CREATURE FEATURE: Common Leopard Gecko

The Common Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis Mascularis) is a small ground-dwelling reptilian lizard. 

The Common Leopard Gecko is pale beige with dark-brown markings and spots. Its back is covered with small lumps. It has short legs with short nails on its toes, which are used for gripping objects (it does not have sticky pads on its feet). It has movable eyelids. It has about 100 small teeth. It has a thick, fleshy tail.

It can regenerate its tail if if drops off. This is called caudal autotomy. It regularly sheds its skin (about once a month). This is called moulting. 

Common Leopard Gecko

It grows to 18-28 centimetres (7-11 inches) long. The male is slightly longer than the female. 

It is native to Central Asia, in countries such as Afghanistan, northern India, Pakistan, Iran, and Tajikistan. 

The Common Leopard Gecko prefers rocky, dry grasslands and desert regions. 

It is crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk. In winter, it goes into semi-hibernation, which is called brumation. It goes underground and stays still until the warmer weather arrives. During the day, it rests in shaded areas. 

It is ectothermic, which means that it aborbs heat from the sun during the day. 

It feeds on grasshoppers, cockroaches, worms, and other insects. It also eats its own skin after shedding. Its predators include snakes, foxes, and larger reptiles. To escape its predators, it uses camouflage to blend into its environment. It also has good eyesight and hearing. It will also detach its tail to escape. 

The Common Leopard Gecko is a solitary reptile. 

The female lays 10-30 eggs, which hatch after 35-89 days. 

It has temperature-dependent sex determination of its young. More females are born in cooler weather when the temperature is 26-29C (79-84F) and in very warm weather when the temperature is 34-35C (93-95F). More males are born when the temperature is about 30-33C (85-92F). 

Baby geckos have an egg tooth which helps them break the egg, so that they can hatch. The babies are born with a blue-grey tinge, and gain their adult colours after 4-5 months.

[Location of photographs: Dushanbe, Tajikistan]

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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