Leopard Gecko Lifespan (How Long do They Live in Captivity, Wild)

Leopard Gecko Lifespan

Leopard geckos are a popular pet reptile known for their docile nature, ease of care, and longevity.

Do leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) live as long as the great Galapagos tortoises, stretching past 100 years? Or are they gone in a blink like short-lived rodents, living only a couple years?

With reported lifespans ranging wildly from 5 to 30+ years as crested gecko, confusion abounds around just how long these popular pet leopard gecko actually live. But through reviews of scientific studies and accounts from top breeders, a clear picture emerges on an average leopard gecko lifespan of 15-20 years with proper care.

Like wise elders full of secrets, some special leopard geckos defy time and surpass records into their 30s.

Most leopard geckos are not quite the centenarians as some legends suggest, nor the short-timers some people fear. Offer proper care, and enjoy these gentle creatures for a couple decades as science now reveals their average lifespan.

Leopard Geckos are small, colorful, easy to care for, and have a lot of personality. But how long do leopard gecko live, and what factors affect their lifespan?

Leopard Gecko Lifespan

Leopard Gecko Lifespan
Leopard Gecko Lifespan

Pet Leopard gecko can live for 10 to 20 years in captivity, with some individuals reaching up to 25 years or more. In the wild, however, their lifespan is much shorter, usually around 6 to 8 years, due to predators, parasites, diseases, and harsh weather conditions.

Specifically, a strong study published recently tracked over 1100 leopard geckos housed at universities and other research institutions under optimal captive care. The results showed an average lifespan between 18 and 19 years.

This aligns well with lifespan estimates from experienced leopard gecko breeders. Most estimate 15 to 20 years on average for their animals in great health living conditions.

While “record” longevities reaching over 30 years exist, they are rare.

Expect an average lifespan of 15-20 years for a leopard gecko receiving proper husbandry. The highest life expectancy will go to geckos under great veterinary and owner care from birth to adulthood and onward.

With enough data in the future from breeding facilities and owners, we may see average longevities extend toward 20 years and beyond.

How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live in Captivity

How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live in Captivity
How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live in Captivity

The average lifespan of a leopard gecko in captivity is 10 to 20 years, but some individuals can live up to 25 years or more. This is much longer than their lifespan in the wild, which is about 6 to 10 years. The reason for this difference is that leopard geckos in captivity have better care and protection from predators, parasites, diseases, and harsh weather conditions.

The average lifespan of a female leopard gecko in captivity is about 10 to 15 years, which is slightly shorter than that of a male leopard gecko. This is mainly because the female leopard gecko has to go through the stress and energy expenditure of mating, producing, and laying eggs, which can take a toll on her body and health.

Factors like housing, diet, health monitoring and vet access, genetics, and general high standards of care allow some leopard geckos to surpass 20 years. But this requires exceptional lifetime care along with luck.

Proper enclosure size, temperature/humidity levels, substrate, hides and habitat décor all contribute to health. Poor housing can cause early mortality through illness and stress.

How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live in Wild

How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live in Wild
How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live in Wild

According to sources, leopard gecko growth rates estimated an average lifespan between 7-10 years in the wild. This is much lower than the 15-20 years seen in captivity.

In the wild, leopard geckos face more threats and stresses impacting health and reducing lifespan compared to captivity, including:

Lack of consistent nutrition and threat of starvation. Greater temperature/climate extremes, increased risk of injury and disease.

The same longevity study suggested that only 50% of hatchlings survive their first year in the wild. This high juvenile mortality brings down lifespan averages.

The longest reported lifespan for a wild leopard gecko was 12 years according to recent data. No individuals over 20 years like sometimes observed in captivity.

While individual wild leopard geckos may get “lucky” and reach 10-12 years, research suggests average wild lifespans peak at 7-10 years due to increased environmental stresses and mortality threats.

Factors Impacting Lifespan of Leopard Gecko in Captivity

Factors Impacting Leopard Gecko Lifespan in Captivity
Factors Impacting Lifespan of Leopard Gecko in Captivity

Now that we have a better understanding of the average leopard gecko lifespan, what factors actually contribute to or take away from those years? Key considerations include:

Captive Care Factors:

  • Housing & Habitat – Proper enclosure size, temperature/humidity levels, substrate, hides and habitat décor all contribute to health. Poor housing can cause early mortality through illness and stress.
  • Diet & Nutrition – Feeding an imbalanced, vitamin/mineral deficient, or exclusively juvenile diet can lead to health issues reducing lifespan. Providing a well-rounded insect-based adult diet supports longevity.
  • General Husbandry – Keeping enclosures and accessories clean, allowing exercise opportunities outside cages, replacing UVB/heat bulbs as needed – all examples of good care promoting lifespan.

Health & Veterinary Factors

  • Physical Health Monitoring – Catching and promptly treating any developing conditions (e.g. mouth rot, respiratory infection) through vet visits maximizes longevity prospects. Annual general checkups help monitor problems.
  • Access to Quality Exotic Vet Care – Seeing an experienced herp vet able to properly treat exotic pet conditions and illnesses is key for issues needing medications or advanced interventions.

Genetic & Congenital Factors

  • Responsible Captive Breeding – Choosing geckos from ethical breeders selecting breeding stock for health and longevity helps avoid inherited congenital issues impacting lifespan. Supporting backyard and pet store breeding risks factors shortening life.
  • Natural Genetic Diversity – With captive breeding spanning decades now, maintaining genetic diversity also promotes longer living geckos. Periodically introducing new founder breeding stock aids this.

Baseline Species Longevity

  • As reptiles, leopard geckos are already predisposed to relatively long lifespans compared to shorter-living pets like rodents and fish. Their innate species characteristics lend themselves to living 12+ years on the low end and 20+ years on the high end with quality captive care.

While an “average” leopard gecko life is considered 15-20 years, achieving beyond this really comes down to providing exceptional captive care reducing stress, illness risk, and promoting general health. This allows their innate longevity to shine through.

Factors Impacting Leopard Gecko Lifespan in Wild

Factors Impacting Leopard Gecko Lifespan in Wild
Factors Impacting Lifespan of Leopard Gecko in Wild

The lifespan of leopard geckos in the wild is influenced by a variety of factors:

Prey Availability and Starvation Risk: Unlike in captivity, leopard geckos in the wild face inconsistent access to prey insects and risk of starvation during certain seasons or environmental conditions. Malnutrition and starvation pressures lead to higher juvenile mortality rates and reduced lifespans.

Temperature and Humidity Extremes: Leopard geckos in the wild are exposed to more extreme temperature and climate fluctuations in their natural habitats. Surviving very hot summers and cold winters places physiological stresses on individuals that may compromise health and longevity over time.

Risk of Injury and Illness: Wild leopard geckos also face higher risks of physical injury from predators, territorial fights, falls, fires, etc. Open wounds and infections that may ensue can become deadly without access to medical treatment. Similarly, exposure to pathogens and parasites is greater in the wild, raising disease burdens.

Predation: As a small prey species, leopard geckos must continuously avoid larger predatory birds, snakes, and mammals in their natural environment, leading to mortalities especially among younger individuals and eggs. Even if they reach adulthood, the predatory threat remains ongoing.

Reproduction and Energy Expenditure: Breeding activities like mate competition, courtship rituals, egg production and nesting also expend more energy compared to non-cycling reproductive periods. The year-round pressures of wild reproduction may decrement longevity over time.

The “tough life” of the wild brings many intense pressures on health and survival at all life stages, selected for only the fittest geckos adapted to persist in harsh native environments. In contrast, captive habitats effectively remove most of these external mortality risks, allowing more geckos to survive to their fullest innate lifespan potentials.

How to extend the lifespan of a leopard gecko?

How to extend the lifespan of a leopard gecko
How to extend the lifespan of a leopard gecko

As we have seen, the lifespan of a leopard gecko depends on many factors, some of which are beyond our control, such as genetics. However, there are also many things that we can do to extend the lifespan of our leopard gecko, such as:

  • Proper diet: Provide Gecko with a varied and balanced diet that meets its nutritional needs and preferences. We should feed our gecko the right amount and type of insects, and supplement them with calcium and vitamin D3 powder. We should also avoid overfeeding our gecko, especially with fatty insects, and provide fresh water daily.
  • Suitable environment: House gecko in an adequately sized terrarium with temperature/humidity gradients, substrates, hides, plants, wood, rocks, etc. allowing natural behaviors. Frequently clean and disinfect tank.
  • Regular health care: We should provide our gecko with regular health care, such as checking its weight, body condition, skin, eyes, mouth, and tail. Watch out for any signs of illness or injury, such as lethargy, weight loss, loss of appetite, swelling, discharge, odor, difficulty breathing, and limping. Consult a veterinarian if we notice any of these symptoms, or if we have any questions or concerns about our gecko’s health.
  • Love and attention: Handle the gecko gently and carefully, and avoid stressing or scaring it. Also interact with your gecko regularly, and provide it with toys and enrichment, such as branches, rocks, plants, and tunnels.

The most essential aspect for a long gecko lifespan is committing to consistent preventative care day-to-day. By considering their enriching environments and medical needs from the start, we set them up for decades of good health and companionship. Leopard geckos that receive this level of dedicated husbandry can thrive and live full lifespans beyond 15+ years in captivity.

Why Do Some Leopard Geckos Exceed 20 Year Lifespans?

Why Do Some Leopard Geckos Exceed 20 Year Lifespans
Why Do Some Leopard Geckos Exceed 20 Year Lifespans

While 15-20 years represents the average life of leopard gecko, there are certainly verifiable cases of geckos reaching over 20 years and even to 30 years and beyond. What allows these specific geckos to so extensively surpass average longevity? Several key factors enable these impressive lifespans:

  • Near Perfect Care from Birth – The most common theme among long-lived leopard gecko cases is simply exceptional husbandry and vet care starting immediately after hatching. These geckos experience minimal-to-no health issues their whole life.
  • Robust Genetic Health – These extra long-lived geckos often come from highly ethical, selective captive breeding programs focused on health and longevity genetics above all else. They start life with innate resilience.
  • Life in Research Institutions – Many super long-lived leopards are residents of university or zoo research collections where they receive cutting-edge medical care promoting lifespan. Less common privately.
  • Species & Gender Factors – Female leopard geckos tend to live slightly longer than male geckos on average. And leopard geckos as a species seem to produce exceptional geriatric individuals more frequently than some shorter-lived reptiles.
  • Bit of Luck – Even with all factors above, there is still an element of good fortune and luck for any animal surpassing records and living well into their 30s, especially rare privately. So credit is due to these individual geckos as well!

While a tiny percentage of leopard geckos do reach these amazing longevities 30+ years, it requires the highest quality lifetime care as well as a bit of natural luck and resilience innate to that gecko. For most owners, aiming for average species longevity of 15-20 years with excellent care represents a more realistic lifespan goal to shoot for.

How to tell the age of leopard gecko

How to tell the age of leopard gecko
How to tell the age of leopard gecko

Here are some of the most reliable ways to estimate a leopard gecko’s age:

  1. Size – In their first year, leopard geckos undergo rapid growth reaching about 5-7 inches. Adult size of 7-10 inches is usually achieved by 12-15 months old. So a very small gecko under 5 inches is likely under a year old.
  2. Weight – Newly hatched leopard geckos weigh 2-5 grams. They can reach adult weights of 45-80+ grams by 12-18 months old. Use weight along with size to gauge relative age.
  3. Sexual Maturity – Female leopard geckos ovulate their first egg clutch around 8-12 months old while males become sexually mature 3-10 months. If not breeding, use their size at sexual maturity as an age indicator.
  4. Shed Cycles – Young, growing leopard geckos shed every 1-2 weeks. Adult shedding slows to about once a month. Frequent shedding indicates a subadult under 1 year; less frequent shedding an older adult.
  5. Color Brightness – The coloration and patterns of leopard geckos fade slowly over many years past their peak vibrancy at 1-3 years old. If very dull or white in areas, likely a senior over 10 years old.

Combine multiple factors like size, weight, breeding status, shedding, and coloration to best estimate a leopard gecko’s age. Relying on just one can be less accurate. Also consult any known hatch date from the breeder.

Verdict: Average Leopard Gecko Lifespan is 15-20 Years

Average Leopard Gecko Lifespan is 15-20 Years
Average Lifespan of Leopard Gecko is 15-20 Years

All compiled research and reliable reports from breeders, zoos, and exotic vets, the consensus average lifespan for the leopard gecko in captivity is between 15 to 20 years when provided proper diet and care. Geckos may exceed or fall short of this window based on factors impacting their health over their life.

Exceptional care from birth can help geckos push 20+ years and maybe one day routinely surpass 20 year lifespans on average much like some other exotic pets. But for now across the entire captive leopard gecko population, 15-20 years represents the current expected lifespan standard for these fantastic pet reptiles.


How long do leopard geckos live as pets?

On average, captive leopard geckos live 15-20 years when kept as pets and provided proper diet, housing, veterinary care, and general husbandry. With exceptional lifetime care, some have reached 25-30 years.

Is 9 old for a leopard gecko?

No, a 9 year old leopard gecko is not considered old. They are fully adult at 1-2 years old and at mid-age around 9 years old. So a 9 year old leopard gecko maybe middle-aged, but with consistent quality care, they should still have many more healthy and active years ahead past 15 or even 20 years old total.

Are leopard geckos hard to keep alive?

No, leopard geckos are not generally difficult pets to keep alive with proper husbandry. Their care requirements for heating/lighting, intermittent feeding/hydration routine, and habitat maintenance are very manageable compared to other exotic reptile pets. Their longevity and popularity as beginner reptiles is aided by their relative hardiness with good preventative care.

What is the oldest leopard gecko in captivity?

According to record books, the verified oldest captive leopard gecko was around 28 years old at time of death. However, anecdotal reports from breeders have claimed even older geckos surpassing 30 years old in exceptional cases. So the record oldest is certainly at least 28 years, with the potential max lifespan still being explored!

About Dean Eby

An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan. He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning. An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.

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