Tangerine Leopard Gecko: Complete Guide To A Life In Captivity

Join the world of Tangerine Leopard Gecko owners. Get insights into their lifespan, breeding habits, and how to nurture these vibrant exotic pets.

The Tangerine Leopard Gecko (also known as the "hypo" or the "super hypo" Tangerine Leopard Gecko) is a unique and beautiful reptile that makes an excellent pet.

With their bright orange coloring, varied patterning, and potential to live up to 20 years in captivity, this reptile is truly captivating to watch and easy to care for.

Aspect Details
Appearance Bright orange color, often with black or dark brown patterns
Size Females: 8-10 inches; Males: 6-9 inches
Lifespan Average 15-20 years, up to 30+ years with proper care
Temperament Docile, independent, can be tamed with regular handling
Activity Cycle Crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk

Overview of the Tangerine Leopard Gecko (Appearance/ Size & Lifespan)

Vibrant Appearance

The Tangerine Leopard Gecko is genuinely considered as one of the most striking of its species.

Their unique look comes from the bright and vivid orange color which sets them apart from other Leopard Gecko morphs, and is usually complemented by various patterns of black or dark brown running along their dorsal areas. These markings will usually range from black to deep purple depending on the individual.

As a general rule of thumb, any Gecko which holds a predominantly orange coloration can be considered as "Tangerine", although many sub-variants exist as well ("Hypo", "Hyper" & "Supers").


The Tangerine Leopard Gecko is a medium-sized reptile, with female specimens usually reaching between 8 and 10 inches (20 - 25 cm) while the males are typically smaller, ranging from 6 to 9 inches (15-23 cm).


The average lifespan of the Tangerine Leopard Gecko is around 15-20 years, although some have been known to live 30+ years in captivity when provided with proper care and nutrition.

Additionally, the Leopard Gecko species has a rather slow growth rate compared to other Geckos, so it can take them up to three or four years before they reach full maturity.

Temperament & Behavior

This reptilian creature has an incredibly docile temperament that makes it easy to handle and care for with very minimal effort.

They are relatively independent and can go long periods of time without human interaction. That said, they tend to benefit from a somewhat regular handling and can even be tamed over time with patience and consistency.

Despite their more laid-back nature, they can still surprise their owners with the occasional burst of energy when they bolt from one end to the other within their enclosure. Thankfully, these little bursts don't necessarily require that much handling or maintenance by the owner.

It's important to note that this species of Gecko can be quite territorial, so it’s best not to house two males together in the same enclosure as they are likely to fight. Usually, the same does not apply to a female companion.

Diurnal vs Nocturnal

The Tangerine Leopard Gecko is a species that exhibits crepuscular behavior. This generally means that they are most active throughout the twilight hours at dawn and dusk, when in search of food and pray.

Although they spend most of the day inactive, they will make appearances in their habitats to eat. On the other hand, nocturnal species only come out of hiding at night and sleep during the day for security purposes.

In captivity, the Tangerine Leopard Gecko typically follows the schedule of its owner, often sleeping throughout the night and being active during normal daytime hours when there are people around providing stimulation. 

Male vs Female

In terms of appearance, male Tangerine Leopard Geckos have a more slender body shape and typically have a bigger head than females. They also tend to be slightly longer in length overall, usually measuring between 8-9 inches at maturity.

The most reliable method for determining the gender of these Geckos is through vent sexing. This process involves gently holding the Gecko and inspecting its underside to look for pre-anal pores, which are only visible in males. These pores are located near the base of the tail, just before the vent opening.

Characteristic Male Female
Vent Shape Two separate, rectangular slits Y-shaped vent
Size Up to 11 inches Usually under 8 inches
Physical Features Larger heads, wider tails, broader shoulders Smaller compared to males
Temperament Easier to handle Slightly more reclusive
Age for Accurate Sexing 8-9 months

It is important to note that it is best to wait until your Gecko is around 8 months old before attempting to determine its gender, since younger specimens may not have matured enough to accurately distinguish their gender.

Tangerine Leopard Gecko as a Pet : Care Requirements

Tangerine Leopard Geckos are relatively easy to care for, making them an ideal pet for novice reptile owners. They require a specialized habitat that mimics their natural environment and provides the necessary heat, humidity and lighting requirements. Here is a brief overview of what to expect in terms of care requirements when housing a Tangerine Leopard Gecko.


When it comes to their habitat setup, it's important to provide them with ample floor space so that they can move around freely. A terrarium, aquarium or plastic tub of at least 10-20 gallons in size should be sufficient for housing one adult Tangerine Leopard Gecko. A glass terrarium with a secure lid tends to be the ideal solution, since it's easy to clean and monitor the temperature inside.

As Tangerine Leopard Geckos are an arid species of Gecko, the preferred environment is desert-like. Therefore, when choosing a tank for your pet, opt for something shallow and wide which will serve as an ideal substrate area. The enclosure should also be big enough to accommodate branches, logs and rocks for the Gecko to climb around and provide stimulation.


Heating is necessary and can be easily achieved with specialized terrarium lighting specifically designed for lizards and snakes. In terms of temperature, you'll want to keep their enclosure between 75-80°F during the day and 65-72°F at night.

To regulate these temperatures, you should use one or two low wattage incandescent light bulbs, combined with a heating pad or ceramic heat emitter underneath the terrarium.

The light fixture used should be placed higher up in the terrarium in order to provide supplemental basking areas. Finally, make sure to purchase thermometers both inside and outside the tank in order to constantly monitor the temperature range.


In addition to correct temperatures, it's also important to provide your Tangerine Leopard Gecko with adequate lighting. A healthy Leopard Gecko usually requires a 12-hour light/dark cycle to reach optimal health.

During the day, you'll want to provide bright indirect lighting close enough to the terrarium so that it can bask in its rays. Since they also require 12 hours of darkness each day, you'll have to make sure that the tank is fully covered when it's time for them to go to sleep.

If you choose to use a basking light, try to keep it at least 12 inches away from the Gecko’s enclosure and preferably on one end of the terrarium, creating a gradation of temperature from cooler to warmer throughout the enclosure.

An ideal basking area should contain specialized bulbs like a coil-based mercury vapor bulb that emits both UVA and UVB light. This will help provide the essential heat, light, and vitamin D required for efficient calcium absorption in the reptile's body.

Author's Note

It's important to note that natural light and enclosed UVB lighting both offer needed exposure for vitamin D production, but too much direct sunlight could potentially cause overheating, dehydration, or even sunburns.


To ensure healthy breathing and shedding, Tangerine Leopard Geckos require a moderate level of humidity in their enclosure, ranging between 30 to 40 percent. Excessively low or high humidity can lead to various medical and fitness issues due to inappropriate air quality that can decrease the stress-resistance of your pet.

To help maintain a balanced humid environment, investing in proper substrate materials - such as soil mixtures and moss - along with a hygrometer which measures and digitally displays relative humidity within the tank will help provide assurance that your Gecko is living in a healthy home.

Substrate Selection : Bioactive vs Classical Approach

The substrate is an important consideration when setting up the enclosure, as Leopard Geckos require something that is both easy to clean and non-abrasive.

Substrate Type Advantages Disadvantages
Bioactive Substrate
  • Creates a naturalistic microhabitat.
  • Allows for the growth of beneficial bacteria.
  • Helps break down waste and reduce odors.
  • Maintains humidity levels.
  • Provides a comfortable surface for the pet.
  • Available in different sizes.
  • May require more initial setup and maintenance.
  • More expensive than simpler alternatives.
Newspaper & Paper Towels
  • Affordable and practical.
  • Easy to replace and maintain.
  • Ideal for use during shedding.
  • Simplifies cleaning and maintenance.
  • Less aesthetically pleasing.
  • Doesn't support microbial life for waste breakdown.
  • May not maintain humidity levels as effectively.

Bioactive Substrate

In recent years, the use of a bioactive substrate has become increasingly popular, as this type of environment creates a naturalistic microhabitat within the terrarium, allowing for the growth of beneficial bacteria which can help break down waste and reduce odors.

As such, we recommend a bioactive substrate solution, such as a reptile safe potting mix (free of fertilizers & pesticides), along with some clay and sand (red sand or child's play sand).

The potting mix should be a few inches thick, as this will help maintain humidity levels and provide a comfortable substrate for your pet to walk on. A good option is Terra Sahara's Bioactive Substrate, which comes in both 6 and 36 Quarts sizes.

Newspaper & Paper Towels

If you favor a more classical approach to your enclosure setup, newspaper or paper towels are great alternatives due to their practicality and affordability. Additionally, paper towels are also recommended for use during the shedding process, as they help keep the shed skin from being stuck onto surfaces in your Gecko’s terrarium.

A hideaway should also be included inside the terrarium, such as a hollowed log or rock formation so your Gecko can find shelter when feeling threatened or stressed. 

Another tip is to provide separate feeding dishes, since food can contaminate the enclosure substrate if not handled properly. In the end, you'll find that various terrarium substrates have both pros and cons, so it's worth researching which one best suits your pet’s lifestyle before getting started.

Diet, Feeding Habits and Nutritional Needs

Tangerine Leopard Geckos are insectivores, meaning they feed on insects such as mealworms, crickets, waxworms and other small bugs. It's important to provide a variety of these food items in order to ensure your pet gets all the essential nutrients it needs.

Food Type Live/Dried Nutritional Value Notes
Crickets Dried 63% protein/ 15% fat/ 22% other Feed 1 cricket per inch of your Gecko's length (25 crickets will last about 2 weeks).
Live 18% protein/ 7% fat/ 73% moisture/ 2% other
Mealworms Live 18% protein/ 9% fat/ 66% moisture/ 7% other Best fed in larval form due to hardness.
Dried Varies with preservation method
Wax worms Live 14% protein/ 22% fat/ 61% moisture/ 3% other Occasional treat (high fat content).
Dried 57% protein/ 29% fat/ 14% other
Superworms Live 19% protein/ 16% fat/ 60% moisture/ 5% other Soft body, easier to digest. Feed in moderation due to high fat content.
Dried 52% protein/ 27% fat/ 21% other
Additional Notes: Consider gut-loading feeder insects with organic veggies and fruits. Treat days: Every 10-14 days. Frequency: Feed every 3-5 days.

Calcium & Vitamin Supplementation

A few times a week, you can also provide your Gecko with some fortified or powdered calcium and vitamin supplements to ensure that they are getting all the necessary nutrients for a healthy lifestyle. Twice a week, you can easily provide your beloved pet with an additional boost of calcium by lightly coating their crickets or mealworms.

Feeding Frequency

For Tangerine Leopard Geckos over 6 months of age, feeding every 2 to 3 days is optimal, with no more than 2-3 insects per feeding. Leopard Geckos should also have access to fresh drinking water at all times. Many owners opt to use a shallow dish, preferably one with an edge that is easily accessible for the Gecko to drink from.

Handling your Tangerine Leopard Gecko

Leopard Geckos are generally docile animals, however, they can become stressed when handled or disturbed too frequently.

Due to their inquisitive nature, allowing your Gecko to explore its surroundings is a great way to keep it entertained and engaged while also helping it get used to your presence. Be sure to do so gently, as sudden movements can scare them.

If you plan on handling your Tangerine Leopard Gecko, it’s best not to pick them up by their tail, as this can cause the tail to detach. Instead, use one hand to gently scoop them up behind their front legs and support their body using your other hand.

Essential Handling Guidelines

  • Approach Pet: Approach pet from front or side to minimize stress.
  • Avoid Direct Handling from Above: Avoid handling directly from above.
  • Handling Duration and Frequency: Limit handling duration and frequency.
  • Temperature Regulation: Ensure proximity to a heat source for temperature regulation. Avoid keeping the reptile away from heat sources for extended periods.

Breeding Considerations (in the Wild vs Captivity)

In the wild, Leopard Geckos typically breed during late spring or early summer and usually lay their eggs underground. Generally, females will lay 2 to 3 clutches of two eggs each per season.

In captivity, however, it’s best to provide your Gecko with a cool winter period in order to induce breeding behavior. When ready, female Geckos will typically lay their eggs in damp soil or sand.

If the egg is constantly exposed to moisture, it could potentially rot, so it’s best to provide a nesting box with moistened vermiculite or peat moss as the substrate.

Once your Gecko has laid its eggs, they should be removed and stored in a cool, dry location until they are ready to hatch. The eggs should also be inspected regularly for any signs of mold or rot.

The eggs will typically hatch within 8 to 10 weeks of being laid and the baby Geckos should be removed from the box and placed in their own enclosure.

Health Issues and Treatments

When kept in the correct environment, Tangerine Leopard Geckos are generally healthy animals. However, if you notice any signs of illness such as weight loss, lethargy or disinterest in eating, it’s best to take your pet to an experienced reptile veterinarian for an assessment.

Common illnesses seen in Geckos include parasites, skin infections and metabolic bone disease. One of the most common ailments these reptiles suffer from is an infestation of parasitic worms that can be found in their feces or skin shed.

Condition Cause Treatment/Prevention
Parasites Weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting Deworming with veterinarian-prescribed medication; maintaining a clean enclosure
Skin Infections Poor hygiene, inadequate temperatures, excessive humidity Prescribed antibiotics or topical medications
Metabolic Bone Disease Lack of calcium or vitamin D3 Correct diet, access to UVA/UVB light, possibly calcium or vitamin D3 supplements, increased calcium-rich foods

How much does a Tangerine Leopard Gecko cost?

The cost of a Tangerine Leopard Gecko can vary depending on the morph, age and sex of the animal. Prices for these Geckos can range from as low as $50 to upwards of $200, depending on the rarity and coloration of the specimens, such as "hypo" and "super hypo" morphs shown below.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing?

When shopping for one of these unique creatures, make sure that you observe the Gecko’s overall appearance. It should have bright eyes, dry tips of toes, alert movements, and clean skin with few bumps. Make sure to also inspect the lizard closely to look for any signs of mites and dehydration.

Responsible breeders tend to specialize in certain reptile types and will offer valuable care advice as well as long-term support. Ask about the diet and habitat recommendations, as well as any potential health issues that may arise with the Gecko. This way, you can be sure you're getting a healthy new pet with all the necessary information to help it thrive in its new home.

Tangerine Leopard Gecko Facts & FAQs

Q: How to properly introduce your pet Tangerine Leopard Gecko to its new home.

A: Be sure to provide a secure, quiet area for your Gecko to settle in. Gradually introduce your pet to its new environment by providing a few hiding spots, like logs or rocks for the Gecko to hide under. It is also important to provide an area that offers plenty of temperature gradients so it can thermoregulate properly. If possible, keep the Gecko in its new home for 1-2 weeks before introducing it to any human contact.

Q: How rare is the Tangerine Leopard Gecko in the pet trade?

A: The Tangerine Leopard Gecko is relatively uncommon in the pet trade due to its popularity. However, with responsible breeding and captive-bred specimens being highly in demand in the past few years, their accessibility has significantly increased.

Q: What are some recommendations for first-time Leopard Gecko owners?

A: As a first-time Leopard Gecko owner, it is important to research and educate yourself on the general care requirements of these reptiles. In addition, be sure to select a captive-bred Gecko from a reputable breeder or pet store, as wild-caught specimens may come with parasites or other health issues. Finally, make sure to provide your pet with a high-quality diet, UVB lighting and proper temperature gradients. With the correct care, these fascinating creatures can be kept as beloved companions for many years.

Q: What can you do with your Leopard Gecko?

A: Leopard Geckos are solitary animals that don’t need much interaction from their owners. They can, however, be good pets to observe and watch as they explore their enclosure. You can also take your pet out of its enclosure for some supervised handling sessions, which will help build a bond between the two of you. When properly socialized, some Leopard Geckos have been known to be leash trained and even perform tricks!

Q: What to do if your pet is exhibiting signs of stress or aggression?

A: Signs of stress or aggression in Leopard Geckos can include hissing, tail-bobbing, skin-biting and other aggressive behaviors. If this occurs, it's important to remove any potential stressors like loud noises or bright lights and provide a secure hiding spot for your pet. If necessary, a visit to the vet may be in order.

Conclusion : Owning a Tangerine Leopard Gecko

Owning a Tangerine Leopard Gecko is an incredibly rewarding experience. They are known to be relatively independent and low-maintenance creatures that don’t need much interaction from their owners.

With the correct care and diet, these beautiful reptiles can provide years of enjoyment and make lifelong companions. Take the time to educate yourself on proper Gecko care and provide your pet with the right environment to help it thrive.

With these steps, you are sure to have a happy and healthy Tangerine Leopard Gecko for many years to come!

Happy Gecko-ing!

Maxim Suleman

My lifelong love for animals has led me to share my expertise in exotic pets. From parrots and crabs to turtles, hedgehogs, and cats, I've cherished each unique companion.

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