As a leopard gecko pet owner, you want the best for your pet, ensuring that they are happy, healthy, and comfortable in their captive environment, which is why you need a good understanding of enrichment and how to add enrichment to your leopard gecko’s life.
Enrichment is a process where you provide your captive reptile with essential stimulation that will encourage its natural instincts and behaviors. The focus of enrichment is to maintain physical and mental well-being within your reptile, ensuring that they remain happy and healthy.
Leopard gecko enrichment can be broken into three categories:
- Environmental enrichment
- Diet enrichment
- Activity enrichment
Leopard Gecko Environment Enrichment
Hides are an important part of your leopard gecko enclosure set up and are essential to add enrichment for your gecko. Humid hides are somewhere where your gecko will spend a vast majority of its time when it comes to hiding, shedding, and egg laying. Adding some sphagnum moss to the hide can make it humid, encouraging natural shedding, reducing stress, and helping to keep your gecko comfortable.
Zilla Decor Rock Lair
The Zilla Decor Rock Lair offers a side entrance and heavy top and is ideal to use as a humid hide. It offers a natural and realistic look, made from durable and heavy material to reduce the risk of moving. The rough external texture helps your gecko shed their skin.
Exo Terra Gecko Cave for Reptiles
A secure hide that reduces stress. This Exo Terra hide can be integrated into the desert or tropical enclosure design with confidence. Add some moss to create a humid hide or leave it on the cool side of the enclosure. Reduce stress, encourage natural shedding, and egg laying with this natural and realistic cave from Exo Terra.
Zoo Med Repti Cave
A three in one cave that can be filled with moss to create the ideal humid hide for your leopard gecko. The hide can be used for shedding, egg laying, and hiding. Made from durable resin, the cave can be washed and sterilized with ease and confidence. It comes complete with confidence of removable lid, which enables you to check on your pet without upsetting them too much.
SunGrow Raw Coconut Husk Hut with Ladder
This coconut husk hut is ideal for your leopard gecko when it wants to escape extreme temperatures. The coconut husk is durable and strong, making it ideal for your leopard gecko hide, offering perfect shelter with confidence. The coconut husk won't rust and enables you to create a jungle gym to encourage physical activity in the enclosure. The rope ladder provides textures and encourages exercise, keeping your gecko happy, healthy, and active. This hide is unprocessed and genuine made from coconut husk. Geckos are naturally active in their habitats, earning their food, searching exploring, and hunting. When you have a captive leopard gecko, you want to encourage the same natural behaviors.
Digging boxes are sensory items that you can place in your leopard gecko enclosure to keep them entertained. The digging box is as it says, it is a box filled with eco earth, enabling your leopard gecko to dig down and hide from extreme temperatures and cool down.
Plants are found in your leopard gecko’s natural habitat and are a great way to add enrichment to your enclosure. There is an extensive selection of fake and live plants you can choose from based on whether you have a bio setup or not.
Best fake plants for leopard geckos:
- Uxcell Green Plastic Lifelike Plant - This green plant is made from plastic resin, making it suitable for the tropical or desert terrarium design. This plant creates natural hiding spaces for your gecko, adding enrichment and exploration to their lives, encouraging their natural behavior inside the enclosure.
- Exo Terra Terrarium Plant - High quality artificial plant that has been tested for safety. This artificial plant is an exact copy of the live version, though they are easier to clean and maintain. The plant is decorative, creates a hiding place, and provides essential shade. The plant can be used in all conditions from humid enclosures to dry enclosures.
- Exo Terra Ficus Silk Terrarium Plant - The plant is tested for safety to provide better living conditions for your pet and provide the enrichment your pet needs to encourage natural behaviors. This is an exact replica of the original plant with shiny deep green leaves that can blend into your enclosure design. It creates a hiding place for your gecko and the plant is easy to clean and very simple to maintain.
- Mandarin Plastic Terrarium Plant - Realistic replica of a real plant to create the ideal hiding place for your leopard gecko. This is a hanging plant available in a range of sizes. Hang from the side or back of the enclosure to create a natural habitat for your reptilian pet.
Lives plants are suitable for bioactive enclosures. Some safe plants for leopard gecko vivariums:
- Hoya cf. Panchoi - This is a beautiful plant with thick green leaves, some with dark pink colorations. The pink and yellow flowers cluster with a sweet fragrance. This is a member of the Milkweed family and does well in the terrarium environment with a trailing growth habit.
- Christmas Cactus - This plant has smooth flat stems branching out and hanging down as they twist throughout the stem. The plant thrives in bright and indirect light with well-drained soil. Don't allow the plant to sit in water for extended periods to reduce the risk of root rot. The Rhipsalis sp ex Hans Weller can do well in a large terrarium and can grow over 3'.
- Walking Kalanchoe - The Walking Kalanchoe is a succulent plant with flat leaves that have a red coloration on the edge of the leaves. It is a member of the Crassulaceae family from South Africa. The plant sends long stems out to produce new plants. The plant thrives in bright indirect light with the soil drying slightly between watering.
Hammocks create a climbing space for your leopard gecko, encouraging them to climb and remain active inside the enclosure.
The Zoo Med Repti Hammock is a soft nylon mesh hammock to provide an accessible multi dimensional perch for your pet. Create a resting place to create additional living space. Weighing only 0.8 ounces, the hammock measures 14.5” x 10” x 0.5”.
Driftwood can be an excellent addition to your leopard gecko enclosure to encourage climbing and hiding. Wood is naturally found in the gecko’s environment and can help in getting your leopard gecko to feel at home, comfortable and happy in their captive environments.
Some of the best driftwood for leopard gecko enclosures:
- Fluval Mopani Driftwood - This is an all-natural driftwood that creates beautiful decoration in your enclosure, along with place for your leopard gecko to climb and explore. It is sun blasted to eliminated extraneous materials and reduces the risk of contamination. Fluval is a reputable reptile brand that has been manufacturing reptile products since 1975.
- ErnoursTM Driftwood - This is high grade driftwood that is solid, long lasting, and durable. Authentic wood to add beauty to the terrarium in a unique shape that adds a natural look. Every piece of driftwood is unique and is approximately eight inches in length. Ensure you soak or boil the driftwood before use to remove any dust and dirt before you add it to your terrarium, offering your gecko a place to climb, explore and hide.
- Zilla Reptile Décor Malaysian Driftwood - This is a deep brown driftwood that comes from Malaysia. One hundred percent natural, it provides climbing and exploration for your gecko. You can use it to create a bridge, a place to climb or a place to hide. Every piece is one hundred percent unique and has been carefully hand selected measuring approximately ten to twelve inches.
Cork barks are excellent to encourage your leopard gecko to hide and climb. Cork bark is also useful in aiding with the shedding process.
Best cork barks for leopard gecko tanks:
- Zoo Med Natural Cork - This cork is completely safe to use in your leopard gecko enclosure and can be cut to your desired length and shape. It is an all-natural product that creates a natural look in the enclosure. You can attach live plants to the cork, which measures 0.17” x 0.75” x 0.92”.
- Zoo Med Cork Bark Round - The cork is completely natural and safe for your leopard gecko and can be cut to your desired length and shape. A natural product that creates a natural look in the enclosure, while providing a place for your gecko to explore, hide, and help with shedding. Full rounds can be used as a shelter. These measure 8” x 8” x 2” and weigh 3.21 ounces.
Basking rocks offer excellent enrichment for your gecko, providing places to climb, explore and aid in shedding.
Best basking rocks for a leopard gecko terrarium:
- Zilla Basking Ramp - This rock offers a stepped design, making it easy for your leopard gecko to climb onto the basking platform with a flat wide top. The rock looks like a natural river rock, it's attractive, functional and will enrich your gecko’s life when living in a captive environment. Clean the basking ramp with clean, soapy water and rinse well.
- Penn-Plax Reptology Shale Step Ledge - This is the perfect enrichment to provide for your leopard gecko, blending in seamless with your enclosure design. Ideal for climbing and hiding, it helps mimic the natural environment. Durable and easy to clean, this step ledge provides a place where your gecko can explore, climb, hide, and relax with confidence.
Bridges are an excellent enrichment product to add to your leopard gecko enclosure. The bridges can be used to create a suspension walkway between rocks and driftwood, encouraging climbing and exploring inside the captive enclosure.
This Niteangel suspension bridge is made from natural wood, helping to encourage exploration and promote exercise, balancing, and coordination in your pet. The hooks on both ends make it easy to suspend the bridge and create your own unique shapes. Weighing only 7.2 ounces, this is a great addition to your leopard gecko enclosure.
Leopard Gecko Diet Enrichment
Diet enrichment is essential, you want to provide your leopard gecko with a complete range of foods, including live and dry foods. Providing a variety is more realistic than what your gecko would eat in the wild.
Dry food is nutritious and can be fed as a treat or part of a balanced diet. It's quick and easy to provide high protein foods in a convenient resealable bag with no refrigeration required.
Change Ways You Feed
In order to provide the best enrichment for your leopard gecko, you are going to want to create a variety of feeding opportunities. If you have been feeding dry food, then you may want to encourage your gecko’s natural hunting behaviors by adding live crickets to the terrarium.
For fussy geckos that are problematic eaters, you may find that feeding with tongs is the way forward. Tong feeding is common especially when first bringing your gecko home and the breeder has been tong feeding up to now. It won't take too long to encourage your pet to naturally hunt by adding live foods.
Leopard Gecko Activity Enrichment
Encouraging activity is important to your leopard gecko and there are numerous ways you can encourage activity, helping to keep your gecko fit and healthy.
Let Your Gecko Out of the Enclosure
One of the most common ways to provide activity enrichment for your gecko is to allow it out of the terrarium for handling, climbing, and exploration. It's important to ensure the area where you intend to allow your gecko to roam has been made pet safe, enabling your gecko to explore the room while you watch television, keeping a close eye on your gecko to reduce the risk of it getting into trouble.
Some gecko owners do allow their leopard geckos to explore outside. This should only be done using a playpen to reduce the risk of your gecko escaping. The Amakunft Playpen is ideal. The playpen is breathable and transparent, so you can keep an eye on your gecko at all times. Opens in seconds and folds flat for storage. Can be used indoors and outdoors.
Pet carriers are also an effective way to allow your leopard gecko to explore outside of its enclosure. You should already own a pet carrier to transport your gecko to the vet. You can use this outside to allow your gecko to enjoy some fresh air.
Bathing is an excellent activity for your gecko, which can also aid in shedding. Swimming rings are a great addition. The rings offer an opportunity to bathe your lizard, keeping its skin hydrated while providing safe swimming. The rings are non toxic and made from durable vinyl. Very easy to use and available in a range of patterns. The rings can handle bathing temperatures of up to 100ºF.
Encouraging daily exercise will add enrichment to your leopard gecko’s daily life. The Savic runner exercise ball is a safe and secure way to allow your gecko to explore its surroundings while encouraging exercise. This ball is quick and easy to clean and made from quality construction you can trust.
Provide some toys for your gecko to play with, such as the Meizhouer colored ping pong balls. These are lightweight and made from one hundred percent environmental material with no smell.