Get your gecko gear here! We’ll help you find everything you need for your leopard gecko habitat setup.
Before you bring you new pal home, you’ll need a few things to house your gecko and keep it healthy and happy. Perhaps your baby gecko is outgrowing its tank, or you want some ideas to upgrade. Wherever you’re at in your leopard gecko journey, we’ve got it covered. If you’re looking for ideas regarding enclosures, heating, lighting, feeding, etc.. you may find the affiliate links below useful.
We’ve compiled a list of the essentials, and have already done the shopping for you.
*We’re an affiliate – we may earn a commission through qualifying purchases from the links on this page. As always, thanks!*
Leopard Gecko Habitats, Tanks, & Enclosures
The first thing you’ll need is the habitat itself. These can be referred to as habitats, tanks, cages, enclosures, or vivariums. Since Leopard geckos are fairly small, their enclosures and tanks can be smaller than other reptile choices. You’ll want at least a 10 gallon tank for a single leopard gecko, and at least 15 gallons for a breeding pair (though 20 gallons is preferable.) You could consider a 20 gallon enclosure if you have the space or are planning to house several geckos together.
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a home for your leopard gecko. Keep the following points in mind when making your selection:
- Escape Proof
- Your enclosure should be escape proof. This is for your gecko’s protection. A glass enclosure is a good choice.
- Wire or mesh would not make a suitable enclosure; in addition to providing holes where the leopard may get loose or stuck, it will not allow you to control the temperature or environment.
- Controlled Environment
- You want to create a healthy environment for your leopard gecko. You should be able to control the temperature, lighting, and humidity within the enclosure. You’ll learn more about how to do this in the sections below.
- Allow for ample space for the animal to behave naturally
- Your pet shouldn’t be cramped. You want to design an enclosure that allows your pet enough space to be active. Leopard geckos are not avid climbers and don’t need excess height.
Here are some simple tanks to start with:
A simple aquarium tank can work well for a leopard gecko. If you have the option to buy a long tank, this is preferable. You gecko won’t climb high and will appreciate the extra space to move around on the ground.
Make sure you have a lid that properly fits your enclosure. Since your leopard gecko cannot climb the glass, there is little risk or your gecko climbing out of the tank. Tanks should be covered not only to prevent the gecko from getting out, but it will keep other animals (or curious kids) from getting in easily. Lids also give something for the lighting fixture to sit on.
There are enclosures especially designed for reptiles. Most of these have doors in the front instead of opening from the top. Since most predators would approach a leopard gecko from above, side opening tanks may keep your pet more at ease.
Leopard Gecko Heating
Once you have your enclosure picked out, you’ll want to make sure it’s warm enough for your gecko. Leopard geckos, like all reptiles, are cold blooded. This means their body temperature is dependent upon the temperature of their environment, and makes heating a critical part of your leopard gecko habitat setup.
One side of the enclosure should be warmer than the other so your lizard can better regulate its temperature. The warm side of your enclosure ambient temperature of about 90 °F (32 °C), while the cool side should be about 80 °F (27 °C).
Here are some options for heating:
Under Tank Heaters
Leopard geckos absorb most of their heat through their bellies, so an under tank heater or heat mat makes a great choice.
Lights produce heat and can keep your gecko’s habitat warm while providing light. You’ll need a light fixture, as well as bulbs.
Heat rocks are not recommended for leopard geckos. They provide localized, uneven heat, and could give your leopard gecko serious burns. Please do not use a heat rock.
How do you know if it’s warm enough, but not too hot? You’ll want a thermometer to check and monitor the temperature.
A simple digital thermometer like the one here has a suction cup display with a probe that you can place in the tank. They are also available in a double pack, so you can easily have one probe at the warm side and cool side of the enclosure.
Infrared thermometers are also handy for spot checking specific places or surfaces within the enclosure.
Leopard Gecko Lighting
Now it’s time to take a look at lighting. Since leopard geckos are most active at night, you don’t need UV or basking lights as you would with reptiles like iguanas or bearded dragons.
Leopard geckos do not bask in the sun to absorb heat, and instead, absorb most of the heat through their bellies. Lighting for a leopard gecko is largely aesthetic. You’ll need a light fixture, as well as bulbs.
You should still replicate a natural day and night cycle, aiming for 14 hours of daylight during summer months, gradually moving to 12 hours of daylight during winter.
Fixtures and Bulbs
You can do just fine with a regular bulb to simulate a day/night cycle.
A red light designed for nocturnal reptiles could also be used to help maintain temperature, as well as allow you to see into the enclosure at night while your gecko is most active.
Using a timer for your lights is a good idea to simulate a natural day/night cycle for your leopard gecko. A simple outlet or Christmas light timer will do the trick.
You could also use a Smart Plug instead of a timer. Most smart plugs can be automated to turn on/off dynamically at sunset and sunrise, or you could control the lights from your smart phone. Smart plugs are available from a number of companies, though have similar features and do the same thing: allow control over what is plugged into it, in this case, your gecko’s lighting.
Leopard Gecko Substrate
We’ve got the enclosure and environment covered so far. Now it’s time for the inside. The first thing to go in the tank? Substrate. Here are a few floor coverings to consider.
Related Post: Check out our guide to leopard gecko substrates
Leopard Gecko Accessories
We’ve got the basics down. Now it’s time for creature comforts.
Leopard Gecko Hides
Your leopard gecko will need at least two places to hide; one on the warm side, and one on the cool side. You may want to include a third “moist hide” to help during shedding.
Food and Water Bowls
You’ll need a bowl for water. Occasionally, your leopard gecko may want to sit in the water bowl, so it is nice to have a bowl large enough for it to fit in. The bowl should be shallow enough so your gecko is not in danger of drowning.
In addition, you’ll want a bowl to contain mealworms, waxworms, etc. so they are not crawling around the tank.
Check this link for the best prices on bowls for your leopard gecko. This is a popular food bowl from Amazon that has a lip which prevents insects from escaping and comes in several sizes.
Finish your enclosure off with some décor. Some enclosures look great with a few rocks or faux plants.
Leopard geckos do not bask in the sun like many reptiles. Still, they may enjoy having a flat smooth rock to climb or sit on. I like to put this on the ‘hot’ side of the tank above the under the tank heat mat so the rock will absorb and hold some of the heat.
You can find faux “rocks” along with other tank decor, though for our leopard gecko habitat setup, we just found a nice sized flat rock in the backyard that was perfect.
Ready to go Enclosure Kits
If you want the whole kit in a box, you could try something like this starter kit: Exo Terra Leopard Gecko Starter Kit
Related Post: Now that you’ve got everything your leopard gecko needs in its habitat, check out some fun leopard gecko accessories to level up your set up.
Leopard Gecko Food
You can find nearly anything on the internet and have it delivered to your door. Would you believe you can order live crickets and live mealworms online? Dubia Roaches and Waxworms can also be purchased online if you want more variety in your leopard gecko’s diet.
Even though you can find and purchase live feeder insects online, they will probably be a bit cheaper in your local pet shop.
Related Post: Check out our comprehensive leopard gecko feeding guide for more information.
I’ve got everything I need for the habitat setup, where can I buy a leopard gecko?
Glad you asked! If you’re looking for a “normal” leopard gecko like the guy at the top of this page, you can find them at most pet shops that carry reptiles.
If you’re looking for something a bit more exotic, check out some of the leopard gecko breeds over at CB Reptile (affiliate link to cbreptile.com.) They have a wide assortment of captive bred leopard geckos with differing patterns and colors. They also have other reptiles, supplies, and accessories available.
About the Author: H. Evan Miller is the founder of the Leopard Gecko Habitat. Like many young boys, he developed an early fascination with dinosaurs, and by extension, reptiles. He’s been keeping reptiles as pets since he was a kid (we won’t count the decades) and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge on the topic.
You can read more about his ongoing adventures with science, technology, and a couple of curious kids over at STEMtropolis.com.