Leopard Gecko Enclosure: How to Set Up The Ideal Tank?

A natural and comfortable tank is essential for your pet geckos’ well-being and health. This guide contains everything you need to set up the perfect leopard gecko habitat.

leopard gecko on wood

Leopard geckos are quite undemanding when it comes to terrarium setups. They don’t need climbing structures, bathing dishes, plants, or huge tanks to feel at home. The ease of designing leopard gecko enclosures has likely contributed to their popularity. 

However, leos still need sufficient space, correct substrates, a proper heat source and lighting, functional hides and decoration, and sufficient airflow.

Let’s explore the best setup options. We’re aiming for reptile high life!

Quick List of Essential Leopard Gecko Habitat Requirements

  • Tank (minimum 20 gallons, 40 gallons preferable)
  • Leopard gecko-friendly substrate
  • Heating equipment (e.g., Deep Heat Projector, heat mat)
  • Thermostat with a thermometer)
  • Lighting (daylight, UVB also highly recommended)
  • Hides (3, 4 preferable)
  • Decoration that forms functional moving, basking, and hiding spaces
  • Water tray
  • Feeding tray

The Leopard Gecko Enclosure

A solid tank will be a basis for your leopard gecko vivarium setup.

Tank Size

The first thing to consider is the tank size.

Here is the list of the most commonly used tank sizes for housing one leopard gecko.

  • 10 gallons (~38 liters)
  • 15 gallons (~57 liters)
  • 20 gallons (~76 liters)

As you can see, a 10-gallon tank is the minimum size; however, there is no upper limit, and it’s great if you can give your leo an enclosure larger than 20 gallons.

Another important consideration is the tank shape. Leos are ground geckos and prefer long, relatively shallow tanks, giving them much floor space. Avoid tall and narrow tanks such as those commonly used for chameleons or other tree-dwelling species.

🏡 Our Tank Recommendation
We love to give our leopard geckos plenty of room to roam and explore! That’s why we always house them in spacious enclosures that keep them happy, healthy, and feeling right at home.

👉 The Neptonion 48-gallon glass tank is a good starting point (see on Amazon)

Tank Material

A tank you will use for setting up your leo habitat can be made of different materials. I will cover the three most common types: glass, plastic, and wooden tanks.

Glass Tanks for Leopard Geckos

Glass tanks are a classic option – and my personal preference. Glass has the highest visibility of all materials, it is chemically stable (doesn’t leach chemicals), and it is easy to clean and disinfect. If thick enough and handled correctly, it is surprisingly durable – a well-kept glass terrarium can look like new for decades.

The downside of glass is that it is heavy and can break. However, because leo tanks are generally not too big, the risk is undoubtedly smaller than for bigger glass terrariums or aquariums.

Another issue with glass tanks is that they can be pricey. Buying second-hand tanks can save you some money.

Plastic Tanks for Leopard Geckos

Plastic tanks made out of PVC or ABS plastic have become popular in the hobby because of their durability and adaptability. They are lighter and less prone to breaking than glass tanks, and their sides can be drilled to fit cables and equipment.

Plastic tanks are made from separate plastic sheets or come as professional, one-piece molded terrariums. They are usually expensive, but because leos don’t require massive tanks, you can likely find one for a reasonable price.

The downside of plastic tanks is that the cheaper ones are usually transparent only on the front side, while other sides are opaque. Also, plastic tanks are more prone to scratching, so you have to be more careful when doing maintenance.

Wooden Terrariums for Leopard Geckos

By construction, wooden tanks are similar to more affordable plastic ones. A plywood enclosure will have all sides made out of wood except for the front, which is usually made out of glass. Wooden enclosures are one of the cheapest options and the easiest type to make yourself.

Some reptile enthusiasts wisely turn wooden shelves into terrariums. Because of their size, leopard geckos are especially suitable for bookshelf enclosures, and a bookshelf setup such as this one can save you a lot of time, money, and effort when you are housing many geckos.

The issue with wooden tanks is that wood is porous – it absorbs water, making it prone to rotting and mold and difficult to disinfect. The way to combat this issue is to apply a non-toxic, waterproof coating, such as a pond shield, over the entire wooden surface. It will make it smooth and waterproof and also give it a nice, glossy finish.

leopard gecko habitat

Tank Ventilation

Providing adequate ventilation is a must for a terrarium containing leopard geckos, or any other lizards for that matter.

Ventilation in a tank can be passive, active, or a combination of the two. Passive ventilation is the most common – it is simply a mesh that covers the entire lid, a part of the lid, or another upper part of the tank. Active ventilation is achieved through electronic ventilators like those used inside your computer.

Tank Access

There are two main approaches to designing tank access (opening). One is a tank that opens from above, like an aquarium – this approach is more common for small terrariums. The second is tanks that open frontally, in which case the front glass of the terrarium acts as sliding doors.

The tank that opens from the front is a better option for several reasons. It is easier to access and clean, and lizards will be less fearful when you approach them from the front.

🤔 Did You Know?
Access from the top can trigger defensive reactions since in natural habitat dangerous predators usually lurk from above.

On the downside, lizards are quicker to escape from enclosures with the front opening. Also, there is a greater chance of accidentally leaving the terrarium open.

You shouldn’t open the tank as a means of ventilating it on a regular basis. The escape risk is simply too great, no matter how docile your leopard gecko looks.

leopard gecko water

Humidity & Water

Leopard geckos originate from the arid grasslands of Central Asia, so similar conditions should be replicated in captivity. Unlike with tropical geckos, there is no need to mist the entire terrarium.

However, a humid spot in the terrarium is a must. In their natural habitat, geckos will burrow and seek moister and a cooler environment when they need it, and having a humid hide is a way to replicate that.

Humid Hide or Cave

A humid hide has several crucial roles in a leopard gecko tank.

  • It is a place to rest and gather moisture when needed.
  • It is necessary for complete and healthy skin shedding.
  • It is a place for gravid females to instinctively hide and even lay eggs.

You provide a humid hide for your gecko by picking an appropriate and quite enclosed reptile cave or another shelter, putting water-retention substrate like coconut coir, peat moss, or eco-earth inside, and misting it regularly.

Water Source 

Geckos also need a shallow water tray in their tanks, preferably made from inert, natural materials (rock, porcelain, thick glass), but safe plastic materials such as epoxy resin are fine, too. The water should be easily accessible for them to lick it (leopard geckos drink water a lot like cats). You should change the water at least every other day.


Leopard geckos are ectothermic animals, meaning their body temperature depends on their surroundings. Therefore, you need to provide a fairly constant temperature in their tank and a temperature gradient. 

You create a temperature gradient by concentrating heating and basking equipment on one (“hot”) side of the tank, thereby forming a warmer and cooler area within the terrarium. Leos will bask in their hotspot whenever they require additional heat and then cool down in the opposite part once they get too hot.

🤔 Did You Know?
The optimum temperature for geckos is 75 to 85°F (~24 to 29°C) during the day, with the basking area going as high as 90°F (~32°C). If possible, the nighttime temperature should be in the 70s (~20-21°C).

There are several ways to provide heat for your leos:

  • Warmth-emitting daylight/basking lights
  • Deep Heat Projectors (DHPs)
  • Ceramic Heat Emitters (CHEs)
  • Undertank heating pads

Heating pads are simple heaters that are put under the tank, providing heat from below. They are inexpensive and don’t waste a lot of power. The fact that they are placed under one part of the tank means that this will allow you to create a much-needed temperature gradient.

Never use heat rocks or any direct heating, as these could burn your gecko’s velvety, sensitive skin.

A thermometer to check the temperature, both in the cooler part of the tank and in the hotspot, is required to be sure that the temperature in the tank is within a good range.

How much you’ll have to invest in heating depends on your room temperatures throughout the year. If your space is already warm enough, e.g., around 75°F (24°C) during the day, installing a quality basking light should be enough to provide optimum temperatures. However, if you live in a colder part of the world or have a reptile room in a basement or garage, you will need additional heaters.

🦎 Dive into our ultimate guide on temperature and humidity for leopard geckos.

leopard gecko substrate
Picture by Jessi Swick


Although historically leopard gecko keepers haven’t provided cage lighting for their pets due to their crepuscular nature, proper lighting is proven to increase the quality of life for leos.

The most up-to-date recommendation is to include both daylight and UVB lights. Here’s why.

Properly managed daylight helps establish a natural circadian rhythm and adjust it depending on the season. It can provide additional heat (if you opt for a 2-in-1 solution) and is necessary for daytime viewing and plant growth. 

Halogens and tungstens are suitable options for daylights that emit heat, while warmer compact fluorescent and LED bulbs are suitable choices for providing light only.

UVB or full-spectrum UV bulbs will provide your leos with a natural source of Vitamin D3. It is synthesized inside the lizard’s body, just like under natural sunlight. UV light is one of the best ways to prevent metabolic bone disease (MBD) in leopard geckos.

As leos don’t bask in full sun, choose UV bulbs intended for shade-dwellers (that provide 5-7% of UV).

Night lights such as red, blue, and black bulbs are no longer recommended for lighting terrariums at night. They are all more visible to reptiles than we thought and could negatively impact their circadian rhythm. 

Still, if you want to view your leos being active at night, occasionally turning on the red or “black” bulb for a short while won’t do harm.

🦎 For more tips and information, have a look at our leopard gecko lighting article.


The choice of substrate is a very important question for your pet leopard gecko’s overall well-being. Why is that?

As ground-dwelling lizards, leos spend a lot of time interacting with the substrate in their tank – they will move on it, dig through it, and even lay their eggs in it.

Despite bad advice from some pet shops, choosing a substrate is not as simple as just putting sand in your tank because “geckos come from deserts” – actually, leos do not come from sandy deserts, and pure sand is the worst substrate you could use for your leopard gecko! This especially goes for calcium sand, which is made of pure calcium carbonate and can cause various digestive issues, including deadly impaction.

By accidentally or purposefully ingesting sand, gravel, walnut shells, or other loose indigestible substrates, your leo could face a risk of impaction – a dreaded condition in which gecko’s delicate intestines are blocked by hard matter. 

That is why it is very important to choose your substrate carefully!

Luckily, a new generation of well-balanced, natural, low-risk loose substrates has arrived. Thanks to these bioactive-ready substrates, you can now enjoy naturalistic terrariums that are both safe and highly comfy for your leos. Here is a short list of good and bad leopard gecko substrates:

  • Good and natural substrates: bioactive-ready substrates for desert dwellers (e.g., BioDude Terra Sahara, Arcadia EarthMix-Arid), DIY 70% topsoil, 30% play sand mix, excavator clay.
  • Good but not-so-natural substrates: paper towels, newspaper, ceramic tiles.
  • Bad substrates: Sand, calcium sand, quartz, walnut shells, wood chippings, bark, and other “forest” substrates.
  • Debated substrate: Coconut fiber/eco earth, reptile carpets.
🍂 Our Substrate Recommendation
My absolute preference is the combination of bioactive-ready loose substrate base and segments of natural solid substrates (slate, tufa, or another suitable rock). Such a setup will give your leopard gecko a naturalistic terrarium ground it will love and enjoy. 👉 The Zoo Med excavator clay is a sure bet (see on Amazon)

🦎 For more details on each type of substrate and substrate importance in general, check out our article on the best substrates for leopard geckos.

leopard gecko hide
Picture by Stuart Mckiggan

Hide & Decoration

When we say decoration, people usually think about something that has a purely aesthetic value. But in the case of the vivarium, “decoration” is usually the part of the habitat animals will interact with the most.

By the breeder’s recommendation, I bought a terrarium with a stone wall made out of tufa limestone rock. While that wasn’t a perfect option since tufa is quite rough, it turned out as a great way to gain additional space in the terrarium since climbable 3D backgrounds efficiently increase the surface volume your lizards can move on. Though initially more expensive, it has tremendously improved my geckos’ movement ability and level of activity. My pets never suffered an accident because of the roughness of tufa rocks. But nowadays, there are plenty of options for creating smoother and safer backgrounds.

Rocks And Bogs

Rocks and bogs (decorative wood pieces) are essential decoration elements. Using rocks and wood, you can structure your leopard gecko habitat and provide shelter and climbing surfaces. The only important thing is to follow certain safety guidelines.

All structures that you create out of rocks must be firmly attached to other rocks and/or walls of the terrarium. A simple way is to use aquarium silicone glue or another tried-and-tested, non-toxic option.

Also, you should always opt for rocks that lack sharp edges but are not entirely smooth either to provide a decent grip for those cute gecko feet. Slate is an ideal example of that balance. My own experience with quite rough tufa rocks has been excellent, but I would be reluctant to recommend them to anyone because most edges are sharper than slate. Still, it is a soft rock that can be smoothed out. The bottom line is – when deciding what type of rocks to put in your terrarium, use your best judgment.


Leopard geckos will often rest and cool down in their hideaway. A hideaway, or a hide-box, is a semi-closed structure. It could be a commercial reptile cave or a series of rock and wood structures that a gecko can use for hiding.

3D backgrounds

At the breeder’s recommendation, I bought terrariums with 3D back walls constructed out of tufa limestone rock and concrete. It turned out to be a great way to gain additional space in the terrarium since climbable 3D backgrounds efficiently increase the surface volume your lizards can move on. Though initially more expensive, it has tremendously improved my geckos’ movement ability and level of activity. My pets never suffered an accident because of the roughness of tufa rocks. But nowadays, there are plenty of options for creating smoother and safer 3D backgrounds.

🪨 One or two hides?
I recommend having at least two dry hideouts: one in the hot spot and one in the cooler part of the terrarium. This will help your gecko regulate its body temperature during the day and in any situation. For example, a gecko that has eaten well will usually pick a warm hideaway to digest his food.

As for moist hides, ideally, there should be one on each side of the tank, but if you can’t provide that, opt to put one moist hide in the middle of the tank/temperature gradient.

leopard gecko enclosure

Do Leopard Geckos Need Plants In Their Tank?

Leos do not require any plants in their tanks, living or fake. Still, some of you can’t imagine a natural terrarium setup without any greenery, so let’s explore plant options for a leopard gecko habitat.

Real Plants

Unlike tropical vivaria, most of the real plants can’t thrive in a leopard gecko habitat due to insufficient moisture. Among rare exceptions are the so-called air plants. These alien-looking rootless plants are very low-maintenance and can be attached to walls or rocks. They should be misted once or twice a week and have at least some light.

Some people recommend succulents with no spikes, though it will be difficult in a gently-lit terrarium. Succulents are also sensitive to stale air. They are affordable and can be tried out easily, but they come with some risk of introducing pests.

Artificial Plants

Many setups include artificial plants. It is a matter of personal taste and not a requirement. There are some amazingly realistic artificial plants out there. Elaborate models are prone to getting dusty, so be sure to give them a good wash when you do regular terrarium maintenance.

Bioactive Leopard Gecko Terrariums – Yay or Nay?

Bioactive tank setups seem to be all the rage these days. The concept of a bioactive tank is to make it as naturalistic as possible and able to support living creatures—plants, plus invertebrates such as springtails and isopods that help with tank maintenance (eating the waste). Consequently, bioactive setups require only spot cleaning instead of full tank cleaning.

Does it sound too good to be true? When it comes to leopard gecko tanks and other arid setups, it sort of is. The truth is that springtails and pillbugs need humid environments to thrive, and their sustainable population establishment and survival in dry terrariums are questionable.

Still, a naturalistic setup—one that has all the elements of a bioactive tank but no helper invertabrates or even living plants—is an excellent (if not the best) option for housing leopard geckos.

Now It’s Your Turn

Your leopard gecko will interact with his terrarium environment every hour of every day. That is why a quality set-up is very important for your gecko’s quality of life. I firmly believe that a quality naturalistic setup has been essential to my pet geckos’ 20-plus years of well-being and health. The aesthetic value of a good-looking vivarium as an addition to your living space should not be overlooked either.

Was this introduction to the basics of leopard gecko habitat interesting to read? If yes, feel free to share it.

Do you have anything to add or share about your perfect leo vivarium? Let us know in the comments. We would love to hear from you!

🦎 You can find additional tips in our Leopard Gecko Care Sheet

— Main picture by Chris Parker

Picture of Katarina Samurovic

Katarina Samurovic

Katarina is an environmental analyst and has been involved in herpetology research. She's been keeping reptiles for 20 years, mostly different species of turtles and leopard geckos. Her 2 lovely leos, Sonya and Mia are 21 and 20 years old.


  1. Hey,
    I am planning to get a Leo sometime, and I was wandering about the wattage. I am thinking about getting a 30 or 40 gallon tank to start off so i don’t have to upgrade to often, and I want to grab a full spectrum UVA day light. So how much would the wattage need to be for a 30 or 40 gallon tank? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Beatle,

      The wattage depends on what type of bulb you’re getting and if there are going to be other heat sources or not. In my opinion, it is much better to have a separate heat lamp (such as tungsten or halogen, for daylight effect and heating), plus an additional full spectrum UVA/UVB, such as Arcadia Shadeddweller. This visual guide (link) is helpful if you ever find yourself at a loss about UV bulbs for leos.

  2. Hi I was wondering if I can put my geckos cage in an open closet, it’s right next to the vent and I always have a fan running. He already has a heat lamp on one side?

    1. Hi Kylela,
      Thank you for your comment!
      I’m not sure what your open closet looks like exactly, but as long as the tank itself has sufficient ventilation holes and there is not much dust and clutter around the tank, I don’t see a problem. My tanks are housed on a large bookshelf comparable to many open closet models.

      However, I’m not sure I’m getting all the details right about that vent. If the entire closet is near the vent – that could be okay, but I am uneasy about the idea of keeping the tank itself right next to a vent – air circulation is good, but too much can be harmful. Unlike humid terrariums, arid setups don’t need as much air circulation. Also, it could lead to temperature fluctuations. Feel free to provide more details here, or ask around the reptile communities on Reddit or forums if someone has a similar situation as yours. Hope this helps at least a bit.

  3. Thank you for this informative site! We are first time gecko owners and have a lot to learn. I think our setup is pretty much on target with what you recommend, but our Leo seems to like to curl up and squish into places around the tank. The rank came with a background rock wall (light material). The first night, we found him behind the wall in the morning, so we nervously removed it. He did seem to enjoy the climbing before that. What would you recommend? Also, in their new habitat, how long is too long without eating? Thank you!

    1. Hi Rachel,
      I’m so glad you’re finding this site helpful – good reptile advice is the purpose of it, so it’s very nice to hear that.

      Leopard geckos can take weeks to settle into their new tank and will act fearful and hide a lot quite often (it’s said that it’s worse with males than with females). So, that’s normal. What’s is important to know is that they all eventually settle.
      I love rock walls – they give a gecko a lot of opportunities to exercise, as you noticed. However, they need to be safely fixed onto the back side and not allow the lizard to crawl between the rock wall and the glass. The spaces and crevices it can slide into can be fixed with silicone or non-toxic spray foam.

      I don’t know your current setup, but I’d keep the lights low to relieve some stress from the adapting leo. Also, ensure there are enough different hides – I’d say three or four as an optimum – both moist and dry, cool and warm.

      I would say that three, and even four weeks is the longest that the “food strike” can or should last.

      Best of luck with your new buddy!

  4. Thanks for the information and one of the better articles that I’ve read. I’ve been using a red light 24/7 and then a white light for daytime lighting. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Freedo,
      Thank you for the comment. I have to be honest here and point out that the opinions on using red light bulbs differ. There is a school of thought saying that, in theory, red lights could still interfere with leos’ circadian rhythm since they emit a certain amount of light. Still, my leos never seemed to be stressed from it, and many experienced hobbyists have never experienced any proposed adverse effect of red light bulbs. Everyone should do their research and decide for themselves. Ceramic bulbs (Ceramic Heat Emitters or CHE) are a viable alternative no-light alternative to provide nighttime heating from above.

      I’ve used the red light with no issues for many years since the wintertime room temperature required it. However, I’ve used no additional tank heating at night since I moved to a place where the nighttime room temperature never falls below 68 degrees F (20 degrees C).

      With that said, how are your room temperatures? If they don’t drop below 70-68 degrees F throughout the seasons, there is no need to provide night tank heating. Except perhaps in the case of treating a reptile disease, letting the night temperatures drop to the lower end can help your gecko maintain their metabolism and circadian rhythm and sleep properly.

  5. I have a female fully grown leo and I’m thinking about getting another one… It will be much smaller and I’m not sure if it would be a male or female… Would it be okay to house them together if they are opposite sex?..

    1. Hi Victoria,
      As all our articles suggest, cohabitation is not recommended for leopard geckos, regardless of sex. It can seem practical and interesting, but there is too much trouble involved. The leos would end up hurting each other at some point. A couple of decades ago, keeping two or more females together was a common practice, but years of experience have proven it too risky. However, even back then, keeping a male and a solo female, or keeping two leos of different sizes, was a big no-no. The male will always be too aggressive towards the female and basically want to breed all the time, exhausting her and possibly hurting her. Also, a large gap between two leos could trigger the larger leo’s hunting instinct, and it could end up badly. If you want to get a new leo, that’s perfectly fine, but get a separate tank for him too.

  6. I need help deciding what to do with getting a new Leo tank. My Leo is probably a year old or a month or two younger, I can’t tell easily. Yes, I know she’s a girl since vet visits and all. Me and a family member are trying to get a new tank, as of now, she has a 10 gallon and were not sure what size tank to get, and an actual good price- We have an air plant with a child (yes they actually can have ‘babies’) but as of what we really need to know is :
    – What specific species rock we can use
    – Do we need different levels in the tank (high\low portions)
    – Can we house 2 female Leo’s together (what size tank, if my family allows me to have two)
    – What are the CORE things a Leo would need or if you housed 2 together
    – And anything similar because I need other info

    1. Hi Emma,
      Thanks for the interesting questions!
      I’ll try to give precise and concise answers.
      – Typical tank sizes for a single leopard gecko are 10, 15, and 20 gallons. While you can certainly continue to use the 10-gallon tank, any gecko is happy to have more space available.

      – You can use almost any type of rock as long as it allows some grip and doesn’t have sharp edges. Various types of limestone, sandstone, slate and even granite can be utilized in a tank as long as the pieces are well-suited for a leopard gecko tank. My personal favorite is Tufa rock

      – I suggest that you create a 3D background for the tank that imitates rocks. That way, your gecko can safely climb, explore, and have a greater effective surface for movement. I am not sure what design exactly did you have in mind, but I’d still like to warn you that leopard geckos are not really good climbers, and having any type of a “second floor” in the tank (like in hamster cages) could set up the stage for a nasty fall.

      – While it was regularly done in the past with females, we do not recommend cohabitation – keeping two or more leopard geckos together. It is simply too risky and will likely lead to an injury. Any writing on how many geckos you can put in a single tank should be taken as purely informative.

      – There is plenty of useful info in this article and other articles on Terrarium Quest. Feel free to take a peek!

  7. Hey so, me and my dad really love my Leopard Gecko. Were thinking of getting her an upgrade, and I need some suggestions.

    Currently, we have a 10 gallon tank with paper towel, a water bowl, food bowl, only one hide for right now [since it’s huge] and a heating lamp. We had a heating pad, but it got way too hot for her and I didnt want her to you know, hurt herself if she needed to go to her little corner she loves.

    I found this article super helpful, but I still need some information from others with more experience than me. I havn’t been keeping Leo’s for too long, Sunset’s almost a year old. [My gecko, we got her when she was littler, now she’s getting so big!]

    The tank size we might use for her upgraded tank would be 20 gallons or 15, we’ll also be trying to find some non-spikey air plants. I hope someone can help us!

    Yikes this was long 😂

    1. Hi Staci,

      Sorry for the late reply – I hope I can still help.
      As for the situation with your heaters, the heat lamp and the heating pad are both fine choices as long as they keep the temperatures in the desirable range – 75 to 85°F during the daytime, with the basking area up to 90°F. Nighttime temperatures can dip down to the 70s (~21°C). A reliable thermometer is your best friend, and you should check it often. Also, you can use a temp gun if you’re worried about a particular spot in the tank getting too hot.

      With that being said, a heating pad (aka heat mat) can be controlled via a thermostat connected to it. You can easily find these online.

      Although a 10-gallon tank is the recommended minimum for leos, I am sure that Sunset will enjoy a larger enclosure. Just make sure that the power of the heating follows up on expansion.
      As for the plant dilemma, you can check out this article – https://terrariumquest.com/leopard-gecko/habitat/ – we have a special section on plants.

      On another note, because Sunset is young and developing, it is super important to supplement with calcium and quality multivitamins with D3 and to gut load all your feeder insects with nutritious food items before you offer them to your leo.

      Lastly – don’t worry about the comment length, and feel free to ask away – our team is here to help! Good luck!

    1. Hey Amy, it’s best to place a humid/wet hide in the middle or on the warm side of the vivarium. In Addition a warm and dry hide on the warm side, and a cool and dry hide on the cool side of the tank.

  8. Hi, I need your advice on the best set-up for our gecko. The pet stores DO NOT provide people with the right information.
    We have a 10 gallon tank and currently have a heating pad and a 75 w bulb over the tank during the day. I read your article and it says ceramic heaters are recommended. So should I ditch the bulb and get a ceramic heater. If so, do you have a brand that you recommend and what watts would I need for our tank?
    Thank you for your very informative article.

    1. Hi Melannie,

      Some clay substrates are great for leopard geckos, I would however worry about the rough and sharp parts of hydroponics clay. I would also be worried about gut impaction if one was accidentally ingested. Leopard geckos are desert animals and so the humidity should be low and I don’t recommend spraying your tank. Simply provide a moss hide at the cool end of your tank.

    1. Hi Hannah,

      It really depends on where you are located and how fancy you would like your enclosure to be. I would say the cost of a total setup without the gecko is between $200 – $600.

  9. I’m 12, and I’m thinking of getting a Leopard Gecko, but I’m also trying to save my money for a car in a few years, so is it worth getting a Gecko, other than a car?

    1. Leopard geckos are not very expensive so it won’t impact much your car savings 😉 But keep in mind that they live up to 20 years in captivity.

  10. If I were to find large flat rocks for me leo would I be able to use them? And if so how would you clean them? Thank you!

    1. Hey, Payton.

      Large flat rocks would be fine! Just make sure they rest on the bottom of the habitat, so that your lizard doesn’t dig under them and become squished or trapped.
      I’d just clean rocks with some soap and warm water, and then rinse them thoroughly.

      Best of luck!

  11. Should the hearing pad go under the side with the wet hideaway or the cool, rock hideaway? If under the wet hideaway doesn’t it dry out the hideaway material that is supposed to be moist?

    1. Hey, Sheri.

      The heating pad should go on the warm side. Because the wet hideaway should be mostly covered (it should just have a small “door” for your pet), it won’t lose water very quickly. But, you will have to add a bit of water periodically (maybe once a week or so).

      Best of luck!

  12. How do you make the temperature gradient? Do you not put heating supplies on one side? But how do you make sure it is the right tempurature?

    1. Hi Sylvia,

      Indeed, you can cluster the heating devices at one end of the habitat. To check the temperatures, the best way is to use 2 different types of thermometers:

      – a non-contact infrared thermometer for reading the surface temperature of items in the tank. This makes it good for monitoring the basking spot and for verifying that there are no hot surfaces in the habitat.
      – an indoor/outdoor thermometer for measuring the ambient temperatures inside the vivarium.

      1. My leopard gecko has not eaten since November she is worrying me I got her a new tank and going to get her a new habitat she sheds and drinks a lot of water but I can’t seem to get her to eat anything ?

        1. Hi Clay,

          It is not uncommon for leopard geckos to go through periods of decreased appetite, especially during shedding. Make sure that she has a warm, humid hide available, and offer her a variety of live insects to encourage her to eat. If she continues to refuse food, you may want to take her to a reptile veterinarian for further evaluation.

  13. I’m 69 yr old female helping my 17 yr nephew with his 3 leopard geckos. Financially. So, I wanted to know how expensive it was going to be. I get a pick when his female breeds. We observed what appears to have been the male Covering the female. Btw we have two males in our habitat.
    Can these reptiles bond with humans? Can I take them on the plane domestically?
    This is an interesting project

    1. I would not recommend having two males together intact. Once mature, They may not get along. Adding an intact female will further aggravate them and make them compete.

      Despite how they might seem to like being on you, they do not bond to people. They may associate you with food and appear excited to see you and even seem cuddly. Reptiles lack the ability to form connections with humans. They just want your warmth and to be fed. (I personally don’t mind because I adopted one knowing this but please do not think that these are toys or cuddly animals as over-handling can be stressful. They will also want to be left alone during shedding as they will become agitated and slightly more aggressive towards being handled.)

      I really would not recommend getting 3 at once. Especially if this is your first time with them. They’re hearty and live quite a few years under the proper care. This is a commitment and not a child’s project.

      You can expect to spend between $400-$600 to get the proper accommodations.

      They will also need to be monitored closely as they cannot communicate problems to you. Pay special attention to their tail and little digits. A healthy and well-fed leopard gecko should have a plump and bulbous tail. They do not have any calcium in their diet of bugs and veggies so calcium powder is a MUST. otherwise they can develop serious irreversible health issues. (Seen in their fingers. They will start to grow fragile and crooked.)

      They’re jumpers for sure so please handle them close to the ground or a plush surface. They should be handled with a lot of care as to not break their delicate fingers or be caught by the legs.

    2. I think it’s sweet you’re helping nephew. Prices can vary depending on the leo’s morphs, and tank and everything inside. If the male covers the female, it could mean he wants to mate with her. I DO NOT recommend having two males in the same habitat, as they will fight. Leo’s can bond with humans. You might have to contact the airline if are planning to fly.

  14. I really appreciate your tip on how a plexiglass tank would make a great secondary tank because of how much it scratches. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new house, and we want to get our kids a pet to help them with the move. If we get them a gecko, I will be sure to choose something other than plexiglass for its primary tank!

      1. Hi Kristen,

        Leopard geckos are generally very adaptable creatures and can usually adjust to changes in their environment without much difficulty. However, it is always best to make any changes gradually, giving your gecko time to get used to its new surroundings. sudden or drastic changes can cause stress and may even lead to health problems.


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Katarina Samurovic
Katarina is an environmental analyst and has been involved in herpetology research. She's been keeping reptiles for 20 years, mostly different species of turtles and leopard geckos. Her 2 lovely leos, Sonya and Mia are 21 and 20 years old.