The ideal leopard gecko enclosure is a complicated design, it's so much more than the substrate, some rocks, and a heating system. These are popular reptiles as pets, they are one of the friendliest of the geckos, but they do have particular needs which need to be met to ensure that they remain happy and healthy.
This guide will steer you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the best cage for your leopard gecko, ensuring the ideal habitat which will enable your gecko to thrive and grow in the long run.
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Leopard Gecko Enclosure Size
Tank size is a major consideration when choosing the best enclosure for your leopard gecko. Bear in mind that these geckos are ground dwellers, they do not climb. This means that they need ample room to move around on the floor. For a single leopard gecko (we do not recommend cohabitation) you should consider nothing smaller than a ten-gallon cage to give your gecko room to move.
A twenty-gallon enclosure is preferred. This can be used from a young age and the gecko can use the same cage throughout its life. Remember to focus on floor space and don't worry too much about the height.
Bigger Is Not Always Better
Unlike bearded dragon or blue tongue skink enclosures, bigger is not always better when it comes to tank sizes for leopard geckos. The bigger the tank, the more hides, bowls, and decorations you need to add, which will result in more cleaning in the long run.
There is a wide choice of tank materials you can choose from for your leopard gecko. You want to create a natural, safe and comfortable leopard gecko habitat, which means that the material you choose is very important.
Glass is probably the most common leopard gecko enclosure material of choice. It offers the best visibility, it's the easiest to clean and it's durable. Leopard geckos are not climbers, so you don't have to worry about this, but they do enjoy a humid habitat and the glass can be a great help in this department.
Make sure to cover the back and sides of your vivarium
Leopard geckos often feel stress if they only see wide open space. Since glass enclosures become more popular nowadays, a quick note for the new owner is to cover the back and sides of the tank so that your leopard gecko feels more secure.
PVC is one of the most common vivarium choices, along with ABS plastic. While increasing in popularity due to being lightweight and durable, they are prone to scratching. Plastic is quick and easy to clean offering a four-sided view of your new reptile.
Wood is often chosen to create a leopard gecko vivarium. These are affordable, made with sustainable materials and great if you don't have a big budget. With the wooden sides, there is only one viewing side, often with a mesh top to allow ample ventilation.
Another consideration to factor into your enclosure decision for your leopard gecko is security. Ensure that the cage is secure with no gaps, so your gecko cannot escape. There are a lot of risks around the home for a reptile. The top or front should open enough to fit any hides and decorations through on cleaning day.
While a lot of reptile tanks have this feature, it is still worth mentioning because the raised bottom feature is a must for leopard gecko enclosures. The raised bottom is a gap between the enclosure and the surface that allows for airflow which is very important when you're using a heat mat (under tank heater). With raised bottom, a heat mat is easily attached and functions properly. Without the gap, heat can build up underneath the cage which can be a huge fire risk. The raised bottom enclosure also prevents the tank from sitting directly on the heat mat and therefore damages the heat cord.
If you are using a fish tank or your enclosure does not have this gap, a workaround is to have 4 plastic "feet" in the 4 corners of the enclosure to raise it.
Front Opening or Top Opening
Front opening enclosures are often preferred for most reptiles including leopard geckos. There are several reasons:
- Front opening enclosures are easier when it comes to cleaning and feeding purpose.
- It is easier to bond with your leopard gecko with a front door enclosure. When catching the gecko, your hand is not coming from above like a predator.
- It also reduces the risk of mesh top which can damage the humidity level.
Best Enclosure For Leopard Geckos
Exo Terra AllGlass Terrarium 36L x 18D x 18H
This is a large fifty-gallon enclosure that is made from glass for easy cleaning and great viewing enjoyment. The enclosure comes with a raised bottom frame, which is perfect for an under tank heater. The tank comes with the convenience of two doors, a waterproof base and closable inlets, which are designed for wiring.
The dual doors allow for easy access for maintenance and feeding. The doors come with a reliable lock, ensuring the safety of your leopard gecko. The stainless-steel cover is removable and allows for ample UVB penetration. This tank has an enlarged ground surface, the perfect choice for a leopard gecko that doesn't climb.
Stats For Nerds:
- Dimensions: 36L x 18D x 18H
- Volume: 50 gallons
- Material: glass
Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium Large 24L x 18D x 18H
The Carolina custom cages terrarium comes in eighteen models with the 24L and the 36L being the top choices with hinged doors to ensure the best security for your leopard gecko. They also have key locks, which ensures that children and other pets don't gain access to the cage. The tank comes with a waterproof base.
Stats For Nerds:
- Dimensions: 24L x 18D x 18H
- Volume: 33 gallons
- Material: glass
Repti Zoo 10 Gallon Reptile Tank Glass Natural Cages Terrarium
This ten-gallon cage, suitable for a juvenile leopard gecko comes with a screen top along with a feeding hole, as an added convenience, the screen top is ideal for ventilation, light and UVB penetration. The sliding screen top acts as the door, offering easy access to your new pet and decorations for when you are ready to clean. Installation is quick and easy. Repti Zoo brings twelve years of experience to the table when it comes to the design and manufacture of reptile equipment.
This enclosure helps you mimic the leopard geckos’ natural habitat, providing them with sun and shade, helping them regulate their body temperature with confidence. Temperature plays a vital role in the health and happiness of your gecko, helping it to thrive and grow.
Stats For Nerds:
- Dimensions: 20L x 12D x 10H
- Volume: 10 gallons
- Material: glass
Exo Terra Leopard Gecko Starter Kit
This sixteen-gallon enclosure comes with a full list of essentials to start your leopard gecko enclosure quickly and effectively. This is the perfect starter tank for the new leopard gecko owner. The starter kit includes everything you need including a ten-gallon tank, Day/ night LED fixtures, heat mat, sand mat, thermometer, water dish, medium-sized hide and informative care guide.
Stats For Nerds:
- Exo Terra Natural Terrarium Small/Low: 18L x 18D x 12H (16 gallons)
- Exo Terra Day/Night LED Fixture Small
- Exo Terra Heat Mat 8W
- Exo Terra Sand Mat Small
- Exo Terra Terrarium Thermometer
- Exo Terra Water Dish Medium
- Exo Terra Reptile Cave Medium
Hagen Exo Terra Short All Glass Terrarium 24L x 18D x 12H
This is a glass terrarium, making it ideal for viewing your reptile at any time. The glass is the best material for fast and effective cleaning with front doors that open separately to ensure the best in security. There are closable inlets for any tubing or wiring and the cage comes with a waterproof base, as an added convenience. The short terrarium is suitable for ground dwellers, such as the leopard gecko. This allows the UVB light to get closer to the reptile.
This tank does come with lower sizes, if preferred, ideal for the desert set up.
Stats For Nerds:
- Dimensions: 24L x 18D x 12H
- Volume: 22 gallons
- Material: glass
Leopard Gecko Enclosure Setup
The enclosure setup doesn't have to be a scary process. In fact, you should always have your vivarium ready before you bring your new reptile home. Start with your substrate, ensuring that you choose a substrate that eliminates the risk of impaction. With your substrate down you can add decorations, along with three leopard gecko hides: a warm hide, moist hide and cool hide. There must be three hides in the cage to ensure your gecko has a place where they can hide and feel secure.
If you are replacing the substrate, add a tiny bit of the original substrate to ensure the smell remains familiar. Use a reptile cleaner inside the terrarium, cleaning the sides, floor, and top. Clean all the accessories, rinse them well and dry them before returning them to the tank. Once your setup is complete, your gecko can be returned.
Choose decorations, substrates and accessories that you can clean quickly and easily, ensuring you promote a healthy environment for your leopard gecko. Lighting is essential and your gecko will rely on lighting to tell when it is day and night.
A heat mat (Under tank heater) should also be placed under the tank to provide essential heat that helps your gecko remain healthy and strong. Make sure to place a heat mat on one side of the cage and cover at least 1/3 of the floor to create a heat gradient. This way allows your leopard gecko to easily move to the best temperature.
Don't put water dish on the warm side
Placing a water dish in the warm area can increase the leopard gecko enclosure humidity. Moreover, spilling water on the glass where the under tank heater is attached can cause a stress crack. The water dish should be placed on the cool side of the tank to prevent high humidity and water spilling.
Leopard Gecko Enclosure Cleaning
Enclosure cleaning should be quick and simple. Remove your gecko and place them somewhere safe for the duration of the tank clean.
Take a bucket or plastic bin where you can put the hides, food and water bowls and accessories, while you gain access to the vivarium. Remove the substrate.
Why Does My Leopard Gecko Tank Smell?
It's not uncommon for you to find that your leopard gecko tank is giving off an unpleasant smell. You may find this just after bringing your reptile home. A smelly tank can result from your gecko being stressed. Give him/her some time to settle into their new home. Poor quality crickets and worms are also leading causes of smelling feces, which can leave the tank smelling. Ensure you do regular cleaning to reduce any unwanted odors and keep your gecko tank smelling clean and fresh.
Best Leopard Gecko Enclosure In Summary
Your main focus is to ensure that when you bring your leopard gecko home, it is comfortable and feels safe within the enclosure you purchase. Every pet owner wants their new pet to be comfortable and feel secure in their surroundings. These are gentle geckos, but they do have strict living requirements, which is why you want to focus on the enclosure size, choosing a ten gallon for a baby or a twenty-gallon or above for an adult leopard gecko. Remember that they are best kept on their own. Cohabitation is not recommended with these reptiles.
When making your selection, focus on the following:
- Doors opening – access room to clean, maintain and feed
- Screen cover – ventilation, reduces the risk of insects getting into the enclosure while eliminating the risk of your gecko escaping
- Raised bottom – space for under tank heater, ensures ample air circulation, reduces the risk of overheating.
- Wire inlets – neatens the wiring and leaves no room for your gecko to escape.
There is no right or wrong when selecting your cage. Though stick to the enclosure sizes to ensure your leopard gecko doesn't get stressed. Provide ample hiding places and make the interior as close to your geckos’ natural habitat, ensuring a happy and healthy gecko in the long run.