Leopard Gecko Vivarium Setup Guide
Leopard geckos are one of the easiest pet reptiles to care for, but it’s still essential to provide them with the right living environment. Read our leopard gecko setup guide to find out everything you need to create the perfect home for your leopard gecko including heating, lighting and what size and type of vivarium to choose.
Leopard gecko vivarium material
The first step of setting up your leopard gecko’s new home is choosing the right tank. Read on to find out what material you should choose for a leopard gecko.
Vivariums are available in many different materials but most leopard gecko owners go for a glass vivarium. For one thing, leopard geckos can’t climb on glass so they won’t be able to escape their enclosure. Also known as glass terrariums, they’re fairly cheap and readily available on sites like Amazon.
Wire cages are not suitable for leopard geckos.
Wire cages don’t hold heat well, your leopard gecko could get its foot or toes caught in the wire and there’s always the risk that they’ll escape. A glass vivarium is a much better option.Browse glass vivariums on Amazon »
Tank covers and lids
Don’t cover your leopard gecko vivarium with a solid lid (glass, plastic or any other material). This will cause the temperature and humidity inside the tank to rise to unsafe levels.
Your leopard gecko tank should be covered with a wire or mesh lid that will let fresh air in and out, as well as stop unwanted pets or insects getting into the tank.
Leopard gecko vivarium size
Now you know what type of enclosure your leopard gecko needs, you need to know what size vivarium you should choose. Whether you’ve got a baby or an adult leopard gecko, follow our guidelines to make sure you choose the right size tank.
Vivarium size for adult leopard geckos
Leopard geckos don’t need a large tank. We’d recommend a 2ft x 1ft x 1ft vivarium for an adult leopard gecko – just like the ones below.
All prices on Vivarium World are automatically synced with Amazon to help you get a good idea of what price you can expect to pay when you buy.
Vivarium size for baby leopard geckos
Baby leopard geckos are very small (around 2½ -3 inches) so to begin with they don’t need to be housed in a large vivarium.
Hatchlings should be kept separately and can live quite comfortably in a small container that’s 10 inches long x 8 inches wide x 6 inches high. Once your baby leopard gecko gets bigger, you can transfer it to a larger tank.
Do leopard geckos need a tall vivarium?
No – leopard geckos are ground animals who rarely climb so they don’t need a tall vivarium. Leopard geckos need a wide and shallow vivarium that gives them plenty of floor space to move around. A tank like this should be fine.
Leopard gecko heating
Leopard geckos can’t generate their own body heat so they use their environment to regulate their body temperature. This means you will need to provide heating as part of your leopard gecko setup.
Not having the right temperature can lead to serious problems including poor digestion so follow our guidelines to find out what temperature your leopard gecko needs and which heating accessories.
Vivarium heating should be used to recreate the temperature your leopard gecko would be used to in its natural environment.
Leopard geckos come from the Middle East so during the day they need a temperature gradient with a hot and cold side of the tank. This will allow them to move to a hotter or cooler area to raise or lower their body temperature.
Here are the recommended temperatures for each end of your leopard gecko vivarium:
Hot end – 31-32℃
Cool end – 27-31℃
Always use a thermometer like this to keep an eye on the temperature inside the tank; if this temperature gets too high, this can be very dangerous for your pet.
We’d recommend using a red or black bulb like this to provide heat in the hot zone. You’ll also need a heat strip or some under tank heating to provide an even distribution of heat. Stick to the top brands like Exo Terra when you’re buying your vivarium heating and you can’t go wrong.Browse glass vivariums on Amazon »
Your leopard gecko will need some heat at night but the temperature can be turned down to 21-24℃. We’d recommend using an infrared heat lamp like this that doesn’t affect nocturnal animals.
Leopard gecko humidity
As well as proper heating, you should also make sure that your leopard gecko vivarium has the right humidity for your pet.
This important because poor humidity:
- Causes hydration problems
- Makes it difficult for them to shed their skin
- Increases the chances of infection
What humidity should you leopard gecko tank be?
The humidity inside your leopard gecko vivarium should be 20%-40%. You can monitor the humidity levels using a hygrometer like this.
If the humidity inside your leopard gecko tank gets too high/low, here’s what to do:
- If the humidity gets too high, increase the airflow to the tank and put a smaller water dish in it.
- If the humidity gets too low, add a larger water dish.
Leopard gecko lighting
Lighting is a very important part of your leopard gecko vivarium setup and it’s essential that your vivarium lighting mimics the natural light pattern your leopard gecko would be used to in the wild.
Leopard geckos come from the Middle East which means in the summer they should have 14 hours of daylight, and 10 hours of darkness.
In winter, this should be adjusted to 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness (make sure you do this gradually so adjust their light cycle by 15-30 minutes over 4-8 weeks).
Top tip: Put your vivarium lights on a timer.
Finally, the most important thing to remember about leopard gecko lighting is that leopard geckos are nocturnal, so they shouldn’t be exposed to bright white lights or UV lights as this can make them feel stressed.
Even though your leopard gecko will sleep for most of the day, you should still try to mimic their natural light cycle. But don’t rely on natural sunlight to light their tank; this will probably be different to the light cycle your leopard gecko has evolved to live in.
We’d recommend using a basking lamp to provide to the light your leopard gecko needs during the day; your pet won’t need to bask under it like other reptiles but a lamp like this will help provide the right light cycle they need to maintain their body clock.
Leopard geckos are nocturnal and will be most active during the night, so don’t use any bright lights during this time.
If you have trouble maintaining the right temperature inside your tank at night, use an infrared lamp like this to provide heat rather than a basking lamp. That way you’ll provide your leopard gecko with the heat it needs without disturbing its light cycle.Browse vivarium lighting on Amazon »
Leopard gecko substrate
Substrate is the bedding that you put along the floor of your vivarium. And you can’t just use anything – with leopard geckos it’s essential to avoid fine particles like sand as they can be easily ingested and lead to serious health conditions like impaction.
We’d recommend using:
- Tiles or flat stones (easy to clean and mimics your gecko’s natural environment).
- Newspaper (this can be easily removed when you clean the tank)
- Reptile carpet (flooring specially designed for reptile tanks)
Leopard gecko decorations
You can also decorate your leopard gecko vivarium with a selection of plants, logs and rocks to help create a nice environment for your pet. Amazon has a great selection of decorations – have a go at mixing and matching to create a unique setup.Browse vivarium decorations on Amazon »
Leopard gecko diet
Leopard geckos need to be fed live food, and most of the time they won’t eat dead prey. Most leopard gecko owners tend to feed their pets crickets, worms and other insects. These reptiles are known for having changing tastes so you might need to vary what you feed them – one day your leopard gecko will love crickets and the next day it’ll turn its nose up at them!
Here are the best live foods to feed your leopard gecko:
- Dubia roaches
And the following plants and vegetables:
Browse reptile food on Amazon »
Leopard geckos need constant access to clean water. This should be provided in a flat, shallow bowl and changed daily. Always avoid deep water bowls as they will limit your leopard gecko’s access to the water and present a drowning hazard.
Like any reptile enclosure, it’s very important to clean it regularly. Here’s what your cleaning schedule should look like:
Daily cleaning tasks:
- Remove waste, shed skin, dead insects and any other debris
- Remove and clean anything that has been touched by faeces
- Clean and disinfect water bowls
- Remove and replaced soiled substrate
Weekly cleaning tasks
- Clean and disinfect the whole vivarium
- Remove, clean and disinfect all vivarium decorations
- Remove and replace soiled substrate