Leopard Gecko Terrarium Setup: The Most Detailed Instructions

Naturally, reptiles are known to be aesthetically displeasing. However, leopard geckos exist to invalidate that impression. They feature a distinctively attractive set of lizards illustrious for their impressive leopard-like resemblance and huge fat-storage tail.

Consequently, many reptile admirers find geckos fascinating owing to their friendly and docile nature, which is true! They also adapt to the lives of humans quite fast, thus very easy to care of by physical handling. In a nutshell, they make good pets!

As a result, the leopard gecko terrarium setup is undoubtedly a coveted quest among reptile enthusiasts. Ensuring a natural habitat structure for tamed geckos is equally crucial for their well-being and health. 

Well, for those who intend to get acquainted with leopard geckos, this article is a good place to start comprehensively on everything you need to know about setting up the ideal leopard gecko terrarium. Keep reading to get informed!

Cute Reptiles as Pets
Cute Reptiles as Pets

Leopard Gecko Terrarium Setup: The Most Detailed Instructions

To clear obscurity, we might as well want to be conscious of the term “terrarium.” In simpler terminologies, a terrarium is an indoor miniature garden usually confined within a glass container that is ordinarily sealed to create a largely self-sustaining ecosystem. 

Terrariums can also double up as habitats for leopard geckos, albeit with the correct ventilation and lighting.

That is, if geckos are to thrive in their fancy artificial habitats, otherwise known as terrariums, then the conditions existent in their natural setting must be replicated.

While the thought of taming a gecko might sound intriguing, finding the correct requirements for a habitat that is typical to geckos is also imperative, and it often requires proper kit and equipment. 

Therefore, the quality of the natural habitat setup determines the overall health and condition of the tamed gecko.  

Enclosure for Leopard Gecko

Think of it like a roof over the head of the charming geckos, perhaps such splendor calls for a great deal of care. That’s an enclosure for you! 

Thus, selecting a suitable enclosure forms the very underpinnings of establishing the perfect leopard gecko aquarium. 

Types of Tanks for Leopard Gecko

Tanks are the enclosures we just talked about, just in case you were getting jumbled. So, there are four types of tanks for leopard geckos, they include:

Type #1: Glass Tanks

As the name suggests, glass tanks are made from glass, providing a transparent surface that effectively views and monitors your pet.

It is the preferred material for terrariums. Also, glass terrariums are portable and can be easily shifted during cleaning. 

Conversely, glass tanks are very costly. Acquiring one for your pet gecko might be expensive from a standard perspective.

Additionally, tanks made of glass are very brittle and can easily break if not properly maintained. 

Type #2: Wooden Tanks

Huh! Wooden tanks? It gives off a sporadic impression, so to say. Well, wooden tanks don’t make comfortable habitats for geckos.

Even so, they are a way to go if you are obsessed with décor; they offer room for style, unlike glass. 

On the contrary, these types of terrariums are sporadic and difficult to come across. Quite a goldy attribute, I’d say.

Besides, wood absorbs water and can yield molds. Therefore, it is not practical and would require regular cleaning and maintenance, which can be hectic. 

Type #3: Mesh Tanks

Mesh tanks are a very innovative approach to creating an ideal vivarium for leopard geckos. However, geckos are not fond of climbing objects; thus, they are usually not appropriate. Mesh tanks are typically designed for arboreal reptiles, e.g., chameleons. 

On the brighter side, mesh terrariums offer the best ventilation structures for reptiles as they provide maximum aeration in their environment, ensuring safety and security for the charming little lizards. 

Conversely, controlling the heat and humidity in a mesh terrarium can be hectic. Also, the visibility aspect in mesh tanks is often murky, affecting the clarity necessary for monitoring and viewing. This might as well contribute to increased stress levels of the tamed reptile.  

Type #4: Plastic Tanks

Plastic tanks are the perfect economical bargain option for those with a phobia of glass or those who find glass terrariums expensive.

Plastic tanks are also light in weight compared to other types and can be structured in various designs. Well, as they say, cheap is always expensive in the long run.

Plastic tanks have their fair share of cons, including visibility distortions, being prone to scratches, fabrication flaws due to the flexibility of plastics, and porosity.

They can also absorb toxic materials from the external environment, which can harm the tamed pet geckos. 

Leopard Gecko Terrarium Setup
Plastic leopard gecko tank

Enclosure for Adult Leopard Geckos

To this point, I believe you understand the importance of having a suitable and appropriate enclosure for our little friends. Oooh, adult leopard geckos are still comparably small. I guess they are still our little friends. Way to go!

Undoubtedly, glass is always the suitable material to consider if you are going to craft a home for adult geckos in our case.

Huh! But glass terrariums are pretty expensive. I’d wager it’s worth the investment. Class terrariums range from $80 – $300, depending on the size and design.

It turns out we might need the correct measurements if we are going to house our beloved friends. Adult ones, to be specific.

Thus, a 60cm long, 40cm high, and 30cm deep tank would do the job for an adult gecko. A tank of that size provides for adequate space and proper ventilation. 

Amazon has a variety of these gecko tanks that you can check out from the following link: Reptile Terrariums for Leopard Geckos.

Acquiring the tank is one thing and installing it is something else, so how do you install a gecko tank? Let’s explore some of the basic instructions. 

While deciding on where to place your gecko tank, you should consider safety and exposure factors. Consequently, you should set your tank away from disturbance-prone areas. For you should keep gecko tanks away from the reach of children. 

Enclosure for Baby Leopard Geckos

Enclosures for adult and baby squirrels have a slight disparity in the size of the tank. Temperature and humidity requirements are constant for both adult and baby geckos.

The suitable material remains to be glass. Baby geckos’ appropriate tank size is 10 gallons with at least 1.25 square feet of floor area.

They can cost anywhere from $30 – $100. Amazon is always the best place to start looking. Check out the following link to see different leopard gecko terrariums on Amazon.

Last update on 2022-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Instructions for installing a baby leopard gecko tank are similar to installing an adult gecko tank.

Substrate

As discussed earlier, substrates are carpets in disguise for geckos to perform their little insignificant strolls and undertake their nature calls.

A suitable substrate for an adult leopard gecko should also be appropriate if used for a baby gecko.

Best Substrate for Leopard Gecko

Choosing the best substrate can be very challenging, at least not anymore, if you read this article. Substrates are essential because they constitute elements that the Leos come into contact with frequently. 

Many types of substrates can do the carpet job, but not all of them are good enough. Some of the best substrates that are not toxic to the Leos include; paper towels, rock slates, and reptile carpets. 

The best substrates for leopard geckos
The best substrates you can use for your pet leopard geckos

Substrate Should Be Avoided for Leopard Gecko

The substrate issue is a controversial subject among many reptile admirers, with disparities in opinions on the most suitable substrate for leopard geckos.

Thus, a proper substrate should not be toxic and should not in any way inflict harm to the tamed reptile. Substrates to avoid include sand, calcium-fortified sand, and mulch.

Hide For Leopard Geckos

Hideouts are just small enclosed spots within the terrarium meant to give our little friends some privacy.

Ooh, could it be that our small friends have activities they find necessary to undertake in isolation? Let’s find out.

There isn’t much difference between those hideouts used for adult geckos and those used for baby geckos except for the size.

Therefore, hides should be spacious enough to accommodate and fit the gecko and enable it to move in and out at convenience. Effective hiding for a gecko depends on its condition and what it requires.

Thus, a leopard gecko terrarium should have three types of hides, including warm hide, moist hide, and cool hide. Moreover, hideouts should be installed firmly to avoid accidents by falling or tipping. 

Lighting and Heating for Leopard Gecko

The objective of establishing a terrarium is usually to replicate the natural habitat of leopard geckos. Similarly, most conditions and necessities for adult and baby geckos are generally similar, including lighting and heating requirements.  Let’s explore each aspect individually;

Lighting for Leopard Gecko

Lighting is primarily concerned with the visibility aspect and the provision of vitamin D3, which are crucial components to leopard geckos’ survival.

Typically, your pet Leo should get 14 hours of daylight and 10 hours of darkness in the summer. During the winter, ensure they get 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. 

Daytime lighting may not be necessary if the environment used in housing the gecko has adequate natural light.

In contrast, the source of light used at night should not be too bright as this may interfere with the natural sleeping patterns of the gecko. 

Furthermore, leopard geckos need to be exposed to UVB light to facilitate their Vitamin D3 uptake. D3 supplements can also be used in the absence of a UVB light source.

We recommend using Incandescent Globe Soft White Bulbs for standard lighting or halogen flood lamp bulbs that are pocket-friendly. For providing UVB light, consider UVB reptile light, particularly the T8 and T5 models designed for reptiles. 

Last update on 2022-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Heating for Leopard Gecko

Temperature needs for geckos should vary depending on the temperature gradient established in the terrarium. If memory serves well, we discussed the role of temperature regulation and monitoring in a geckos habitat. 

There are two options available for providing warmth: heating pads and heat lamps, respectively.

The use of heating pads is preferred because they only emit heat without posing the risk of burning the gecko or emitting bright light that might disturb our little friend.  

Place the heat pads strategically to cover a third of the floor area to ensure a temperature gradient. The resulting demarcation ensures the terrarium has a warm and cool zone.

Warm zones form good spots for shading skin, while cool zones act as body heat regulation areas.  Heat lamps are often used to supply additional warmth if the warmth provided by the heat pad is not enough.

As a rule, the cooler side of the tank should adhere to temperature levels close to 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C), and the warmer side should have a temperature range of between 90-94° degrees Fahrenheit (34° C).

As much as geckos can endure night temperatures scaling below 60° degrees Fahrenheit (16°C), the recommended night temperatures should range from 67-74° degrees Fahrenheit (23°C).

Some of the best heating pads available in the market include the iPower Reptile Heating Pad and the VIVOSUN Upgrade Reptile Heat Mat, which comes with a digital thermostat.

Last update on 2022-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Water and Humidity for Leopard Gecko

Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor present in a terrarium setup for our scenario. Therefore, regulating and monitoring humidity levels in a terrarium is vital.

The humidity levels in a gecko tank should be (20-40) % but, how do you tell and test the humidity levels? Good question.

So, to be able to tell humidity levels, you will need a hygrometer. It is an instrument used to measure humidity inside a gecko tank. 

Too much of it can cause respiratory concerns to geckos, and lower levels can induce dehydration problems to our beloved geckos. 

Surprisingly, water bowls play an essential role in regulating humidity in the terrarium. Thus, high humidity levels can be reduced by reducing the water present in the water bowls. In contrast, low humidity can be averted by introducing a more significant water bowl. 

Accessories, Toys, and Décor for Leopard Geckos

Mimicking a perfect gecko natural habitat would surely need a touch of accessories, toys, and décor. Primarily, decors ensure that tamed geckos are happy and comfortable. They also give the terrarium a natural and lively look. 

Accessories for leopard gecko tank
Accessories for leopard gecko tank. Note that your pet’s habitat should have the necessary accessories but avoid cluttering the tank. This will ensure that your pet don’t trip over and fall.

Some of the perfect accessories that would look outstanding in a gecko tank include Artificial Bendable Climbing Vines and Hidden Coconut Shell Hole.

Last update on 2022-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ideal Habitat for Leopard Gecko

An ideal leopard gecko habit fulfills the fundamentals necessary for the survival of the little lizards. From the points discussed earlier, we can summarize that a perfect gecko habitat is one that;

  • Fulfills space requirements by ensuring adequate room for movement and regulation of air, 
  • satisfies the temperature standards of 75 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day depending on the temperature zones within the terrarium,
  • Meets the humidity levels of (20 – 40) % in a leopard gecko terrarium,
  • It uses a suitable substrate that does not risk inducing health problems to the leopard gecko.

9 Steps to Set Up Leopard Gecko Terrarium

Having discussed all the essentials that complete a terrarium, we can come up with steps to set up a leopard gecko terrarium in the following order;

Step #1: Prepare all the necessary tools

Technically known as the requirement gathering stage, the preparation phase identifies and purchases all the necessary equipment required to complete the leopard gecko terrarium.

Step #2: Get a Tank

Acquiring an ideal terrarium for your pet gecko according to your needs is imperative. These needs can be based on design preferences and the type and number of leopard geckos that you need to house. Typically, an ideal terrarium for an adult gecko should be a 20 gallons tank. 

Furthermore, gecko tanks should adopt a horizontal orientation to provide adequate space for the little reptiles to explore and move around. It would be best if you always considered choosing a glass terrarium for your gecko.

Step #3: Add Substrate 

A substrate refers to the floorings that are placed under the terrarium for your gecko to walk on. Whatever substrate you decide to use, ensure it is not loose to avoid cases of impactions. 

Also, substrates should be maintained frequently and replaced if needed to avoid viral infections and possible bacterial growth.

However, the frequency of replacing the substrate will depend on the type of substrate used. Paper towels, for instance, should be replaced after 1-2 weeks.  

As discussed earlier, the most common substrates used for leopard geckos are paper-based substrates such as paper towels, textured tiles, and reptile carpets. Using more than one substrate in a gecko tank is not necessary.

 Step #4: Get an Under Tank Heater (UHT)

Warmth is a vital element if your tamed gecko is even going to survive in an artificial setting. Warmth being an essential factor, it is usually provided using a digital heater which can be obtained in your local electronic store.

An Under Tank Heater should cover approximately a third of the bottom area of the tank to ensure a temperature gradient. You don’t want your gecko heating up after all! Also, tank heaters should be connected to thermostats to regulate the temperature levels. 

Leopard geckos can accommodate temperatures of between (20°C – 30°C). Anything above or below that may prove to be tragic to the health and well-being of our little mysteries. 

Step #5: Setup Thermometers and Hygrometers 

Controlling and regulating the temperatures and the humidity of the terrarium where your pet gecko resides should be an obligation. They define the comfortability of your little friend. 

Placing thermometers at different points is necessary to evaluate the temperature of other spots in the terrarium. Ideally, it is recommended that you should have at least three thermometers. Hygrometers are used to measure the humidity of the terrarium. 

Step #6: Add Hideouts 

Hideouts are small enclosures that are strategically placed in the terrarium to aid our little friends in preserving their body temperatures as well as in shading.

Therefore, there are three types of hideouts, namely, warm, moist and cool hideouts. Warm hides are supposed to be placed on the tank’s warm side, and the same criteria apply to the other type of hides.

In each case, hides should be strategically mounted such that they don’t go against the sides of the tank. It spoils the essence of hiding for geckos. 

Interestingly, you can craft hides for geckos using household objects such as plastic containers or small boxes if you want to save money for buying pre-made ones from your local pet store.

Step #7: Add Food and Water Bowls 

Every living thing has to eat and drink at the end of the day, that is, if it’s not trying to commit suicide. Leopard geckos are not an exception either, and perhaps their striking impression is enabled by the food they eat.

When choosing a food bowl, consider one containing worms and bugs by preventing them from escaping. In contrast, water bowls should be shallow to avoid drowning and facilitate water access and wide enough to enable the gecko to swim in it. 

Step #8: Supply Accessories, Decors, and Plants

After cooperating with the essentials, it is time to introduce some visual appeals to give your terrarium a lively and natural look. Decors can range from live plants, fake plants, rocks to logs. 

Plants intended to be used in the terrarium should be safe for leopard geckos. They are also hard to maintain and can increase humidity levels in the terrarium. Rocks can also be cleaned before being used. They provide spots to climb or perch on for the gecko, thus minimizing boredom.

The accessories range from a humid hide, hiding hides, fancy water, calcium, and food bowl, and perhaps reptile hammocks. Your goal is to make the room as beautiful as you want.

Placing decors in the terrarium is a remarkable way of making your lizard’s space look prettier.

Ideally, place the warm hide in the hottest area of the terrarium, cool hide on the coolest spot, while moist hide will do well in the middle or cool parts.

There’s no wrong way to place the decors in the terrarium; any location that impresses you will work. Artificial plants like Spider orchids, etc., do a wonderful job in enhancing the appearance of Leo’s tank, and it’s easy to maintain them.

Step #9: Add Optional Lighting and Additional Heating

If heating pads are not supplying enough warmth and visible light is insufficient, additional heating and optional lighting may be necessary to keep the leopard geckos in a fit condition.

To determine the number of heat bulbs needed for your terrarium, you should first be aware of the temperature requirements for your gecko.

You should therefore start with one heat bulb as you adjust its position concerning the temperature readings indicated by your thermometer,

Light bulbs are easy to set up. You can simply mount them above the tank or simply place them on top of the tank. Make sure the lights are not too bright to avoid irritating your Leos.

How to set up leopard gecko habitat [source: Leopard Gecko]

Alternatives: Buy Your “Leopard Gecko Habitat”

There are many sellers on amazon selling “leopard gecko habitat.” They will have everything you need inside that habitat.

Last update on 2022-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Make sure you buy a good one with good reviews. Don’t go for a cheap product with waste equipment inside that habitat.

Should You Keep Two Leopard Geckos Together?

No, it is not the best idea to house two leopard geckos together. Geckos can be aggressive when kept together due to territorial concerns; hence taming more than one gecko in a single terrarium is not recommended.

However, if housing them in one tank is the only option available, consider using a larger tank of up to 30 gallons and increasing the number of hideouts.   

FAQs

Are 10 gallons enough for a leopard gecko?

A 10 gallons tank is adequate for a baby gecko but not the best option for an adult gecko. Adult geckos need at least 20 gallons to facilitate their constant roaming and exercise needs.

What do you put in the bottom of a leopard gecko tank?

Materials placed on the floor of gecko tanks are known as substrates. The best substrates often used include paper towels, reptile carpets, and textured ceramic tiles. 

Can Leopard Geckos recognize their owners?

Geckos are naturally friendly and can get attached to their owners if appropriately handled, particularly by being treated well. So yes, geckos can recognize their owners.

Conclusion

Leopard geckos are amazing creatures that intuitively allow humans to connect with nature. They are also famous for their striking resemblance to leopards about the prints on their skin, thus the name leopard gecko.

Establishing an ideal habitat for a leopard gecko is a hectic endeavor but can be quickly and effortlessly accomplished with the correct instructions and requirements.

About UniquePetsWiki

UniquePetsWiki is the preferred educational source on pets favored by experienced herptologists and new owners alike. With hundreds of articles on everything pertaining to pets including reptiles, squirrels, and other pets, our experienced team provides reliable and accurate content you can trust.

From proper husbandry and habitat guidance, to articles on health concerns, diet, and extensive care guides, UniquePetsWiki is here to educate everyone on all pets concerns.

Disclaimer

UniquePetsWiki is not a veterinary website, nor should any of the reptile health information on our site replace the advice of a certified veterinary professional. If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, contact an experienced veterinarian immediately.

UniquePetsWiki is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.