The 5 Best Substrates and Beddings for Leopard Geckos

Leopard Geckos December 23, 2019
substrate for leopard gecko

The 5 Best Substrates and Beddings for Leopard Geckos

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substrate for leopard gecko

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

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Enables natural burrowing/digging behavior
  • Holds its shape well, can make tunnels
  • All-natural clay materials, no chemicals or dyes
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  • Can be used dry or wet, tropical or desert
  • Naturally absorbent, breaks down waste
  • Safe and gentle on gecko feet and toes
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  • All-natural, non-toxic coconut fiber material
  • Enables natural burrowing behavior
  • Helps retain moisture and humidity in tank
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  • Made from 100% all-natural materials
  • Digestible, not dangerous for ingestion
  • Contains natural odor neutralizers
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  • Ideal for juveniles, no accidental ingestion
  • Absorbent and non-abrasive material
  • Reduces odor, easy to clean with cold water
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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.

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.

Here Are Our Top 5 Picks For The Best Leopard Gecko Substrate:

Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate

Product Specs:

  • Materials – Clay
  • Capacity –10 pounds
  • Key Features – Holds shape, fine texture
  • Price$11.95

Pros:

  • Enables natural burrowing/digging behavior
  • Holds its shape well, can make tunnels
  • All-natural clay materials, no chemicals or dyes

Cons:

  • Requires occasional misting to maintain texture
  • Some risk for accidental ingestion, but non-toxic

Leopard geckos love to burrow and dig, so choosing a substrate that supports this natural behavior is very important. This Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate is a good option because it is all-natural and enables burrowing behavior. 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.

Zoo Med Eco Earth Coconut Fiber Substrate

Product Specs:

  • Materials – Coconut fiber
  • Capacity –8 quarts
  • Key Features – Retains humidity, natural
  • Price$6.47

Pros:

  • All-natural, non-toxic coconut fiber material
  • Enables natural burrowing behavior
  • Helps retain moisture and humidity in tank

Cons:

  • Some risk for accidental ingestion, non-toxic
  • May retain more moisture than necessary

If you’re looking for a leopard gecko substrate that enables burrowing behavior but isn’t quite as structured as the previous option, consider this Zoo Med Eco Earth Coconut Fiber Substrate. 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.

Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding

Product Specs:

  • Materials – Coconut fiber
  • Capacity – 24 dry quarts
  • Key Features – Absorbent, natural
  • Price$20.99

Pros:

  • Can be used dry or wet, tropical or desert
  • Naturally absorbent, breaks down waste
  • Safe and gentle on gecko feet and toes

Cons:

  • May retain more moisture than needed
  • Somewhat more expensive than other options

Another excellent option in coconut fiber bedding for your leopard gecko is this Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding. It is a little more expensive than some options, but it is naturally absorbent, helping to control odor and breaking down waste naturally. It is gentle on your gecko’s feet and can be used dry or damp to create tropical or desert habitats.

Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand

Product Specs:

  • Materials – Sand
  • Capacity –10 pounds
  • Key Features – Digestible, all-natural
  • PriceOut of stock

Pros:

  • Made from 100% all-natural materials
  • Digestible, not dangerous for ingestion
  • Contains natural odor neutralizers

Cons:

  • Somewhat heavier for burrowing than coconut fiber
  • Some risk of ingestion, low risk for impaction

If you’re worried about your gecko accidentally ingesting substrate, choose something like this Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand. It is made from 100% all-natural materials and is completely digestible. If your gecko does accidentally ingest some, there is a very low risk for internal abrasions or impaction. It contains natural odor neutralizers and is ideal for creating a natural habitat.

Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner

Product Specs:

  • Materials – Turf
  • Capacity – 10 gallon thru 125 gallon
  • Key Features – Absorbent, non-abrasive
  • Price$18.26

Pros:

  • Ideal for juveniles, no accidental ingestion
  • Absorbent and non-abrasive material
  • Reduces odor and is easy to clean with cold water

Cons:

  • Doesn’t allow for digging and burrowing
  • Doesn’t retain heat and humidity as well as some

For a quick and easy substrate ideal for juvenile leopard geckos, consider this Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner. It is made from safe, non-abrasive materials so it won’t harm your gecko and there is no risk for accidental ingestion. 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.

Final Remarks

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!

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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