Giant Day Gecko Substrate

Giant Day Geckos are the biggest Day Geckos on earth and they’re native to Madagascar. This means that you will have to invest in a cage that can make the gecko feel at home. Single Giant Day Geckos can live in 10-gallon enclosures but the ideal tank should be at least 20-gallon.

Giant Day Gecko
Source: Charles J. Sharp

Getting a vivarium that’s 11/2ft L x 11/2ft W x 2ft T should be enough for starters. However, these beautiful creatures can live up to 15 years in captivity, and is ideal to make them as comfy as possible. This also means being very careful about what you put inside the cage, including the substrate.

In this article, we’ll talk about how important the substrate can be for a gecko and how to prepare the best habitat for your lizard pets that can make them feel at home.

Types of substrates for Giant Day Gecko Tanks

Geckos have been kept as pets for quite a long time and today you can find a very wide range of substrates available in exotic pet shops. This includes both artificial and natural options. And while the artificial ones seem much easier to maintain, the natural substrates are the best choice for Giant Day Geckos.

A good substrate will make the gecko feel at home and it can actually play an important role in how healthy the gecko will be. You should be very careful about what type you choose as what’s perfect for some types of geckos can actually be very harmful to other geckos.

No matter what gecko you have, you should never use sand or similar substrates that can be inhaled but not digested. Small geckos are the ones that are most affected by sand substrates along with any hatchling.

Orchid bark

One of the most popular choices among lizard keepers is orchid bark. It works great for a wide range of reptiles and it’s pretty easy to clean. Those are natural bark chips that are well-made and don’t have any sharp edges that could cut a lizard’s tiny feet.

Orchid bark
Source: Pinterest

You can obtain orchid bark substrate in various grades, including fine and coarse. It’s a very versatile choice that can be used both dry and wet. If your gecko needs above average humidity levels, this substrate is capable of maintaining the humidity for longer, especially when used wet.

Cypress Mulch

This substrate is better for larger geckos, snakes, and other similar pets. It’s an organic material that is widely used in gardening and landscaping. Its job is to retain moisture and offer a nice look of the cage. If you’re not getting it ready-to-use, you should bake it in the oven for half an hour before placing it in the enclosure.

Cypress Mulch
Photo credit: cdsessums on Visualhunt / CC BY

You will be able to quickly spot-clean it every day and you won’t have to replace it for over a month. When it’s time to change it, you will have to remove everything and clean the cage thoroughly with a reptile-free disinfectant.

Coconut Bark Chips

This is another natural material that is typically compressed into bricks and can immediately swell up when you add water. Its biggest advantage is obviously its great water-retaining capabilities, which will help maintain humidity in the vivarium.

While they can be OK for Giant Day Geckos, this substrate is better for geckos that need high humidity levels, like the Tokay gecko.

Newspaper substrate

If you’re on a budget or you have an emergency, you can use newspaper as a substrate for a while. It needs to be changed every few days and it looks pretty bad, but it’s a good replacement when you’re out of the usual substrate

You need to make sure it’s printed with lizard-safe ink and that it doesn’t come off when you rub your finger on it or it gets wet.

Bioactive substrate for reptile tanks – Why and How?

Bio-active substrates are the most natural choice available and it can make the Giant Day Gecko feel like home and it also encourages its natural behavior. More than that, it looks a thousand times better than using fake substrates and fake plants.

Bio-active substrates only need to be deep-cleaned every four months or so. You’ll still have to do the same daily spot-cleaning, but the natural substrate will take care of everything else.

You can find packages that will help you make your first bio-active tank in various exotic pet shops. Or you can easily get everything done by yourself. It’s not too much work and it also allows you to put the real plants directly in the soil.

What are its advantages?

There are various advantages to using a bio-active substrate over others. The biggest one is that it helps you recreate the natural tropical forest habitat the Giant Day Geckos come from. And if the tank is large enough to give them enough space to roam around, you will never get bored of observing them every day.

Giant Day Geckos are incredibly fast and tend to be quite active during the day, compared to other geckos that tend to sleep most of the time. A bio-active environment will seem much more interesting to your geckos.

It’s also ideal to change the place of the plants, hiding spots, and climbing objects each time you redo the habitat. This will help stimulate the brain of these smart creatures.

How to make bioactive substrate

You need to make the substrate with various layers of different types of natural materials. The first one should be a drainage layer that will help maintain all the extra water.

Then you need to place a substrate that can act as a filtering shield between the first and last layer. Two of the best options are dividing meshes and fleeces.

The layer on top needs to be soil that is rich in nutrients. This is when you start planting some natural lizard-safe plants, such as devils ivy, Ficus benjami, Philodendron scandens, etc.

Then you should add various different cleaning insects to make the substrate active. The best option is springtails. Their job is to help everything break down and create a healthy environment for your Giant Day Geckos.