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Native Habitat of the Leopard Gecko & Setting up a Natural Enclosure

Updated on May 9, 2011
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Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

Leopard Gecko

The leopard gecko is the most common pet reptile in homes today. They're small and easy to care for. They come in a variety of colors and have a very docile temperament.

Leopard geckos are just overall one of the best beginner reptiles.

The biggest misconception about leopard geckos is that their native habitat is on sand. They're desert animals so it must be sand... Right? .... Wrong...

What is a Desert?

Leopard geckos are from the rocky deserts of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. This is a given.

But, what most people don't quite understand is that desert land is technically land of sparse vegetation and minimal rainfall and precipitation.

Desert does not mean dirt and sand. In reality only 20% of the Earth's deserts are composed of sand. Nearly all deserts are composed of rock and pebbles. There are of course several different types of deserts, each with slightly different environments and characteristics, but that of the leopard gecko is that composed of rock and compacted sand.

Setting up a Leopard Gecko Enclosure

Maybe you're asking why pet store employees throw that bag of sand in your buggy when you're making all your initial purchases. If it's not any good or natural for them, why do they promote it as such.

Simple. people tend to buy what they think is natural, and well whatever the guy at the pet store tells them they're going to need. Sand, either a play sand, vita- sand, or calci- sand, is the ideal of what a desert is, so it's sold for desert animals.

Don't buy it. Not even if you want to set up a naturalistic enclosure for your leopard gecko.

If you want to set up a naturalistic leopard gecko enclosure, you can and it's simple. The best way to go about it, is to go to Lowes or another home department store and purchase a box or two of slate tiles. Tiles come in a variety of colors and patterns. Use these in your tank to create a natural feel for the substrate. You may, also, want to consider adding a fake rock design to the enclosure.

If you want to go even more naturalistic, you can will want to make sure that about 40% of the enclosure is covered with rock and 10- 20% covered with live plants.

Mix fine- grained play sand, potting soil (without perlite- the white balls), and peat moss mix together at a 1:1:1 ratio, and place about 1- 1/2" of the mix at the bottom of the tank to serve as drainage for the plants. Go ahead and add the plants now. Cover the drainage material with sand/ soil mix (50:50 ratio), and then put the rocks and wood decorations in the tank. Fill any gaps with fine play sand.

Because about 60% of your tank will be of plants, tile, and wood, most of the sand will be covered, reducing the risk of sand ingestion.

Plant Safe for Reptiles

Because you want to make sure to include live plants, you want to make sure to know which plants are safe for reptiles and leopard geckos.

  • Aansevierias: snake plants such as Sansevieria trifasciata, S. t. hahnii, S horwoodii, S. kirkii pulchra, S. patens, and S. singularis
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  • Cucurbits: such as Xerosicyos danguyi and Momordica rostrata
  • Yemen grape: Cissus rotundifolia
  • Euphobias: E. geroldii and the hybrid E. milli x E. lophogona
  • "Bonsai" plectranthus: such as Swedish ivy (Plectranthus ernstii)
  • Other plants can include: climbing aloe (Alo cilias), elephant bush (Portulacaria afra), and the Mexican caudexed fig (Ficus petiolaria)

For More Information

If you really want to set up a natural enclosure for your leopard gecko, you should really purchase The Herpetoculture of Leopard Geckos by Ron Tremper, Philippe de Vosjoli, and Roger Klingenberg.

The trio goes into great detail about setting up and properly caring for a natural enclosure for leopard geckos.

They discuss feeding techniques to further reduce risk of ingesting the loose sand that is visible, heating methods, and more.

NOTE: If you choose to go the all natural route, you cannot use a 10 gallon aquarium. You must get something at least a 20 gallon long (even a 29 has the same surface as a 20 long, so that's not going to matter). Because at least 20% of the surface will be covered with plants and such, you will take away from the start 20% or more of the surface for your leopard gecko. It's best to create a natural enclosure in a 40 gallon breeder.

NOTE: Just because you're creating a natural setting, it doesn't mean that you can house males together, adults and babies, etc. Yes, in The Herpetoculture of Leopard Geckos, the trio discuss an experiment that was successful as such, but remember that they have years and years of experience behind them. SO, it's best not to do it on your own, and no 3 years isn't enough experience to simulate the experiment at your home.

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    • profile image

      Ted. 17 months ago

      How is sand/topsoil/Peat natural for southwestern Asia desert tank, but playsand isn't?

      If one is truly going natural, a mix of sand/silt/clay (mixed so it dries hard) would be far more realistic

    • profile image

      da beast 5 years ago

      i just got a 5 month old lepoard gekoo from the store he will eat unil i don't have any crikcets left how many crickets and mealworms should i be feeding him a day.

    • profile image

      simply4smiles 5 years ago

      I am getting ready to purchase a gecko, according to the pet store it is a leopard gecko. I have a 70 gallon take that I want to set up for this new family member, but i want it to be as natural as possible. my concern is live plants, what would be the best to get? I don't want to put something in there that will hurt him or her

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      I would recommend bringing the gecko inside, removing the light as it's doing nothing except providing light, and adding an under tank heater for heat.

    • profile image

      Grandma and the Gecko 6 years ago

      I am babysitting my grandson's gecko. My daughter put a lightbulb at the top of one side of the cage but I decided to put him on my screened-in porch which has a ceiling fan. The gecko is in his cage in the corner with no direct sunlight and with the lamp off. It may get to be about 93 degrees with humidity. If I put a tile on one side of the bottom of the tank, will that keep him cool?

    • profile image

      Louise 6 years ago

      Hey, I'm just getting a leopard Gecko from people I know who have had him for a while and honestly they have not taken very good care of him. He is currently in a ten gallon tank, with sand as the substrate, and just a stick and a little log and hideout.. He is skinnier than he should be and his colors are dull. I Said that I would take him off their hands for them and give him a good home and they agreed. So now here I am doing research to figure out what I can do for this little guy. I have a larger tank for him but I have to get it all set up before I can take him and I want to go natural but obviously get rid of the sand so I really like your idea of live plants with soil under slate. My question is, I have access to a heat lamp for him to put over one side of the enclosure but do you think it's a better idea to have a heating pad underneath? Also, I was looking at him yesterday and I noticed that the tips of his front fingers are... well it looks like they are falling off... or burned off or something?? not burned like too much heat... but more like, some of the skin from his shedding is kinda suck on there but the tips are definitely not right... I don't know how to explain it... perhaps I can try to get a picture. I guess my question is, I've heard that some reptiles can grow their tails back, and I know that amphibians can grow limbs back... do you think if I can manage to get him more healthy that his fingers will grow back? Have you ever heard of anything like this before?

      Sorry for the long post... Any info you have would be appreciated!

      Thanks!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      It's not the age, but the weight. The female should be at least 55 grams. Remember that they lay 2 eggs at least once every 4-6 weeks for several months. Make sure to have housing for the hatchlings.

      You cannot tell the age unless you know the day it was hatched, which you wouldn't know unless you purchased from a breeder, which is actually the safest means to getting a healthy reptile.

    • profile image

      Autumn  6 years ago

      And another thing how do u tell the age of a L.gecko?

    • profile image

      Autumn  6 years ago

      i ment does sry

    • profile image

      Autumn 6 years ago

      i have two lepord geckos a male and a female i was wondering what age do a lepord gecko have to be to lay eggs?

    • profile image

      Garrett 6 years ago

      I love the Leopard Geckos I have. There just so hugable!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      First off, wood is a no-no with these guys. You want to start them off with paper towels, tile, or reptile carpet. The wood will make feeding hard, as crickets will hide under the chips.

      They don't need lighting. Make sure to provide an under tank heater, as this will be the main source of heat.

      If they are 7 months old, they are both sexable. I would recommend two tanks.

      I also do not recommend taking all your advice from pet store employees, especially since the one you spoke with could not sex your two geckos.

    • profile image

      caroline 6 years ago

      i have just bought 2 geckos from the pet shop also tank with lights heated mat wood chippings what can i get to put in the vivarium plants/ toys /and were from also i don't know wat sex they are the lady told me they were 7 month old and on reading ure site i am a bit worried if they might start fighting in the future wat is the beast book site ect to learn from for begginers

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      I think all if fine except for the sand. Hard to say about the temps, unless you're monitoring them with a digital thermometer with a probe, if that the case, then they will do. 95 is a tad high though.

    • profile image

      Anthony 6 years ago

      Hello, I am just wondering if you think my setup is adequate. I have had my gecko for 3 1/2 years and she is about 8-9years old. I got her in somewhat bad condition but she is much better now with a nice fat tail.

      I have a 10 gallon tank with a ramp that goes halfway up the tank and provides a 1x1' second level where I keep a moist hide water dish and some fake vegetation. It is in fact a floor tile and it's on the cool side, the second level itself makes yet another hide underneath it. That's conveniently the spot my gecko likes to poop...so I have to remove it to clean the remains lol. The rest of the tank is just standard 10 gallon with sand, under the tank heater on the warm side(opposite of the two leveled side). I have papertowel under the sand by the UTH which makes the temperature about 95f, he usually only lays there after hes eaten. Obviously to help with digestion, the ambient air temperature usually stays around 78f in the day and 74f at night.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      If you don't know what the sexes are and they have been living together for 5 years, then they are more than likely both females.

      Typically, you DO NOT want to house geckos together especially if you do not know their gender. It's ignorant to house them together without the proper information and sex determination.

      100F is too hot. Are you using a digital thermometer with a probe to measure the surface temperatures? If not then the temperature degree that you're reading may not even be accurate.

    • profile image

      Dan 6 years ago

      Hi great site so many questions.I have two L.geckos about 5years old never checked sex bought at a reptile show one grew much bigger than the other does that mean anything?they never fight they seem to be very social to each other. I use a heat pad to one side and have always had one spot that seems to hot about 100 degrees and one of them always seems to hang out in that spot is that very bad?one last what temp. should the cool side be?Thanks

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      Lowes or a home department store. I wouldn't put a lot of playsand, as sand isn't their natural habitat.

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      Ariel 6 years ago

      hey there i have had a leopard gecko for over a year now. and i work at a pet store actually but they don't have much there for her habitat, i was wondering where i could find everything cause right now she has reptile carpet. and i want something to make her feel at home. i am upgrading her tank as soon as i can find all the items she needs. like live plants and some play sand. cause all i have been able to find is calci-sand i have always avoided it.

      thank you:)

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      Not if you're a beginner. I suggest just starting with learning basic care before trying to set up a natural enclosure.

    • profile image

      j doug 6 years ago

      im gonna get a leopard gecko . is it ok i us sand , rock , moss , and fake plants

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      You want an all natural soil that has no perlite or fertilizer. Robin hood topsoil is a good brand. There are different types, but they do have a soil-only that I use with my tortoises, and would be safe for a gecko.

    • profile image

      Samma 6 years ago

      When purchasing potting soil, do I need to avoid any and all soils with added fertilizer? Most bagged dirt has additives for improved growth, and goodness knows if it's chemical or nutrient based. Would it be better to use a certified organic soil, or to dig dirt out of my compost pile?

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      You would just pick out the poo. When cleaning a natural enclosure, it's a little more complicated, but since they tend to go in one spot, the most you could really do is spot clean. If you opted to completely clean out the tank, you would have to remove the plants.

    • jockobono profile image

      jockobono 6 years ago

      I'm sorry if I missed it but how do you clean a naturalistic gecko enclosure that is covered with live plants and tiles and sand? How do you pick up the feces and dirt? Right now I have paper towels on the bottom and I can clean every day. I cannot figure out how I would clean a naturalistic setup.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      There isn't any need for a day or night light. The undertank heater really should be on one side, not in the middle. If you opt to use a light during the day, keep it on the same side as the under tank heater, in order to provide a proper hot/cool side. You want to trash the stick-on thermometer, as it is just measuring your glass temperatures and air temperatures. The gecko isn't sticking to the mid-height of the tank, so the temperatures that it's reading aren't important. You want a digital thermometer with a prob to measure that surface temperatures where the gecko is.

      The kits are typically nothing but crap, having sand and whatnot that you can't use. It's cheaper to buy the products individually, so that you know you're getting the right stuff.

      Leave the gecko alone for up to a week, letting it adjust.

      Watch out for illness, as pet store reptiles, especially babies are prone to being sick. They don't see vets unless the show signs of illness at the store, but in a lot of cases, they aren't at the store long enough before being purchased to show any definite signs.

    • profile image

      Steven 6 years ago

      Hi! I first must say that the time you are putting into your site is amazing. I am so glad I found this place!

      So, I just got a baby gecko from the pet store, and after reading things, I am curious if I am doing things right with my habitat...

      Well, I think my gecko is mad at me because I just switched his environment on him/her today...New décor and new room to put in cage. I do not anticipate any changes now for a long time.

      Any way, for the temperature, my petstore said to use a lamp on one side to get good air temperature and put the heating pad in the middle of the cage... however, what i read says to have put that on one side of the cage. is putting it in the middle ok? i have the two shelters on either end of the cage, and he seems to go in the one that is further from the light.... i hope it's not too hot in there.

      Also, I like to see what he does at night. Is it ok to use a night "moonlight" bulb for this time period?

      then for temperature, my thermometers are on the middle of the glass in the side with the lamp. it tends to be around 90F it looks like ... is this ok? using the lowest wattage bulbs i think. not sure how accurate these are.

      the petstore had a starter 'deal' but not a pre-packaged kit. everything they gave me was sold individually, but i'm not sure how good all of that was...

      lastly, how often can I handle my new gecko? My girlfriend really wants to take it out but I just want to keep it alone... I know you need to socialize, but when is good to start that?

      Thanks for any help!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      What are the temperatures? You may need to seek a vet, as geckos shouldn't chirp. It could be respiratory.

    • profile image

      tristan  7 years ago

      its me agin and its about my gecko chip she used to rest in her hut and wander around her aquariam but now she just lays in front of her house ive ckecked her out a couple of times thinking she was dead but as soon as i put my hand in her cage she puts her head up im begining to worry about her do u no wats wrong

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Younger geckos should be fed daily, as they age about every other day, although some still eat daily. Heat mat is necessary to provide belly heat for optimal for digestion. Most heat bulbs and basking bulbs don't do anything but heat the air, which isn't beneficial for terrestrial reptiles. If you have a ceramic coil heat lamp that doesn't provide heat, that is better, but it's still best for under tank heat pads. You want the hot side to be between 88-92F.

    • profile image

      Bronco 7 years ago

      I was also wondering if i have to use a heat mat because i have a heat lamp. What is the temerature the cage should be at?

    • profile image

      Bronco 7 years ago

      Hello i am looking to buy a leopard gecko. I was just wondering how many times a week i should feed it nd how many crickets i should put in.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      You would need to quarantine each female by themselves for at least 30-90 days to ensure they are healthy. You may encounter fighting and bullying among the two females or among the male and either of the females. There is always a risk, which is why it's best that they are housed individually.

      Also, keep in mind that one female will lay up to 16 eggs breeding just one time, times that by 2. Do you have space for the geckos, money to feed, and homes to give them to? Way too many people are breeding, so the supply is high and the demand is low, even big breeders have having trouble selling their babies, people in the business for a few years are having 4 times as much trouble, and new-comers have to basically give them away. It's hard finding people to take leopard geckos for free because the demand is so low because everyone wants to breed.

    • profile image

      Timbo5360 7 years ago

      Hi, I've a lone male gecko in a 24" by 15" viv and I am thinking about getting two females, in the hope of one day breeding. I will be getting a bigger viv, but my main concern is the geckos fighting, how would be best to introduce them?

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, they lay the eggs. Sand can cause impaction, and if the eggs are laid in sand they will dehydrate quickly.Remove the sand and offer a laybox with a moist sphagnum moss or coconut coir.

    • lizardboy profile image

      lizardboy 7 years ago

      is it normal for geckos to try to bury their eggs?

      because mine keeps flinging sand into her laying box and i don't want the eggs to get dehydrated.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Leopard geckos are NOT good swimmers.

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      cool 7 years ago

      do geckos need enough water in their tank so they can swim?

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      You can use a glad container with a hole cut out, or a commercial humid hide. You can use moist paper towels, or a little bit of coconut coir, moss, etc. Keep it moist right before and during the shed. You can let it dry out in-between sheds.

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      tristan  7 years ago

      no i don't have a humid hide but waat do i need to put in it

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      John, that's about it. Proper lay box, proper heat, etc.

      Tristan, I would try to gently pull it off. Do you have a humid hide? That should aid in shedding

    • profile image

      tristan 7 years ago

      my gecko chip sheded and has skin left over on his head this has hapend a couple of times and im scared it mite bug him wut should i do

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      john 7 years ago

      i have put the two of my leo's together and they seem fine also i got tuppaware and am going to put in a breeding substrate is there anything im missing? i don't want to do anything wrong.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      No. Laying in the sand, will dehydrate the eggs while in captivity. In the wild, leopard geckos are very specific about where they lay and how deep they lay the eggs.

      Please reconsider using sand as your substrate, especially if you plan on housing hatchlings in sand.

    • profile image

      john  7 years ago

      do you think that it is possible for leopard gecko eggs to survive in sand. because mine laid egs under the sand and they were all shriveled up and dry

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I asked around, and it seems the consensus says that the gecko is a mediterranean gecko.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      That is definitely NOT a leopard gecko. It's more of a house gecko, if I had to take a guess, which is far from a leopard gecko. I'm not sure the exact species, but I can find out for you; it's definitely not a leopard gecko. The gecko you have found isn't even one of the eyelid species (Eublepharis). It reminds me a lot of my P. Bastardi that I used to have, but they're not native to Florida, and they're much smaller.

      Just release it back into the wild. As for the gecko's tail, it's supposed to be that way, being that it's not a leopard gecko or any gecko species that's supposed meant to have a fat tail.

      Below is a link of a patternless albino leopard gecko, which is far from what you have:

      http://www.paulsagereptiles.com/images/Leopard_Gec...

    • profile image

      leo lover #1 7 years ago

      2nd try to post link to pic. [IMG]http://i946.photobucket.com/albums/ad303/mitkit/10...[/IMG]

    • profile image

      leo lover #1 7 years ago

      Here is a link to the pic of the gecko I found. What do you think?

    • profile image

      leo lover #1 7 years ago

      i think its a leopard gecko i looked up and found a pic that looked just like it and it looks like a tremper paternless albino leopard gecko and plus not trying to soundd rude cuz u r the expert but ive had one before and now that i tjink about it i lnow my neibors had one but i never saw it do u think it could of been my neighbors?

      thanks

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It is quite odd that you found a leopard gecko on the front porch of your house. The do not eat vegetables, and typically aren't scared of insects. It's probably just nervous going from the wild to a cage.

      If it is truly a leopard gecko, you should have it looked at by a vet. I highly doubt you found a leopard gecko on your porch though. They are not native to the U.S.

      If it's not, it's a wild caught animal that should just be released back into the wild.

      Try to get a picture, and post it on photobucket or an online hosting site, and then post a link to the URL here. I would like to see what you've found.

    • profile image

      leo lover #1 7 years ago

      my leopard gecko is afraid of bugs and wont eat veggies i found him on my porch

      his tail wuz thin so i made hima habitat and im going to feed him till he gets a fatter tail and stronger becausehe dosent use his front legs he pushes himself with his back legs ive only seen my bearded dragon do that and she has MBD could my leopard gecko have MBD? ps i live in florida r leopard geckos like suppost to b here? cuz hes resly nice amd dosent like being alone he acualy ran up to me and i saw his tail so ya i took him in

      thanks

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It really doesn't matter. I use tubs, but that's because my breeders are in rack systems, and I have one rack specifically for hatchlings and juveniles.

    • profile image

      john 7 years ago

      if im breeding my leopard geckos do i need more than one tank or could i just use plastic containers for the hatchlings

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      1. It's best to leave the enclosure the same. Changing it too often and too drastically can cause stress.

      2. Generally, it's best to avoid any type of substrate. Sand isn't ideal unless you are very careful, and always avoid calcium sand.

      3. Heat rocks will burn a gecko, never use them. They really aren't suitable for any reptile. Under tank heaters are the way to go.

    • profile image

      Tom 7 years ago

      Hi, I'm thinking of getting a leopard gecko and have done a lot of research because I've never kept any reptiles before. I've looked everywhere but can't find this out, should you change the layout of the vivarium at all or keep it the same all year round? Does this encourage stimulus or just make them stressed? Plus is all sand subtrate a no-no, even though it's made for reptiles, like Repti-Sand Orange by Zoo Med? And one more question, can you use a heat rock instead of a heat mat or can you use both? Thanks.

      PS - Sorry about all the questions.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I'm not sure how painful it is, but yes it was caused by repeated bad sheds, cutting off the circulation to the tip of the toe.

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      Yvonne 7 years ago

      my leopard gecko lost the tip of one of his toes. it must have been due to a bad shed but i never noticed the skin stuck on. he is housed alone. is losing part of a digit a painful process for a gecko? i feel terrible. he's like my baby.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I would go ahead and separate them.

    • profile image

      nikkif 7 years ago

      my geckos are both mails. they are in the same cage at the moment. how do i know when they need to go into thier own cage. they are about 5 or 6 months old. they dont fight yet

    • profile image

      darren 7 years ago

      just to add a comment about loose subtrate....i have been breeding madagascan ground madagascan giant day and leopard geckos for 2 years now and never had a problem with impactation as i use large chippings(wood or coconut),not only cheap but easy to maintain and clean however i do agree sand is a nono under any circumstance!!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It's odd, not necessarily bad. Do you have a picture?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      is it bad if my leopard geckos tail hasn't grown back for 7-8 months?

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I wouldn't use sand especially for a baby. I'm not sure about celsius temps, but 90F is idea. crickets are fine as long as they are appropriately sized and the gecko is eating them. Smaller is sometimes better for babies. Do not feed a younge baby large crickets; it'll be hard to digest and can actually cause impaction.

    • profile image

      sophie 7 years ago

      hi

      i have a baby leopard gecko he was born this year so still a baby iv had him for a few day but im worried abut that he isnt eating the crikets im afarid if there to big ... he dosent come out of his hide he just stays in the hide ..

      i have a 30x30cm/12x12" with fine sand fake rocks water .. and other bits and bobs ihave aheat pad on one side and other i keep it cooli have a theremasta to check the tempature the shop were i got her/him from said keep it on 28/30degreese and i put nutrobal powder over the crikets should i use meal worms or carry on with crikets is that ok plz get bk to me x x

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      That is probably a good idea.

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      hillo 7 years ago

      i have made a desision, after a long time of thinking, that I should not get a leopard gecko. I have thought about what my mom and dad has said and agreed. But if I ever have a friend who will get a leopard gecko, I will tell them everything I have reaserched, including what you have told me. thanks for the info, though :)

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      You can offer live crickets, live mealworms, live super worms, live discoid roaches, live dubia roaches, live laterallis roaches, and live silk worms. These are the most popular and nutritious foods that you can offer. Although, not all geckos will eat all of these insects; I have some that won't eat any super worms or mealworms and will only eat crickets; I have others that won't eat crickets or roaches and will only eat superworms.

      My very first gecko was on crickets for years, then one day decided she didn't like crickets and I had to find something else to offer, as she started losing weight. She now eats whatever I offer, but for a good long period she refused crickets after having crickets for years and never knew anything other than crickets.

      I will tell you, crickets do get out of their holding tub, They do chirp. They are annoying, smelly, and gross. Every time I order bulk crickets or even just buy a few from the store, a few always get out.

      I thought you were saying that was the size of the tank your dad found. Sorry.

      You should wait to get a gecko unless you have a sitter. They should not go 3 weeks without food, especially if you plan on getting a younger one. Even an adult or full grown gecko really shouldn't go 3 weeks without food.

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      hillo 7 years ago

      my mom is realy worried about the crickets. she thinks that one will get out then chirp everywhere and then dye, so you will have a big dead cricket body in your living room. personaly, I think its kinda gross myself. is there anything else at ALL that I would feed it if i got one, or should I give up on leopard geckos if my mom is that worried ( waa! :( )? By the way, the 18x38x14 was an EXAMPLE!!! Sorry :)! By the way, we are going on a big 3-week camping trip this summer. Should i wait a while to get a gecko, give it too a friend (though none I know have ANY experiance with geckos of any kind), or, again, give up ( double WAAA!!! :( ).

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      The length and height is fine, but it is a little tall. You won't want to put any tall decor in the tank. Just make sure that you have an appropriate sized under tank heater. I can't find any tank that is of that size, which is odd because all tanks are manufactured to a standard size. All 10 gallons are the same size, all 20 longs are the same size, all 40 gallons, etc.

      You have to have both hot and cool side, that is correct.

      The UTH will vary depending on the size that you get, and because I can't tell you what size tank you have, I'm not sure what size you should get. You want the UTH to cover about 1/3 of the surface of the tank.

      The desert starter kits are a waste of money because you won't use half the stuff in them. The stick on thermometers don't read accurate temperatures, and the sand is not a good idea, either. You're better off buying everything individual.

      You need at least 2 hides and a humid hide. A hide is a place where the reptile can hide and get shelter.

      You have to feed live, as they generally won't eat dead. The freeze dried stuff is mainly for fish, even though you can find it with reptiles in it; honestly, I've never heard of one gecko ever eating it. I've tried it, and they won't even look at it.

      A breeder is the best place to get a healthy reptile. Pet stores commonly have sick reptiles and reptiles that have parasites.

      Since you are on a tight budget, just get a few things at a time until you have everything you need. Then get the gecko.

      https://hubpages.com/animals/Set-Up-a-Leopard-Geck...

      https://hubpages.com/animals/Caring_For_Leopard_Ge

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      hillo 7 years ago

      yes, i mean LxHxW, and I just used that as an example. Sorry for the confusion. I wanna know, first of all, how much money the zoo med UTHs cost; remember, I have a tight budget. Like lots of websites say, should I have a hot side and a cool side? The Exo Terra terrariums i am talking about are the Desert starter kit ones . What kind of tank do you use? Iv'e been hearing a lot about hides; what are they? Can I just keep that old tank, or do you still recomend a new one? What are little things that you can put in the tank to just make the gecko feel at home? Do I NEED to keep live crickets and bugs for him/her to eat or can I feed it the dead or freeze dried stuff at the stores because my mom and dad are worried about them chirping all night and keeping us awake. One last thing (sorry about all of the questions); where is a good and cheap place to get leopard geckos? thanks!

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      You don't have to keep the gecko with all the fish supplies. There's no reason why you couldn't go to the store or order proper supplies online. Do not use the pebbles. Clean out the tank. Purchase proper supplies but using the tank is no problem.

      The dimensions 18x38x14 is that LxWxH or what?

      Take everything out of the old take. Throw out the pebbles. Thoroughly disinfect EVERYTHING!!! You can use any decor as decor, but no pebbles or any thing too small or too high.

      You want purchase an under tank heater (zoo med is better, in my opinion).

      Which Exo Terra terrariums are you referring to? The best to use will be a plan fish tank. 10 or 20 gallon minimum. Most tanks that will be ideal for one leopard gecko won't cost $150 for the tank and lid alone. Maybe after buying the tank, UTH, and the supples, you may get close to $150.

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      hillo 7 years ago

      I dont have a leopard gecko but I want to get one bad. My dad came home one day and said he had a tank, and he did, but the thing was that it was a fish tank. It was on the curb on a day where almost everyone had a garage sale, so my dad figured that it was left outside so anyone could take it. It is SUPER dusty, has big and super-tiny pebbles that are usually used at the bottem of fish tanks, some of those little plants that are supposted to look like sea coral, little statues that look like turtles, and a big rock in the back. Looking at the past posts on this site, I am a bit worried about the super-mini pebbles. I worry that he/she (remember I dont have a leopard gecko yet) will eat them and die. I made a deal with my dad that we will keep it in that tank until I have enough money to buy a WAY better one, but is it a good idea? Just some other notes, I dont really get how gallons work, and the place I plan to buy a tank at only uses measurements like, for example, 18x38x14, so what is a good size new tank with this type of measuring? What are a list of things that i should take out of of the old tank? What are things that I should put into new one when I get it? Are Exo Terra terrariums good and worth the money? And what are some really good tanks that are big enough for a leopard gecko and are around $150 (i have $140, but am earing more). Sorry about all of the questions but I am a beginner pet owner and this my first pet other than many, many fish. plz help me out!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Frequency of shedding will depend on age and health. Younger geckos shed more than older geckos. Some older geckos shed about once a month on average. Younger geckos will shed more frequently.

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      megan 7 years ago

      hi im 12 and i was wondering.......... how often should a leopard gecko shed?

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Hm.. That is one of the best brand UTH's that I've ever used. Maybe it just needs to be replaced.

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      Amanda 7 years ago

      I believe it was zoo med if I remember correctly

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It could be the brand of UTH. What brand are you using? Some of them don't work as well as others.

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      Amanda 7 years ago

      I am too actually. I got other reptiles in the house as well, and I am having more difficulties with this heating arrangement, than anyone else here. I got a different brand of the heat bulb and it seems to be working a little bit better. They are both starting to walk around the habitat more.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I recommend heating it the same way. With an appropriately sized UTH and a bulb if the UTH isn't supplying enough heat. No one can tell you what watt to use or whatever because you have to determine your enclosure using a digital thermometer with a probe. I am quite surprised that the UTH isn't supplying enough heat on its own.

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      amanda 7 years ago

      The UTH, I looked it up haha, yea the under heater pad. I have done so much research on these guys before getting them, so I could be the responsible parent. I do have the light and the tank heater on the same side. I will try the 100w bulb. Now I want to upgrade to a 40gal breeder, how do you recommend heating this one? I can't seem to find much info on it.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      How do you check what exactly? The bulb or the UTH size? You can try to bump the watt to a 100w. Make sure that the bulb and the UTH are on the same side, as well. I'm surprised that the UTH isn't providing enough heat; generally, the tile will disperse the heat well. Is the thermometer a digital thermometer with a probe?

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      amanda 7 years ago

      Um I'm not sure, their pad is for a 10-20 gal tank, I have a 75 watt bulb. How do I check this? I have a temp gauge from petco measuring the one side where its supposed to be hotter.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      What size UTH are you using? What are you using to measure the temperature?

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      Amanda 7 years ago

      HI there! Wow I love your site first off. I have 2 leopard geckos, both females. Right now I have them on slate tiles, which I love. Anyways my question is, I can't seem to get the temperature up in my tank at all. My large lil girl seems to be doing ok, but the lil one is getting cold. I have a heat lamp and heating pad. What is the next step? They are in a 20 long, and I want to upgrade them soon, but I do not want to do this until I can get the heat figured out.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I would recommend larger. You should use the UTH and monitor with a digital thermometer with a probe to figure out what the temperatures are going to be before you try adding lights. Depending on what the temperatures are, will determine what watt to you, and whether you could use a regular bulb or if you will need a small watt heat bulb (which won't offer any light, unless you purchase a UV bulb which isn't necessary).

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      pockets1 7 years ago

      i have a 20 gallon tank and was thinking of just starting with one or two real plants. i have a uth for 20 gallon tank should i get a uth for a 40 gallon tank instead? also is there a special bulb i should use that will help get surface temps where i need them? thank you for all your help.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      If you do a natural enclosure, you'll need a larger enclosure to be able to offer sufficient surface area. In this case, you'll need a larger UTH. The UTH should provide a good amount of heat, as using paper towels, tile, and thin layers of substrate, a UTH can sometimes offer too much heat. But, because a live, natural enclosure has plants, you'll need light as well. This will help supplement some of the heat, although, generally a light will just heat the air, but this will help some.

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      pockets1 7 years ago

      if i decide to go for the soil soil mixtures for real plants how can i keep the soil surface at 90 degrees for the gecko? as the uth will not penetrate 2-1/2 of soil? also someone recommended i put an 1/2 inch of charcoal in first before the sand,soil,moss mix. any suggestions

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Some use paper towels and keep them moist, others use peat moss, and some use coconut fiber. If you use a lose substrate, watch to make sure the gecko isn't eating it on accident.

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      Hz cruiser 7 years ago

      What is the best substrate to use in a humid hide?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It is normal for them not to eat fora few days after coming home, as hey need to adjust to the new surrounding. If the gecko is losing visible weight, that is not good. I would suggest a vet to rule out parasites, as internal parasites are common among reptiles that come from pet stores. Other than that, the only advice I have is to make sure the temperature on the surface of the enclosure is right around 90F, measuring with a digital thermometer with a probe.

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      ridenbikes 7 years ago

      I bought a gecko a little over a week ago. He wont eat. The pet shop says it is normal. He has lost weight and his tail looks like it is getting hard. Can you give me so advice on what things i need to try to help my little guy.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Check out this article for more information about reptile impaction.

      https://hubpages.com/animals/Impaction

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      Joe 7 years ago

      i have had a leopard gecko for about 6 months and i used corn (oops, silly me) and she has compaction, i have no vets. But is there any way to make her better?? PLz help me

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Because you don't know the genders, I wouldn't house them together. They may be a male and female or both males, which won't work housing longterm. If you're worried about the size, then you answered your own questions; only offer the smaller size. It's not a choking concern but a potential impaction concern. At 5 inches, you can probably feed 1/2 inch. Personally, the dust that is species specific, isn't all that great. I haven't heard much good about it. I'd stick with general calcium dust and vitamin dust. They are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day, answering the question as to why they don't come out. You wouldn't be starving them; they eat when they're hungry.

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      Lady Hyena-chan~ 7 years ago

      Hi,

      i previously posted about which reptile is better a leopard gecko or Bearded dragon and went with the leopard geckos. I got 2 little guys(not sure if there male or female but i call them guys) and there doing fine i suppose. But my little questions is: they wont eat the recommened 1/8inch crickets but inist on the bigger ones that are around 3/4s inchs. Im worried that theyll choke if i keep feeding them that but they just dont want the little ones. also when i dust them(i was told every other day or everyday varing between a none D3 and a D3 calcuim) and was wondering if T-Rex Leopard Gecko Dust ICB is alright for everyday? I read it and it says low D3. Should i be dusting there crickets daily or every other day? there both about 5 inchs(give or take) and set up in a 20 gallon long tank(i think)its 30x12 or so with a under heat tank a hide over that and a moist hide and some other things. Its been about a week now and the little guys still dont like coming out of the hide most times. The little snow Leuctist(sp) will venture out and stare me down and if i put my hand in the tank he will charge and try to bite me(hisses too). Im told that thats normal, is it? the other hypo high yellow one doesnt come out at all! i put crickets in the hide where he chills at and he eats in there, but again its the bigger crickets. Should i just not feed them the bigger crickets and wait for them to get so hungry theyll take the little ones(tho id feel terrible starving them)? could they have trouble seeing them? advice please~ no one can give me a straight answer other then to starve them till they take the little ones and i dont wanna do that to them~

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I've never seen a pet store not carry it. They typically carry many different types of cricket food. Fluker's has several different types. You can purchase it online from different online cricket sellers. You can make your own, but depending on how many crickets you plan on having at a time, it probably won't be economical for you to make your own.

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      chris 7 years ago

      I can not find gut loader where i live. I have been to several pet stores. Can i make my own or is there a company on the web to buy it from.

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      em 7 years ago

      sand is HAZARDOUS for both young and older geckos! i know this from experience. another thing is DON'T feed your gecko MORE than 4 meal worms/crickets a day and make sure that the meal worms/ crickets are NO bigger than the space between the gecko's eyes.