Leopard geckos are fun pets that are often considered to be excellent starter pets for people who are interested in keeping reptiles. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do lots of research and planning before you bring one home, though.
Leopard geckos have specific environmental and care needs, and it’s necessary to fulfill these needs to keep your leopard gecko healthy and happy for many years to come. With proper care, your reptilian friend can be with you for up to 15 years!
Here are some of the basic supplies you’ll need before you bring your leopard gecko home for the first time.
The 10 Leopard Gecko Supplies to Get You Started
Of course, you’ll need something to keep your leopard gecko in! However, just any old tank won’t do. They do best in glass tanks that help retain humidity, but these tanks should also be well-ventilated. A poorly ventilated terrarium can lead to respiratory infections for your leopard gecko. This means that an old glass fish tank isn’t going to work!
Ideally, you shouldn’t start with anything smaller than 15 gallons. As your leopard gecko ages, they will require a larger tank. Most experienced keepers don’t recommend anything smaller than 20 gallons for an adult leopard gecko.
2. UVB Light
A UV light is necessary for your reptile to stay healthy. Leopard geckos are not able to produce vitamin D3 within their bodies without a boost, so a UVB light is required to help them produce adequate vitamin D3 levels. Vitamin D3 is a necessary nutrient that allows the body to absorb calcium properly, which is needed for bone health. Without a UVB light, your leopard gecko may experience a serious medical condition called metabolic bone disease.
If you prefer, you can purchase a light that doubles as a heat lamp as well. Some lamps have a space for a UVB bulb and a heat bulb. It’s important to understand that heat bulbs, and UVB bulbs aren’t interchangeable, though!
The right substrate can make all the difference for your leopard gecko’s health. Sand is not recommended because leopard geckos can ingest it, and it may cause blockages in the digestive tract. Reptile carpets are a great option, but it’s absolutely necessary to keep them clean because they can harbor bacteria that can make your leopard gecko sick. It’s ideal to purchase at least two so you always have one available.
You can also use tile or linoleum as the substrate for your leopard gecko. These are easy to clean and harbor very little bacteria. A favorite substrate of many keepers is paper towels. They are absorbent, inexpensive, and easy to care for.
4. Warm Hide
As previously mentioned, leopard geckos need a source of heat for their tank. This heat source should be at one end of the tank so they can get in and out of the heat as needed. Heat mats are a good option to help maintain a warm space, but most experienced keepers also recommend a heat lamp. Heat mats may not be warm enough to provide the warmth that your leopard gecko requires to stay healthy. Without a heat source, your leopard gecko will die. Maintaining a warm spot temperature of 85–95°F is recommended, although a slightly warmer space is adequate as well. There should be a hiding spot available in the warm area as well.
5. Cool Hide
Just as important as the warm hide is a cool hide for your leopard gecko. A cool hide allows your leopard gecko to get away from the warm side of the tank without losing a comfy spot. This will not only allow it to get away from the heat but also to have a space that feels safe and comfortable that allows them to get away from activity outside the tank. Ideally, the cool hide and cool side of the tank should be around 75°F at all times for maximum comfort and health for your leopard gecko.
6. Humidity Gauge
Maintaining an appropriate humidity level in your leopard gecko’s tank will help them successfully shed and provide them with a comfortable and natural feeling environment. However, humidity levels that are too high or if the humidity in the tank is stagnant, then leopard geckos are susceptible to developing respiratory infections. Not only that, but high humidity can also allow mildew, mold, and bacteria to grow.
A humidity gauge is the ideal way to ensure the tank is at an appropriate humidity level. A humidity gauge with a built-in thermometer is a great option since you’ll need to monitor the temperatures at both ends of the tank.
7. Sphagnum Moss/Fogger
Sphagnum moss is an inexpensive and effective way to add humidity to your leopard gecko’s tank. If you prefer, a reptile fogger can also be used, but these machines can make it difficult to properly maintain the humidity in the tank without causing it to go too high. With sphagnum moss, you simply need to dampen it and add it to the tank to increase the humidity.
If you choose to use sphagnum moss to add humidity to the tank, you’ll need to be committed to maintaining it. It should be damp but not wet when added to the tank. You’ll also need to check it regularly to see if it needs to be dampened or replaced. Use your humidity gauge to monitor the tank for appropriate humidity levels, and add damp sphagnum moss as needed.
8. Food and Water Bowls
Just like every other pet, your leopard gecko will need access to clean water at all times. The water bowl should be deep enough to hold plenty of drinking water but shallow enough that your leopard gecko won’t become trapped in the bowl. Deep drinking bowls can lead to drowning. Water bowls should be refilled with fresh water daily and cleaned regularly to ensure nothing yucky is growing in them.
Food bowls are also important because they help keep your leopard gecko’s food all in the same place. They also allow you to add calcium powder to their food before offering it to them, which would be much more difficult to do if you didn’t have a food bowl. This will make it easier for your leopard gecko to find and catch their food with little to no assistance.
9. Tank Décor
Tank décor serves a bigger purpose than just making your leopard gecko’s terrarium more appealing for you to look at. Tank décor can help your leopard gecko feel more at home in their environment. Décor can be used to make the tank into a more natural environment for your leopard gecko and create a more enriching environment, making your leopard gecko live a happy and stress-free life. Just make sure any décor you add to the tank is free of sharp edges and is made for the purpose of being in a humid environment.
10. Calcium and Vitamin D Powder
It cannot be reiterated enough that calcium and vitamin D powder are an absolute necessity for the health of your leopard gecko. Even though they will be able to formulate some vitamin D from their UV light, a supplement will help meet any additional needs the body has. It’s important to select a powder that contains calcium and vitamin D, not just calcium. These powders can be dusted on your leopard gecko’s food and given to them easily this way. Usually, these supplements are added to the food 2–3 times per week, but your exotics vet will be able to give you further guidance on this.
On top of these supplies, you’ll also need to do a significant amount of research before bringing a leopard gecko home. This will ensure you’re fully prepared and educated on the care of these fun animals. It’s also a good idea to look into vets in your area who see exotic pets or reptiles. This will help you keep your new friend healthy for years to come.
Featured Image Credit: Reinhold-Leitner, Shutterstock