What is the best natural looking substrate, I had paper towels in the tank but I think its time for an upgrade
It depends what it’s for, if it’s a desert species then repti carpet would be good or excavators clay. If it’s a humid or jungle setup then a bioactive substrate soil mix would be good.
Repti Carpet works good except I’ve heard of some people’s leopard geckos getting claws stuck in the loops and if you have calcium in the tank it can be hard to clean off of it if your gecko knocks it over. Excavators clay is great and you can shape it and form it to however you want. The only problem is it can take a few days to dry so you need to have another enclosure for the leo.
Repti Carpet is a vector for bacteria. Substrate should be disposable or easily cleaned. Excavator is great, I’ve used it with Uromastyx but never leos.
I use one of the types of paper towel from seventh generation. it’s recycled and brown in color. I’ve tried disposable tank liners but I don’t like the one’s I’ve tried because I feed a lot of caterpillar prey, and geckos can have a hard time pulling them off of them. Reptile Carpet has the same issue and, as @westridge mentioned, can get pretty gross. Some people use slate or tile, but I don’t know enough to comment on it. I’ve heard good things about the excavator, but have zero personal experience. Whatever you choose, make sure it is appropriate for how you heat your tank- different substrates will conduct heat very differently, some may require more advanced heating systems than an UTH on a thermostat.
Yeah, I should say that when I used Excavator for Uromastyx, the enclosure was heated with overhead heating elements, not the UTH that is usually used for Leopard Geckos.
Only substrate I would use other than paper towel would be some natural looking flat slate rocks/tiles or some type of hardware store flooring. They come in a variety of colors and textures and work well with heat. I would avoid any type of reptile carpet (the green grass or the brown gravel type) they are a bacteria breeding ground and sometimes the leos feet can get caught in the fibers. Avoid any sand like substrates found at pet stores. Avoid those at all cost. They could lead to impaction and kill you leo if they ingest it.