9 Items Leopard Geckos Need in Their Tank

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Common leopard gecko on the ground in its tank

As the proud owner of a leopard gecko, it’s your job to create a living space that caters to their unique needs.

We’ll walk you through everything—from selecting the appropriate substrates and heat sources that replicate their natural environment, to finding the right hiding spots and maintaining proper hydration.

With this guide, you’ll understand how to set up a safe and comfortable space for your leopard gecko to grow and flourish. So let’s dive in.

1. Substrate

Choosing the right substrate for your leopard gecko’s tank is essential for their comfort and well-being. Here are some of the best substrate options to consider for your leopard gecko’s tank:

  • Paper Towels: A cheap and easy-to-maintain option, paper towels are highly absorbent and straightforward to replace, making them a popular choice for leopard gecko owners.
  • Shelf Liner: This smooth, easy-to-clean material helps prevent injury or ingestion issues associated with loose substrates.
  • Reptile Carpet: Specially designed for reptile tanks, reptile carpet provides a soft and comfortable surface for your gecko to walk on. It’s also easy to clean and replace when needed.
  • Sand: While sand can be used cautiously under specific circumstances, it’s generally not recommended for leopard geckos, as it poses a risk of impaction if ingested.
  • Newspaper or Paper Towel: Similar to paper towels, newspapers provide an absorbent, low-cost, and easy-to-change option for your leopard gecko’s tank.
  • DIY Blended Substrate: Some owners choose to create their own mix of substrates for their leopard gecko’s tank, but you must ensure it’s safe and won’t pose any risks to your pet.

It’s crucial to avoid harmful substrates, such as crushed shells or nuts, which could injure your leopard gecko or cause digestive issues. Large wood chips or dirt mixes can also pose a threat, as they may impale or become lodged in your gecko’s mouth. Instead, opt for safe and proven substrate options to create a comfortable and healthy environment for your leopard gecko.

2. Heating Element

Since leopard geckos are endothermic reptiles, they require an external heat source to regulate their body temperature.

Providing a temperature gradient in your gecko’s tank is essential as it allows them to self-regulate their body temperature by moving between the warmer and cooler areas.

The warm end should be between 88-94°F (31-34°C), while the cool end should be around 75-79°F (24-26°C).

Multiple types of heating elements are available for leopard geckos. These include:

  • Under-tank heaters provide heat to your gecko through the tank floor, which helps in their digestion as they primarily absorb heat through their bellies.
  • Basking lamps provide overhead heat, allowing your gecko to bask and warm up after their cooler nighttime temperatures. Make sure to use a low-wattage bulb to avoid overheating.

Maintaining a proper temperature range within the tank is essential for your leopard gecko’s survival. Aim for the following temperature guidelines:

Cool side75°F
Warm side85°F
Basking spot90-95°F

3. Warm and Cool Hides

Providing appropriate hides for your leopard gecko is essential for their well-being. Hides serve multiple purposes, such as creating a sense of security, promoting natural behaviors, and facilitating temperature regulation. You will need multiple hides in your leopard gecko’s tank, specifically: a warm hide, a cool hide, and a humid hide.

Leopard geckos are ectothermic, meaning they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. To have a healthy leopard gecko, you need to provide both a warm and a cool hide in their tank.

The warm hide should be placed on the warmer end of the tank, while the cool hide should be on the cooler end.

By providing these two essential hides, you are enabling your leopard gecko to effectively thermoregulate and feel comfortable in their environment.

Hides are not only essential for temperature regulation and shedding but also for reducing stress levels in your leopard gecko. A stressed gecko may experience health issues, lose its appetite or exhibit unusual behaviors.

Providing multiple hides throughout their tank creates a secure environment and encourages natural behaviors, such as exploration and seeking shelter when needed.

In summary, providing your leopard gecko with multiple hides is crucial: a warm hide, a cool hide, and a humid hide.

These hides promote healthy behaviors, regulate temperature, and aid in shedding. They also help reduce stress levels, ensuring your gecko remains happy, healthy and content in their habitat.

4. Humid Hide

Your leopard gecko needs a humid hide to help them shed and maintain proper humidity levels. This hide should be placed on the warm side of the tank to create the ideal environment for your gecko to enjoy.

Choose a container 2-3 times the size of your leopard gecko for its humid hide. This will ensure it’s comfortable and can move freely inside.

As a substrate, use a material that retains moisture without getting moldy, such as sphagnum moss or coconut coir. Fill the container with the chosen substrate, moistening it slightly to achieve the desired humidity level.

To maintain the humidity inside the hide, make sure it’s covered. You can create an opening by cutting a hole in the lid or side of the container, ensuring it’s large enough for your leopard gecko to enter and exit.

Check the humidity levels in the hide regularly and adjust the substrate’s moisture as needed to maintain a range between 30% and 40%.

Remember, it’s essential to monitor the humidity levels both inside and outside the humid hide. This will prevent health issues like fungal and bacterial infections and help to solve any shedding issues that may arise.

Use a hygrometer to accurately measure humidity levels in the tank, and make adjustments as necessary to ensure the overall wellness of your leopard gecko.

5. Water Dish

Your leopard gecko needs a water dish to stay hydrated. Choosing a shallow water dish that your gecko can easily access for drinking is essential. Geckos drink water much like cats, so it should be easily accessible for them to lick.

Some important factors to consider while selecting a water dish include:

  • Material: Opt for inert, natural materials such as rock, porcelain, or thick glass for the water dish. These materials are durable and safe for your gecko.
  • Size: The water dish should be small and shallow. This will prevent your gecko from drowning, as they don’t need a lot of water.
  • Maintenance: Change the water in the dish at least every other day to ensure freshness and cleanliness. Stagnant water can attract bacteria and other harmful organisms.

Remember to monitor the water levels and replace the water daily. It is important to maintain a clean and accessible water source for your gecko to ensure their health and well-being.

6. Food Dish

One essential item for your leopard gecko’s tank is a food dish. This dish should be shallow to allow your gecko to access its meals easily. You can use a small, low-sided dish or purchase a specialized reptile food dish at your local pet store.

When it comes to feeding your leopard gecko, variety is key. Leopard geckos are insectivores, meaning they primarily eat insects. Some popular options include:

  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Waxworms
  • Superworms

Dust the insects with calcium powder, as this is essential for maintaining your gecko’s bone health.

For optimal nutrition, providing your leopard gecko with calcium powder without Vitamin D3 at every feeding and calcium powder with Vitamin D3 two to three times per week is good idea.

Additionally, a carnivorous reptile multivitamin can be offered weekly or bi-weekly.

Remove uneaten insects from the tank within a few hours of feeding to prevent them from stressing or harming your gecko. Observe your leopard gecko’s appetite and adjust its feeding schedule as needed to maintain a healthy weight.

7. Thermometer and Hygrometer

Monitoring the temperature and humidity in your leopard gecko’s tank is crucial for its health and well-being. To ensure your pet thrives in its environment, it’s important to have both a thermometer and a hygrometer in the tank.

A thermometer measures the tank’s temperature, helping you maintain the appropriate temperature range. On the other hand, a hygrometer measures humidity levels, allowing you to keep the tank at the optimal humidity for your leopard gecko.

Placement of these tools is essential for accurate readings. Position the thermometer on the tank’s warm side, close to the basking spot, and another one on the cool side.

This will help you monitor the temperature gradient, ensuring both sides are within the recommended range. Place the hygrometer in the middle of the tank, away from direct heat sources and water dishes, to obtain a reliable overall humidity reading.

Leopard geckos thrive in a moderate humidity environment. Keep the humidity level between 30-40%.

To maintain this, you can use a humid hide, mist the tank occasionally, or use a substrate that retains moisture. Regularly check the hygrometer and adjust your tank’s setup to maintain the ideal humidity level for your gecko’s comfort and health.

8. Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for maintaining the health and well-being of your leopard gecko. It consists of two main aspects: UVB light for benefiting their overall health and normal light to mimic the natural day-night cycle.

UVB Light: Providing UVB light in your leopard gecko’s tank is important for their health. UVB lighting helps them synthesize vitamin D3, which aids in calcium absorption, essential for strong bones and preventing metabolic bone disease. A UVB bulb with a 5% or 6% output is suitable for leopard geckos.

You should place the UVB light source at one end of the tank, and ensure your gecko has access to shady areas to regulate their exposure. The bulb should be on for around 10-12 hours during the day, mimicking natural sunlight.

Normal Light: Besides UVB lighting, your leopard gecko needs regular light to create a day-night cycle. Low-wattage incandescent light bulbs or halogen bulbs can be used for this purpose. A well-lit tank promotes healthy activity levels and stimulates appetite in your gecko.

Be sure to regulate the light cycle with a timer or by turning the lights on and off manually, keeping the tank illuminated for about 12 hours during the day and in darkness during the night. This consistent routine helps your leopard gecko maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Remember to regularly replace the bulbs, as their output decreases over time. Periodically monitor your leopard gecko’s behavior and adjust the lighting setup to keep your pet healthy, active, and happy.

9. Decorations

Providing your leopard gecko with decorations inside its tank is essential for its well-being and enrichment. Proper decorations create a more natural environment that simulates their natural habitat and promotes healthy behaviors. With that in mind, be cautious about selecting safe and suitable decorations.

In your leopard gecko’s tank, you can add various safe and functional decorations for your gecko to explore and hide. Consider incorporating the following items:

  • Rocks: Use flat, sturdy rocks to create basking areas or hiding spots. Ensure they are clean and smooth, without sharp edges.
  • Branches: Natural wooden branches allow your gecko to climb and explore, promoting exercise and mental stimulation. Always sanitize and strip any bark off to avoid potential hazards.
  • Artificial plants: Artificial foliage can provide additional hiding spots and mimic natural surroundings. Ensure they are made of non-toxic materials and are easy to clean.

Avoid using decorations that may harm your leopard gecko. Some hazards to be aware of include:

  • Sharp edges: Inspect all decorations for sharp edges or points that could injure your pet.
  • Small pieces: Don’t use decorations with small, removable parts that your gecko could accidentally ingest or become trapped in.

When choosing decorations for your leopard gecko’s tank, always prioritize their safety and comfort. Proper decorations contribute significantly to your gecko’s overall health and happiness, ensuring a thriving environment.


Creating an ideal habitat for your Leopard Gecko is crucial for its overall well-being. Remember to include the following essentials in their tank:

  • Three hides: one for the cool end, one for the warm end, and a humidity hide
  • A heat source, such as an under-tank heater, for proper digestion and temperature regulation
  • An appropriate substrate that reduces the risk of impaction and allows for natural behavior
  • Decorations and climbing structures for enrichment and exercise
  • A shallow, easy-to-access water tray made from inert, natural materials
  • Monitoring and automating devices for temperature and humidity, if possible

As you continue caring for your Leopard Gecko, stay curious and observant. Pay attention to their behavior, and make necessary adjustments to the tank setup. There’s always more to learn about these fascinating creatures, so don’t hesitate to seek expert advice from local pet stores, online forums, or veterinarians.

Finally, remember that quality care is an investment in your pet’s long-term health and happiness. By taking the time and effort to provide a suitable home, you’re contributing to the well-being of your Leopard Gecko for years to come.

Your dedication will be rewarded with a thriving, contented reptile and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve created a habitat that closely replicates their natural environment.

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