This should go unsaid, but when looking into buying your first leopard gecko, there are items that you will absolutely need in order to take care of them properly. Each item serves a different purpose and is critical for your leopard geckos overall health and wellbeing. I’ll be going over why you need these items in more detail, but to keep it short, here’s the list.
- Heating Mat
- Calcium And D3
- Terrarium Cover
These items are the ones that you definitely need with the exception of one of the items on the list depending on the type of terrarium you buy. If by the time you fully read this article and would like to check out any of the equipment that I use, then feel free to click here to go to the page where I have everything neatly listed by category. But with that said, let’s go into a little further detail so that you know exactly what each piece of equipment is used for and why.
This will be the heart and soul of your whole setup. Without it, nothing else matters. Your terrarium (also known as a tank or cage) will be responsible for housing your leopard gecko(s) and all the equipment that it needs to survive.
The minimum size to get is at the very least 10 gallons, but when your gecko grows into adulthood or if you decide to add more geckos to your tank, then a 20-gallon tank is recommended. Not only because your gecko(s) need more space, but also because as they get bigger, you’ll likely need to get bigger equipment as well.
Trying to squeeze large equipment into a smaller tank is not advised as it could cause tons of stress and discomfort for your leopard gecko. From about 0-8 months you won’t have to worry about overcrowding, but once they reach adulthood between that 8-12 month mark, you’ll definitely need them in something larger than 10 gallons.
If you’d like to read more into their adulthood requirements, then check out this post that I wrote here.
This is a given, but obviously, they will need food. There are many different foods that leopard geckos love to indulge in such as mealworms, crickets, silkworms, Dubia roaches and so on, but which one of these foods they eat will kind of depend on what you prefer to give them and also what they have a taste for.
Some owners like to keep their geckos on a mealworm and cricket diet, while others like to give them more of a variety, so see what works best for you. Make sure you’re reading the nutritional value for each type of food you decide to go with along with feeding times, how much you should feed them, how large their food should be depending on their age, and also what foods should serve more as treats rather than staples.
Make sure to get your food from trusted sources so that you can ensure that what you’re giving them is safe and also not dead once you receive it. Dead food doesn’t fly over well with leopard geckos, so this is an important thing to keep in mind when getting it.
Some online shops can be a little sketchy or unsafe, so it’s always good to do your research on a place before making an order if you’re buying online. But if you’d rather get your food from a physical location like Petsmart or your local reptile shop, for example, then they’re usually always good at keeping healthy insects in stock.
A lot of the times, issues with leopard geckos can be attributed to not having the temperatures in the tank be balanced or within a healthy range, so in order to help with that, a good thermostat is an absolute must.
Without it, the temperature in your tank will rise and rise until eventually, your leopard gecko can’t handle it anymore, just to put it lightly. So, the only real way to prevent this is to have a decent thermostat that will allow you to set and keep the temperature in which you need your tank to be at.
It’s extremely important that these temperatures are balanced out evenly throughout the tank so that your leopard gecko can live comfortably without being in any harm. If your tank isn’t regulated, then it can cause numerous different health issues that can even result in an untimely demise.
To avoid being another person who will lose their gecko due to temperature problems, then please make sure to get this particular piece of equipment. It’s vital.
Also, to get a better scope of the importance of temperature, then check out this in-depth article here.
There are two main sources of heat that people choose when buying equipment for their setup and that’s either a heating mat or heat lamp. I decided to add a heating mat to this list because this is what I use to warm up my leopard geckos tank, but if you’d like to use a lamp instead, then that’s totally fine. One way of heating your tank is not necessarily better than the next, it just kind of comes down to personal preference.
But whichever source of heat you decide to go with, just know that this is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment on the list. A good heat source is not only used for heating up your leopard gecko when cold, but it is also used for helping them digest their food as well.
Their body needs a certain amount of heat in order to properly process food from the time they chew all the way down to the time it enters their stomach and exits their body. Not only that but just like many other things, it helps to reduce stress.
They get easily stressed over many different things, but if I had to choose the number one main factor for it, then I’d definitely say that not having enough or too little of heat in the tank is the most stress-inducing one. So, make sure you get your hands on a heat mat (or lamp).
This is what your leopard gecko will use to walk on, poop on, and burrow itself in. Aside from that, it doesn’t serve a huge purpose compared to a lot of other pieces of equipment that they need, like a thermostat or hide, for example.
One thing VERY important to keep in mind, though, when buying it is to make sure it’s never sand. There have been many debates over the safety of using sand as a substrate or not, but in my honest opinion, I don’t see where there’s even any room for a debate to even take place.
There have been COUNTLESS incidents where people have lost their pet or had major complications at the very least due to impaction from ingesting sand. That’s why I haven’t and never will recommend it.
What I will recommend, though, is an extremely safe, soft, and aesthetically pleasing substrate that I’ve been using for quite some time now called eco earth. I won’t go into detail as to why I love it, because the quality of it pretty much speaks for itself. But, if you want to check it out, then scroll to the top and click on the link right under the equipment list and it’ll take you to the page you need to be at to find it.
I know picking out a substrate can be tough with everyone giving you multiple options to choose from. So, if that’s not one you’d be interested in, just make sure it’s safe and it’s not sand.
Your leopard geckos hideouts or ” hides ” will serve multiple different very important purposes, and that’s to help with their sheds, help them hide if they ever feel threatened or scared, and also to help them get cover whenever they need to escape the heat of the tank.
On top of all that, they also use their hides to sleep and eat in as well. For each tank, there should be a hot hide, cool hide, and moist hide. The hot hide will aid as a cover for when they are eating, the cool hide will aid as a cover for when they are too hot, and the moist hide will aid as a cover for when they are shedding.
Basically, ” hides ” are just used for them to hide. Hiding is what they do in the wild and whenever they ever felt the need to whether that be for avoiding high temperatures in the desert or escaping predators, that is exactly what they did. So for similar reasons, having them in your tank is an absolute must.
Just like hides, there are three bowls that your leopard gecko will need for different critical reasons. The first reason is to have something to keep their food in, the second reason is for being able to provide them with a source of water, and the third reason is so they can supplement themselves with calcium whenever they need to.
Each bowl will have one of these three things in them and is very important for keeping your gecko’s nutritional needs all in order and not all over the place. When buying your bowls, you can get the same type of bowl for your food and calcium, but for your water, you’ll need something a little deeper so that it doesn’t run off the sides.
Working alongside your thermostat, your thermometer will help you keep track of what the temperature within your tank is. As stated above, this is very important because it’s going to help you know exactly where the temperature in your tank is at, which is a very important number to know just in case you need to make any adjustments.
You can either buy one that sits in the tank at all times or get one that you can just hold in there temporarily and get a quick reading. I personally like to get one that I can just set in the tank so that I can also just look in and see where it’s at. I use to use one that sat on the floor of the tank, but now I have one that sticks to the glass, which is way better.
Calcium and D3
Sitting right up there with the heating mat, calcium and D3 supplementation is the most vital thing you can give your leopard gecko in order to survive. Their bodies NEED calcium and D3 in order to survive. Without it, they will suffer from a very serious disease called MBD. This disease basically shuts down your leopard geckos system because it’s not getting what it needs.
If you want to read more into the seriousness of it and what you can do to avoid it, then I HIGHLY recommend checking out this article that I wrote here.
Calcium and D3 deficiency is definitely not unheard of in the reptile community, so it’s best to educate yourself on it so that you don’t end up making the same mistake as a lot of other owners do and not give them enough of it when they need it.
This is what keeps track of the humidity levels in your gecko’s tank. Just like with your temperature, if it’s too high or too low, then it can end up being a little too uncomfortable for your leopard gecko to be in.
They’re accustomed to certain humidity levels from being out in the wild so it’s always important to make sure that the levels are just right by having a device to read them with. The tanks temperature and humidity are different, so it’s impossible to get a good reading without having two devices that separately read both in your tank.
Most terrariums will come with a cover already, but if the one you plan on buying doesn’t, then you’ll have to get one. Luckily with leopard geckos, you don’t have to worry about them climbing up the side of the tank and getting out, but what you do have to worry about is other household predators like cats or dogs trying to attack your gecko.
Some leopard geckos survive these types of attacks, but others don’t, so it’s always good to have a nice cover over your tank for protection.
a UVB light is optional in the case that you’re supplementing your gecko with D3 through their diet, but if you’re not, then it’s not optional. Just like calcium, they need D3. Without D3, their bodies wouldn’t be able to process the calcium properly, which is absolutely critical for their survival.
UVB lights are small bulbs that attach to the inside of your tank. They radiate a light that gives your gecko exactly what it needs to keep that perfect balance within their body and like stated above, will allow them to process their calcium.
Without D3, your leopard gecko can get a calcium overdose and pass away because of it. That’s why it’s so important to make sure they’re being supplemented with it any time they feed or through the UVB light.
Many people decide not to use UVB, but if you’re someone who does want to supplement them through this way, then it works just as well as giving it to them through feeding.
Decorations within the tank are not a requirement at all, but if you do decide to get them then your gecko will surely love you forever for it. The decorations you get can be anything from fake plants to climbing rocks and are sometimes great for allowing your gecko to get a little exercise.
My leopard gecko has multiple decorations within the tank, but I’d have to say the climbing rock is its absolute favorite.
Nowadays, a lot of people are deciding to drink store-bought bottled water because of the fact that it’s been heavily filtered to get any heavy metals out, but if you’re not one of those people and would rather give your gecko tap water from the sink, then I recommend buying some water conditioner.
Water conditioner will cleanse the water and remove any heavy metals that may be present, therefore, making sure that your gecko is not consuming something that could be bad for it. Heavy metals are bad for us, and a lot of us have them in us without even knowing it, but fortunately, we can handle it better than geckos.
Because their bodies are so sensitive and small, though, stuff like that can be very detrimental to their health.
I really hope this list is helpful for you. The stuff that I mentioned above is everything you will ever need and is the same stuff that I chose to by when first setting up my tank. Again, if you want to check out my list of items, then you can by going here.
I know how much of a headache it can be trying to figure out everything you need, but when it comes to the stuff provided in that link, I know it’s safe. I would never recommend anything that could be potentially harmful to your pet and really hope you’re happy with whatever you decide to go with.