The 5 Best Substrates For Leopard Geckos
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Leopard geckos make wonderful pets because they are docile, relatively easy to care for, and they don’t get too big. Though a leopard gecko may not require anything complicated in terms of its habitat, there are certain boxes you need to check if you want to mimic your pet’s natural habitat.
In addition to choosing an appropriately sized terrarium, you should also make sure it is lined with the right type of substrate. Substrate helps absorb waste to keep your tank clean and hygienic.
In this article, we’ll talk about decorating your leopard gecko tank and provide some tips for choosing the best leopard gecko substrate and bedding. You’ll also see our top 5 picks for the best leopard gecko substrate and bedding.
At A Glance: Best Substrates and Beddings for Leopard Geckos To Buy
We highly recommend looking at the comparison table we have below where we highlighted the features of each product. You’ll also find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
Compare Best Substrates and Beddings for Leopard Geckos
1. Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Reptile Substrate
2. Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate For reptiles
3. Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Reptile Substrate
4. Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand
Best For Odor Control
5. Zilla Terrarium Liner
24 dry quarts
Holds shape, fine texture
Retains humidity, natural
Low maintenance, easy to clean
What to Look for in Substrate and Bedding for Leopard Geckos?
When it comes to choosing the substrate for your leopard gecko tank, you have many options. Some gecko owners keep it simple by using paper towels or newspaper, but neither of these options allow your gecko to burrow and dig. At the same time, you don’t want to choose something rough that might hurt your gecko when he digs. Read on to see our recommendations for leopard gecko bedding.
Here are some important things to look for in leopard gecko substrate:
- All-natural, non-toxic. You never want to put anything in your gecko’s tank that could potentially harm your pet, so choose a bedding that is all-natural and non-toxic.
- Supports burrowing. Leopard geckos like to burrow, so you should choose a substrate that supports this natural behavior. It should be fine enough and soft enough for digging without injuring your gecko.
- Easy to clean. Half the point of using substrate or bedding in your leopard gecko tank is to keep it clean. Make sure the bedding you choose is easy to spot-clean and either replace or disinfect.
- Low risk of ingestion. When your leopard gecko eats insects, there is always a risk that it might ingest some substrate along with the food. Make sure the substrate you choose won’t harm your gecko or cause an intestinal obstruction.
Our Top Picks For The Best Substrates and Beddings For Leopard Geckos
Now that you have a better idea what to look for in a leopard gecko substrate, it’s time to start shopping! Keep reading to see our top 5 picks for the best leopard gecko beddings and substrates.
Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Reptile Substrate
- Materials: Clay
- Capacity: 10 pounds
- Key Features: Holds shape, fine texture
- Enables natural burrowing/digging behavior
- Holds its shape well, can make tunnels
- All-natural clay materials, no chemicals or dyes
- Requires occasional misting to maintain texture
- Some risk for accidental ingestion, but non-toxic
The substrate holds it shape as well, so your gecko can build tunnels and the fine texture won’t injure your gecko’s toes or feet. Plus, it comes in a large 10-pound bag which is plenty for most terrariums.
Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate For reptiles
- Materials: Coconut fiber
- Capacity: 24 dry quarts
- Key Features: Absorbent, natural
- All-natural, non-toxic coconut fiber material
- Enables natural burrowing behavior
- Helps retain moisture and humidity in tank
- Some risk for accidental ingestion, non-toxic
- May retain more moisture than necessary
This substrate is made from all-natural coconut fiber which is gentle on your gecko’s feet and helps retain both heat and humidity. Plus, it is highly affordable and easy to use.
Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Reptile Substrate
- Materials: Coconut fiber
- Capacity: 8 quarts
- Key Features: Natural, absorbent, odor control
- Can be used dry or wet, tropical or desert
- Naturally absorbent, breaks down waste
- Safe and gentle on gecko feet and toes
- May retain more moisture than needed
- Somewhat more expensive than other options
Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand
- Materials: Sand
- Capacity: 10 pounds
- Key Features: Digestible, all-natural
- Made from 100% all-natural materials
- Digestible, not dangerous for ingestion
- Contains natural odor neutralizers
- Somewhat heavier for burrowing than coconut fiber
- Some risk of ingestion, low risk for impaction
Zilla Terrarium Liner
- Materials: Recycled materials
- Capacity: 50-gallon
- Key Features: Low maintenance, easy to clean
- Ideal for juveniles, no accidental ingestion
- Absorbent and non-abrasive material
- Reduces odor and is easy to clean with cold water
- Doesn’t allow for digging and burrowing
- Doesn’t retain heat and humidity as well as some
Plus, it is treated with a biodegradable enzyme to reduce odor and you can clean it quite easily using cold tap water. It is also very affordable.
Tips for Setting Up a Leopard Gecko Habitat
Leopard geckos are nocturnal reptiles, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when setting up the tank. You should expect your gecko to spend most of the day hiding, coming out only at night to feed. Think about additional factors such as heating, humidity, and lighting when decorating your gecko habitat.
Here are some simple tips for setting up your leopard gecko cage:
- Choose a terrarium at least 10 gallons in size, but ideally 20 gallons – you can keep up to 3 leopard geckos together in a large enough tank, but no more than 3.
- Make sure your leopard gecko terrarium is well-ventilated – these are desert animals, not tropical, so they don’t have the same high humidity requirements of some reptiles.
- Line the bottom of your terrarium with a few inches of fine textured substrate – your gecko should be able to safely dig and burrow in it.
- Install an under-tank heater under your gecko terrarium – it will heat the substrate and help maintain the proper ambient temperature in the tank.
- Choose the proper lighting for your gecko tank – you’ll want low-wattage daylight and either red or nocturnal blue light, alternating for 12 hours a day.
- Provide your gecko with a hiding spot or two, placing one on the hotter end of the tank where your gecko can rest during the day – geckos do not bask.
Now that you have a better idea how to set up and decorate your leopard gecko terrarium, you can see the important role bedding and substrate play. Take what you’ve learned here and put it to use in choosing the best substrate for your leopard gecko tank.
Leopard geckos are unique and interesting pets, but they are not necessarily beginner friendly. Any pet you choose to keep has specific requirements for care, so be sure to do your research. With the proper research, a suitable habitat, and a healthy diet, you should have no trouble keeping your leopard gecko happy and healthy for years to come.
If you’re still not sure where to start in looking for leopard gecko substrate, try out one of the top 5 best leopard gecko substrates we’ve reviewed above. Good luck!