Are you planning to add a leopard gecko to your household? If so, you naturally want to create a comfortable habitat for your pet. Gathering the right supplies and carefully setting up the habitat will help to make your pet feel at home! Discover some tips on how to set up a leopard gecko habitat for your new reptile.

What Type of Habitat Does My Leopard Gecko Need?

How to set up a leopard gecko habitat

A Terrarium

A glass terrarium is the best option for a leopard gecko. When it comes to size, a 20-gallon aquarium/terrarium is appropriate for an adult leopard gecko while a 10-gallon tank is preferable for a baby gecko.

Keep in mind that a baby gecko can get stressed out when living in an aquarium that’s too large. So, once your baby gecko grows into a 7-inch adult, consider giving it a 20-gallon aquarium to live in. A 20-gallon aquarium is appropriate if you plan to keep two leopard geckos, as well.

While choosing an aquarium, be sure to purchase a lid that goes with it. A lid with a wire screen that fits firmly on the aquarium is the best choice. If you’re concerned about lid security, you can choose some locking clips to keep it in place.

What Do I Need for My Leopard Gecko Habitat?

Now that you have your aquarium and lid, it’s time to gather your supplies.

A Heat Mat

Purchase a heat mat to stick on the bottom (outside) of your aquarium. Put the mat at one end of your aquarium and be sure its electrical cord is on the outer edge. You don’t want the electrical cord to sit beneath your pet’s enclosure.

A leopard gecko is a reptile, so it’s cold-blooded. It needs a source of heat in its habitat so it can thermoregulate its temperature and stay healthy.

Ground Cover

The bottom of your gecko’s habitat needs to be covered. Shredded paper towels, newspaper, or butcher paper make an excellent ground cover for your gecko’s aquarium. Leopard geckos like to burrow into a layer of ground cover that’s about an inch thick.

When you use shredded paper as ground cover, it makes it easy to clean your leopard gecko’s aquarium each week. Plus, you likely have paper towels or newspaper around your home, so you don’t have to purchase a special product.

As a note, some pet shops sell sand for a leopard gecko’s habitat. Many people like the look of colorful sand for their gecko’s home. However, sand doesn’t make a good ground cover for their habitat. Leopard geckos are known to eat sand. This can cause serious digestive problems.


Leopard Gecko Tank

A leopard gecko needs different types of hides or places where your pet can hide to find warmth or coolness.

A Warm Hide

A warm hide must be bottomless because you’re putting it on the side of the aquarium with the heat mat beneath it. You want the hide to allow the heat to flow up into the leopard gecko’s body. Warm hides are available in a lot of interesting designs. You may want a small cave, castle or even a hide made to look like a tree stump.

A Cool Hide

Your leopard gecko needs a place to hide when it wants to stay cool. A small hide made to look like a hollow log, or a cave would be a great choice.

Your gecko is going to retreat into this hide to cool down so be sure to place it on the side of the aquarium without the heat mat.

A Moist Hide

Being able to go into an area with humidity is important for maintaining the health of your leopard gecko when it’s shedding. You can make a moist hideout of an old margarine container or another plastic container that’s two times the size of your gecko.

Cut a hole in the lid of your plastic container that’s big enough for your leopard gecko to get in and out easily. Make sure the edges of the hole are smooth, so your gecko doesn’t cut or otherwise injure its skin.

Put a thin layer of sphagnum moss in your container. This type of moss retains moisture and you can purchase it at most pet stores. Use a spray bottle to moisten the layer of moss. Avoid creating standing water inside the container.

A Water Bowl

A water bowl for a leopard gecko is small and shallow. Many pet shops sell water bowls that sit evenly on the floor of your leopard gecko’s habitat and can be cleaned easily.

A Thermometer

A couple of thermometers are necessary for your leopard gecko’s aquarium. It’s important to make sure your gecko is not too warm or too cold. A digital thermometer for the warm side of its aquarium as well as one for the cool side can help you keep track of its environment.

A Food Bowl

You can purchase a small, shallow food bowl for your leopard gecko especially if you plan to feed it prepackaged crickets or mealworms. However, you don’t need to purchase a food bowl if you plan to feed your gecko live crickets.

Greenery and Rocks

Since leopard geckos are nocturnal and like to hide, consider purchasing some artificial plants to place inside the aquarium. Your leopard gecko is likely to choose a favorite plant to hide or sleep under during the day. Greenery of all shapes and sizes gives your aquarium a bit of color. You’d be surprised how imaginative you can be when arranging this greenery.

Flat rocks of all sizes are also available in pet stores. They serve as a place for your gecko to sit and also add interest to the appearance of its habitat.

Special Additions to Your Leopard Gecko’s Habitat

How to set up a leopard gecko tank

Now that you have the basics for your leopard gecko’s habitat, there are some additions to consider.

Background Décor

Some gecko owners like to add a bit of background to their pet’s glass habitat. This may be a poster displaying a desert scene, a rock wall, or the inside of a cave. You can purchase one at a pet store that fits the size of your aquarium.

If you think a background contributes to the appearance of your leopard gecko’s habitat, you can change it on a regular basis just to refresh the look!


Think about putting a length of PVC pipe in your leopard gecko’s habitat. Many geckos like to crawl through these tunnels. The length of the PVC pipe should be no more than four or five inches. Once again, be sure the edges of the PVC pipe are smooth.

Finally, one of the best things about learning how to set up a leopard gecko habitat is you are free to be as creative as you want to be. As long as you have the basic items your leopard gecko requires to stay healthy, you can make your aquarium into one of the most interesting features in your home.

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How to set up a leopard gecko habitat #pupnfriends