Leopard geckos are not only cute, but they’re also one of the easier reptiles to care for. So easy, that some happy leopard gecko keepers may even consider getting a second leo.
Spend any amount of time on YouTube or in your local pet store and you’ll see leopard geckos hanging out together and in some cases even sharing an enclosure which only makes the idea of a second leopard gecko even more appealing.
But is this really a good idea? Can leopard geckos live together and share an enclosure?
Leopard geckos are naturally solitary and territorial which means it’s rarely a good idea to have them live together. Some female pairs can live together but it’s not uncommon for male leopard geckos to fight each other- sometimes to the point of fatal injury. In general, it’s best to avoid cohabitating leopard geckos.
Even though it is possible in very specific situations, cohabitation should be reserved for the more experienced keepers and only when pairing two females. But let’s take a closer look at why keeping pairs of leopard geckos in the same space is usually a bad idea starting with some background information about a leopard gecko’s natural instincts.
Leopard Geckos Are Naturally Solitary Creatures…Which Makes Cohabing Hard
Some species are naturally social and live in packs (like dogs, wolves, and bees) while others evolved to live solitary lives in competition with their own species. These solitary species are considered asocial and include cats, polar bears, and of course leopard geckos. Leopard geckos come from the rocky deserts of Asia and the Middle East where they would need to compete with other leopard geckos for food, mates, and territory- not to mention dealing with a long list of other predators like foxes and other reptiles.
Even though your little leopard geckos have their meals hand-delivered by you, their competitive instincts are still alive and well. These instincts are deeply rooted in hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and you’ll be hard-pressed to change them!
That means leopard geckos don’t just prefer to be alone but they will often see other leopard geckos as threats to their survival and this is especially true when it comes to male leopard geckos which are quick to start a fight.
Gender Is The Biggest Factor In Leopard Gecko Cohabitation
Even though we can’t control a leopard gecko’s solitary instincts, we can pick the sex that they cohabitate with and it’s the biggest factor when it comes to creating a successful pair.
Let’s look at our options.
Male and Male
This is the absolute worst option and should be avoided 100% of the time. As is often the case with animals, males are more likely to fight. Even if there are no female leopard geckos around, a male’s instincts to reproduce will still drive them to protect their territory from other males. And if not females that they’re fighting over, then male leopard geckos will battle over other resources like hiding spots, food, and just about any other resource that a leopard gecko would find valuable.
Because they’re stuck in the same enclosure, male leopard geckos will continue fighting, and eventually, one leopard gecko will likely die. But there will be plenty of stress and injuries leading up to that point.
Simply put, you should never try to pair two male leopard geckos. Whether they’ve grown up together or they seem like best friends, male leopard geckos will almost always fight to the death given enough time.
Female and Female
While there are no guarantees, the female and female leopard gecko combination is the most likely to work. Females are much less likely to fight with one another but can still have the occasional conflict over resources.
You’ll still need to make sure both leopard geckos have plenty of available resources and ensure that one female leopard gecko (usually the bigger one) isn’t preventing the other from getting access to warmth and food.
Still, as with any species, individual personalities can vary, and just because leopard geckos are both females doesn’t mean that they’ll get along.
Male and Female
Male and female leopard geckos can still fight but the bigger (and hopefully obvious) concern is reproduction. As with any species, combining males and females means babies will soon be on the way and you should only do this if you’re intentionally trying to breed your leopard geckos.
Other Factors To Consider When Putting Two Leopard Geckos Together
While gender is usually considered to be the biggest factor, it’s far from the only one so let’s look at some of the other considerations.
Relationship and History
Female leopard geckos that were raised with each other since they were born have a higher chance of getting along but that’s only compared to adult leopard geckos that have never met. Clutch mates or leopard geckos that were raised together may be more tolerant of each other but it’s not always enough to make a perfect match.
When it comes to males, it doesn’t matter what their history is and clutch mates will still fight.
Enclosure Size and Available Resources
Creating an enclosure for just one leopard gecko is much more straightforward than creating an enclosure for two leos. Not only do you need a lot more room, so you’re not really saving much space in the end, but you also need to carefully balance out available resources.
That means ensuring there are multiple areas for hiding, basking, staying cool, eating, and more. Remember, as asocial creatures leopard geckos are naturally competitive and you want to limit the opportunities to fight over resources. That means having plenty of everything for each leopard gecko.
Let’s see how this plays out when it comes to something like hiding spaces. The best practice for leopard gecko care is to provide 3 hiding spots. That’s one hiding spot in the warmer part of the enclosure, one in the cooler spot, and an optional humid spot when it’s time to shed. That can feel like a lot but still easy enough when it comes to one leopard gecko. But housing two leopard geckos will require you to at least double the number of hiding spots which can be significantly more difficult.
And it’s not just hiding spots you need to worry about but every valuable resource that goes into your enclosure including overall space. Two leopard geckos have a lot better chance of getting along in an absolutely massive enclosure as compared to trying to squeeze them into a 5 gallon.
Size Of The Leopard Geckos
Regardless of how friendly they seem, leopard geckos will need to compete for resources- at least to some extent. If one leopard gecko is significantly larger than the other, then it’s easy to see how that competition will end and one leopard gecko will usually end up with more food than the other. Some leopard geckos may be a little better at hunting down a cricket to compensate for their smaller size but I wouldn’t count on it.
So if you were going to try and cohabitate (which isn’t recommended) you’d additionally need to make sure that each leopard gecko is of a similar size.
Sexual Maturity and Age
As is the case with many reptiles, leopard geckos reach sexual maturity based on weight and not age. Sexual maturity usually occurs between 18 and 24 months or at around 35 grams. Leopard geckos could get along great as juveniles but once sexual maturity hits, things could change rapidly as hormones change. Leopard geckos could become more territorial as they begin to seek out a mate.
So just because young leopard geckos are getting along doesn’t mean things will stay that way after they reach sexual maturity and it’s guaranteed to cause problems in the case of males.
What About Babies And Adults?
But what about leopard geckos of any gender that aren’t sexually mature? Can an adult leopard gecko and a baby leopard gecko live together?
This is often an even worse combination than any gender as an adult leopard gecko may try to eat a smaller baby leopard gecko. Leopard geckos aren’t social and they also aren’t the smartest so they’ll often try to put just about anything in their mouth to try and eat it- including a baby leo. Combining two babies can work but not a baby and an adult leopard gecko.
Putting Two Leopard Geckos Together May Not Save Much Space
One of the big benefits of putting two leopard geckos in the same enclosure is to save space but when you consider the husbandry requirements of two leopard geckos and the size of the enclosure you need to pull it off, it quickly becomes clear that saving space isn’t likely to work out.
As we’ve already pointed out, you’ll still need twice the hiding spots and everything which will usually require an enclosure that’s close to double the size (or more) than an enclosure for an individual leopard gecko.
In fact, you can usually save more room by using two enclosures and shelving to maximize vertical space.
Even if you do successfully pair leopard geckos, there’s still more to worry about and a shared space makes monitoring health significantly more difficult.
Imagine you find a small amount of blood or an especially concerning stool in the enclosure…and you have two leopard geckos.
How can you tell which one produced the poop or is responsible for the blood?
Additionally, monitoring appetite becomes very difficult to do and it’s easy for one leopard gecko to take the majority of the food. Over time, you may notice one gecko is skinnier than the other which will still call for separation.
So monitoring health is just another area that becomes more difficult to manage when you put two leopard geckos together.
Things Can Change…Quickly
You can’t be present 24 hours of the day to monitor your leopard geckos and it only takes a few seconds for disaster to occur.
Leopoard geckos could be getting along great for days, weeks, or months but a sudden conflict over territory or food could lead to expensive veterinary bills or even death for one of the leopard geckos. Not to mention plenty of stress for both you and your leos.
That’s why most experienced herpers (including myself) suggest having an enclosure ready just in case something happens or you need to more closely monitor your leopard gecko’s food and bathroom breaks- which again doesn’t end up saving you much space.
Do Leopard Geckos Need A Friend?
One of the last appeals for allowing leopard geckos to live together is to prevent leopard geckos from getting lonely.
Even though it can be difficult to try and understand the feeling and emotions of leopard geckos (or the limited amount that they have) it’s probably safe to say that leopard geckos don’t get lonely. Like many reptiles, leopard geckos are asocial and evolved to live alone so they instinctually prefer living without a tank mate of any species.
In many cases, housing two leopard geckos together is more likely to increase stress rather than reduce it.
So Are There Any Real Benefits Of Putting Two Leopard Geckos Together?
Honestly, not really.
You may get some better Instagram photos but beyond that combined housing usually makes keeping leopard geckos more difficult rather than easier.
If you stick with best practices for husbandry, you’ll end up using just as much space all while not being able to closely monitor your leopard geckos eating and stools. You’ll also need to stay vigilant and make sure there are no conflicts- which just adds more stress.
So with all those downsides, it’s rare that putting leopard geckos together is the best option.
Leopard Geckos Living Together Vs Being Taken Out Together
Just because leopard geckos shouldn’t be housed together doesn’t mean you can’t take them out together. There’s a big difference between sharing the limited space of their vivarium and the wide-open space of the couch. Some geckos even seem to think that space is limitless as they consider walking (and falling) right off the couch!
That doesn’t mean you don’t need to look for potential conflict when your leopard geckos are out together, but it’s usually easy to intervene before something happens.
Frequently Asked Questions About Putting Leopard Geckos Together
We’ve covered a lot already but let’s dive deeper into some more specific questions that have come through since writing this article.
Can I keep two leopard geckos together?
Some keepers have been able to house two female leopard geckos but it’s not worth the trouble or stress since you’ll still need an enclosure that’s large enough for both geckos. Male and females shouldn’t be housed together unless you want babies and males should never be paired in the same enclosure.
Can leopard geckos have roommates?
As asocial and solitary lizards, leopard geckos do best without roommates. Instead of a friend, leopard geckos see other leos as competition for limited resources adding a leo roommate usually leads to conflict over hiding spots, food, and anything else that leopard geckos see as valuable.
Can you put 3 leopard geckos together?
Putting two leopard geckos is already a bad idea so putting three leopard geckos into the same enclosure is even worse. More leopard geckos increase the chances of fighting, still requires more space and prevents you from monitoring the appetite and outputs of any individual leopard gecko.
Will two female leopard geckos fight?
Out of all the gender combinations, two female leopard geckos are the least likely to fight but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Unlike two males, which are almost guaranteed to fight, many keepers have successfully paired females but it’s still not a best practice.
How many leopard geckos can live together in a 20 gallon tank?
Because it’s not a good idea to combine leopard geckos, there should only be one leopard gecko per enclosure even in a 20-gallon tank. While that may be enough space to combine females in some cases, it’s not worth the risk of fighting.
I know it might be tempting to combine leopard geckos into one habitat but when you start considering all the downsides, and there are many, it no longer seems like such a good idea.
Instead, most keepers are better off with one enclosure per leopard gecko. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take your leopard geckos out at the same time! Just watch for signs of conflict or stress and intervene before a problem occurs.
What do you think?