Do you get overwhelmed looking for all the things you may need for a leopard gecko pet?
Would you rather have a list and description all in one place?
You’re not alone.
It’s easy for experts to just think about what they need for a specific pet, but newer owners need help.
This is precisely why we’re here. We want to help you answer the question:
What do you need for a leopard gecko?
For a leopard gecko, you need everything to provide a safe environment and a healthy diet. In short, here’s what you need:
- 20-gallon glass terrarium
- A substrate such as a pea gravel
- Heating pad/ heating mat
- Heating light
- Low furniture
- Hide box
- Shallow water dish
- Staple insect such as crickets
- Vitamin supplement
- Shed Aid
Read on for more details and specific recommendations on each item.
Everything You Need For A Leopard Gecko
This section is split up into different categories.
For each one, we’ll discuss the purpose the item serves and recommend an excellent product to fill the need.
All these are focused on helping create a safe habitat for the leopard gecko’s needs.
20-Gallon Glass Terrarium
Leopard geckos are smaller reptiles, yes, but they still need space to roam around and explore.
Despite maxing out at a size of around 10″ – 12″ inches for males, we recommend a 20-gallon terrarium.
It’s possible to get away with a 10-gallon tank with little repercussions, but the 20-gallon size makes things easier for the reptile.
Stay within this range.
Too small of a tank and your pet will get cramped and have growth problems and a much shorter lifespan.
Too large and your pet may get “lost’ in finding what it needs.
Generally, going a little bigger won’t be a problem.
Do make sure your tank is longer than it is tall.
Leopard geckos aren’t big climbers, so they don’t need a tall tank with items to climb on.
For material, the sides of the tank should be made of glass.
A transparent plastic/synthetic material will work as well, but glass does a much better job of staying insulated and reaching the temperatures it needs to.
All in all, look for a tank like the 20-gallon Tetra kit. This one even comes with heating lamps.
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Check out this post for more details on what size of a tank a leopard gecko needs.
Substrate Such As Pea Gravel
You’ll need to put something down on the ground for your leopard gecko.
This is called the substrate.
Substrate helps give the leopard gecko something to burrow into a little for temperature regulation.
For owners, it also helps make cleaning up dropping much easier.
There are quite a few options out there for leopard gecko substrate, but you need to take care when picking.
Never use sand as this is easily ingested accidentally during feeding and will make your pet sick.
Whatever you choose to use, make sure it hasn’t been touched by chemicals and is safely designed for pets.
Here are common and safe leopard gecko substrates:
- Reptile carpet
- Pea gravel
- Flat stones
We recommend pea gravel. It makes cleanup easier, provides excellent coverage, and is most like their natural environment.
Check out this pea gravel by Pisces meant for pets.
Heating Pad/ Heating Mat
The correct temperature is vital for leopard geckos.
One thing to realize is these reptiles are nocturnal and most active right around sunset and sunrise.
They don’t need heating lights like most reptiles who are active during the day do.
They need sun-replacement.
Leopard geckos do need the light too, but they mostly store the heat energy throughout the day to help them get through the cooler evenings.
For this reason, a heating pad is the first line of heating elements.
They go under the substrate and heat the tank from the bottom up.
This lines up with their temperature needs.
Leopard geckos live best with a ground temperature of 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) and air temperature going down to 72° degrees Fahrenheit (22° C) at the lowest.
Keep this temperature for 12 hours during the day, and then shut it off at night to allow for a natural day-night cycle.
For heating pads, get one made by a pet company.
We recommend the iPower reptile heat pad.
Warning! Don’t use heating rocks.
The reptile may climb on it and injure themselves due to the high contact heat.
A heating light is another must.
This light isn’t specifically for heating the tank (although it’ll help the air a lot), so it won’t need a high wattage to work effectively.
The light also simulates the sun’s brightness.
Like the heating pad, leave it on for 12 hours during the day and then shut it off at night.
The light changes are essential for proper rest cycles.
Without this, your leopard gecko’s body will get confused on the time of day it is.
They’ll lose good sleep and rest.
Over time, this messed up sleeping will stress their bodies and severely reduce their lifespan.
Check out these heating lamps by Zilla for an affordable yet durable product.
- Quality aluminum reflector dome provides focused heat and light
- Mounting spring clip keeps dome in place, even when removing screen cover
- Uses energy saving mini halogen bulbs (sold separately)
Of course, no heating element would be any good if you didn’t know what temperature the tank was actually at.
You need some thermometers.
For leopard geckos, we recommend keeping two in the tank.
One at ground level in the middle-ish of the tank and one just above halfway up the tank’s height.
This will give you a good reading on the temperature at the ground level and in the air.
For thermometers, you don’t need anything fancy (though there are a ton of fancy ones out there).
The Exo Terra thermometers are basic but effective for leopard geckos.
Humidity is important for leopard geckos and needs to change depending on whether or not they’re shedding.
Typically, you want the humidity between 10-30%, which is quite dry.
Usually, you won’t have to do much to keep it inside this range.
You may wish to consider a dehumidifier for the room you keep the tank in (check out the MIDEA dehumidifier) to keep it down if you find it creeping up constantly.
During the shed, your leopard gecko needs to stay a little more humid to help with shedding safely.
Spray the pet down multiple times a day, and this will help.
Look for 30-50% relative humidity during this time.
Hygrometers are easy to come by, and you only need one in the middle of the tank to get a good idea of the moisture in the air.
This Veanic 4-pack of thermo/hygrometers will cover both your thermometer and hygrometer needs.
A tank would be boring without some items or furniture to climb on and interact with.
For leopard geckos, low-to-the-ground items are good choices.
Rocks, branches, and plants are all possible.
If choosing a live plant, make sure it has no poison or chemicals in it.
Note: If you add live plants, you’ll need a UV bulb to keep it healthy.
Most owners find branches and rocks out in the wild.
This is fun for many to give a little personal touch to your pet’s tank.
Make sure you wash whatever you choose to add with a little water and anti-bacterial soap with a good rinse afterward.
These items are technically optional but strongly recommended.
One piece of furniture, not optional, is a hide box.
Leopard geckos are shy creatures, and they often hide when threatened, spooked, during most of the day, and plenty of other times.
They must have a hide box to spend time in. This is where they instinctively feel safe.
Without a hide box, it’s shocking how often they get sick or die early.
The stress of not having this safe space is too much for them.
Any covered container or object will do, but we like the Zilla Reptile hideout because it looks natural.
Shallow Water Dish
Your leopard gecko will need a water dish.
Any shallow container will do.
This should always be filled with clean water up to the height of the leopard gecko’s shoulders.
The sides should be low enough for the gecko to climb in easily.
As with most reptiles, leopard geckos hydrate by drinking and soaking in water.
If they defecate in the water (which is normal), clean the water as soon as you notice it.
This section covers the two main concerns for the diet you’ll need.
Staple Insect Such As Crickets
You’ll need plenty of a leopard gecko’s staple insect for their diet.
The main staple insects for this reptile are crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches.
Whichever one you get, buy enough and at the correct size.
What does this mean?
Follow the golden rule for leopard gecko insects.
- Two insects for every inch they are long
- Insects should be close in size to the distance between their eyes, but NEVER bigger
- Feed adults every other day and babies every day
There are frozen crickets available, but these are inferior to live insects nutritionally and for engaging a good eating instinct from the leopard gecko.
We recommend live insects always.
Learn more about all the foods a leopard gecko eats.
Even with live insects, your reptile friend has a risk of developing some vitamin deficiencies.
This is offset with a vitamin supplement.
The main one most owners do is to use a sprinkle powder over the insects before every meal.
This vitamin supplement by Royal Pet Supplies does the job nicely.
This works easily but isn’t as effective as insects with the nutrition already inside them.
Better than powder is gut loading your insects, specifically crickets.
Gut loading is when you feed them high-calcium and vitamin meals 24 hours before feeding them to the leopard geckos.
It’s a little messier and requires more work on your part, but using a special cricket feed by Fluker’s makes it easy as well.
Is all this necessary?
All reptiles tend to develop calcium deficiencies specifically as a pet unless you give them the supplements.
Calcium deficiencies result in weaker skeletal structure and may evolve into a metabolic bone disease.
This disease is dangerous to their very lives.
At best, their bones will deform.
At worst, they’ll die.
It’s better to avoid the whole possibility and give them some form of supplement with every single meal.
Leopard geckos do tend to have minor shedding issues.
This happens when some of the dead skin doesn’t fall off.
In some rare cases, this skin gets stuck around their toes.
It can even make their toes die and fall off!
After they shed, if there is any skin left on the body, spray a shed aid spray and gently rub the dead skin with a Q tip.
Do this only after the gecko has shed the rest of its skin.
Good shed aids are available all over, but we like the Zoo Med Repti Shedding Aid.
- Aids in removing dry sheds from snakes and lizards
- Conditions your reptile's skin and provides a visible sheen
- Helps keep the skin moist and pliable
For more details on the process, click over to our leopard gecko shedding guide.
Now you have access to a concise list and recommendations for what you need for a leopard gecko.
This list covers everything you need to give them a safe habitat and a healthy diet.
While there is some wiggle room on the exact items on this list, each one needs to be in place to help the leopard gecko reach its maximum lifespan.
Leopard geckos need fewer items than many other reptiles and are more flexible and resistant to changes.
You don’t need to worry about having everything perfect at all times.
Their personality is well worth this effort, so we encourage anyone interested to get one of these cute creatures and make sure you have all the items you need in advance.
Spend Less Time Figuring Out What To Do And More Time Enjoying Your Pet
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