Leopard Gecko Cage Setup & Care
Leopard Geckos are known as the “beginner’s gecko”. This is because of its docile nature and how adorable it can be. These creatures also make excellent pets for children and young teenagers that want a more exotic best friend.
These geckos are scientifically known as Eublepharis macularius and they are common in desert regions of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, and India. They can grow up to 6.5-8 inches long and live up to 15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.
They are native to desert regions and dry grasslands, which means you’ll need to mimic the same environment in their cage to make them comfortable. Despite the fact that they live in desert areas, they avoid places where the primary substrate is sand.
Leopard Geckos live in arid and semi-arid areas with sparse vegetation and sandy soils or clay. But they also love rocky habitats as they can use crevices as shelter. They remain hidden during the day and only come looking for prey at night.
When you set up a cage for your new Leopard Gecko you will need to be very careful about the temperature and humidity. They prefer hotter environments and a lower level of humidity. Not extremely dry but above 25% and below 40% is perfect.
These creatures are easy to maintain and can become great pets for even the most clueless reptile owner. Their cage is a pleasure to set up and easy to clean and the gecko makes lots of interesting movements that are great to admire.
Leopard Gecko Cage Setup
The best enclosures for Leopard Geckos are long and shallow. You can house up to 4 leopard geckos together so the size of the tank depends on how many geckos you have or plan on getting. It’s very important to prepare a cage that fits the needs of your little companion.
Sometimes, reptile owners would start with a small enclosure for baby reptiles, then move them to a bigger place once they’re fully grown. But this is not necessary with the Leopard Gecko. You can start with a bigger tank and avoid all the mess that comes with having to move them from one enclosure to another.
It’s very important to find a cage that is properly ventilated but doesn’t give the gecko a chance to escape. A loose lizard can be dangerous for smaller kids and the lizard itself. When it’s frightened it can lose its tail which moves violently for minutes. This will cause a very unpleasant experience for the gecko.
Since these lizards are so popular as pets, you can find everything you need in any pet shop near you. If not, you can always improvise until you can get something much better and more appropriate for a lizard enclosure.
What size tank does a Leopard gecko need?
You’ll need to do your best to recreate the gecko’s natural habitat in your home. This includes investing in a spacious tank that can fit everything it needs. If you can’t fit an appropriate-sized cage for your Leopard Gecko in your home, maybe you should consider another pet. These creatures need a little bit of space as well.
Generally, you need to start with a 10-gallon tank in which you can recreate the lizard’s original habitat. If you have space, you can invest in a tank that’s 10 gallons bigger for each lizard. But if you’re tight on space, 5 gallons per gecko is acceptable as well. But always start with a 10-gallon tank.
You will be able to house up to 3 maybe 4 Lizard Geckos together. But it’s crucial to keep in mind that no two males should be kept together. They will start fighting over anything, including territory, and some of these fights can end only when one of the geckos is dead.
An appropriate habitat for these lizards needs to include at least one hiding spot for each of the lizards. This helps them sleep comfier and feel a lot safer. It’s recommended that you provide two hidings for each Leopard Geckos, one near the heat source and one on the cooler side of the cage.
Substrate in the cage
When it comes to the substrate you can start making the vivarium with it’s pretty simple. You can use a very wide range of products. This includes a simple reptile carpet, newspapers, paper towels, slate tiles, and even wood chips.
Reptile carpets are extremely comfortable and can only be matched by eco vivariums. It also lets the temperature from the heating pad to get to the whole tank, unlike denser substrates similar to tile. But sadly, it has its drawback as well and it’s only recommended if you have the time to maintain it.
A reptile carpet is much harder to clean. Leopard Geckos are messy creatures, will leave food parts around (insect parts), and the shedding experience is a very messy situation as well. It’s a very nice choice but not great if you don’t have the time to maintain it.
On the other hand, newspapers and paper towels are a lot easier to clean. All you need to do is throw away the dirty ones and replace them with a clean batch. These options are also extremely comfortable and affordable.
You’ll need to pay attention to the heating pad as the newspapers and paper towels are a lot more combustible and can even start a fire when they’re too hot. It’s much easier to clean, especially when it comes to shed skin but be careful about it.
If you really don’t have enough time to properly clean the gecko’s habitat, you can opt for slate tiles. They’re a bit pricier but they clean the easiest. Sadly, slate tiles are not comfy for your lizard and it doesn’t transfer heat as well.
When it comes to the substrate you need to avoid, always keep in mind that sand can harm your Leopard Gecko. This is because they’re pretty small and can accidentally ingest sand particles, especially younger lizards. This can lead to internal blockages and other health problems.
Leopard Geckos also have more sensitive feet than other geckos. They also lack the ability to climb on vertical surfaces. Wood chips are very affordable but they can cut the little feet of your gecko.
Heating Requirements For Enclosure
Heat is very important for Leopard Geckos and maintaining the proper temperature range is a must for a healthy and happy gecko. These lizards are very easy to maintain but you still need to pay attention to their heating requirements.
Leopard Geckos can’t stand cold weather and their body will slowly start to shut down. They will stop eating and in a short time, they will enter a state of brumation. This is hibernation for reptiles except they’re not as dormant as bears. They’re in a state of semi-dormancy.
Leopard Geckos can also go into brumation in captivity if you provide all the necessary conditions. This is only possible for lizards older than 1 year and it can last between 6 to 8 weeks. After a few days of warm weather, their bodies will “wake up” and the gecko will start being active again.
To avoid brumation, avoid letting the temperature in the enclosure go below 50-40 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature for a Leopard Gecko during the day is between 75 and 85 degrees F. On the other hand, the temperature during the night can be about 10F lower.
It’s highly recommended to invest in two separate thermometers that you can place at each end of the terrarium. This will help you monitor the temperature with accuracy. And if you keep geckos in a cooler climate, you should use an under-tank heater as well.
Humidity Requirements in a Vivarium
Humidity is another very important requirement for a happy and healthy Leopard Gecko. This ensures they won’t suffer from dehydration and will maintain a proper shedding cycle. There are various automatic vivarium humidity devices that can help you maintain a perfect humidity level.
If the humidity is extremely low, your Leo will have a lot of problems when it comes to shedding. And if it’s too high, your gecko can become very susceptible to infections. A gecko in a very uncomfortable habitat will be miserable and will stop being anywhere near as friendly.
You should always maintain a humidity level of at least 30% and maximum 40%. There are hygrometers specifically designed for reptile tanks that can help you keep track of the humidity level. This will ensure that your Leo will always have the best conditions to remain healthy and happy.
Besides a low-to-moderate humidity level, these geckos need humidified shelters. This means you’ll have to line a shelter with a moist substrate, such as peat moss, sphagnum moss, damp soil, etc. It needs to continuously remain a little wet to help facilitate shedding
Leopard Geckos need you to recreate the natural light cycles from their habitat when you’re setting up their enclosure. You can use either black heat lamps or red lamps to indicate day and night. It’s important to follow the lighting schedule religiously so the gecko won’t get confused.
During summer, you’ll have to ensure the gecko gets 14 hours of day time and 10 hours of nighttime. And during winter, the days need to be shorter so you can start with 12 hours of night and 12 hours of day. All this can be set by an automatic timer that changes gradually from summer to winter and then again to summer.
These creatures are nocturnes. Which means they don’t need a lot of UV light. And if they need Vitamin D, you can start offering supplements during feeding. Leos can also become stressed when bright white light is used.
You should use an extremely low-level source of UVB that can be safe even in the more shallow tanks. Leos can suffer from sunburn. This means they need a UVB gradient with their tank, which will give them the option of basking into the light whenever they want.
You can find vivariums ready for sale with various decorations. This includes hiding spaces, hollow tree trunk ornaments, fake plants, water dish, food dish, etc. But if you want something more affordable, you can get a simple tank and get a few cheaper decorations.
It’s important to mimic the natural habitat of your Leo as much as possible. This also includes having a good water bowl. It has to be very low but very large as well. This will allow your Leo to get in and soak as well. Some geckos love water while others get offended even by the misting system.
How often do you need to clean a Leopard Gecko’s cage?
There are three types of cleaning you’ll need to do to maintain a healthy and happy Leopard Gecko enclosure. You’ll need to perform different daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance tasks. It’s not as time-consuming as it sounds and it’s actually an easy job.
You’ll need to change the water every single day to ensure your Leo has clean and fresh water all the time. Then you have to clean up the feces and any insect remains you can find. Otherwise, the leftover insects can go bad and cause bad digestion to your Leo. You will also have to maintain the sphagnum moss moistly.
Once a week you will have to take out their hiding places and sanitize them properly. This is where they spend most of their time so it’s important to be clean. You can place another hidden ornament until you’re done if your Leo is still shy.
And once a month you will have to perform an over-all thorough cleaning job of the entire cage. This means relocating your Leopard Gecko to another place then get to disinfecting. Get everything out of the tank and wash and bleach everything thoroughly. Then you need to rinse everything until you’re sure there’s no harmful residue that can affect the Leo.
Leopard Geckos are not known as a beginner’s reptile for nothing. They’re easy to tame and they are even easier to maintain. You can even create bio vivariums for them as long as you’re careful about the real plants you’re using.
Up to 4 Leos can be housed together, as long as there is only one male, and setting up the enclosure is very easy. This also makes them great pets for people that don’t have a lot of time on their hands. You also don’t have to empty your wallet just to have a nice tank. They’re pretty affordable to take care of.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Do Leopard Geckos need UVB?
Leopard Geckos can get sunburns and bright white lights can stress them out. You should only use extremely low UVB lighting sources.
Do Leopard Geckos need heat?
Leopard Geckos are highly dependant on heat to function properly. Low temperatures can send them into brumation.
What is the price for a Leopard Gecko cage?
The price of a Leopard Gecko cage depends on whether you opt for one with full decorations or a simple model. Simple models can cost between $30 to $50, and the price of tanks with everything you need can range between $70 to $200.
What is a vivarium?
A vivarium is a Latin word that means “place of life”. It’s used to describe an enclosed area where small creatures and plants are kept for observation.
What is the Leopard Gecko’s natural habitat like?
Leopard Geckos live in arid and semi-arid places that have sparse vegetation and clay soils. They also prefer rocky habitats as they can use crevices as shelter. Despite being desert lizards, they don’t like sand and avoid areas where the primary substrate is sand.