While having a pet is a lot of fun, it is important to remember that they are a huge responsibility. Owning a pet of any sort is hard work, really, as they require lots of attention, love, care, and in some cases, money. Leopard geckos, in my opinion, are the best reptiles for beginner reptile owners because of how docile they are in nature. Additionally, they’re small, cute, and relatively easy to care for, and just like any other animal, they have their own unique personality. Before you consider getting your gecko, here is the complete list of what you will need to buy:
- mesh wire lid
- 10 or 20 gallon tank
- heating pad
- two “houses”
- water dish
- calcium powder dish
- mealworm dish
- artificial plants
First and foremost, you will need a place to keep your gecko. For younger, smaller geckos, I recommend a 10 gallon tank. As they grow into adulthood, you will have time to save up and buy a 20 gallon. I know it sounds a little large, but geckos like to move around, especially at night. The extra space is important for an adult gecko’s exercise! If you do decide to house your gecko in a 10 gallon tank, please make sure that there is plenty of moving space– that is, do not overcrowd your gecko. Additionally, make sure the lid to the tank is mesh wire, which is important for airflow.
You will also need to something to cover the bottom of the tank with. I do not advise putting any sort of loose substrate (dirt, sand, shavings, etc.) in the tank with the gecko, as these things cannot be digested. Instead, if consumed, the loose particles will build up in the gecko’s digestive tract and cause what is called impaction. The gecko will feel full, but not receive any nutrients, which will cause severe illness. Instead of these loose substrates, use either newspaper or paper towels; these options are both cheaper and safer for your gecko. Whatever you choose, make sure the bedding is non-abrasive or harmful to the gecko or its skin.
If you do decide to use a loose substrate like reptile dirt (geckoes love to dig), make sure to feed your gecko in a separate container to avoid any consumption of the loose particles.
You will need to buy a “house” or two for your gecko. A house is anything large enough for your gecko to hide in– try getting your gecko houses with a natural feel, like a log or a rock. These two houses need to be placed on opposite sides of the tank. The purpose of this is to create two different hideaways in two different temperatures; one side will be heated by a heating pad and the other will not. Place the heating pad on the bottom of the outside of the tank underneath one of the houses. It is important that the gecko has access to heated and cooled sections.
The gecko should have three dishes: a calcium dish, a mealworm dish, and a water dish. It is very important that the water dish is shallow so that the gecko doesn’t have to struggle to access its water source. Additionally, make sure the water levels aren’t too deep– you don’t want to risk your pet drowning! The mealworm dish needs to be a little steeper, preferably with in-turned edges to prevent the worms from escaping. Mealworms are not essential for a gecko to have, and you should definitely limit how many worms a gecko eats, as they are only meant to be a snack. Their primary food source should be crickets. Finally, the calcium dish should be filled with calcium powder.
For more food information, visit this site.
The hygrometer and thermometer go on the inside of the tank attached to the glass. They are important for measuring humidity and temperature respectively; humidity should not be higher than 40% and the temperature should be anywhere between 80 and 85 degrees on the side of the heating pad. This is why the second house is important: at night, when the temperature naturally drops, they need to have the option to escape to a cooler area of the tank.
Lastly, if you want to include any plants in the enclosure, I do not recommend using real plants, as some plant types may be toxic to your pet. Instead, use artificial, leafy plants. Any additional items you wish to include in the tank setup should be completely safe for your pet (non-toxic, non-abrasive, etc)!