The Lemon Frost Leopard Gecko is a morph or variant of the Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) that came into the limelight around 2012. Because of their cuteness, tameness, and variety of colors and patterns, these little creatures make excellent pets. They adorn a yellow-whitish hue with slightly faded and scattered spots compared to typical leopard geckos.
However, this leopard gecko is considered to be controversial since recent research indicates that the morph carries a cancerous gene. The gene that mutates to form the beautiful lemon Frost Morph is also responsible for whitish tumors on their skin as they age.
But since reptile enthusiasts have kept these geckos for years, let’s look at everything you need to know about the Lemon Frost leopard gecko morph.
Appearance & Morphs
The leopard gecko morph looks like it has been rolled in yellow die, with the usual black spots on the back appearing much smaller. Conversely, its legs are black and tend to have a golden appeal. The morph may have a green/yellow and black pattern on its head. The gecko’s greenish-yellow headstamp may develop spots as it ages.
Even in the most perfect of morphs, the skull’s appearance might occasionally take on a distorted look. Yellow, white, and black are the primary colors of a Lemon Frost leopard gecko’s body. However, when a gecko gets older, the spots tend to become more apparent. Lemon Frost leopard geckos usually have a patterned, dark tail that might develop spots as it ages, much like every other gecko.
Regarding lemon frost morphs and variation, the most common geckos are sunburst and Mr. Frosty. However, other breeders have produced some newer lemon frost variations that are attractive but don’t yet have a unique name.
Male lemon frosts average 10 inches (25 cm) in length, while females average 7 inches (18 cm). However, these creatures can become bigger or smaller based on the diet and the kind of care provided.
The normal leopard gecko has a relatively long lifespan for such a little creature. They can live for 10 to 20 years when they get the required care. However, as for the Lemon Frost Morph, they can live for around 7-15 years. This is because of the prevalent skin condition that manifests as tumors.
However, like any other animal, the life expectancy of this gecko morph will depend on the environment and the care and treatment provided. Some Lemon Frost leopard gecko owners claim that these creatures can live for up to 20 years.
Like other leos, Lemon Frost geckos should stay in a comfortable and clean habitat, consume a balanced diet and clean water, and be handled regularly. Handling helps the lizards acclimate to their new environment and their owners. However, since young leos get stressed out quickly if you hold them a lot, it’s best to wait until they are 6 inches long and let them settle into their new homes for at least three weeks.
Don’t try to pick them up by their tails. Leopard geckos can let go of their tails if you grab them or hold them too tightly. Even if the tail grows back, it won’t look like the old one. The leopard gecko sheds its skin regularly. Therefore, ensuring that the humidity in their habitat is at the right level is essential. Putting a water bowl and humid hides will ensure that your Lemon Frost doesn’t experience shedding problems.
Although they have eye-catching yellow skin with minimal black spots, Lemon Frost leopard geckos also shed their upper skin to give way for growth and development. While clearing the top skin is a natural process, it usually causes some discomfort, mainly if proper conditions are not provided.
You must provide your lemon frost leopard gecko with a suitable environment and diet to support healthy shedding. This includes maintaining the proper humidity levels in the enclosure, providing a substrate that allows the gecko to rub against them to help remove the shed skin, and offering a diet that includes plenty of calcium to support healthy skin growth.
If your Lemon Frost is having difficulties shedding, or if you detect patches of shed skin sticking to the gecko’s body, you should seek assistance from a veterinarian or a reptile care specialist on how to help your gecko shed adequately.
Actually, leopard geckos do not hibernate but rather brumate. For 30-90 days at a time, leopard geckos can enter a condition of semi-dormancy, during which they forego food and stay hidden. Brumation is a normal process that takes place during the colder months.
While brumation is typical in most wild leopard geckos, it’s not common for captive-bred geckos. In addition, since leos aren’t biologically programmed to brumate, some owners won’t even see their pets undergoing this process.
Your leopard gecko may brumate if you live in a region with extreme temperature swings, like the Midwest of the United States. Before your Lemon Frost gecko goes into brumation, it will display signs such as:
- Not eating
- Not popping
- Avoiding the hot side of the terrarium
- Lethargic reaction
- Moving slowly
- Too much sleeping
If your gecko is not sick but starts displaying these signs, it might be getting ready to or in brumation. You mustn’t disturb the Lemon Frost gecko during this period. Don’t try to feed it, lift it or handle it. Keeping the condition inside the tank at optimal levels will help the geckos stay healthy and wake up when the time is right.
Housing A Lemon Frost Leopard Gecko
Although these geckos are native to Asia’s dry grasslands, they usually reside in terrariums with predefined circumstances similar to their original environments. Glass tanks are typically preferred because they make it easy for leopard gecko owners to keep the internal condition at optimal levels.
You need to buy a 10-gallon tank for a young leopard gecko. But, regarding adult Lemon Frost leopard geckos, you will need at least a 20-gallon tank. As your reptile grows, you should make the habitat bigger.
You’ll need to secure the habitat with a screened lid to keep animals from getting out, let in enough air, and ensure that predatory pets like dogs and cats don’t get in. Conversely, you must provide a suitable substrate and keep the light, humidity, and temperature within the recommended range. Additionally, adding a few enrichments will kill boredom and help your scaly friend stay active.
Leopard geckos, like other reptiles, are ectotherms, meaning their body temperature depends on the external environment. Daytime tank temperatures should range from about 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius), with a basking spot heated to a temperature of at most 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).
Nighttime temperatures should not be above 72 degrees Fahrenheit. You must install thermometers inside the cage to maintain optimal temperatures throughout the day.
Ensure that the terrarium has a temperature gradient by setting up the tank so that one side is heated to a higher temperature range than the other. You can use heating pads, ceramic heaters, or appropriate lights to increase the temperature in the tank.
Being crepuscular, Lemon Frost geckos don’t need special lighting since they always hide and sleep during the day. However, you’ll need to offer illumination to maintain the day/night cycle.
Additionally, UVB lighting ensures these lizards get adequate vitamin D to facilitate calcium absorption. However, you must ensure that the light bulbs you use are switched off at night and don’t produce too much light that might interfere with your lizard’s sleep. It’s imperative to ensure that the light bulbs are switched on for at least 10-12 hours daily.
As desert lizards, Lemon Frost can survive in somewhat dry conditions. However, they may suffer dehydration and experience retained sheds without enough humidity. Conversely, too much moisture may also lead to respiratory infections and the growth of pathogens. Therefore, you should maintain the humidity level between 30-40%, equivalent to the typical moisture level in their natural desert habitat.
Leopard geckos require a shallow dish of water that is large enough to soak in. In addition, humid hides should be made available to provide a place where geckos can shed their outer skin.
Put wet sphagnum moss or eco earth in the humid hides, and place one in the warmer part of the habitat so water can evaporate. The humidity inside humid hides needs to be around 70 to 80%. This will help your leopard gecko shed without any challenges.
The floor of your Lemon Frost gecko terrarium should be lined up with a soft and reliable substrate. You should avoid loose substrates such as sand and wood shaving since they boast particles that might be ingested and cause impaction. Conversely, they may produce dust that may irritate the leo and cause respiration problems.
For young geckos, you won’t go wrong with newspapers or paper towels since they are soft and easy to remove and install. For older geckos, you can choose flooring options such as smooth pebbles, rocks, and reptile carpets.
Décor and Enrichments
To make your Lemon Frost gecko feel at home, you should create an atmosphere close to its native habitat by providing it with hiding places such as logs, rocks, and artificial plants. You also need to offer low branches for them to climb. Hide boxes stocked with sphagnum moss should also be provided to help your gecko with shedding.
Lemon Frost Leopard Gecko Diet and Nutrition
Leopard geckos, including their morphs such as Lemon Frost, are the only lizards that eat insects, and in most cases, they will only eat live insects. Although this may sound scary, raising feeder insects at home or ordering them online or at a local pet store is easy.
Cockroaches, mealworms, superworms, hornworms, calciworms, and waxworms are all insects. Never feed geckos insects bigger than the space between the gecko’s eyes. Since geckos prefer hunting and catching live prey, the higher nutritional value of live insects makes them a better choice for gecko diets than freeze-dried alternatives.
Baby geckos and juveniles should be fed multiple insects per day. Adult geckos should eat after 2-3 days. The insects must be gut-loaded with nutrients a day before they are offered to geckos. Before giving the bugs to your lizard, you should also wrap them in a calcium/vitamin D3 supplement. Lack of these essential minerals and elements may lead to health conditions like metabolic bone disease or malnutrition.
Like other living organisms, Lemon Frost leopard geckos always need clean drinking water to survive. Water is integral to their bodily functions and helps the skin stay smooth and supple. As such, the leo’s habitat should have a water dish that should be cleaned and refilled daily.
Additionally, you’ll need to mist the leopard gecko’s cage to ensure that the moisture content inside the terrarium stays within the recommended range. Failure to provide geckos with adequate clean drinking water can lead to shedding problems or dehydration, which may lead to death if not addressed as soon as possible.
As mentioned earlier in this guideline, the most worrying fact about the Lemon Frost leopard gecko is that the gene that leads to the formation of their alluring hue also mutates to cause tumor-like lesions.
A gene in Lemon Frost leopard geckos drastically alters the production and function of iridophores, the cells responsible for reflecting bright colors like yellow, red, and blue. Because of this, shades and tones are incredibly jarring and intense.
Surprisingly, the gene is also linked to the formation of malignant tumors on the skin. These growths often appear on geckos after their first birthday. Iridiphoromas are abnormal growths made up of clusters of iridophores that have stopped working correctly and are expanding rapidly.
Although cancer is rare in reptiles, this morph invariably grows tumorous masses of hard tissue due to a highly uncommon kind of chromatophores. A recent study links these Lemon Frost characteristics to a gene that causes melanoma in humans.
A researcher purchased a Lemon Frost gecko known as Mr. Frosty and decided to breed it with several female geckos to create a colony of aesthetically pleasing leopard geckos. However, after hatching, more than 80% of the Lemon Frost geckos developed tumors that manifested as white skin cells after their first year.
When the geckos were about five years old, the tumors in some of them became too big to the extent that they made it impossible for them to move and would occasionally get infected and rupture. Therefore, while Lemon Frost geckos have an attractive yellowish-white color, they also have a liability for developing cancerous tumors.
Other Health Complications
Besides the tumors, Lemon Frost geckos also suffer from typical illnesses like other leopard geckos. These include:
- Metabolic bone disease: This illness is caused by consuming a diet low in calcium and vitamin D3 or lacking sunlight. The ailment makes the bones soften, and may impede movement. In severe cases, it can lead to total paralysis.
- Infections of the respiratory system: These can be brought on by bacteria or viruses and are frequently the result of unfavorable enclosure conditions, such as high humidity or inadequate ventilation. The typical symptoms are wheezing, coughing, and drainage from the mouth or nose.
- Gastrointestinal impaction: This happens when the gecko ingests substrate or other indigestible items, obstructing the digestive system. Some signs of impaction are feeling tired, losing appetite, and having trouble going to the bathroom. If you want to prevent impaction, it’s essential to use a suitable substrate and tidy up the gecko’s terrarium.
- Retained shed: Also known as dysecdysis, this is a condition in which a leopard gecko cannot shed its skin properly. This can happen for various reasons, but it is often attributed to a lack of humidity in the enclosure or improper shedding technique during handling. A retained shed can cause many health problems if left untreated, including infections, impaired vision, and loss of mobility.
If your gecko has retained shed, it’s crucial to provide an environment with higher humidity than usual; this can be done by misting the enclosure with water or providing a humid hide with moss or damp paper towels.
Behavior & Temperament
Leopard geckos, including the Lemon Frost morph, are known for their docile and non-aggressive nature, making them popular as pet reptiles. They are generally easy to handle and are not known to bite.
Regarding their behavior, leopard geckos are nocturnal, which means they are most active at night. During the day, they can relax in their hideouts or sleep in dark places in their enclosures. They are solitary animals and do not usually interact with other geckos.
It’s worth noting that certain geckos could be more tame or energetic than others, as every animal has its unique personality. The animal’s temperament also depends on how often it is handled, what it eats, and where it lives.
Handling Lemon Frost Leopard Geckos
A Lemon Frost leopard gecko is typically straightforward to handle. Here are some pointers on how to interact with and handle your gecko:
- Start by calmly and gradually getting closer to your gecko. Then, allow the gecko to get used to your hand by moving it slowly and softly in its direction.
- Once the gecko is accustomed to your presence, you can gently pick it up with one hand. Always support the animal’s entire body and avoid grabbing it by the tail, as it can drop it off as a defense mechanism.
- Keep the gecko close to your body when holding it, and bear the animal’s weight. Strive not to hold it at arm’s length, as doing so can cause the gecko to feel threatened and anxious.
- After you’ve finished touching the gecko, put it back in its enclosure where you found it.
- Minimize handling to once a week and make the handling session shorter. Overhandling your gecko can be stressful and may have detrimental effects on its health.
- Lastly, clean your hands before and after you touch your gecko to avoid the spread of bacteria.
How Much Does A Lemon Frost Morph Cost?
The cost of a Lemon Frost leopard gecko can vary based on a handful factors including age, sex, size, and overall quality.
Generally, you should expect to spend anywhere from $150 to $500 for a juvenile or adult Lemon Frost leopard gecko. However, the prices may get higher for particularly large, brightly colored, or stand-out geckos.