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  • Leopard Gecko Your Happy Healthy Pet

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    内容提示: Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Leopard Gecko2nd EditionFrank Indiviglio01_037928 ffirs. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 1 01_037928 ffirs. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 1 Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Leopard Gecko2nd EditionFrank Indiviglio01_037928 ffirs. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 1 This book is printed on acid-free paper.Copyright © 2007 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. All rights reserved.Howell Book HousePublished by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New JerseyNo part of this publication may be rep...

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    Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Leopard Gecko2nd EditionFrank Indiviglio01_037928 ffirs. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 1 01_037928 ffirs. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 1 Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Leopard Gecko2nd EditionFrank Indiviglio01_037928 ffirs. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 1 This book is printed on acid-free paper.Copyright © 2007 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. All rights reserved.Howell Book HousePublished by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New JerseyNo part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in anyform or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise,except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, withouteither the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of theappropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the web at www.copyright.com. Requests tothe Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Legal Department, Wiley Publishing, Inc.,10475 Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, (317) 572-3447, fax (317) 572-4355, or onlineat http://www.wiley.com/go/permissions.Wiley, the Wiley logo, Howell Book House, the Howell Book House logo, Your Happy HealthyPet, and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.and/or its affiliates in the United States and other countries, and may not be used without writtenpermission. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc.is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracyor completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, includingwithout limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created orextended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is notengaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance isrequired, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Neither the publishernor the author shall be liable for damages arising here from. The fact that an organization orWebsite is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further informationdoes not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization orWebsite may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware thatInternet Websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this workwas written and when it is read.For general information on our other products and services or to obtain technical support pleasecontact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at (800) 762-2974, outside the U.S. at(317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002.Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in printmay not be available in electronic books. For more information about Wiley products, please visitour web site at www.wiley.com.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:Indiviglio, Frank.Leopard gecko / Frank Indiviglio. — 2nd ed.p. cm. — (Your happy healthy pet)Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 978-0-470-03792-8 (cloth : alk. paper)1. Leopard geckos as pets. I. Title. SF459.G35I53 2007639.3'952—dc222007002524Printed in the United States of America109876543212nd EditionBook design by Melissa Auciello-BroganCover design by Michael J. FreelandBook production by Wiley Publishing, Inc. Composition ServicesWiley Bicentennial Logo: Richard J. Pacifico01_037928 ffirs. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 2 About the AuthorFrank Indiviglio is a biologist and environmental lawyer who has spent most ofhis life working with animals at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos in New YorkCity. His field research projects in Latin America have involved animals rangingfrom anacondas to leatherback turtles, and he has been a biology and naturalhistory teacher at Science Development, Inc., and Columbia Preparatory Schoolin Manhattan.Frank tends to focus on the “less appreciated” animal species but is interestedin them all. He has written four books and numerous magazine articles on thecaptive care and natural history of invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles,birds, and mammals.About Howell Book HouseSince 1961, Howell Book House has been America’s premier publisher of petbooks. We’re dedicated to companion animals and the people who love them,and our books reflect that commitment. Our stable of authors—trainingexperts, veterinarians, breeders, and other authorities—is second to none. Andwe’ve won more Maxwell Awards from the Dog Writers Association of Americathan any other publisher.As we head toward the half-century mark, we’re more committed than everto providing new and innovative books, along with the classics our readers havegrown to love. This year, we’re launching several exciting new initiatives, includ-ing redesigning the Howell Book House logo and revamping our biggest petseries, Your Happy Healthy PetTM, with bold new covers and updated content.From bringing home a new puppy to competing in advanced equestrian events,Howell has the titles that keep animal lovers coming back again and again.01_037928 ffirs. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 3 ContentsPart I: The Leopard Gecko’s WorldChapter 1 : What Is a Gecko?Lizards as PetsHow Geckos Are Like Other ReptilesHow Geckos Are DifferentHumans and GeckosChapter 2: What Makes the Leopard Gecko Special?All in the SubfamilyNatural Habitat of the Leopard GeckoIs a Leopard Gecko the Right Pet for You?The Perfect Lizard PetChapter 3: Colors, Patterns, and PhasesThe Language of Variation91 11214141 820212324262828Part II: Caring for Your Leopard GeckoChapter 4: Choosing Your Leopard GeckoWhere to ShopThe Ideal AgeRe-grown TailsWhen You’ve Chosen Your Leopard GeckoEnvironmental EthicsCaptive Bred vs. Wild CaughtChapter 5: Housing Your Leopard GeckoThe VivariumUnderstanding and Avoiding SalmonellaBuilding a Custom HabitatCleaning Your Leopard Gecko’s HabitatChapter 6: Feeding Your Leopard GeckoWhat to FeedHow to FeedVitamins and MineralsHow to Keep and Gut Load CricketsWild-Caught InvertebratesWaterChapter 7: Keeping Your Leopard Gecko HealthyChoosing a VeterinarianCommon Health Problems373838414244464650505860616363646770717274747502_037928 ftoc. qxp 3/5/07 6: 12 PM Page 4 Part III: Behavior and BreedingChapter 8: Your Leopard Gecko’s BehaviorHuntingSheddingTerritorialityHome AloneMatingNestingHidingYour Gecko’s PersonalityThe Outside WorldChange of SeasonsHandling a Leopard GeckoChapter 9: Breeding Leopard GeckosSexing Leopard GeckosBreeding AgeThe Right Time of YearThe MatingChapter 1 0: Hatching and Raising Baby Geckos 1 07Choosing an Incubation MediumChoosing Egg ContainersMoving the EggsCaring for the EggsMaintaining Moisture Levels during IncubationMaintaining Proper TemperaturesThe HatchingRaising Young Leopard GeckosAppendix: Learning More About Your Leopard GeckoSome Good BooksMagazinesHerpetological SocietiesInternet ResourcesIndex838484858687888989909193949696991011041071091101 111131 141171 201 211211211221231 2502_037928 ftoc. qxp 3/5/07 6: 12 PM Page 5 °Shopping ListYou’ll need to do a bit of stocking up before you bring your Leopard geckohome. Below is a basic list of must-have supplies. For more detailed informationon the selection of each item below, consult chapter 5. For specific guidance onwhat food you’ll need, review chapter 6.TankTank coverTank lid clampsTank standHeat lamp or reflector with incandescent bulbHeat tape or heat matThermostatThermometerSand, paper towels, or other substrateUV fluorescent light (if you keeplive plants)Night-viewing light bulbRocks, driftwood, and other naturalistic cage decorationsLive or plastic plantsHide boxWater dishFood dishLive crickets, superworms, meal-worms, and waxwormsVitamin and mineral supplementsPlastic spoon for removing fecesand dead insectsThere are likely to be a few other items that, depending upon your vivariumsetup, you may wish to pick up before bringing your gecko home. Use the blankspaces at the end of this list to note any additional items you’ll be shopping for._______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________03_037928 flast. qxp 3/5/07 6: 12 PM Page 6 Pet Sitter’s GuideWe can be reached at (___)_____-________ Cellphone (___)_____-_____________________________________________________________________We will return on _____________ (date) at _____________ (approximate time)Other individual to contact in case of emergency ____________________________________________________________________________________Lizard species __________________________________________________Care InstructionsIn the following blank lines, let the sitter know what to feed, how much, andwhen; what tasks need to be performed daily; and what weekly tasks they’ll beresponsible for.Morning_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Evening _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Other tasks and special instructions _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________03_037928 flast. qxp 3/5/07 6: 12 PM Page 7 04_037928 pp01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 58 PM Page 8 Part IThe LeopardGecko’s World04_037928 pp01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 9 CrownOuter earParietal EyeEyelidEyeNostrilMouthFootDigitForelimbHindlimbPre-anal PoresVentTailThe Leopard Gecko05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 10 Chapter 1What Is aGecko?GGekkonidae. This incredibly diverse and successful group of lizards containsmore than 800 species, with new ones being described by scientists each year. It’sa complicated family with many interesting twists and turns. The level of diver-sity in this one branch of lizards is so complex and specialized that it can inspireand dazzle. This complexity makes geckos very exciting to study and to keep aspets.Geckos live in many types of habitats around the world, ranging from sear-ing, dry deserts to lush, cool mountain forests. There are many different types ofgeckos. The most exciting thing about geckos is their diversity. Some are unique,odd creatures. Some are virtual living jewels.Geckos have been successful in colonizing the globe because they are able toexploit many types of habitats. Many gecko species have adapted to highly spe-cialized niches in their surroundings, which are called microhabitats. For exam-ple, a South African Rhotropus species can live exclusively in rock cracks, whileanother species lives exclusively on the ground. Both species inhabit the samelocation, each exploiting specific microhabitats.Some types of geckos are found only in the wild, while others turn up in petshops or are offered by breeders. eckos are lizards. When it comes to diversity, lizards are the most suc-cessful of the reptiles—nearly 4,000 species have been described.The family of lizards to which the Leopard gecko belongs is known as the1105_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 11 Part IThe Leopard Gecko’s World12Lizards as PetsNo one knows exactly when human beings began keeping lizards as pets, but wecan surmise that the practice started a long time ago. It is clear from both art andscientific literature that humans have been fascinated by lizards for thousands ofyears. Lizards feature prominently in the artistic and religious traditions of theancient inhabitants of many areas, including Australia, North America, andSoutheast Asia.In the late twentieth century, people in both the United States and Canadabegan to develop a strong fascination with keeping lizards as pets. While in theIs a Lizard Right for You?•How much space are you willing to devote to your lizard’scage?•Can you afford the costs associated with lizard ownership,including food, equipment, electricity, and veterinarycare?•If you will have more than one lizard, do you have room tohouse them separately, if necessary?•Will you be willing to feed your lizard insects?•Will you be able to provide your pet with a varied andnutritious diet?•Is a reptile veterinarian available nearby?•Will your children and other family members be willing tolearn how to properly care for a delicate lizard?•Who will care for your lizard while you are away on busi-ness or vacation?•Can you commit to caring for a pet who may live for morethan 20 years?•Does the risk of Salmonella present a special threat toanyone in your household (see page 58 for more onSalmonella)? •Will dogs, cats, or other pets be a threat to your lizard?05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 12 Chapter 1What Is a Gecko?131960s and 1970s geckos were onlyrarely seen in pet stores, a smalllizard called the Anole was com-mon. These little lizards were sold aspets for children. There was also atrend in the 1950s for women to“wear” Anoles on their clothing. Thelizard would be attached to a pinwith a small leash. Unfortunately,little was known of their require-ments in captivity, and most quicklydied.In the last decade, there has beena huge increase in the popularity oflizards as pets (not as pins) with bothchildren and adults. Consequently, anumber of lizard species are nowavailable to the average reptile fan.What these animals need to thrive incaptivity is well known, resulting inan ever-increasing number of captivebreeding successes. In some cases,this interest in lizards has led to theover-collection of wild specimens, but in others, large-scale captive breeding hasled to a decrease in collectiing.Many people like lizard pets because they look like tiny dinosaurs. And alllizards—in fact, all life—can trace their ancestry back to those early reptiles. Thenatural history of the lizard is fascinating, and it takes us back to nearly the verybeginning of life itself.The gecko of today is the evolutionary descendent of those reptiles who sur-vived beyond the dinosaurs. Geckos have a lot in common with their prehistoricancestors, and little has changed in their biology over the eons. In fact, geckosare among the most primitive lizards alive today. We can appreciate our petgeckos as not only links to nature, but as links to our own very distant past.Lizards have very specific care requirements, but, unlike dogs or cats, theycan be left for a couple of days without the need for someone to come in andtake care of them. Lights can be put on timers, and food items and water can beleft in feeding dishes to supply all their needs while you are away. They do notneed attention or affection to thrive. They are quiet. They do not smell. Theyalso do not affect people with allergies.Many people like lizards because they look like littledinosaurs.05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 13 Part IThe Leopard Gecko’s World14How Geckos Are Like Other ReptilesThere are many traits geckos have in common with their reptilian cousins. Withthe exception of certain species of Sea turtles (which, through a unique mecha-nism, are able to internally generate heat), all reptiles, including geckos, areectothermic. This means they are unable to internally regulate their own bodytemperature the way that mammals and birds can. Instead, geckos rely on out-side sources to stay warm or cool, and must move from place to place to keeptheir body temperature just right. In the early morning, a gecko will seek awarm, sunlit place to heat up his body. When the sun becomes too hot, thegecko will move to a shady area so he can cool down.Taste and SmellLike other lizards, geckos use their tongue to “taste” things in their environ-ment. The long, broad tongue reaches out to pick up molecules from their envi-ronment. These molecules are brought back into the mouth, where they comeinto contact with the vomeronasal, or Jacobson’s organ, located above the palate.This organ enables the gecko to determine the exact nature of whatever he hastasted—whether it is an unrecognized insect, an obstacle in his path, or yourhand.SkinGeckos and other lizards have an outer layer of skin, known as the epidermis,made up of keratin. This layer is shed in patches as the gecko grows. Manylizards consume the shed skin, while others do not.They also have an inner layer of skin, known as the dermis, that contains alarge number of blood vessels and pigment-producing cells. Both layers of geckoskin are very delicate and tear easily. However, some lizards, such as theArmadillo lizard (Cordylus cataphractus), have hard, armorlike skin that offersexcellent protection from predators.How Geckos Are DifferentDespite their reptilian characteristics, you’ve probably noticed that geckos looksomewhat different from other lizards. This is because they have several distinc-tive traits.05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 14 Chapter 1What Is a Gecko?15HeadOne of the easiest traits to spot is the construction of the gecko’s head. Geckostend to have a triangular-shaped head with a discernible neck that attaches theirunusual head to their body, while most other lizards have a more streamlined, V-shaped head that seems to flow right into their body.FeetThe feet of many geckos have adhesive pads on the bottom that enable thegecko to stick to just about any surface. These pads, called lamellae, are coveredwith thousands of minute hairlike setae, which are further subdivided intomicroscopic structures known as spatulae. These unique structures enablegeckos to cling to even the smallest irregularities on a climbing surface.In some species, such as the Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko), the lamellae alsoseem to create suction through the buildup of static electricity. Not all geckoshave these pads, but the ones that do can hold on pretty tightly when they wantto—even when they are upside down.TailOne of the gecko’s most distinctive characteristics is his tail. Rather than beinglong and narrow, as on other lizards, a gecko’s tail is usually narrow at the base,Geckos have a triangular head and a distinctive neck. Many, but not all, also have adhesive f oot pads.This is a Day gecko.05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 15 Part IThe Leopard Gecko’s World16thick in the middle, and narrow at the tip. Like some other lizards, many speciesof geckos use their tail to store fat for those times when food is scarce.Just like certain other lizards, a gecko’s tail is autonomous. That means he candetach his tail, usually along preexisting fracture planes in the bones, to distractpredators. Special muscles make the detached tail wiggle and writhe, keepingthe predator from noticing that the best part of the meal is getting away! Nearbyblood vessels are quickly shut down so that blood loss is minimal.The gecko’s autonomous tail is one reason that it’s so important to handlegeckos carefully—their tails are easily detached when the geckos are roughlyhandled, even by well-meaning humans.VoiceMany gecko species are able to vocalize. Of those that can, the male gecko useshis voice to warn away intruders to his territory and also to attract a mate; thefemale can also produce sounds. Both sexes may also produce loud alarm callswhen captured, hoping to startle an enemy into momentarily letting go. Thisability makes geckos a somewhat unique family in the lizard world, becausemost other lizards are relatively silent.Male T okay geckos have a loud, distinctive call f rom which their name is derived.05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 16 Chapter 1What Is a Gecko?17EyesThe eyes of the gecko vary depending on the species. Most geckos are nocturnal(active mostly at night) and have pupils that look like vertical slits when viewedin the daylight. These nocturnal geckos have very strong night vision, and thosenarrow pupils will dilate to encompass nearly the entire eye. A few geckos arediurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. These geckos have roundpupils that look somewhat like ours.The majority of gecko species have eyelids that are fused, and therefore can-not blink, which makes them similar to snakes but different from most otherThe Singing GeckoPerhaps the most well known of the gecko vocalists is the Tokaygecko (Gekko gecko). They can reach 1 2 inches in length andhave a bite to match their impressive size. In addition to beingmore than willing to bite, they do not release their grip easily.Tokay geckos are also very fast and can climb walls easily.These geckos quite often move into people’s homes in theirnative Southeast Asia and in their introduced ranges through-out the world, such as southern Florida. The loud, territorial callof the male sounds like “Tokay! Tokay!,” and has given thespecies its common name.Male Tokay geckos are strictly nocturnal, and may repeat thiscall incessantly, often at approximately 4 a.m.—thereby becom-ing rather unwelcome alarm clocks.Some years ago in New York City, pet stores began rentingTokay geckos to people seeking to rid their apartments ofcockroaches, which happen to be among the Tokay gecko’sfavorite foods. However, the lizards’ vocal talents soon put anend to this unique trend in urban pest control.Tokay geckos are still quite common in the pet trade, butyou are better off leaving these stocky, aggressive fellows tovery experienced hobbyists.05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 17 Part IThe Leopard Gecko’s World18reptiles. However, some species of geckos—such as the Leopard gecko—do havemoveable eyelids.All geckos actually lick their eye area with their tongue. While scientists aren’tcompletely sure why they do this, many suspect this is the gecko’s way of keep-ing the eyes clean.EarsGecko ears are another fascinating part of the lizard’s anatomy. If you hold cer-tain gecko species up to the light, you can actually see through their ear canalsout to the other side! But don’t let that fool you into thinking there is not muchin there. The gecko ear is complicated, and geckos can hear as well as or betterthan most other lizards.Geckos need good hearing to be able to effectively communicate with mem-bers of their own species. It’s also possible that they use their hearing to avoidpredators and when hunting for prey.Endolymphatic SacsSome species of geckos in the subfamily Gekkoninae, such as the various Daygeckos, have large sacs on both sides of their neck. These sacs are reservoirs forcalcium. Scientists aren’t sure why some geckos have these bulging sacs, but,because they are largest in females and increase in size during the breeding sea-son, it is surmised that they could be used to help female geckos form egg shells.The smaller sacs of the males and nonbreeding females may help in the metabo-lism of calcium.Diet One characteristic that all geckos share is a penchant for eating bugs. Withoutexception, all gecko species consume insects and other invertebrates, such as spi-ders and sow bugs.Some will eat other foods as well. Day geckos, for example, have been knownto drink nectar and lap at rotting fruit as an occasional treat. Larger species, suchas the Tokay gecko, will also eat small mammals, nestling birds, frogs, snakes,and other lizards.Humans and GeckosGeckos have lived in close association with humans for a long time. Geckos invarious parts of the world can be found cohabitating with humans in their05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 18 Chapter 1What Is a Gecko?19dwellings. These are not “pet” geckos per se, but rather wild lizards who havewandered into humans’ homes in pursuit of insects. Because geckos are so goodat eating bugs, they are welcome in most homes. In fact, in Malaysia, having aTokay gecko in your home is considered good luck.Several smaller gecko species, known collectively as “house geckos,” are noto-rious stowaways on ships and in luggage, and have established themselves faroutside their natural habitats. A number of species from Europe, Asia, and theCaribbean, including the Indo-Pacific gecko, the Mediterranean gecko, and theAshy gecko, have thriving populations in Florida and other southern portions ofthe United States.In the southwestern United States, geckos lived closely with Native Americansin a desert environment. These geckos, most likely Banded geckos, were often thesubject of Native American art. Their images have survived in the form of rockart, pottery, jewelry, and fetish objects. The stylized representation of a geckoshown on so much Native American art has even come to represent the spirit ofthe North American southwest.Because many species are easy to breed in captivity and even easier to keep,geckos, in particular, have grown in popularity. Nearly every pet store in theUnited States that sells lizards now carries geckos. The Leopard gecko is themost popular gecko pet and is readily available to any lizard keeper.05_037928 ch01. qxp 3/5/07 5: 59 PM Page 19 Chapter 2What Makesthe LeopardGecko Special?Eture, or other not-so-obvious features that make them unique. These small dif-ferences may seem trivial, but they can represent important changes taking placewithin a genus or adaptations that evolved in isolated groups that can teach usabout animals’ abilities to adapt and change.The chart on page 21 shows how taxonomists classify Leopard geckos. Theclass Reptilia tells us that Leopard geckos are reptiles. The order Squamata tellsus they are in the group of snakes, lizards, and worm lizards. The suborderSauria tells us they are specifically lizards, not snakes or worm lizards. The infra-order Gekkota tells us they are in a group of lizards that includes geckos, nightlizards, and pygopods. The family Gekkonidae is the family of all geckos. Thesubfamily Eublepharinae is the whole group of primitive, specialized geckoswith eyelids.The genus is where things get very specific. The genus Eublepharis narrowsthe gecko’s characteristics down to very similar details that make a group ofgeckos closely related. And the species macularius means we are talking onlyabout Leopard geckos.very species has features that make them unique on a very detailed level.Some different species within a group of lizards may look superficiallysimilar but have definite differences in scale counts, bone structure, lung struc-2006_037928 ch02. qxp 3/5/07 6: 01 PM Page 20 Chapter 2What Makes the Leopard Gecko Special?21Classifying the Leopard GeckoReptiliaSquamataSauriaGekkotaGekkonidaeEublepharinaeEublepharismaculariusClass:Order:Suborder:Infraorder:Family:Subfamily:Genus:Species:All in the SubfamilyThe Leopard gecko shares the subfamily Eubleparinae with Banded geckos andFat-tailed geckos. These lizards are the most primitive geckos. Members of thisfamily are the only geckos to have functional eyelids, which is why they arecalled eyelid geckos. They all have the genus name Eublepharis, which means“true eyelids.” The Leopard gecko’s species name, macularius, means “spotted.”In all other Gekkonidae species, the eyes are covered by a transparent cap,called the spectacle. The spectacle is fused to the eyelids, rendering the eyes per-manently “open.” Unable to blink, most geckos use their long, flexible tonguesto clean the spectacle—which can be quite surprising to a new pet owner!Leopard gecko eyes also have elongated, slit-shaped pupils. Diurnal geckos(those who are active during daylight) have round pupils. If you look closely ata Leopard gecko’s eyes, you will notice the vertical slit. The pupil opens widelyin the dark to let the maximumamount of light into the eye, butcloses to a very tiny slit in brightlight.Another feature unique to thisfamily of geckos is that they all lackthe adhesive lamellae on their toesthat enable other geckos to climbwalls and glass. A common miscon-ception about geckos is that they allhave sticky feet and can climb on anytype of surface. Some geckos do haveadhesive lamellae, but eyelid geckosnever developed them. Because theirDid You Know?In this genus, only the Leopard gecko,Eublepharis macularius, appears inthe pet trade. Eublepharis angra-mainyu is one of the largest mem-bers and is native to Iran, Iraq, Syria,and Turkey. Eublepharis fuscus maybe the largest of all. This gecko livesin India, and there are publishedreports of her reaching 1 0 inchesfrom snout to vent. A 1 0-inch geckois a true giant of the genus.06_037928 ch02. qxp 3/5/07 6: 01 PM Page 21 Part IThe Leopard Gecko’s World22natural habitat is dry and rocky, lamellae on their feet might make traveling dif-ficult or hamper digging.In addition, the eyelid geckos lay soft-shelled eggs, rather than the more typ-ical hard-shelled ones of other geckos.The Leopard gecko does, however, share many characteristics common toother family members. Like most eyelid geckos, her body is cylindrical with alarge, distinct head topped by protruding eyes. Although her skin has granula-tions, it feels quite soft to the touch and is fairly thin. The skin is heavily pat-terned. Patterning in nature breaks up shapes, which helps protect and concealthe gecko from predators. In the home vivarium, the colors and patterns makefor an unusually attractive pet. Even the blandest of Leopard geckos is a stun-ning animal. The texture of the Leopard gecko’s skin is bumpy, perhaps anotherway to help avoid detection.The Leopard gecko has developed a large tail, in which she is able to store alot of fat. In her harsh native climate, food can be quite plentiful for short peri-ods and then disappear for weeks. A fat-storage system can, therefore, be lifesav-ing. A healthy Leopard gecko will always have a chunky tail.Leopard geckos have eyelids, but they still use their tongue to keep their eyes clean.06_037928 ch02. qxp 3/5/07 6: 01 PM Page 22 Chapter 2What Makes the Leopard Gecko Special?23With these adaptations, Leopard geckos are very suitable animals for captivecare. They are hardy, prolific, gentle, and attractive. It is no wonder hobbyistsoften call them the perfect reptile pet.Natural Habitat of the Leopard GeckoThe Leopard gecko’s native habitat stretches from Iraq in the west through Iran,Afghanistan, and Pakistan, terminating in northwestern India. The landscapeinhabited by the Leopard gecko is dry and rocky. The terrain ranges from sandygravel to hard clay soil with a sandy covering. Vegetation consists of bushes andgrasses.They are terrestrial lizards, living on and under the ground. They rarelyclimb, and when they do, they can be somewhat clumsy. Leopard geckos preferto be under rocks and in holes underground. They remain hidden during theday and become active at dusk.The heavily patterned, bumpy skin helps the gecko conceal herself in the wild.06_037928 ch02. qxp 3/5/07 6: 01 PM Page 23 Part IThe Leopard Gecko’s World24Their native regions get cold during the winter months, and these geckostake refuge underground from early winter to early spring. In the Peshawar areaof Pakistan, the temperature can drop to 41°F (5°C) at night and rise to 59°F(15°C) during the day in January. In the summer, by contrast, things can getquite hot. During the hottest months, temperatures can reach 104°F (40°C)during the day and drop to 77°F (25°C) at night.Is a Leopard Gecko the Right Pet for You?New pet owners, even responsible adults, commonly underestimate thecommitment of time and money that even a single animal will require.Although Leopard geckos are among the least “labor intensive” of thereptiles, owning one is a long-term obligation that...

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