Among lizards, geckos have long been favorite pets for their ease of care and their friendly, curious disposition. In the reptile trade, some species have observably distinct variations, or morphs. The albino morph, whereby the skin and scales of the gecko lack all or nearly all pigment, is in vogue today. Though the albino leopard gecko's appearance differs significantly from the norm, the care of albino leopard geckos differs only in the use of lighting.
Types of Albino Leopard Geckos
In the course of many generations of selective breeding, desirable visual characteristics have led to designer patterns in geckos. Tremper albinos, for instance, first bred by Ron Tremper, are characterized by light-colored eyes and brownish markings. Rainwater albinos have darker eyes and are the smallest of the albino morphs. Bell albinos have light-pink eyes that remain into adulthood and have lavender coloring to them. So-called patternless albinos lack line patterns but display unique spotting. Blizzard albinos lack both banding and spotting. Not all albinos have red eyes -- eye color is another trait that can be bred usually individually of patterning.
Differences in Care
Caring for albino leopard geckos is not all that different from caring for specimens with morphs of normal coloration. In fact, special care need only be taken in lighting.
Leopard geckos are nocturnal -- they are active primarily at night. They do not need to bask in full-spectrum, UVB-emitting light like other reptiles. Albinos, whose eyelids do not shield their eyes well due to lack of pigment, should not be placed under intense light, especially not in their first 6 months of life.
Instead of using a basking light or large light fixture to keep their habitat temperature up, use a heating mat or heating tape under the warm side of the aquarium and diffuse ambient light softly through the mesh lid in the daytime, if necessary.
General Leopard Gecko Care
Provide a 10-gallon or larger aquarium for a single leopard gecko. Larger colonies need more space. Line the bottom with gravel and fill with sand as substrate. Place rocks and hide boxes around the enclosure. Use a secure mesh lid to allow ventilation of the habitat.
Heating and Lighting
Place a heating mat or heating tape under one side of the aquarium. Install thermometers on both sides and turn the mat on. Allow the enclosure to come to temperature and look for about 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side and 75 to 80 on the cool side. Make changes to heating as necessary. Cold-blooded reptiles self-thermoregulate -- they go to warmer or cooler places to change their internal temperatures -- and need both temperatures to be healthy. At night, turn off the heating mat and allow the temperature to drop to 70.
Leopard geckos are desert creatures -- they do not need access to drinking water; they get it all from their diet. In fact, too large of a dish can drown the gecko's prey or the gecko herself. Provide only a very shallow water dish, if desired. Mist rocks and hides with water in the mornings to simulate morning dew for hydration and humidity.
Feed your leopard gecko insects dusted with a reptile dietary supplement that contains calcium and vitamin D3. Crickets are nutritionally rich and widely available. Mealworms and superworms are not as nutritious but can be a special treat once a week. Feed leopard geckos at night. Since albinos are especially sensitive to light, assist them by turning out all the lights in their room before they eat. Remove uneaten food immediately after feeding.
Handling Your Gecko
Do not over-handle your gecko until she is used to your touch. Give the new gecko a week to adjust to her environment. Then allow the gecko to crawl over your hands and through your loose fingers for 10 to 15 minutes per day for the first seven to 10 days after that until she is accustomed to being handled.