Leopard geckos are easy to care for, and a well-designed tank setup can make that care even easier. An aquarium is an excellent choice for any leopard gecko tank setup, although some prefer plastic bins. Both need a screened top for good ventilation. Size is important and many leopard gecko experts recommend a 15 gallon aquarium per gecko. Don’t house two of the same sex together or fighting will ensue.
The substrate (flooring) you choose is critical to your gecko’s health. Many people use sand, but research recommends avoiding sand. Immature geckos often get boisterous with their prey and “splash” their substrate when they chase the insects at dinner time. When splashed, sand may get in their mouth and cause digestive problems. The sand becomes moistened and can impact the digestive system. This is a much debated subject, I have successfully used sand, carpet, and paper, all with good results. If you must use sand make sure its calcium-sand. However for many It’s probably best to play it safe and use a flat lining type of substrate such as newspaper, paper towels, or artificial turf. Other loose fillers such as cedar shavings or cat littler should also be avoided for they can harm the gecko as dust from the product causes respiratory problems, infection, or digestive trauma.
The closer you can get to their natural environment, the more you’ll encourage gecko’s natural behavior to emerge. Since they can’t produce their own body heat, geckos need help maintaining temperature. Leopard geckos practice thermoregulation which means they travel about their cage to different areas of heat in an effort to regulate their body heat. The enclosure should consist of three segments of varied temperature gradient. Every cage needs one basking area per gecko – a smooth, warm spot where the creature can lay and soak up heat through its belly.
There are many ways to heat the areas, but most experts highly recommend using Under Tank Heaters (UTH) which can be purchased online or at pet stores. These mats stick to the bottom of your enclosure (or side) and heat from underneath the substrate. Other options include heat tape or cable, ceramic heat emitters, and red incandescent bulbs.
Leopard geckos require humidity “rooms” to properly shed their skin. In consistently dry conditions, their unshed skin can build up around their eyes and toes and even become infected or cut off their toes. A hiding hole can be built from a small plastic container. Cut a hole big enough for the gecko to crawl through in the side of the container and place a small wet sponge within. This should offer enough humidity to keep him healthy. You will have to clean the container out on a regular basis to keep mold and bacteria from building up.
Cleaning is critical to healthy geckos, and there are daily tasks:
Remove any waste, feces, or uneaten food
Clean out the humidity room and replace clean sponge
Clean and disinfect food and water containers
Remove soiled substrate and replace with new
The best time to clean is at dusk or in the early morning to prevent interrupting the gecko’s natural sleeping cycle. Setting up a tank doesn’t require much expense or time, but it’s important to provide the right necessities for good health.