As a leopard gecko owner, it's important to understand the needs of your reptile pet.
Leopard geckos come from dry regions, so you may wonder what their water needs are. Do they need to drink? How you should provide water? Do you need to bathe your pet?
These are all questions we will answer below, telling you everything you need to know about your leopard gecko and its water needs.
1. Do Leopard Geckos Drink Water?
Even though your leopard gecko is from dry regions, they do need water.
Most of the moisture your pet gets is from the food it eats. Some insects contain more water than others, which helps them achieve their moisture requirements.
Yes, they do also drink water, but not as often as your other pets in the home.
You must provide fresh cleaning drinking water in your leopard gecko’s enclosure to help with hydration and shedding. Leopard geckos need water to survive.
2. How To Provide Water?
There are two effective ways in providing water to your leopard gecko.
The first is to add a water dish to their enclosure, though not all geckos will drink from a water bowl.
You can also do regular misting of the enclosure. Misting puts droplets on the leaves and decorations, which enables your pet to drink from the small pools, as they would in the wild.
Misting also helps you achieve the optimum humidity levels when your humidity is slightly on the low side.
3. What Kind Of Water To Provide?
You're probably wondering if you can just give your pet tap water or if it needs bottled or distilled water.
Leopard geckos can drink tap water, though not all tap water is good quality, which means you need to treat it with a water conditioner to remove the chlorine and other dangerous chemicals before offering it to your gecko.
The best way to determine if you can give your leopard gecko tap water is, if you drink it then you can give it to your pet.
Distilled water is not recommended. Distilled water lacks all minerals.
Bottled water is completely safe, as is conditioned tap water.
4. What To Look For When Buying A Water Dish?
When it comes to choosing a water dish, there are some important factors to take into consideration.
- Size – too big and it can increase your humidity
- Depth – too deep and your leopard gecko could drown
Ideally, the water dish should be shallow enough that your gecko can climb into it and soak without submerging itself.
5. Best Water Dish For Leopard Geckos
Reptile Decor Water Dish
This water dish is made from high-quality resin, it is durable and completely Eco-friendly. This dish looks natural and can blend in with the surroundings of the enclosure.
The flat bottom ensures it stands and isn't knocked over easily.
Suitable for small reptiles, it offers decoration with easy cleaning and maintenance.
It offers an elevated platform where your pet can bask, easy to clean, and looks lifelike to encourage climbing and drinking.
Exo Terra Water Dish
This Exo Terra water dish is a feeding and water dish in one. It is non-porous and smooth to the touch, therefore there is no risk of harmful bacteria being absorbed.
It looks natural, blending into your enclosure design with a stable build that is easy to clean.
The water dish has steps to ensure your pet can climb out easily, it also reduces the risk of insects drowning.
SLSON Water Feeding Dish
This is a small and shallow water dish, ideally suited for leopard geckos, made from high-quality material.
It is durable and safe, along with being very easy to clean. The design helps it blend into your natural terrarium design.
The feeding side of the dish can be used for worms.
6. Where To Place The Water Dish?
Water dish placement in the enclosure is very important and should be determined by the humidity in the enclosure. Remember the water dish will increase the humidity levels.
If you have your humidity at optimum, place the dish on the cool side, but if you are struggling to keep the humidity levels up, then move it to the warm side.
Humidity levels for a leopard gecko should be between 30% and 40%.
Use a quality digital hygrometer to monitor the enclosure humidity. This will help you identify the best side to place your pet’s water dish.
Digital hygrometers are easy to read and provides accurate indications, using a remote sensing probe.
7. How Often Should I Change The Water?
Taking into account that your leopard gecko may climb in the water dish, soak and even poop in the water, it's important that you provide fresh, clean water on a daily basis.
8. Why Is My Leopard Gecko Sitting In The Water Dish?
Leopard geckos are not keen swimmers and they are not that happy when it comes to bathing, so you may be concerned as to why your leopard gecko is sitting in its water dish.
There are a number of reasons for this:
It's not uncommon for reptiles to look for moisture to help them with their shedding process, especially when the humidity levels are too low.
If your pet is about to shed or is shedding, then don't be surprised to find them sitting in their water dish, soaking up additional moisture.
If you are not monitoring your temperatures properly and it gets too hot in your pet’s enclosure, it may seek the water to cool down. Living in an enclosure when the temperatures get too high, doesn't leave your pet anywhere to escape.
Remember leopard geckos rely on the external temperatures to regulate their own body temperature.
Leopard geckos are inquisitive by nature and it may be that your pet is exploring new things in the enclosure and trying out the water dish as something new.
9. Why Is My Leopard Gecko Poop In The Water Dish?
Some leopard geckos have the habit of pooping in their water dish. This is not uncommon. Water helps to relax them, which helps them relieve themselves.
If you notice your pet is defecating in the water dish, you may need to change the water more than once a daily.
10. How Long Can Leopard Geckos Go Without Water?
Even though leopard geckos come from dry regions, they do need water to survive. They can go for around two days without drinking any water.
If you let them go for longer, it can be very serious, causing dehydration and even death.
11. How To Get A Leopard Gecko To Drink Water?
You may have added a water bowl and your leopard gecko will not use it, this is not uncommon.
In the wild they do not drink out of water bowls, so you have a few options to encourage them to drink
- Misting – mist the enclosure, allowing droplets of water to form on leaves and create small pools on the decorations. This will encourage your pet’s natural drinking behavior.
- Put a drop of water on your pet’s nose. It will naturally lick it off. This is a great way to encourage drinking if you see your pet isn't drinking off the leaves, rock pools, or out of its water bowl.
12. Is Waterfall Recommended?
Waterfalls and water fountains are increasing in popularity with leopard geckos as a way to encouraging natural drinking behavior in their pets.
These waterfalls and water fountains are designed to provide a natural drinking environment for reptiles, but there are some important considerations to take into consideration.
Firstly, the waterfall and water fountain are not suitable for beginner leopard gecko owners. The constant running water increases humidity levels, which can be dangerous for your pet.
You need to find a waterfall that is small enough to fit into your pet’s enclosure without negatively impacting the humidity levels.
The water level must not be too deep and it should provide a way for your pet to get out the water, should it fall in.
Waterfalls and water fountains do require a fair amount of maintenance, which means you will be spending more time cleaning the filter and filling up the water than a standard water bowl or regular misting.
13. Do Leopard Geckos Need Daily Misting?
Because leopard geckos don't necessarily drink daily, getting a lot of moisture from the insets that they eat, it is recommended to mist your adult leopard gecko twice a week, maybe a bit more when it is preparing to shed.
If you have a humid hide in the enclosure, then you shouldn't have to mist your adult leopard gecko during shedding.
Hatchlings and baby leopard geckos under three months should be given a daily misting, along with a humid hide.
14. Do Leopard Geckos Need Baths?
Leopard geckos are not that keen on bathing, so they don't need regular baths. Their natural habitat is dry, so water is not that common, not to mention that they cannot swim and don't enjoy being submerged in water.
There are times where a bath is essential, maybe even life-saving. These include:
Removing Unshedded Skin
Leopard geckos shed their skin as they grow, but the skin may be left behind now and then. This often happens around the toes and can be dangerous.
If ignored, the unshedded skin around the toes cut off the blood flow, which can cause your pet to lose one or more of its toes.
A warm water soak can help to soften the skin, helping it come off. Once in the bath, gently rub the stuck skin and see if it can soften in the water and come off.
If the toes remain restricted after a number of baths, then you are going to have to take your pet to the vet.
Impaction is very serious and this occurs when something gets stuck in your pet’s digestive system, causing your pet to become impacted.
This often happens if your pet eats something too big or accidentally eats some substrate when hunting their food, making it hard to digest.
A warm water soak with you gently massaging your leopard gecko’s body will sometimes help with the blockage, encouraging your pet to poop. Rub from the chest to the bottom of the tail, while your pet stays in the bath.
For impaction, you should give a daily bath.
If your pet doesn't poop within a few days, you will need veterinary treatment.
Unclog Femoral Pores
Male leopard geckos secrete a waxy substance during the breeding season, from their femoral pores, which are located at the base of the tail.
They clean themselves by rubbing against rocks and bark, but there are times when their pores can become clogged, causing redness and infection.
Gently wiping with a Q-Tip while your pet is in the bath can help, though your pet may be uncomfortable and not enjoy it.
If the area continues to swell and redden, then seek veterinary treatment.
15. Tips For Bathing Your Leopard Gecko
Place your leopard gecko in a warm shallow bath for up to fifteen minutes. A small Tupperware container is good enough for the job.
Keep the temperature between 90ºF and 95ºF. If its' too cool, then your pet’s body temperature will drop. Too hot could burn your pet.
Monitor the water temperature and add more water as it cools down.
Keep the water shallow that your pets head can be above the water with ease. Remember your pet cannot swim.
Stay with your gecko the entire time. Holding and supporting their body in the water is also a way to make your pet feel more secure.
Dry your leopard gecko with a clean paper towel and return to their enclosure.
It's important that you provide your pet with moisture to help them remain hydrated and assist in the shedding process. Remember not all leopard geckos enjoy drinking from a water bowl, which is not natural to them.
Some pet owners find that misting is the most effective way to encourage their pets to drink. Other pet owners offer a water bowl and do misting to ensure their pet gets the moisture it needs.