New Gecko Friend!

Hi! Im taking on a leopard gecko soon due to the owner having a child soon. Any tips on tank setup, like what substrate works best, etc. Also tips on care, I havent kept leos since I was around 12.

This is the gecko, her name is Cleo.


Congrats on the new gecko. Some of these links might help:

I’ll write a quick version of their care to get you started.


You can use enclosures of multiple types. Ideal enclosures are plastic, but glass can also work. I personally use plastic shoe boxes, which work great. The height of the enclosure isn’t that important, the floor space is the most important. For a younger gecko, a smaller enclosure can help them feel more comfortable, but if set up properly, a larger enclosure can usually work (it depends on the individual gecko). As an adult, try to get at least a floor space of 20" x 10".


Avoid loose substrates. You have a lot of options, but loose substrates often cause problems, for the sake of you and your gecko, just avoid them. Also avoid repti-carpet, it’s not terrible and it can be used, but geckos’ claws can get stuck in them and it needs to be cleaned often. It’s also hard to clean, when I used repti-carpet, it was super difficult to get calcium powder out of it (and my gecko loved dumping his dish of calcium, lol). For substrate, I prefer paper towels, they’re easy to clean, and work great for me (I have quite a few geckos, so it’s easy and sanitary). You can also use slate tiles, or just use no substrate.


You need a bare minimum of 3 hides, a warm hide, a cool hide, and a humid hide. Put the warm hide on the warm end of the enclosure, the cool hide on the cool end of the enclosure, and the humid hide can go wherever you want. The warm and cool hide both need to be small, dark (or at least very close, you could always paint over a clear hide), and only have 1 opening (transparent hides, log hides, and large hides don’t make the gecko feel secure and safe). The humid hide should also be similar in terms of making the gecko feel secure. For the humid hide, put some kind of medium (moss or paper towels work best) inside and keep it damp. When the gecko sheds, it can use that to help.

Be sure the enclosure isn’t open, geckos like to feel secure and safe, the safer they feel, the more often you’ll see them (otherwise they will always be in a hide). You might want to cover 2-3 sides of the enclosure with something dark so the gecko doesn’t feel exposed (this isn’t always necessary, but it sometimes is, if you’re not sure you can always ask on here). Adding more hides and decorations is always okay (here, the rules of security; the dark, small, and 1 opening don’t apply, these are extra hides). Be sure to provide something rough/heavy to help your gecko shed, they will use it to start the shedding process and help get the skin off.


As far as heating, the best option is to use something underneath the enclosure. Heat tape or a head pad (made for reptiles) work well, but be sure to use a thermostat(you have a lot of options, cheap ones, like an inkbird, or expensive ones, like a vivarium electronics), otherwise they can get very hot and kill your gecko or melt/crack the enclosure. Put the heating source so it doesn’t cover more than 1/3 of the floorspace (the tape/pad and thermostat probe go under the enclosure, not in it) A lamp will work find, but it’s not ideal. The cost of the bulbs gets way more expensive than heat tape/heat pad + thermostat. The very hottest part of the enclosure should be around 90*F, and the warm side can be in the high 80’s.
Lighting isn’t super important, as long as there is a bit of light and a clear day/night cycle, you don’t need extra lights. UV can be beneficial (if you want one, get a low level one), but it’s not necessary.


A variety of foods is ideal. I like a staple of dubia roaches. They have great nutrients, and they are super easy to keep alive and feed. You can also use hornworms, black soldier fly larvae (bsfl), or silkworms (all of which can be trickier as food items; hornworms grow very fast, silkworms are expensive, and bsfl morph into an adult quickly) No matter what you use, gut load it before feeding (you can use carrots for most things, but if you feed crickets, use a dedicated gut-loading for reptiles). Avoid feeding mealworms, superworms, or waxworms as a staple, since they are fatty and unhealthy. But, feeding those on occasion is great (you can buy a small container and feed it off, your gecko should love those).

Whatever you feed (except bsfl), dust it with a reptile multivitamin (I personally use a repashy multivitamin), most multivitamin instructions tell you to dust every food item. Black soldier fly larvae have enough calcium that it’s not necessary to dust them before feeding, but everything else needs that so they have a high enough calcium:phosphorus ratio. It helps to provide a dish of calcium powder (without d3), it’s not necessary, but it helps. It’s only absolutely necessary for adult females in breeding season (they still need the calcium to produce eggs, even if they aren’t bred).


Cleo is a real cutie! Congratulations on adopting her! My little Pineapple stays on paper towels. She seems to do well on them. I think just about any smooth surface would work well. I feed her crickets, Dubia roaches and mealworms.

She is in a tub with an uth on one half of the tub. And of course she has hides and greenery. This is the way I keep my girl but you can obviously get as elaborate as you want. :lizard::blush:


Thank you!!

So for reference, the heat mat should be set to 90°F?

Im definitely tweaking her enclosure when she arrives today, I have plenty of stuff sanitized from previous enclosures. Hopefully she comes with a heat mat, but im not optimistic. I have a spare but its small.


The very hottest part of the inside of the enclosure should be 90*F, so often you will need to set the thermostat a bit higher. The best way to measure temperatures is with an infrared thermometer. If you don’t have one, you could temporarily set the small heat mat to 93 *F, it probably won’t reach ideal temperatures, but it will be fine for a few days while you get the proper supplies.


She came with everything!! Woo hoo! Def getitng a diff tank since the one with her doesnt have enough floor space. Its a weird 35 gallon. Its long but its also pretty tall


That’s great! I’d love to see more pictures of the gecko if you get a chance.


Quick one I got of her laying out. Shes eating great.

Also upon some research, I found lots of people use loose substrate with no issue. Obviously shes not switching anytime soon until I get more opinions, but how would a bioactive work for leos without substrate?


She also has her bowl of calcium without d3 as she gets uv during the day, a hot cool and humid hide, and lots of foliage. Her feet are kind of floppy? Like they fold when she walks. She moves just fine but wondering if this would be a sign of mbd?


She’s super cute! Floppy feet are normal on leopard geckos, mbd is when the bones themselves are flexible. Loose substrate is controversial, there was a user on here who had a leopard gecko die from impaction from loose substrate, and there is also another user who has a very successful bioactive leopard gecko enclosure. Most loose substrates aren’t good, but if you use a mix and keep it very packed down it could work. If you do this you always need to feed out of a dish to avoid the risk of the gecko eating it. There will be a risk of impaction and you need to be very careful with it, but it can be done. Personally, I don’t think the risk to reward is worth it, but do a lot of research so you can make an educated decision.


She’s such a cutie! :lizard::+1::blush:

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I feed her in a separate bin. Is that ok? To make sure im seeing exactly how many she eats. I did some brief research but I love bioactive. I have 3 whites in a paludarium.


I think that feeding outside of the enclosure is unnecessary, but you can do it. I usually put the feeders in an escape-proof dish and leave them in the enclosure. Moving the gecko can stress them out, but if she’s an adult it might not make a difference. I personally just fed most of my geckos in a separate bin because I wanted to feed live crickets, and they all did great.
So, if you want to move her you can, but it’s just not necessary.


I do feed live large crickets. She does fairly well with moving and is an adult. But ill definitely look for an escape proof dish to minimize stress!


If you’re feeding crickets I would move her to feed. Otherwise you risk the crickets eating the gecko (which can be very dangerous). You could just keep cricket food in there or remove the extra crickets to avoid that, but it’s your choice. Escape proof dishes don’t work well with crickets since they will just jump out.


This was my thought. Thank you! She had 2 horn worms yesterday and loved them