Leopard geckos are popular starter reptiles.
Appropriately-sized housing for your gecko is essential for a healthy and happy life.
Plastic tubs are popular enclosures, but what tub size is appropriate for your leopard gecko?
Baby or juvenile leopard geckos need a 40-quart tub, while a single adult requires an 80-quart tub. Each adult needs at least 200″ square inches of floor space. Failure to meet these needs will cause behavior and physical health issues for your pets.
Keep reading to learn about leopard geckos’ natural habitat and the characteristics of the ideal vivarium.
What Size Tub Does Your Leopard Gecko Need?
In the veterinary literature, older sources estimate a 10-gallon tank can fit one to three adult-sized geckos.
However, more recent recommendations typically estimate a 20-gallon enclosure can fit a single adult gecko.
This translates to a minimum terrarium size of 200″ square inches of floor space per adult.
The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) states, “an adult gecko needs a tank at least 60 cm long, 40 cm high, and 30 cm deep.”
Refer to this chart to determine what size tub your gecko(s) need.
Remember, your tub needs to be at least this large, if not larger.
|Number of Leopard Geckos||Minimum Size Tub||Gallon Equivalent|
|One baby or juvenile gecko||40 quarts||10 gallons|
|One adult gecko||80 quarts||20 gallons|
|Two adult geckos||100 quarts||25 gallons|
Too Large Is Better Than Too Small When Choosing a Tub
Pet leopard geckos can grow up to 10″ inches long!
Further Reading: Leopard gecko size guide and chart
The larger enclosure is generally preferable if your gecko is between two different-sized tubs.
It needs to be large enough to allow for adequate exercise.
Additionally, there must be enough room to support an adequate temperature gradient.
As “cold-blooded” reptiles, leopard geckos rely heavily on heat sources to regulate their body temperature.
Larger tanks are necessary to accommodate multiple areas of different temperatures.
The tub must also be big enough to fit a water bowl, a food dish, and multiple hides.
Potential Issues With Very Large Tubs
Although it is generally better for your gecko’s tub to be too big rather than too small, an excessively large tub can cause problems.
For example, big tubs can make geckos anxious, decreasing their appetite.
It may refuse to eat if a gecko feels exposed or vulnerable in a large habitat without enough hides.
Another potential issue of big enclosures occurs with baby leopard geckos.
Due to their small size, baby geckos cannot maintain correct temperatures as effectively.
Larger gecko tubs have inferior insulation, making it more difficult for baby geckos to stay warm.
Leopard Geckos’ Natural Habitat
We must consider the natural habitat when setting up a leopard gecko enclosure.
The goal is to create an environment for sufficient physical movement and encourages natural behaviors like basking and hiding.
Wild leopard geckos are found in northwest India and parts of the Middle East, where it is typically hot and dry year-round.
They live on a layered substrate of sand, gravel, clay, and rocks.
In their natural habitat, leopard geckos seek shelter in pockets between the gravel and rocks. These hideouts have higher humidity levels and shield geckos from sunlight.
In line with this behavior, leopard geckos mostly spend their time on the ground.
So how do we design an enclosure which recreates this natural habitat?
Desired Features for Your Leopard Gecko’s Vivarium
An important component of your pet reptile’s care requirements is a vivarium: an enclosure designed based on its natural habitat.
In captivity, leopard geckos can live up to 20 years!
Therefore, it is wise to invest in high-quality housing.
Because leopard geckos are primarily ground-dwellers, floor space is more important than having a tall enclosure.
While not agile climbers, leopard geckos need a lid on their enclosure to prevent them from escaping.
Lighting and heat cables may also be fastened to the lid.
Good ventilation is crucial to keep your gecko healthy.
Make sure you use a lid with adequate ventilation, such as a screen or mesh cover.
A solid cover is not appropriate.
It will cause the tank’s humidity and temperature to rise, harming your gecko.
Types of Leopard Gecko Vivariums by Material
Vivariums come in three types of material: glass, wood, or plastic.
Glass Leopard Gecko Tanks
A classic housing option is a glass vivarium like this Glass Reptile Terrarium (20 Gallon) on Amazon.
Enclosures made of glass allow leopard gecko keepers to see their reptiles clearly from all angles.
Glass is easy to clean and disinfect.
Because leopard geckos lack sticky foot pads, they cannot climb up glass, reducing the risk of escape.
Unfortunately, glass is heavy and more fragile than wooden or plastic enclosures.
Furthermore, don’t drill additional holes in the glass.
You are limited to whatever inlets your vivarium comes with.
Further Reading: The Ideal Leopard Gecko Tank Size
Wooden Leopard Gecko Enclosures
A reptile vivarium may also be made of wood.
Although an inexpensive option, I recommend avoiding wooden enclosures.
They are difficult to clean because wood absorbs water.
Thus, they are prone to mold, making your gecko sick.
Since three walls are made of wood, these vivariums do not offer the 360º view of a glass tank.
Plastic Tubs for Leopard Geckos
The third option is a plastic tub made from PVC or ABS plastic.
Plastic tubs are popular because they are durable, lightweight, and cheaper than glass tanks.
Unlike glass leopard gecko terrariums, plastic tubs may be modified by adding additional holes to attach equipment.
Plastic tubs are easy to clean, but we must be careful since plastic scratches more easily.
Plastic tubs are generally less visually appealing.
Also, some tubs are slightly opaque and harder to see through.
There are plastic tubs specifically designed for reptiles, such as this Portable Reptile Terrarium Habitat on Amazon.
This one is too small for an adult but would be appropriate for a juvenile gecko.
You may use plastic storage bins for adult geckos, but you need to add air holes to the cover for ventilation.
Tips if Housing Multiple Leopard Geckos Together
In general, it is best to house leopard geckos by themselves.
Housing more than one gecko together can lead to stress, which may cause health problems in the long run.
If you plan to house more than one gecko, there are certain groupings to avoid.
For example, adult males can never be kept in the same enclosure.
Males will fight, inflicting severe injuries or even killing each other.
Adults will eat baby geckos and, thus, should never be housed together.
Two adult females may be housed together but must be similar in size to avoid aggressive behavior.
It is possible to house one male with one female, but they will breed.
Do not house male and female leopard geckos together if you do not want baby geckos.
If you own multiple geckos, a good alternative to housing them in one enclosure is a rack system like this Breeding Box (5 pcs) on Amazon.
This vertically stacked system also saves space.