You’re a responsible pet owner, but everybody needs a vacation or holiday sometime. How can you leave home for an extended period and make sure your beloved leopard gecko is going to be okay? Here are some things to consider for leopard gecko vacation care.
Leopard geckos are hearty reptiles, and are not a high maintenance pet. As long as their temperature is correct and they have the necessary creature comforts available in their tank, they really just need to be fed. A normal feeding schedule for adult geckos is every two or three days. This lends itself well with minimal disruption in schedule if you arrange for someone to check on your place while you’re away.
When I first got a leopard gecko, I had a job where I traveled. A lot. Sometimes I was home only on the weekends, for weeks at a time. So, how did I manage to care for the my gecko?
First, I timed bringing my gecko home when I knew I would not be traveling for several weeks. This way I could get it settled in and make sure it acclimated to its new home. During this time, I did a little bit of regular handling so the gecko could get used to me.
Lights and Heat
I have lights set up on programmable timers to simulate a day and night cycle. You could just as easily use a smart plug, which would give you more options and allow you to control your lights from a smartphone.
I made sure I had the temperature dialed in and it didn’t fluctuate much, other than dropping a few degrees at night when the lights went off. Making sure the lighting and temperature were stable gave me the confidence to leave home for a few days or more.
When I traveled, I arranged for friends or family stop by two days a week (usually Tuesday and Thursday if I was gone Monday through Friday.) In addition to bringing in the mail, feeding the cat, emptying the litter box, and generally making sure the place was still standing, they would also check on the leopard gecko. This usually meant checking the temperature in the enclosure, making sure there were mealworms in the food dish (and not roaming around the tank) and water in the bowl, and making sure nothing had spilled.
Depending on who was stopping by (and their willingness to handle live insects), I would ask them to dust a cricket and drop it in the cage.
Care for Short Trips
With this schedule, I had some time to check on things and offer food Monday and Friday before I left and after arriving home, and I had help on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There was only one day where things were truly on autopilot.
This schedule worked great for being away for about five days. If you were planning a long weekend getaway or short trip, you would not need to do anything special beyond feeding your gecko before you go.
Leopard Gecko Care for Longer Vacations
What about longer tips? I’d sometimes travel overseas and occasionally be gone for two or three weeks at a time. It just meant I had to enlist more help while I was away. Sometimes instead of every other day, someone dropped by every third day. Frankly, the gecko would have been fine, but the cat still needed attention. The biggest concern was a power outage that would have affected the heat for more than a few days. Luckily, this never happened (at least not while I was away.)
Related Post: How long can leopard geckos go without heat? Find out how we kept our gecko alive during a blizzard without power for several days.
In a pinch, your leopard gecko could easily last a week without attention, assuming it has a full water bowl. I’d also suggest a solid bowl for mealworms that will not tip over. Make sure your gecko is well fed before you leave, drop some mealworms in the bowl, and it should be fine. Your gecko can live for quite some time burning the fat stored in its tail. You wouldn’t want to make a habit out of regularly leaving it unattended for long trips, but ultimately it should do well for your average vacation with a little preparation.
At a time in my life where I traveled frequently, knowing a leopard gecko would be just fine unattended for a few days influenced my decision to get one as a pet.