How to Care for Your Leopard Lizard

February 16, 2021

leopard lizard, Gambelia wislizenii

Leopard lizards (Gambelia wislizenii, commonly called the “long-nosed leopard lizard”) are 10-16”, diurnal, terrestrial reptiles native to arid parts of the western United States and Mexico. These lizards have a creamy base color with pale gray spots and/or bars on top. Females may also have pink or orange spots during the mating season.  

Due to their high level of activity and low tolerance for handling, leopard lizards are intermediate-level pets.


A single leopard lizard should be housed in an enclosure no smaller than 48”L x 24”W x 18”H. They’re quite active, so if you can provide more space, they will absolutely use it!

The floor of the enclosure should be covered with a deep layer of naturalistic substrate such as sand or sandy soil, in order to approximate their natural habitat and allow them to burrow as desired.

In addition to substrate, you will need some kind of basking platform such as a sturdy branch or flat slab or rock. These items are also great for providing climbing opportunities. Structures should be securely anchored to prevent them from falling on and crushing the lizard by accident. Live or artificial plants can be added to the enclosure to enhance its appearance and increase the variety. 

You will also need a small water bowl to keep your lizard hydrated. The enclosure should be lightly misted weekly to allow the lizard to lick water drops from the surfaces.

Heating and Lighting

Since they are diurnal reptiles, leopard lizards require both UVB lighting and a heat lamp to replicate the desert sun. It’s also beneficial to provide a 6500K fluorescent or LED lamp for extra illumination. 

Use a couple of halogen flood heat lamps at one end of the enclosure to create a gradient of temperatures for healthy thermoregulation. The basking air temperature should be 100-110°F, the general daytime temperature should be in the 80’s, and heating should be turned off at night.

For UVB, you will need a strong T5 HO Zoo Med or Arcadia UVB lamp, placed on the warm side of the enclosure in a reflective fixture. UVB lamps decay over time, so you will need to replace your bulb every 12 months to maintain performance. Make sure that the lamp is not obstructed by glass or plastic.

All lamps should be turned off at night.

Food and Supplementation

In the wild, leopard lizards are known to be carnivorous and cannibalistic, and have large appetites. In the wild they frequently eat other lizards, but they also eat a variety of insects. This is their primary diet in captivity. Appropriate insects include roaches, crickets, hornworms, silkworms, superworms, and black soldier fly larvae. Pinkie mice can be used as treats.

All feeder insects should be lightly dusted with a calcium and multivitamin supplement like Repashy CalciumPlus.

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to leopard lizards, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.

"Baby leopard lizard" by blmcalifornia is marked with CC PDM 1.0


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