Leopard geckos are one of the most favourable choices of reptiles to be kept as exotic pets. Their brightly coloured skin, with the leopard like spots make them a desirable pet for many reptile lovers. We commonly see and think of leopard geckos as pets and when asked, many people have no idea where they originate from. So this is probably why you are looking for the answer to, where can I find a leopard gecko in the wild?
Native to fairly hot, dry climates, leopard geckos in the wild can be found in the semi-dessert lands of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and North West India. Their habitat consists of sandy gravel terrain, amongst rocks, dried grasslands and shrubs.
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Why does their skin resemble a leopard?
Leopard geckos in the wild have a beautiful rough, bumpy and light coloured skin with dark spots which really stands out in a pet shop. But in their natural environment they are a master of disguise. Their skin provides amazing camouflage in the wild as it very closely resembles their natural habitat.
So as you may have gathered, the name “Leopard” has absolutely nothing to do with leopard at all. It just closely resembles the patterns found on leopards. A leopard gecko in the wild has skin which is actually meant to look like rocks and gravel, with their skin colour closely resembling a dry, sandy dessert environment.
Being fairy small in size, a leopard gecko in the wild has no real form of defence, therefore it relies on its ability to hide and blend into its surroundings.
Other Leopard Geckos In The Wild – Similar Family Members
Originally the leopard gecko was classified in the largest lizard family, the Gekkonidae, with over 1,000 other species. Now they have been placed into their own family, the Eublepharidae, along with close relatives, the Fat-Tailed and Banded geckos.
The closest relatives coming from the Genus Eublepharis family which contains 4 other species of gecko such as, the Dusky Leopard Gecko, the East Indian Leopard Gecko, the Iraqi Eyelid Kecko, and finally the Turkmenistan Eyelid Gecko.
Dusky Leopard Gecko
The Dusky Leopard Gecko also known as the “Western Indian Leopard Gecko” is native to the western parts of India and sometimes Pakistan. Its defining features are its big, blotchy, dark spots which cover the majority of its skin with a yellowish base skin colour.
East Indian Leopard Gecko
The Eastern Leopard Gecko also known as “Hardwicke’s Gecko” is native to India and Bangladesh. It’s definitely features include a swollen looking tail which seems tapered at the end. Reddish brown and cream coloured skin, also combining two broad bands across its back and three bands along it tail.
Iraqi Eyelid Gecko
The Iraqi eyelid Gecko also known as the “Iranian Fat-Tailed Gecko” is native to Iraq, Iran Turkey and Syria. Its defining features include a tail which is closely sized to its body (hence the name fat tail). As well as its skin pattern which incorporates dark coloured bands and spots all along its body from head to tail, with a pale sand base colour.
Turkmenistan Eyelid Gecko
The Turkmenistan Eyelid Gecko can also be known as the “Turkmenian eyelid Gecko” is native to Turkmenistan (Obviously) and Northern Iran. Its defining features are very similar to the to the Iraqi Gecko. The only obviously noticeable difference is their colour. The Turkmenistan Gecko is much darker than its relatives, with a dark brown base skin colour, with almost black bands and spots.
Why are some called “Eyelid” Geckos?
Well, unlike most geckos, the Eublepharidae family members have moveable eyelids. Yes that’s right, they blink just like humans. This is believe to be due to their natural habitat and have evolved with eyelids over time to keep the moisture in their eyes in the dry dessert habitat. They even sleep with their eyelids closed just like humans do. This is very unusual in the gecko world. That said, they do still have long enough tongues so they can still give their eyes a quick lick if they become too dry.
A bit off topic, but still a fun fact… a leopard gecko cannot climb up smooth surfaces like many other geckos because they don’t have toe pads like most others. Instead they have adapted over time to dig, other than climb, due to the dessert environment they natively call home.
What animals are leopard geckos predators?
Due to their sizes, unfortunately leopard geckos in the wild are quite low on the food chain, which means they have a few predators to be wary of. Snakes, Owls, Foxes and Monitor lizards are a leopard geckos main predators.
They have to be aware of snakes, making sure they stay well out of reach from their deadly strike. Aerial attacks come from birds of prey such as owls, so they need to be cautious of any shadows being cast from above. Then finally, they have to be aware of an ambush from foxes or monitor lizards. Then it becomes a life or death situation based on who can run faster, or how close the nearest hiding spot is.