have certain physical characteristics that can indicate their age. Here are some of them:
- Size: Leopard geckos grow rapidly in their first year of life and reach their full adult size by 18 to 24 months. So, a gecko that is larger in size is likely to be an adult.
- Tail: A young leopard gecko has a thicker, more muscular tail compared to an adult, which is typically thin and narrow.
- Skin: Juvenile leopard geckos have a bumpy skin texture that becomes smoother as they grow older.
- Eyes: Young leopard geckos have large, round eyes that tend to get smaller and more almond-shaped with age.
- Colors and patterns: Leopard geckos are born with a pale yellow color that darkens with age. As they get older, their patterns and colors become more pronounced and defined.
Behavior And Habits
Leopard geckos are relatively easy to determine the age of, as their behaviors and habits change as they age. Here are a few key ways to tell a leopard gecko’s age:
- Juvenile: Juvenile leopard geckos are usually around 2 to 6 months old. They are very active, curious, and will often explore their enclosure. They may be more skittish and nervous than older geckos.
- Sub-adult: Sub-adult leopard geckos are usually around 6 to 12 months old. They will become less active and more docile as they approach adulthood. They will also start to develop their distinct, leopard-like markings.
- Adult: Adult leopard geckos are usually over 12 months old. They will be much less active than juveniles or sub-adults and will often spend much of their time basking in the sun or hiding in their hiding spot. Their markings will be well-defined and bright.
- Aging: As leopard geckos age, they may start to develop wrinkles and folds in their skin. Their tails may also start to shrink and become less plump.
There are several methods to determine the age of a leopard gecko, including laboratory testing. Some of the most common laboratory tests used to determine the age of a leopard gecko include:
- MicroCT Scanning: This is a non-invasive method that uses X-rays to produce 3D images of the bones. These images can be used to determine the age of the gecko by examining the growth lines in its bones.
- Radiographic Analysis: This involves taking X-rays of the gecko’s bones and comparing them to X-rays of known-aged leopard geckos. This allows for the determination of the gecko’s age based on the development of its bones.
- Bone Histology: This involves removing a small piece of bone from the gecko and examining it under a microscope. This allows for the determination of the gecko’s age based on the size and number of growth lines in the bone.
- Blood Analysis: This involves taking a sample of blood from the gecko and analyzing it in a laboratory. This allows for the determination of the gecko’s age based on the levels of certain hormones and proteins that change as the gecko ages.
In conclusion, determining the age of a leopard gecko is not an exact science, but there are several ways to estimate it. The size, weight, and physical appearance of the gecko can provide some clues to its age. Also, the presence or absence of certain morphological characteristics such as webbed feet, eye bulging, and the presence of pre-anal pores can be used to estimate the age. Additionally, observing the behavior of the gecko and its overall health can also give a rough idea of its age.
In the end, the best way to know a leopard gecko’s age is to ask the previous owner or to keep track of its growth and development over time. With proper care and attention, leopard geckos can live up to 20 years, so it’s important to be mindful of their age and health throughout their life.