Creating The Perfect Habitat For Your Geckos
Published 20th February 2007
In nature, leopard geckos live in arid regions of Pakistan, southern Asia, India, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. They like rocky deserts and grasslands and arent usually found in sandy places. The leopard gecko is a nocturnal creature that spends most of the daylight hours hiding in holes and crevices to avoid the heat, coming out during the night to hunt for its food. Unlike many other lizards the leopard gecko tends to stay on the ground.
If you have made the decision to obtain a leopard gecko you will need to consider its natural settings when you arrange its housing (I prefer not to use the word "cage"). The best habitat can be made using a glass or acrylic aquarium. If you do a search for gecko housing you will find varying advice as to what size of tank to use. Many writers will suggest that a 10 gallon tank is sufficient, but I disagree. A ten gallon aquarium is 20 inches long and 10 1/2 inches wide. Your gecko may be small when you first get it, but it will eventually grow to be anywhere from 8 to 12 inchels in overall length. You will quickly see that a ten gallon aquarium would be very small. I recommend a 35 gallon or larger tank but a 15 gallon size would be sufficient.
The actual setup of your gecko "house" can be simple or as complex as you like. The most basic arrangement can consist of nothing more than a paper lining and a water dish. However, to increase both your level of enjoyment with your pet and its own comfort you will probably want to go a bit further.
The best thing to use for the substrate would probably be artificial turf, or even indoor/outdoor carpet. If you decide to use gravel be sure that they are dust free and are too large for your gecko to accidentally swallow them when catching its food. Remember that the leopard gecko doesnt generally like to climb so try to provide as much flat surface area as you can.
For optimal health the leopard gecko requires a temperature around 80 to 85 degrees F. Purchase a fish tank thermometer, such as the peel and stick type, and place it about midways up on the outside of the tank so you will be able to monitor the temperature. If the temperature drops below 80 degrees your gecko may not want to eat and will become unhealthy very quickly. This can be best accomplished using a red incandescent bulb above one end of the tank. Placing the lamp on only one end will provide a needed heat gradient - where one end of the tank will be slightly cooler than the other. Hot rocks are not recommended as they will not provide enough heat throughout the housing, and have also been known to actually cause burns to the gecko.
It is also a great idea to include hiding places for the gecko. These should be placed at both ends of the habitat. You may purchase premade hide-aways from a pet shop or create your own using a small plastic food storage container or similar item. Cut a hole in the container big enough for the gecko to have easy access.
Providing your pet gecko with housing that is safe, comfortable and sufficient in size will go a long way in increasing your satisfaction with your pet. Also keep in mind that you will probably want to remove it from the aquarium and let it sit on your shoulder or even run loose in the house from time to time. It is fine to do that, but always be sure that you pay attention to it and keep it from danger.