How to set up a leopard gecko enclosure

Preparing for your first leopard gecko can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. In this post I explain how to set up a leopard gecko enclosure.

Disclaimer: This is how I set up my enclosure and what I think is best for my leopard gecko. Please read multiple different post and watch different videos to really know what is best.

Tank.
You need at least a 20 gallon tank. I went with an Exo Terra large low terrarium. I’ve read a lot about leopard gecko’s not needing much space but Arlow uses every inch of his large enclosure. I can highly recommend the Exo Terra large low terrarium. It has front opening doors, which is a must for me. It is much easier to take your gecko out, fill the water bowl and clean with a front opening tank.

Hides.
You should have at least 3 hides. One on the cold side, one on the warm side and one humid hide on the cool side.

I think a lot of people don’t realize how important having a humid hide in your leopard gecko enclosure is.
A humid hide will help your leopard gecko shed but your gecko may also enjoy just hanging out in there. If you don’t provide a humid hide, you’re gecko might get old skin stuck to his head, toes, tail…
Arlow uses his humid hide every day to drink and rest. And he always uses it when he’s shedding. If you don’t want to spend money on one, you can easily make one yourself. If you want to know how I made mine, read THIS POST.

Calcium bowl.
Having pure calcium in your leopard gecko tank is vital for your gecko’s health. Not calcium with D3 (that’s what you use to dust your insects, along with vitamins), only pure calcium. You may be surprised on how much your gecko will eat from it.

Water.
Your gecko should always have access to fresh water. I keep a little bowl of water in his enclosure that I change out every day.

Decoration.
It’s a common misconception that leopard geckos don’t like to (or can’t) climb. In the six months I’ve had my gecko, I’ve seen the opposite. Arlow LOVES to climb so I gave him lots of climbing space. A few examples are logs, hammocks, rocks…
You should also give your leopard gecko lots of enrichment like plants, rocks… It’s a great stimulation and your gecko will definitely enjoy it. If you want to use real plants, do research on which ones are save.
I see Arlow exploring and climbing every single night and it’s amazing to see.

Heating.
Your heating mat should cover 1/3 of the enclosure and it goes underneath the tank. This is your warm side. I use an Exo Terra heath mat and it works perfectly. You ALWAYS need to use a thermostat with a heath mat to regulate the temperature. Leopard geckos need belly heat to process their food, this is why a heat mat is so important.

Substrate.
You can use a lot of different substrates but NEVER use sand and avoid using loose substrate. If you want a naturalistic look, you can use tile. I now use paper towel, but will soon switch to tile. It looks nice and is easy to clean. Paper towel is a fine substrate but not as pretty to look at. I do like using paper towel and my gecko seems to like it as well.
You can’t use sand if you want a healthy, happy gecko. Sand causes impaction and can cause many problems (or even be fatal) for your leopard gecko.

Quick overview of my enclosure.
1. Warm hide and climbing rock
2. Warm hide
3. Climbing log
4. Plants as decoration and extra hiding space
5. Cold hide
6. Cold hide
7. Hammock
8. Humid hide (IMPORTANT)
9. Water
10. Pure calcium bowl

If you’re preparing for a leopard gecko, you may like my post about how I prepared for mine.

↓ You may enjoy some of my other posts ↓

If you think I forgot something or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me a message.

3 thoughts on “How to set up a leopard gecko enclosure

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