Is It OK To Keep Leopard Geckos In Plastic Tubs?

Leopard Gecko plastic tub

Yes, it is acceptable to keep leopard geckos in plastic tubs. This method of housing is often chosen for its cost-effectiveness, space-saving benefits, and ease of cleaning. However, like any housing choice, it comes with both advantages and potential downsides that keepers should be aware of.

Key Takeaways:

Plastic Tubs as Housing: They offer cost-effectiveness and are easy to clean. However, ensure they have proper ventilation by making air holes using a soldering iron in a well-ventilated area.

Tub Size Matters: Choose 6-quart tubs (approx. 5.7 liters) for baby geckos, 15-quart (approx. 14.2 liters) for adults, and 28-quart (approx. 26.5 liters) for breeding or multiple females. Ensure a minimum floor space of 0.12 square meters per adult gecko.

Essential Components: Equip the tub with a heat source, ensuring a temperature gradient with a warm side and a cool side. Provide hides, including a warm hide mimicking a burrow-like environment and a humid hide for hydration and shedding.

Aesthetics and Visibility: While plastic tubs are functional, they may lack the visual appeal of traditional enclosures. Opt for clear or translucent tubs when possible to monitor your gecko’s behavior and health.

Should You Keep Leopard Geckos In Plastic Tubs?

Leopard Gecko plastic tub

Choosing the right housing for leopard geckos is vital for their well-being. Plastic tubs offer a set of advantages that make them a popular choice among gecko keepers. One of the primary reasons is their cost-effectiveness. Unlike specialized reptile enclosures, plastic tubs are readily available and generally more affordable. This makes it easier for beginners or those on a budget to get started with gecko keeping.

Another notable advantage is their space-saving nature. For those with limited space or multiple geckos, plastic tubs can be a game-changer. They can be stacked, making it feasible to house several geckos in a compact area, without compromising their comfort. The ease of cleaning is another point in favor of plastic tubs. Their smooth surfaces can be wiped down quickly, ensuring a clean environment for the geckos.

However, there are potential downsides to consider. From an aesthetic standpoint, plastic tubs might not be everyone’s first choice. They lack the visual appeal that more traditional enclosures offer. This might not be an issue for everyone, but for those who wish to display their geckos prominently, it’s something to consider.

Additionally, plastic tubs require modifications. Proper ventilation is crucial for leopard geckos, so keepers will need to make air holes in the tubs. This extra step can be daunting for some, especially those new to reptile care.

Advantages of Using Plastic Tubs As Housing

When considering housing options for leopard geckos, plastic tubs emerge as a top choice for many enthusiasts. Their practicality and adaptability offer a range of benefits that can make gecko care more straightforward and efficient.

Cheap Alternative To Dedicated Enclosures

For many reptile enthusiasts, the cost of setting up a habitat can be daunting. Enter plastic tubs: a cheap alternative to more expensive, dedicated enclosures. These tubs stand out due to their cost-effectiveness. When compared to traditional reptile habitats, plastic tubs are significantly more affordable, making them an attractive option for both beginners and seasoned keepers on a budget.

But it’s not just about the price. The affordability doesn’t come at the expense of the gecko’s comfort. With the right modifications and setup, a plastic tub can provide a suitable habitat that meets all the needs of a leopard gecko. The keeper gets to save money without compromising on the quality of care, proving that effective gecko housing doesn’t always have to come with a hefty price tag.

Saves Space

Space efficiency is another compelling reason to opt for plastic tubs when housing leopard geckos. Unlike some traditional enclosures that can be bulky and take up a considerable amount of room, plastic tubs are designed to maximize vertical space. This design means they can be arranged to fit snugly in compact areas, making the most of the available room.

Moreover, one of the standout features of plastic tubs is their stackability. They can be stacked on top of each other, allowing keepers to house multiple geckos vertically in a confined space. This is especially beneficial for those who have several geckos but are working with limited room.

Easy to Care For and Clean

Leopard gecko care in plastic tubs is relatively straightforward, adding to their appeal as a housing option. One of the primary benefits of these tubs is their ease of maintenance. Their smooth surfaces make the cleaning process hassle-free. A simple wipe down with a reptile-safe cleaning solution, and the tub is ready for use again. Regular cleaning ensures a hygienic environment for the gecko, free from harmful bacteria.

Maintaining the right temperature and humidity levels is crucial for the well-being of the gecko. Using heat mats or ceramic heat emitters can help achieve the desired temperature. A hygrometer can monitor humidity, ensuring it remains within the recommended range.

Fresh water should always be available, placed in a shallow dish. Similarly, food should be offered regularly, ensuring the gecko receives the necessary nutrients.

A crucial aspect of leopard gecko care is waste removal. Promptly removing feces and uneaten food is essential. This not only prevents unpleasant odors but also reduces the risk of bacterial growth, ensuring a clean habitat for the gecko.

Keeps Heat Properly

One of the fundamental requirements in leopard gecko care is ensuring proper heating. Plastic tubs excel in this department, as they can retain and distribute heat efficiently. The material’s insulative properties help maintain a consistent temperature, vital for the gecko’s health and well-being.

Basking is an essential activity for leopard geckos. It allows them to regulate their body temperature. To facilitate this, it’s crucial to maintain specific basking temperatures within the enclosure. Introducing a flat piece of rock, such as flagstone or paver stone, can create an ideal basking surface. The rock absorbs heat and provides a warm platform for the gecko to rest on.

When it comes to heat sources, several options are suitable for plastic tubs. Under-tank heating mats, ceramic heat emitters, or infrared heat lamps can all provide the necessary warmth. However, it’s essential to monitor the temperature and adjust as needed.

At night, the natural behavior of leopard geckos is to experience cooler temperatures. Therefore, it’s recommended to turn off heat sources at night to mimic their natural habitat and maintain their circadian rhythm.


Plastic tubs, as a housing option for leopard geckos, come with the added advantage of being lightweight. Unlike some other enclosures made of heavier materials, plastic tubs are easy to lift, move, and handle. This lightweight nature is especially beneficial for reptile keepers, whether they’re novices or seasoned enthusiasts.

The ease of movement offers a level of convenience that’s hard to match. For keepers who may need to rearrange their setup, clean multiple enclosures, or even transport their geckos to another location, plastic tubs make the process simpler and less cumbersome.

Moreover, the need for transport can arise for various reasons – be it a vet visit, a move to a new home, or attending a reptile show. In such scenarios, the lightweight nature of plastic tubs shines through. It reduces the stress on both the keeper and the gecko, ensuring that the reptile remains secure and comfortable throughout the journey.

Easy to Secure

Ensuring the safety of leopard geckos is paramount, and secure plastic tubs play a vital role in this. While plastic tubs offer many benefits, it’s essential to ensure they are safely secured to prevent any potential escapes. Leopard geckos are curious creatures, and an unsecured enclosure can lead to them finding their way out.

The importance of securely closing the lids cannot be stressed enough. Not only does it prevent escape, but it also ensures the safety of the gecko by protecting it from potential hazards or other household pets. A secure environment also reduces stress for the gecko, contributing to its overall well-being.

Several methods can be employed to secure the tubs effectively. Latch systems are one popular option, offering a tight seal that’s hard for the gecko to breach. For those who prefer a simpler approach, lid clips can be used to clamp down the lid firmly. Another versatile option is using bungee cords, which can be adjusted to fit various tub sizes and provide a snug fit.

Potential Downsides

While plastic tubs offer numerous advantages as housing for leopard geckos, they aren’t without their drawbacks. It’s essential for reptile keepers to be aware of these potential downsides to make an informed decision.

They Don’t Look That Great

A notable downside of using plastic tubs as housing for leopard geckos is their aesthetics. While they offer practical benefits, they might not win any beauty contests. Compared to traditional enclosures made of glass or wood, which often come with intricate designs, lighting setups, and backgrounds, plastic tubs can seem plain and utilitarian.

For some keepers, the visual appeal of an enclosure is essential, especially if it’s placed in a common area of the home. A well-designed, visually appealing habitat can be a conversation starter and showcase the beauty of the gecko inside. On the other hand, plastic tubs might not offer the same level of display quality.

Moreover, the appearance of the tubs might not be motivating for some keepers to engage in enriching the habitat with decorations or naturalistic setups. This could lead to a more sterile environment for the gecko, which isn’t ideal for its mental stimulation.

Some Are Opaque or Colored

Another concern with plastic tubs is that many are either opaque or come in various colors. While these designs might be suitable for storage purposes, they present challenges when used as reptile enclosures. The lack of transparency means that keepers might have a harder time observing their leopard geckos.

Monitoring the behavior and health of a leopard gecko is crucial. Regular observation allows keepers to detect any unusual behaviors, signs of stress, or potential health issues early on. With opaque or colored tubs, this becomes a challenge. It’s harder to spot a gecko that’s hiding, or to notice if it’s not eating or if there are any signs of illness.

In addition, the gecko itself might also find the lack of transparency unsettling. Being able to see outside can provide enrichment and reduce feelings of confinement. An opaque or colored tub might limit this visual stimulation.

What Tub Size Would Be Needed?

Choosing the right tub size is paramount when housing leopard geckos in plastic tubs. The size requirement varies based on the life stage of the gecko and specific needs.

For babies, a smaller tub, roughly 6 quarts (approximately 5.7 liters), is suitable.

As they grow and become adults, they’ll need more space, making a 15-quart (approximately 14.2 liters) tub appropriate.

Those looking to breed geckos or house multiple females together should opt for an even larger size, around 28 quarts (approximately 26.5 liters).

Floor space is crucial for the gecko’s mobility and overall well-being. According to the RSPCA, the minimum floor space required per adult gecko is 0.12 square meters. It’s essential to ensure that the tub meets or exceeds this requirement.

Beyond just the basics, it’s also vital to think about the gecko’s overall quality of life. A more spacious enclosure not only provides room for exercise but also allows for a proper temperature gradient. This gradient is essential for the gecko’s thermoregulation, enabling it to move between warmer and cooler areas as needed.

You Need To Make Air Holes

Ventilation is crucial when using plastic tubs as housing for leopard geckos. Without proper airflow, the environment can become stagnant and unhealthy. Thankfully, creating air holes in the tubs is a straightforward process with the right tools, and a soldering iron is perfect for the job.

Before you begin, it’s essential to have a functioning soldering iron on hand. Ensure you’re working in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes from the melted plastic. With the tub in front of you, mark the desired locations for the air holes using a marker. These marks serve as a guide, ensuring the holes are evenly spaced and placed where you want them.

Once marked, turn on the soldering iron and allow it to heat up. Carefully touch the tip of the iron to the marked points on the tub. The heat will melt holes through the plastic. It’s crucial to be cautious during this process. The iron is hot, and melted plastic can be sticky and challenging to handle. Avoid touching the hot parts of the iron and the freshly melted plastic to prevent burns.

After creating the necessary air holes, allow the plastic to cool before setting up the gecko’s habitat. With proper ventilation in place, you’ll ensure a healthier environment for your leopard gecko.

Set It Up With Everything Required

Setting up a leopard gecko enclosure goes beyond just selecting the right tub size. It’s crucial to equip it with all the necessary components to make it a suitable habitat. At the forefront is the heat source, vital for the gecko’s thermoregulation and overall health. Leopard geckos, being ectothermic, rely on external sources to regulate their body temperature.

Hides are another essential component of the setup. These provide the gecko with a sense of security and a place to retreat when it needs some privacy or rest. A warm hide is particularly crucial. This hide should be placed on the warmer side of the enclosure and mimics the burrow-like environment that geckos naturally seek out in the wild. It offers a cozy spot for the gecko to relax and soak in the warmth.

Additionally, a humid hide is also indispensable. This hide maintains higher humidity levels and assists the gecko during its shedding process. It provides a moist environment that makes shedding easier and ensures the gecko stays hydrated. In essence, every component in the gecko’s enclosure plays a specific role.