Geckos Lifespan (Your Complete Guide)

Geckos Lifespan (Your Complete Guide)

Owned by adoring pet owners worldwide, geckos are small reptiles that make wonderful pets.

You’ve probably seen a gecko, whether it be in the wild, someone’s house, or in the zoo, but did you know that there are over 2,000 different species of gecko? Well, you do now!

Geckos Lifespan (Your Complete Guide)

Practically everywhere from Australia to the UK and the US to India, geckos are found worldwide, except in Antarctica. Although roaming wild in most countries, many geckos are kept as pets.

In fact, out of all reptiles, geckos are one of the most popular pets, but as with any animal in captivity, it’s important to understand their needs, including their average life expectancy.

Knowing how long a gecko is expected to live can help pet owners ensure their little friend lives life to the fullest every day.

If you’re thinking of owning a pet gecko, then you’re in the right place to find out handy information on the little critters.

In today’s guide, we are going to discuss how long a gecko lives on average and ways you can help extend their lives even further with proper care.

You may be a gecko novice right now but by the end of this crash course, you will be a gecko master!

In a rush? If you can’t wait, here’s the low down on a gecko’s life expectancy – On average, a pet gecko will live for ten to twenty years. However, some have lived much longer than this.

Of course, many factors come into how long a gecko will live, such as its gender and whether it is wild or kept in captivity.

It is important to note, however, that, unlike cats and dogs, geckos are a relatively new pet phenomenon. Therefore, there is still a lot to discover about these friendly reptiles. 

What Is A Gecko?

Mostly nocturnal, geckos are a part of the suborder Gekkota. Overall, geckos tend to prefer warmer climates like deserts, rainforests, and highlands.

But, to live in such intense climatic regions, geckos have evolved and adapted to their environment.

For instance, geckos come in a wide variety of colors from vibrant blues and greens to sandy shades so they remain camouflaged in their surroundings to escape their predators. 

Geckos have been here a lot longer than us too! Their ancestors were roaming the Earth some 300 million years ago, and today’s modern gecko hasn’t changed all that much in that time. 

Only recently, however, have we started to understand geckos more deeply. We have learned what types of environments they thrive in and more about their life spans.

We don’t want to keep all this information to ourselves so let’s dive in and discover some fascinating facts about geckos. 

Geckos Average Life Expectancy

In the wild, a gecko can expect to live for 15 years on average. When in captivity, however, these reptiles can live for longer due to a lack of predators and a constant source of food.

For instance, a leopard gecko may live for 15 to 20 years as a pet but in the wild, their life expectancy is only around five years. 

All this being said, geckos have been shown to survive in the wild just as long as those held in captivity.

A study in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology discovered that the common gecko lived just as long as pet geckos on Motunau Island in New Zealand.

However, this island is completely free of predators so the study is not exactly reliable for most wild geckos.

The results were still quite extraordinary, however, as all geckos captured were at least 29 years old with some believed to have been 36 years of age. 

When there are no predators hunting them down, geckos seem to be capable of living long lives.

But, in general, it can be quite challenging to find an average life expectancy across all geckos as there are over 1,500 species in the world, spread across seven families of geckos. 

It is simpler to learn about pet geckos as owners, curators, and breeders are able to give more precise insights into the age of geckos over a certain time period.

All in all, there are seven common types of geckos kept as pets. Let’s take a look at their life expectancy here:

  • Day geckos (Phelsuma grandis) – Average life expectancy of up to 15 years
  • Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) – Average life expectancy of 10 to 20 years
  • Fat-tailed geckos (Hemitheconyx caudicinctu) – Average life expectancy 10 to 20 years
  • Crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) – Average life expectancy 10 to 20 years
  • Gargoyle geckos (Rhacodactylus auriculatus) – Average life expectancy 15 to 20 years
  • Leachianus (leachie) geckos (Rhacodactylus leachianus) – Average life expectancy of up to 20 years
  • Tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) – Average life expectancy 7 to 10 years

Another confusing aspect of the gecko’s average life expectancy is that many resources have different estimates.

This is thought to be because of studies in different locations and climate, how they are cared for, as well as the fact that geckos are still relatively new in the pet world.

Therefore, our understanding of their true life expectancy is considered a little flexible on the whole.

As seen above, current findings indicate that these particular geckos can expect to live for around 10 to 20 years on average.

This is why owning a pet gecko is regarded as a long term commitment, so a lot of consideration should go into owning one beforehand. 

Wild Vs Captive Geckos

Wild Vs Captive Geckos

As we stated above, most experts believe that geckos live for longer when in captivity, as opposed to in the wild.

Nonetheless, data on geckos lifespans in the wild is still somewhat lacking, but the resources we currently have shown some interesting results, particularly with fat-tailed and leopard geckos.

Studies estimate that these geckos can live up to 15 years in the wild, appreciatively shorter than their pet counterparts. 

Then there is the Tokay gecko, native to Asia and a few Pacific islands. In the wild, it is estimated that the Tokay gecko lives an average of seven to 10 years less than those in captivity, but, yet again, the true number is still unknown. 

The main reasons geckos seem to live longer in captivity is that they do not have to hunt for food as much, or at all.

They are also safer, or completely safe from predators, and have constant care from their owners and can be treated quickly for any diseases.

Although many geckos can expect to live over 20 years, many do not. For instance, a common household gecko is believed to live for an average of five years, but these are usually left to roam of their own accord, rather than be kept as pets.

With proper, regular care, geckos should live longer into old age, but environmental factors will always have a say. 

A Gecko’s Life Cycle

Like most reptiles, geckos go through three life stages during their life cycle known as:

  • Hatchlings
  • Juveniles
  • Adults


The majority of geckos lay a small clutch of eggs, but some are live-bearing and can reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis.

Up until a gecko weighs three grams (or a little under an ounce), it is known as a hatchling or a baby. 

In the first few days of life, a gecko will typically not feed. Instead, they will live off the uneaten supply of yolk. Baby geckos will soon start to shed their skin which they then eat.

This may sound gross but it is essential for their development and growth. From here, they will start to hunt for food, such as bugs, regularly. 


A juvenile gecko is like their teenage phase of life. At this time, they will begin to grow substantially to reach their eventual full adult size. This growth stage is rapid and comes with regular shedding.

Because the gecko grows so much during this juvenile period of life, they need to eat frequently, too, so they will be hunting almost endlessly for bugs.


Once a gecko reaches around 12 to 18 months old, it has reached its fully grown adult self. Rather than shed their skin every week, like they do when young, an adult gecko will only shed once every month or two.

Once the gecko is a year old, it will usually shed its bands and their morphs will develop more. They also become sexually mature as adults. 

Here’s a summary of a gecko’s life cycle:

  • Egg Stage – Age range: 2 to 3 months – If the egg is infertile, it is typically yellowish.
  • Hatchling Stage – Age range: 5 to 7 days – Average length: 2 to 4 inches – Average weight: 2 to 3 g – This is when the gecko will typically absorb the remaining yolk and shed their skin for the first time.
  • Juvenile Stage – Age range: Up to 10 to 12 months – Average length: 4 to 7 inches – Average weight: 3 to 30 g – Here, the gecko will continue to grow rapidly until reaching their full adult size.
  • Adult Stage – Age range: 12 to 18 months – Average length: 7 to 11 inches – Average weight: 30 to 120g – a one-year-old gecko will generally lose its bands and fully develop their morphs and become sexually mature.

Gecko Gender And Life Expectancy

A male gecko is expected to live up to 15 to 20 years on average whereas females are only expected to live around six to 10 years, particularly when they breed.

It is believed that breeding has a certain effect and puts strain on the female gecko’s body. This is especially the case with those that continuously breed during their lifetime. 

Female geckos may also live shorter lives because they are known to refuse food when they are ovulating.

During this ovulation period, they tend to lose weight, in contrast to geckos going through brumation (periods of inactivity during cold temperatures and/or winter).

Take a female leopard gecko as an example. These typically do not eat unless they have laid or reabsorbed their eggs. Of course, if the eggs have developed shells, the gecko will not be able to reabsorb it afterward. 

Because of this peculiar behavior, pet owners are recommended to feed female geckos more frequently before their ovulating season begins.

Therefore, the gecko will not lose significant and often deadly amounts of weight as she ovulates. 

Vitamins and minerals can be given to female geckos to help them maintain their strength, too. It is also advised that female leopard geckos are weighed regularly to see if they are losing any weight or not.

Know the weight of a female gecko before she starts ovulating, and you can keep a close eye on her weight as the season starts and progresses. 

Gecko Size And Age: Is There Any Correlation Between The Two?

Generally speaking, the size of a gecko can help you determine its age, but these are considered unreliable guidelines when trying to understand its overall health and well being.

You can find growth charts for geckos across the internet and discover what its ideal weight should be, considering its age and species.

Again, however, this method for estimating the gecko’s age can be inaccurate.  

A study found that captive gecko’s growth rates and ages vary, typically because of their personal diet, husbandry, incubation, and whether they are about to undergo brumation or ovulation. 

In truth, geckos are like humans in that our weight and height tend to indicate the level of our health rather than how old we are. See, you’re not that different from a gecko!

With all this in mind, it is still considered important to weigh a pet gecko on a regular basis so keep an eye on any possible weight loss or weight gain patterns.

This can also tell us vital information regarding what dosage of minerals and supplements they may require in their diet and whether they are ill, in brumation, or ovulating. 

Way Of Extending Your Pet Gecko’s Life

There’s no doubt that geckos make wonderful pets. They are generally low maintenance and completely harmless to keep in your house, whether it is a Crested, House, Leopard, Frog-Eyed, or Flying gecko.

These are also the most affordable geckos to get for someone who has never kept one as a pet before.

As with all pets, you’ll want to do everything you can to give your gecko as long of a life as possible and ensure it is happy and healthy at all times.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to maintain your pet gecko’s health and hopefully extend its lifespan. Here some are useful and important tips to consider:

Correct Diet And Nutrition

The majority of geckos do not eat vegetables or plants. Instead, they love to gobble up live insects. So, before you get a pet gecko, you must be comfortable around such creepy crawlies.

Different gecko species like different types of bugs, but overall, many love crickets, mealworms, super worms, and wax worms (see also “Waxworm Care Sheet“).

In general, mealworms and crickets are two sources of food that geckos love, whilst wax worms and super worms should be given as occasional treats. 

Handle With Care

Remember, most geckos are very small and need to be handled with absolute care. Never pick one up by its tail as a natural defense mechanism of many geckos is to drop its tail when up against predators.

If you notice that this has happened, you shouldn’t worry, though. Amazingly, geckos have the ability to regrow their tails! Most often, however, it will grow back a different color and/or form than its predecessor.  

If your gecko has lost its tail, keep it separated from other animals and in its tank until the tail has grown back again. 

Comfortable, Safe Housing

Geckos should be kept in a suitable tank, terrarium, aquarium, or vivarium. You can find a vast range of sizes in pet stores or online.

Remember, a gecko’s housing should keep them warm, so it must not be too large and spacious so warmth is wasted and lost.

It shouldn’t be too small, either, as geckos can become disorientated in confined spaces and may not be able to reach the warmest areas of the tank. 

Record Breaking Geckos

We have discussed the average life expectancy of geckos, but some have been known to beat the odds of age.

On the whole, an estimated life expectancy of 10 to 20 years for a pet gecko is deemed fair, but some have lived far longer than this. 

In 2004, the record for the longest living leopard gecko was thought to be broken, with one aged at 28 years old. Nevertheless, many believe that other leopard geckos have lived even longer.

Ron Temper, a herpetologist, pioneer in leopard gecko morphs, and author on leopard geckos, is thought to have owned a pet leopard gecko that lived to be 31 years old.

He even raised a female gecko which loved until 21 years old, but she was never bred and was housed on her own. See more about the oldest leopard gecko ever here

In 2015, geckos in New Zealand broke records for being the longest living ever. To track geckos on Motunau Island, Dr Tony Whitaker cut off the toes (gruesome) of the first he encountered there.

Later on, the same geckos were analyzed and were found to be at least 53 years old

As well as these, other geckos in the same region were reported to be around 47 to 50 years of age and studies, such as these, seem to back up such grand old ages of geckos. 

More Research Is Needed

Reptiles and amphibians are becoming more and more popular as pets. As time progresses, we will get to learn more about their behaviors and get a clearer understanding of their true life expectancies, rather than mere estimates.

Luckily, there are now countless videos and forums discussing tips, care guides, and information on keeping geckos as pets to ensure they are as healthy as possible.

But, as they are still quite new to the pet trade, the true knowledge of these creatures is still a little flimsy. 

In Summary

Different gecko species are being discovered almost constantly, and it is only through such discoveries and time that we will learn more about these reptiles. 

The good news is that we have more information on geckos and their life span than ever before to ensure we care for them as best we can (see also “Panther Gecko Care Sheet“).

But, many years of learning still lies ahead to find out everything there is to know about these fascinating, wonderful creatures.

How many babies do Geckos have? What is the lifespan of a Gecko? How fast is a Gecko?

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