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Home > Geckos > How to Get Rid of Leopard Gecko Smell: 6 ideas & Tips

How to Get Rid of Leopard Gecko Smell: 6 ideas & Tips

Leopard gecko

One of the most reported appealing traits of keeping a leopard gecko is that they are odor-free. But you may have noticed that your “odorless” reptile’s tank is giving off an unpleasant smell. While leopard geckos don’t smell, their fecal matter does. If you don’t clean their tank carefully, you might find yourself dealing with remnant odors. Read on for a few tips to get rid of the smell and keep your leopard gecko’s habitat as odorless as they are!

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The 6 Tips to Get Rid of Leopard Gecko Smell

1. Use the Right Habitat

A habitat with holes drilled in the top will help air circulate throughout your leopard gecko’s living area. Not only does this help ensure that your gecko is breathing clean air, but it also prevents smells from building up.

Be sure the top of the tank is sturdy and the holes are not so large that a cat, dog, or small child can reach in to play with your gecko. Clear plastic totes that you can drill holes in the top of are great options, or you can buy pre-built terrariums with sliding doors and screen ventilation.

No matter the habitat that you choose, clean it thoroughly before putting your leopard gecko inside. This means using plant-based dish soap and rinsing it clean. Use hot water and rinse with cold. Then use paper towels to completely dry the habitat. Your last step is to disinfect using a reptile-safe disinfecting solution.

leopard gecko in a tank
Image Credit: Leroy Dickson, Pixabay

2. Clean and Disinfect Cage Items

Your leopard gecko’s habitat probably contains rocks, hides, and other fun objects for your pet to play with and relax on. These items are just as likely to build up smells as the tank itself, so it’s important to clean them.

Using the same process that you use to clean the habitat, wash, rinse, dry, and disinfect all tank items, making sure not to place any moisture back into the tank. Excess moisture can breed bacteria and diseases in reptiles. If you’re unsure, dry everything off with a paper towel, then leave it to air-dry before returning objects to the tank.

3. Daily Spot Cleaning

To keep your leopard gecko from smelling funky, be sure to spot clean their habitat every day.

Since reptiles are known for carrying bacteria, be sure to use rubber gloves to clean and wash your hands when you’re done; knowing what to look for when spot cleaning saves you time.

Leopard geckos like to go to the bathroom in the same spot, so look for their defecation spot. It will likely be in the corner of their habitat, but sometimes they like to defecate in or under objects, so look there too.

Use paper towels to remove any feces that you find, as well as food waste or uneaten treats. If you are using a paper substrate, remove any soiled pieces and add new substrate.

leopard gecko inside terrarium
Image Credit: Vladislav_Bagnyuk, Shutterstock

4. Monthly Deep Cleans

In addition to daily spot cleans, you’ll need to move your gecko to a temporary enclosure and do a monthly deep clean of their habitat. If you find yourself losing track of when cleaning is due, put it on your calendar or set a recurring reminder on your phone to help you remember.

As with daily cleaning, always wear gloves to avoid bacterial contamination. While you can leave your leopard gecko in the tank for daily cleans, move them to a temporary, safe enclosure for your monthly deep cleans. You can use a plastic storage container with holes in the top or a reptile travel carrier for this purpose.

Take everything out and clean it thoroughly. Remove all the substrate to thoroughly scrub the tank, then put down new substrate.

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5. Replace the Substrate

Different substrates will need replacement on different schedules. If you don’t replace the substrate as recommended, it will become smelly. This table shows the recommended schedule for replacing and cleaning common reptile substrates.

Type of Substrate Recommended Cleaning Schedule
Paper Replace one to two times per week
Reptile Carpet Daily spot clean and replace two to three times per month
Ceramic Tile Daily spot clean and deep clean once per month
Loose Substrates Daily spot clean and replaces every 3–4 months
leopard gecko in its moist hide
Image By: BLUR LIFE 1975, Shutterstock

6. Bath Your Leopard Gecko

Despite their lack of naturally occurring odor, leopard geckos can pick up smells from poorly cleaned enclosures and start to smell bad. The best way to get rid of the feces smell on your gecko is to clean the tank and bathe your pet before putting them back in.

Leopard geckos originate from arid climates that lack water, so they don’t need regular baths, but sometimes it’s necessary. There are a few things that bathing helps with:

  • Cleaning your gecko and removing odors
  • Removing dead skin
  • Assisting with digestive impactions
  • Unclogging femoral pores

You don’t need to bathe your leopard gecko more than once or twice per month, but if they have become smelly, it’s likely time to do so.

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Can Diet Affect the Smell of a Leopard Gecko?

Typically, a leopard gecko’s diet consists of small insects, spiders, beetles, crickets, and mealworms. They shouldn’t eat food meant for other reptiles or animals because it can cause impactions and upset their sensitive digestive system.

Subsequently, your gecko’s food should not alter their natural smell. That said, some leopard gecko foods, like crickets and mealworms, are naturally smelly on their own. You may find that the smell that’s bothering you is your leopard gecko’s food rather than your gecko.

leopard gecko with uvb light
Image By: DWI YULIANTO, Shutterstock

Safe Cleaning Agents for a Leopard Gecko’s Tank

It’s important to keep your leopard gecko’s tank clean, but it’s also important to keep your pet safe by using cleaning products that aren’t harmful to their health.

There are a few different options:
  • Dish soap: Dish soap makes a great cleaning agent. Just be sure to rinse the tank of all soap residue when you’re done.
  • Reptile-friendly disinfecting agents: Zoo Med and Fluker’s both make cleaning agents designed specifically for reptile cages.
  • Bleach solution: You can make your own disinfectant solution using one part bleach to nine parts water.
  • Vinegar solution: Alternatively, vinegar mixed with water in a 1:9 ratio is also suitable to clean out your gecko’s tank.

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Regular cleaning is the best way to keep your leopard gecko and their habitat smell-free. The primary cause of any odor in the enclosure is their feces. By thoroughly cleaning the tank, you will keep fecal smells at bay. This is important for reducing smells and for maintaining your leopard gecko’s optimum health.

Featured Image Credit: Reinhold-Leitner, Shutterstock

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