Leopard Gecko Deluxe Buying Guide
Prepared by HappyDragons
A leopard gecko enclosure should be large enough to allow for a proper thermoregulatory gradient and have opaque or covered sides to reduce stress. To build an extra enriching, 3-dimensional landscape that allows your gecko to climb, burrow, and explore to their heart's content, we recommend a 4’x2’x2’ PVC enclosure.
Leopard gecko substrate should replicate the soil found in their native regions, usually a combination of soil, clay, crushed rock, and sand, and should be 3-6” deep to facilitate digging and burrowing. Josh's Frogs BioBedding Desert is specially formulated to recreate the natural textures, density, heat conduction, and moisture retention of arid and semi-arid soils in the wild. You'll need about 60 quarts / 6 bags to fill your enclosure.
Note: Using BioBedding Desert alone does NOT automatically create a bioactive habitat - more specific steps must be taken to achieve bioactivity. This substrate is great for leos in its inactive state, but you will still need to spot-clean regularly and replace it as needed.
Heat & Lighting
A leopard gecko enclosure should have an overhead heat source, an appropriate UVB lamp, and tools to monitor and control these elements.
A halogen flood bulb is an ideal source of IR-A and IR-B radiation needed for healthy thermoregulation. For a 4’x2’x2’ enclosure, we recommend a cluster of two 50-75 watt bulbs in a reflective dome fixture to project the heat evenly and naturally.
A linear T5 HO forest UVB bulb is perfect for crepuscular species like leopard geckos. For a 2-foot tall enclosure, we recommend using a 22” bulb in a reflective fixture. The lamp can be placed directly on top of the screen or installed inside the enclosure. Be sure to check our basking distance chart to determine how high to build your primary basking area, where the UVI should be at its strongest.
Monitoring & Regulation
- 2 Gauges: Place each thermometer/hygrometer on opposite sides of the enclosure to monitor the necessary warm-to-cool temperature gradient.
- Outlet timer: All reptiles should have a healthy circadian schedule: heat and UVB turned on during the day, then everything turned off at night to allow for total darkness and a natural temperature drop (~12hrs/day). A digital timer power strip is most convenient for a consistent light cycle.
- Thermostat: A dimming thermostat is the best way to keep your temperatures within an ideal range - just place the probe on your basking surface and set a max temp. The VE-300X2 has a built-in night drop timer that you can program to match your light cycle. (If using night drop, plug thermostat into a ‘continuous power’ outlet on your digital timer strip)
Decor & Enrichment
Leopard geckos require a variety of decor items that are vital for security, health, and enrichment. Get creative with your decor, you can never have too much coverage and climbing!
A leopard gecko should have at least 3 distinct hiding places: a warm hide under the heat source, a cool hide furthest from the heat source, and a humid hide near the center.
Choose any 2 of the following recommendations, 1 warm hide and 1 cool hide, but feel free to provide as many additional hiding spots as you like! If you choose a basking platform as your warm hide, be sure to cover all but one entrance to make it feel more secure for your gecko.
The humid hide should be lined with coconut fiber and misted regularly to provide a constant moist microclimate and aid in healthy shedding. A removable top is super convenient for misting! Choose 1 humid hide + 1 brick of coco fiber.
Cork, Branches, & Logs
Branches, logs, and cork bark are excellent for varying the terrain and giving your gecko objects to climb on or burrow under. We recommend providing at least 2 cork flats and at least 3 branches or logs for an enriching enclosure.
Artificial plants add more shade for UV and heat regulation, coverage for security, and they enhance the appearance of a naturalistic habitat. We recommend choosing 3-5 plants for your enclosure.
Tools & Feeding
The ideal leopard gecko setup should have:
- Access to a shallow water dish at all times
- Access to a small calcium dish at all times
- An escape-proof food dish for fast moving feeders
- Bite-safe tongs for hand feeding
- Calcium without D3 (for calcium dish and dusting feeders)
- Multivitamin supplement (for dusting feeders)
- Pump mister for humid hide, substrate, and ambient humidity
Leopard Gecko Setup Examples
42"x20"x18" - Contributed by Jenna Cunningham