How To Set Up A Leopard Gecko Terrarium

Leopard Geckos are from the middle east, you’ll want your terrarium set up to replicate their natural habitat as best as possible. 

I am going to talk you through the basics of what you need to get going and the optimal way to set it up to ensure your Leo is able to feel at home.

The Essentials

When setting up your Leopard Geckos terrarium, you’ll need to include all of these for optimal health and growth.

  • Basking Lamp
  • UV Lamp
  • Heat Mat
  • Hygrometer
  • Thermometer
  • Substrate
  • Hide Spot

Choosing The Terrarium Size

When choosing your Leopard Gecko terrarium, they’re a couple of factors to consider such as; your Leo’s age and size. This is because younger Leo can be housed in smaller habitats, but I recommend getting the bigger option straight away due to their impressive growth rate. By month 6, you’ll want to be upgrading to the 40 gallon tank.

The size options commonly used for housing Leopard Geckos are;

  • 20 Gallons (30”x12”x12”)
  • 40 Gallons (36”x18”x18”)

Other benefits of using the larger terrarium from the start are, this gives your Leo more space to explore and hide if necessary.

Leopard Gecko Size and Growth Chart

AgeWeightLength
Hatchling2-5 Grams3”
Month 115-20 Grams4”
Month 218-30 Grams5”
Month 625-60 Grams6”
Month 1840-80 Grams8”-11”

Terrarium Location

When choosing where to set up the terrarium, you need to consider a few things which could affect the environment. For example, you’ll want to keep it out of direct sunlight to ensure the sun doesn’t affect the temperature of the terrarium. 

On the other hand, you’ll also want it in a location where it doesn’t get too cold. Especially throughout the winter months.

Terrarium Temperature and Humidity

Due to Leopard Geckos being from the middle east, they’ll require their terrarium to have a temperature gradient throughout the habitat. This should be;

  • Basking Area: 94°F-97°F (34-36°C)
  • Warm Area: 90°F-92°F (32-33°C)
  • Cool Area: 70°F-77°F (21-25°C)

When it comes to humidity, the levels should be kept between 30%-40%. Having the humidity levels correct in their habitat ensures a healthy shedding schedule and keeps them hydrated. This reduces the chances of infection.

For monitoring the humidity levels, you’ll want to use a hygrometer. I recommend the use of Zoo Med Digital Combo Thermometer and Humidity Gauge as it is a great piece of kit, this enables you to check the temperature and humidity levels with ease.

Lighting Setup

Leopard Geckos are nocturnal, but this doesn’t mean they don’t require any light within their habitat. Good lighting is crucial for them to regulate their day/night schedule. 

During the summer, your Leopard Gecko requires light to be provided for 14 hours a day, throughout the winter you’ll need to reduce the lighting exposure to only 12 hours a day.

Most reptiles require UVA and UVB lighting, this is to help their body function, UVA exposure benefits their eyesight and UVB is for a healthy metabolism, calcium metabolism, and vitamin D synthesis. I recommend using Exo Terra Reptile UVB 150 Bulb

Leopard Geckos, however, do not require UV exposure as much, this is because in the wild they’re active during times when the sun is weaker or not present at all. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide this for them in their terrarium. They’ll use the lighting to bask under and will benefit from the UV exposures, they’re just not as dependent as other reptiles.

The setup requirements;

  • Full spectrum UVA light
  • Heat pad
  • Different lighting for nighttime – red, blue, and black

Substrate

Reptile Carpet

Reptile carpet is among the most popular options for a substrate. This is because of its simplicity to set up and maintain cleanliness.

However, it does not come without any hazards. Your Leo’s claws can snag on the fabric and their skin could be irritated by the material. Ensure to thoroughly clean the reptile carpet on a regular basis and check your Leo for any signs of skin irritation to prevent this. 

Tiles

The use of tiles is great for longevity and cost, however, they’re time consuming when setting up as you’ll have to cut the tiles to fit your terrarium.

They’re easy to clean and cause no concerns in terms of your Leopard Geckos’ health.

The initial cost setup can get expensive but due to them being long lasting, over time the cost levels out as you do not need to constantly replace them.

Pro Tip: When choosing tiles, ensure you choose materials which are heat retardant. 

Paper Towels

Using paper towels and newspapers is a cheap and easy option to use. There are no health risks associated with using them. The only downside to using these as substrates are it requires regular replacement to upkeep hygiene.

Flat Stone

Flat stone is a great substrate to use as it imitates a Leopard Geckos’ natural landscape. Just keep in mind when choosing stone not to pick anything that reflects heat to avoid harming your Leo.

Although stone recreates a natural habitat well, it prevents a hide spot. You’ll need to be creative when making one for your Leo to feel safe.

Hide Spots

You need to provide your Leopard Gecko a hide spot for when it needs to cool down or feels threatened. A lot of Reptile owners will use a plastic container lined with moist paper towels. You can also purchase premade hides which are usually in the shapes of rocky terrain to replicate their natural habitat.

I recommend having a minimum of two hide spots in their enclosure, one on the cooler side of the tank and the other towards the warmer side. This provides multiple places for your Leo to go to depending on if it’s wanting to cool down or digest its food and warm up.

Terrarium Location

When choosing where to set up the terrarium, you need to consider a few things which could affect the environment. For example, you’ll want to keep it out of direct sunlight to ensure the sun doesn’t affect the temperature of the terrarium. 

On the other hand, you’ll also want it in a location where it doesn’t get too cold. Especially throughout the winter months.

Summary

As long as you provide the essentials such as; a basking lamp, UV lamp, heat mat, hygrometer, thermometer, substrate, and hide spots for your Leopard Gecko, they’ll thrive within their new habitat.