Do Leopard Geckos Smell Bad? (And When They Might)

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Something smells bad. Could it be your beloved Leo, or are there other explanations for this pong? Find out how to keep your Leopard Gecko and their enclosure smell free and why this unpleasant smell may possibly develop. 

Leopard Geckos do not naturally smell bad. Bad housekeeping, improper care, and ill-considered food choices can lead to a smelly Leo. Maintaining a regular cleaning routine and knowing what may trigger the problem is essential to keeping your leopard gecko odor-free. 

Are Leopard Geckos Smelly?

Leopard Geckos are not considered smelly pets and are typically regarded as clean, tidy, and intelligent creatures. They are usually recommended to novice reptile owners as they are believed to be easy to look after.

Leopard Geckos will smell if their urine and poo are not cleaned up after several days. Seeing that Leos like to wander around their enclosures, they will trample over their feces and end up smelling. 

Additional explanations for a smelly Leo

Although not clearing up Leo’s poo and urine is one of the main reasons for a stinky gecko, it is certainly not the only cause. 

Decaying food and diet

After Leos’s feeding time, food not cleaned up will decay, cause a nasty smell, and get stuck to Leo. Insects left in your Leopard Gecko’s enclosure can die under enclosure decorations where they can be easily unseen and left to rot. 

Mealworms and crickets are particularly stinky food options that you should be more cautious of clearing up after Leo’s mealtime. These insects are simply smelly and even more stinky if left to decay. 

Crickets are usually the main offenders. Their high protein levels and sulfur amino acids are the root cause of this rotten smell. Waxworms can also play havoc with Leo’s digestive system. Their high fiber and fat levels make it harder for Leo to digest and can cause Leo to expel a nasty gassy smell. 

Cold temperatures can also affect Leo’s ability to break down their food and trigger excessive gas. 

Nevertheless, Leo’s diet should not trigger a bad smell unless enclosure cleanliness is not maintained. If Leo is passing extremely foul-smelling feces, you may need to visit your nearest reptile vet as this could signify an infection or other health issue. 

Mold and humidity

Reptile owners not monitoring or regulating their Leopard Gecko’s enclosure humidity can make the environment too moist, leading to mold growth. 

The moldy smell can be very unpleasant and can end up on your Leo making them smell bad. 

Irregular housekeeping

Cleaning your Leopard Geckos enclosure is one of a reptile owner’s primary and most important responsibilities. Leo will be as clean and smelly as its enclosure. 

Uncleaned enclosure decorations, not replacing substrate, removing feces, or uneaten food will all lead to a bad-smelling Leo. Infertile eggs are also known to be hidden deep in the enclosure substrate and, if not found and removed, can also produce a foul smell.  

Your leopard gecko may even eat its own poop which can cause health problems.

How to fix the smelly problem?

Fortunately, the smell can be easily corrected by maintaining a regular cleaning schedule for your Leopard Gecko and its enclosure. Keeping a strict program and setting reminders will make enclosure cleaning and odor management more straightforward and less demanding. 

Replacing and cleaning substrate

Your enclosure’s loose substrate needs to be spot cleaned daily. Leo frequently defecates in a similar place, making it easier for owners to keep their substrate clean. If you are using newspaper or paper towels as a substrate, replace these every one to two times a week. 

Some reptile owners have successfully added a reptile litter box for their Leopard Geckos and trained them to use it. 

Reptile carpets need a daily spot clean and should be replaced two or three times a month. You can extend your carpets life by scrubbing it with a brush when cleaning. Simply wet, scrub and rinse the carpet, leave it for 30 minutes with some bleach spray, and then rinse and dry it. 

Ceramic tiles also need a daily spot clean and a deeper clean once a month. 

If you are using a high-humidity substrate such as Eco-Earth you will need to clean and replace the substrate much more often.

Disinfecting your leopard geckos enclosure

Leo’s enclosure needs to be disinfected after cleaning regularly. Disinfect your enclosure after all scheduled cleanings, whether daily, weekly, or monthly. A scent neutralizer can also be sprayed on the enclosure between cleans to keep developing odors at bay

A bleach solution of one part bleach and nine parts water can be used for disinfecting both Leo’s enclosure and decorations. After disinfecting, leave the solution on for approximately 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing off to ensure decent disinfection. 

Daily cleaning

Some activities must be completed daily to ensure a healthy and happy Leo.  

Replace water and provide food to Leo every day. Remove any feces or defecation on the substrate and any uneaten insects or worms. Look under décor and in corners of the enclosure or hides. An enclosure with more décor can be more inclined to become smelly. 

Although not related to good hygiene, it is good to check daily on Leos’s health and environment to ensure optimal health. Cleaning the enclosure can also be an excellent opportunity to socialize your Leo if not already socialized. 

Deep cleaning the enclosure

At least once a month, Leo’s enclosure needs to undergo a deep clean. The walls, floor, substrate, and décor need to be cleaned thoroughly, and even Leo will need a bath.  

Before thoroughly rinsing with cold water, all décor should be cleaned with a vinegar, bleach, or reptile-specific cleaning agent. Hot water should be used when washing, and if using a cleaning agent, an organic or plant-based option is preferable. 

When cleaning, a vinegar solution of 1-part white vinegar and nine parts water is used. Furthermore, it is essential to remember to let your enclosure and décor air dry entirely after rinsing. Any remaining water could affect the humidity levels in your tank. 

Safety when cleaning

Use rubber gloves, refrain from placing hands in your mouth, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning Leo’s enclosure. This will protect you from foul smells, protecting you against harmful bacteria such as Salmonella.  

Dispose of the gloves after cleaning, and keep reptile-specific cleaning brushes and cloths to avoid cross-contamination. 

Make sure before cleaning that you have a suitable temporary enclosure for Leo. A plastic container with holes, a reptile carrier, or a small tank are all possible options. Ensure to handle Leo delicately when transferring them from their enclosure to another. 

Enclosure type

If your Leo is smelly more often than not, purchasing or altering your current enclosure to have holes in its ceiling will help with odor control

Better airflow will make the smell more manageable. Be sure not to make large enough holes for other pets or creatures to enter the tank and harm your gecko. 

Bathing Leo

Leopard Geckos are naturally clean reptiles that do not usually require regular bathing. If your enclosure is kept clean and stink-free, so will your Leopard Gecko. Leopard Geckos originated from arid areas with little access to water, so their bathing requirements are limited. 

Nevertheless, it is recommended to bathe your Leo one to two times a month, depending on the state of your enclosure. Usually, schedule Leo’s bath after completing a deep cleaning on your enclosure. 

Prepare a bowl or container with warm shallow water. Choose a container that your gecko can not climb out of and ensure the water reaches below its belly. Leo can’t swim, so staying with and holding Leo during its bath is recommended. 

Use a thermometer to ensure that the bath temperature is not too hot. Leo is cold-blooded and hot water can burn them and dangerously affect their body temperature. It is usually best to only bathe Leo for approximately ten to fifteen minutes. 

Your Leopard Gecko’s bath water should be around 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 35 degrees Celsius) in temperature. Too hot or too cold and your gecko with become stressed. 

Pat dry Leo with a paper towel or cloth as leaving them wet for too long could allow them to become too cold. Please return them to their enclosure as soon as possible to minimize any additional stress.

Final thoughts

Leopard Geckos are clean, non-smelly reptiles. Maintaining a regular cleaning and bathing schedule will help keep your Leo smelling fresh and healthy. 

Remaining meticulous by removing feces and leftover food and maintaining optimal humidity levels will also help keep smells away from your enclosure and your household. 

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