Can Leopard Geckos Live In 10-Gallon Tanks?

It is essential to ensure your gecko has plenty of space to roam in its new environment. 

While you don’t want to overwhelm your lizard with an enormous tank, you definitely don’t want it to be too small, either. 

As a general rule, 10 gallons is the minimum tank size for an adult leopard gecko, but a 20-gallon tank is best. For a baby, a 10-gallon tank is adequate, but adult geckos need ample space to exercise, explore, and hide. 10 gallons is only barely enough to meet their needs.

Read on to learn more about housing your gecko, the ideal tank sizes for both babies and adults, and why their enclosures need to be a specific size for them to be able to truly thrive in captivity.

can a leopard gecko live in a 10 gallon tank

Is A 10-gallon Tank Big Enough For An Adult Leopard Gecko?

Although there are many different types and sizes of enclosures suitable for an adult leopard gecko habitat, 10 gallons is the absolute minimum size leopard gecko enclosure recommended by most reptile experts, with 20 to 30 gallons being highly recommended and preferable.

The smaller the tank, the less space your gecko has to roam and hide, and not having enough room to feel comfortable is incredibly stressful for them. 

Larger terrariums are almost always better, as long as you don’t go so large as to overwhelm or confuse your gecko. 

How Big Should a Leopard Gecko Tank Be?

The best tank size for a single adult leopard gecko is roughly 20 to 30 gallons or so. 

This will give them ample space to get exercise and seek out their hiding spots when they’re feeling shy. 

5-10 gallon tanks, regardless of their shape, barely give your lizard room to turn around comfortably, let alone thrive, and avoid feeling stressed and claustrophobic. 

In addition, a larger tank will give your gecko more room to shed properly. 

Shedding is often a stressful experience for baby and adult geckos alike, and having plenty of space to remove the shedding skin from their bodies will greatly help along the process and avoid stressing them out further. 

Generally, there is only a tiny price difference between a 10- and 20-gallon tank, so if you are able to purchase a slightly larger tank, you should definitely do so. 

A 30-gallon tank is an even better option for an adult leopard gecko terrarium, but 20 gallons is perfectly acceptable. 

Most 20-gallon glass terrariums are the perfect tank size for an adult leopard gecko, as they give you enough room to easily mimic these lizards’ natural habitats with decor like fake plants, rocks, and a couple of hides.

There is no one-size-fits-all tank setup, as there are infinite ways to furnish your gecko’s tank to suit their needs. 

As long as your tank allows you to provide your lizard with a humid, warm hide, a freshwater dish, and food bowl, and the appropriate lighting while still giving them some extra space to explore their surroundings, you’re good to go.

Leopard geckos don’t need UVB light because they are primarily nocturnal. 

However, many leopard gecko owners still suggest getting a UVB for the daytime. 

White light or bright light isn’t needed for the daytime as long as the temperature is right. 

Don’t forget the loose substrate or reptile carpet either!

Head over to our post on leopard gecko lighting setup and fundamentals for a huge resource covering this topic.

Can A Baby Leopard Gecko Live in a 10-Gallon Tank?

For a baby leopard gecko, a 10-gallon tank is more than enough room. 

For very young babies, even a 5-gallon tank will work in a pinch. 

Keep in mind, these geckos grow very quickly, and within a few months, you will likely need a larger tank anyway.

If you don’t want to buy two tanks only for your lizard to rapidly outgrow their first one, opt for a 20-gallon tank. 

The baby gecko will appreciate the extra room to grow and thrive, and you won’t have to stress them out later by switching them into a brand-new tank for them to get accustomed to all over again. 

Even baby geckos are pretty attuned to their surroundings and will become stressed and upset initially at being transferred from one tank to another, so it is best to avoid this entirely by simply housing them in a larger tank from the beginning.

A 20-gallon or 30-gallon tank is ideal, as this size isn’t too large to overwhelm a baby gecko yet not too small to frighten and upset them when they grow into their adult size, either.

Can An Enclosure Be Too Big?

You might have heard other reptile owners claim, “bigger is always better,” when it comes to housing any lizard, but this isn’t necessarily true. 

If your gecko’s enclosure is too large, they will become confused and upset by their surroundings and will even frequently become lost or disoriented. 

Don’t simply reach for the biggest tank you are able to find at your local pet stores. 

Your gecko should be able to easily find its humid hide, food and water bowls, and any other enrichment decor in the tank without struggling or wandering in circles. 

As we touched on above, 30 gallons, no matter what the type of enclosure, is the maximum recommended size tank for an adult leopard gecko; anything larger than this will likely be too much for your lizard to comfortably reside in.

We have another post going into more details on ideal tank sizes for leopard geckos if you want to learn more on the subject.

Inadequate Tank Size and Symptoms of Distress

The best way to determine if your gecko’s tank is large enough to keep them happy and healthy is to observe them frequently for signs of stress and agitation in general. 

If your lizard is unhappy with the size of its enclosure, it will exhibit the following behaviors and symptoms: 

  • Frantic pacing
  • Aggression
  • Vocalizations even when no other geckos are nearby (usually hissing or “barking” sounds)
  • Struggling with stuck shed: if your gecko is unable to shed properly, you will be able to see bits of partially shed skin stuck to their toes and limbs.
  • Stunted growth: in extreme cases, your gecko will not be able to grow to its full size if its tank is too small.
  • Spending all their time in their hide and avoiding their heat lamps

There are serious health risks and consequences involved with improperly housing your leopard gecko, so be sure their enclosure is adequately sized and provides enough room for their tank’s furnishings.

Can Multiple Leopard Geckos Be Housed In One Tank?

While there are some cases of leopard geckos cohabitating successfully, it is always risky. 

It is also never a good idea to cohabitate geckos of different species or house leopard geckos with other exotic animals. 

There are also many factors to consider when housing multiple geckos in the same enclosure, regardless of the tank’s size.

For one, it is never safe to house males together, as they are very territorial and will compete for food, basking spots, and space in general.

Keeping geckos of varying sizes is also dangerous, as in most cases, a “dominant” gecko will emerge and harass and assault the other lizards in the enclosure.

Even keeping multiple females of the same size together is unpredictable, as their personalities sometimes clash, causing fights to break out between even the most docile individuals. 

Housing babies together is ill-advised as well, as the babies will grow at varying rates, inevitably ending up with a larger gecko dominating the smaller ones. 

Overall, the number of bad experiences when it comes to cohabitating geckos always seems to outweigh the good experiences by far. 

If you’re interested in buying and caring for additional geckos, it is best to purchase a separate tank for each of them to avoid any issues. 

Leopard geckos don’t benefit from living in groups, anyway; they generally prefer and are pretty happy living alone. 

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