Should You Use Sphagnum Moss for Leopard Geckos? (And The Potential Risks)

*This post contains affiliate links, if you buy through a link on this post we may receive a commission.

Picking out the right substrate for your leopard gecko can be tricky. In this article we will investigate Sphagnum moss and whether it holds up as a safe and viable substrate for your gecko

Sphagnum moss is a good substrate option for leopard gecko tanks. It can help create a moist environment in the tank which is perfect for leopard geckos. We recommend buying dried sphagnum moss in bulk and using it up slowly over time. 

Is it safe to use sphagnum moss as a substrate?

Yes, it’s safe to use this moss as a substrate for the most part. Although there is a small risk of impaction if your gecko eats this moss.

Can leopard geckos eat sphagnum moss?

While leopard geckos can eat sphagnum moss, they rarely will. If they do eat it, they should be fine however there is a small risk of impaction that you should be aware of.

How to use sphagnum moss for leopard geckos

Using sphagnum moss for your leopard gecko’sgecko’s tank is easy. All you need to do is take it out of its package, rinse it, soak it, and then lay it in your leopard gecko’s tank.

Pros of using sphagnum moss as a substrate for leopard geckos

Ability to hold moisture for a long time

Sphagnum moss is known for holding water for long periods and will create a humid environment. This quality is particularly helpful during shedding – it makes the whole process easier. 

Antibacterial properties

Another advantage of using sphagnum moss in your leopard gecko’s tank is that it can hinder bacterial growth there. 

This can save you cleaning time and reduce the chances of your leopard gecko getting sick. 

Keep in mind that sphagnum moss also absorbs odor from leopard gecko droppings. 

Great nest option for mating

If you want to breed your leopard gecko, you can use sphagnum moss to create a nest for it. Since this moss is loose, it is easy for a leopard gecko to dig a hole where it will lay eggs.

Some leopard geckos prefer it

While every leopard gecko has its preference, some owners have reported that their geckos prefer sphagnum moss to any other substrate. You should try using it at least once in your leopard gecko’s tank.

Cons of using sphagnum moss as a substrate for leopard geckos

The only disadvantage of using sphagnum moss as a substrate for leopard geckos is that some of them can end up eating it. 

What can make your leopard gecko eat their sphagnum moss substrate?


For the most part, leopard geckos accidentally ingest sphagnum moss substrate. This can happen when a leopard gecko is eating within an enclosure with pieces of a loose substrate on the floor, especially near food. 

These accidental moss ingestions can also happen when a leopard gecko is shedding – it can eat the moss thinking it’s shed skin.

Whatever the case, accidental sphagnum moss ingestion doesn’t usually cause impaction or other health issues unless the amount ingested is large. 

Nutritional deficiencies

If you don’t feed your leopard gecko enough or don’t provide it with the nutrients that it needs, it can decide to eat its moss substrate or other things in its tank. 

The more deficient or hungry it is, the more substrate it will consume.

Parasitic infection

Even though the reason is unknown, leopard geckos with internal parasites sometimes eat their sphagnum moss substrate. However, you can only know for sure if your leopard gecko has parasites when you have a vet test them. 

How to reduce the chances of your leopard gecko eating its sphagnum moss substrate

Feed it outside the tank

This will keep your gecko from confusing its substrate for food. If this isn’t convenient for you, consider getting your leopard gecko an escape-proof bowl. 

Don’t rely on sphagnum moss alone

For best results, only apply sphagnum moss in the cool hide. This will help your leopard gecko know where to shed its skin and rest when it needs to before going back to exploring other parts of the tank.

Ensure it gets a balanced diet

By regularly providing your leopard gecko with nutritious food, you reduce its temptation to eat sphagnum moss or any other substrate. Also, you boost its immunity and general health. 

Prevent and deal with parasitic infections

To protect your leopard gecko from parasitic infection, ensure its tank is cleaned regularly. And if you suspect your leopard gecko already has parasites, take it to the vet immediately. Once the vet successfully diagnoses your leopard gecko, they will prescribe drugs you regularly have to administer. 

Final thoughts

Sphagnum moss is a pretty safe substrate option for leopard geckos and is readily available in many areas. 

Leave a Comment