East Indian Leopard Gecko Care
The East Indian or Hardwicke’s leopard gecko – named for the British naturalist Thomas Hardwick in 1827 – is a stout, robust gecko closely related to the more commonly kept leopard gecko. Darker in colour, the East Indian is closer in appearance to the African fat tail gecko, presumably because it lives in a very similar habitat to the fat tail, just on a different continent! Much rarer in captivity than its much commoner cousin, it isn’t yet available in the range of colour morphs that the leo is, but its chocolate and cream banding is striking in itself. They grow to a very similar size to the leopard gecko, 20 to 23cm with the males a little larger than the females.
Found in East India and across most of Bangladesh, the East Indian leo is a creature of damp forest floors and farmland edges. They are secretive during the dry season but far more in evidence during the monsoon, when they are commonly found in the open at night.
Care for the East Indian is typical of most ground living forest geckos, with floor area more important than height – although they do appreciate a few stout branches to scramble over and up in their nocturnal ramblings. A terrarium of at least 60 x 45 x 30cm works very well, although bigger is always better. Substrate should be able to hold a certain amount of humidity, and they will thoroughly enjoy a good deep layer of leaf litter. Bioactive is definitely a good idea for this species!
With lighting, we are aiming to reproduce the sort of sunlight dappled forest clearing where they can be found in the wild. They don’t need enormously high temperatures, so a small halogen basking light to give them a decent hotspot and 6% UVB from either a tube or a compact bulb is just fine. A thermostatically controlled deep heat projector should be used to prevent the temperature from dropping too low at night, and temperatures should be regularly monitored using a digital thermometer.
A shy species, they can nevertheless become accustomed to regular, gentle handling. The more cover that can be provided the better; this will encourage them to emerge from their hides more often as they feel secure knowing that they are never more than a step or two away from a safe place to hide. These geckos have not been bred in captivity for many generations yet, so their instincts are still extra sharp when it comes to avoiding possible predators.
Like all lizards, they benefit from the use of a good multivitamin/multimineral supplement twice weekly, and a plain calcium supplement every day. They are insectivorous, and will cheerfully consume any of the regularly available live foods of locusts, crickets, mealworms and waxworms. All food should be gut loaded and dusted before it is offered to the gecko, and the larger variety you can offer the better.
Still sometimes available as wild caught adults, it’s worth taking the time and effort to find some captive bred youngsters. Not only are they calmer and happier to be handled, but they are very unlikely to be carrying the parasite load that many wild lizards harbour. Generally they prefer to live alone, although if you want to keep more than one in a vivarium then you should aim for a group of one male to two or three females. A glass vivarium of 60 x 45 x 30cm is fine for a single animal, although bigger is always better. For a group, the minimum should be 90 x 45 x 45cm, with multiple basking spots and hiding places.