Setting up the Ideal Leopard Gecko Habitat

Transforming your leopard gecko's enclosure into a cosy haven is a rewarding experience. Discover the secrets to creating the perfect habitat that will keep your gecko happy and healthy. 

Setting up the Ideal Leopard Gecko Habitat

Welcome to the world of leopard geckos! Creating the perfect habitat for these fascinating creatures is essential for their health and well-being. Whether you're a new owner or looking to enhance your existing setup, this guide will help you design an ideal environment where your leopard gecko can thrive. With the right combination of heat, lighting, substrate, and decor, you'll be well on your way to providing a comfortable and stimulating home for your scaly friend.

You can find all details in our Leopard Gecko care sheet.


Leopard Gecko


Your Leopard Gecko Tank

Your Leopard Gecko will be most at home in a vivarium, an enclosure that you can adapt to imitate its natural habitat. To help you get started, you can use a HabiStat Leopard Gecko Accessory Kit, which will give you all the light, heat and safety elements you need to make your lizard feel right at home.

Tailoring the perfect habitat for your leopard gecko is key, and it varies with age:

For hatchling or juvenile leopard geckos, we recommend the HabiStat Leopard Gecko Starter Kit or the HabiStat Tall Terrainium - 24x15x12 inches.
Adult leopard geckos thrive in the HabiStat Standard Vivarium - 36x24x24 Inches. These recommendations ensure your gecko's well-being and comfort at different life stages.

While glass tanks are occasionally used, we recommend opting for a wooden enclosure. These wooden setups offer superior temperature control, creating a cosy and comfortable space for your leopard gecko to thrive. 


HabiStat Standard Vivarium, OAK

Leopard Gecko Heating

In the wild, Leopard Geckos live in desert areas, so you will need to heat your vivarium. This temperature should be 20-24℃ (68-75℉) during the day to keep your lizard warm, dropping to 18-23℃ (68-74℉) at night-time. Your lizard will also need a hot spot to bask in at one side of your vivarium, which should be 30-32℃ (86-90℉). To do this, you will need a heat bulb that runs through a dimming thermostat. A dimming thermostat will help you to control the temperature, which you will need to check regularly to ensure that your lizard does not overheat or get too cold.

The choice between a heat mat and a heat lamp depends on the type of enclosure and your gecko's age. For young and juvenile leopard geckos in Terrainium enclosures, a Heat Mat is the way to go. As your gecko grows into an adult and resides in a larger Vivarium, a Heat Bulb becomes the ideal heating option. Ensuring the right heat source guarantees a cosy and comfortable habitat for your scaly friend at every stage of their life.

Creating the perfect temperature gradient in your leopard gecko's enclosure is essential for their well-being. To achieve this, place the heating element on the left-hand side of the enclosure. This setup ensures that one end of the habitat remains warmer, while the other end stays cooler, providing your gecko with a comfortable range of temperatures to choose from. It's a simple but effective way to replicate their natural habitat in captivity.

Preventing overheating in your leopard gecko's enclosure, especially during hot weather, is crucial for their comfort and safety. To achieve this, we recommend using a thermostat. Depending on the type of enclosure we've recommended, you can use the HabiStat Mat Stat with the Heat Mat for the Terrainium or the HabiStat Dimming Thermostat with the Heat Bulb for the Vivarium. These thermostats are designed to control the heat source, ensuring it turns on and off as needed to maintain a safe ambient temperature inside the enclosure, keeping your leopard gecko comfortable and secure.

You'll want to provide a separate basking spot for your leopard gecko to warm up. The choice of heating depends on the type of enclosure you're using. For the Terrainium, a heat mat is suitable, while in the Vivarium, an overhead heat bulb is ideal. When combined with a deep sand-based substrate like HabiStat Leopard Gecko Bedding and some strategically placed rocks in the basking area, these elements will naturally retain heat throughout the day, offering residual warmth overnight even after the heating goes off.


Leopard Gecko Basking 


Using a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) for night-time heating is an option, but it's generally not necessary unless the temperatures consistently drop below the recommended range of 18⁰C-23⁰C (68⁰F-74⁰F) during the night. Leopard geckos are quite resilient and can tolerate slightly cooler night time temperatures without issues.

Your Leopard Gecko will appreciate a darker, damper area to hide in too. You can put this area in the middle of your vivarium. This will give your gecko a boost of humidity that will help it when its skin sheds. A moss hide will be ideal for this.

You should ideally check and adjust the temperature in the enclosure daily, but with the recommended HabiStat Thermostat and HabiStat Digital Thermometer, this should be a breeze. The Thermostat will work diligently to maintain stable temperatures throughout the day by regulating the power to the heat bulb or turning the heat mat on/off as necessary, all within the range you've set.


Leopard Gecko Lighting

Your Leopard Gecko will also need plenty of light. We recommend using the Arcadia ShadeDweller ProT5 7%, as it's specifically designed to meet the needs of these crepuscular reptiles. Make sure you read the instructions that come with the lighting to ensure it has been set up properly. 

It's important to choose a linear UVB strip light. Compact UVB bulbs may work well for smaller species in smaller enclosures, but they are not suitable for meeting the specific UVB requirements of leopard geckos. Linear UVB strip lights provide more effective and natural UVB spread and exposure, which is better suited for their needs.

Additionally, regular daylight bulbs won't provide the necessary UVB that leopard geckos need. It's essential to use a specialised UVB light source to ensure they receive the proper lighting for their health.

In an appropriately sized vivarium, it's advisable to have a separate basking light in addition to UVB. This serves multiple purposes, including establishing a day/night cycle, enhancing the overall light spectrum, and providing natural heat like sunlight. It can also generate residual heat overnight, which leopard geckos may utilise when needed.


Leopard Gecko Substrate 


HabiStat Leopard Gecko Bedding

Given that leopard geckos originate from sandy, gritty, and rocky environments, it's a great idea to provide them with a substrate that mimics their natural habitat. HabiStat Leopard Gecko Bedding is an excellent choice for this purpose, as it closely replicates their native environment and allows them to exhibit natural behaviours.

Using natural soil or topsoil as bedding for your leopard gecko can be an option, but it's essential to remember that these geckos come from sandy, gritty, and rocky environments in the wild. To best replicate their natural habitat, it's advisable to use a substrate like HabiStat Leopard Gecko Bedding.

Using loose substrates like sand or coconut coir in your leopard gecko's enclosure can carry the risk of impaction, which occurs when the gecko ingests the substrate accidentally. However, it's crucial to understand that these risks are often associated with other environmental factors, including inadequate temperature control, insufficient UVB lighting, improper diet or supplementation, and poor sanitation practices. Properly addressing these aspects can help minimise the risks associated with loose substrates and create a safe habitat for your pet.

We do not recommend paper towels, reptile carpet or calcium sand.


Leopard Gecko Tank Decoration 

Creating a stimulating and enriching environment for your leopard gecko is essential for their well-being. While they may not be as efficient climbers as some other gecko species, you can arrange the enclosure décor to cater to their needs. Randomly placing rocks, logs, and branches provides opportunities for exploration and stimulation. You can even create a bit of height by crossing multiple branches, offering your gecko a safe place to climb or bask closer to the UVB source. The advantage of using various rocks and branches is that you can rearrange them periodically to keep your leopard gecko engaged. Additionally, using a natural substrate like HabiStat Leopard Gecko Bedding allows for digging enrichment. Ensure that hides are positioned in the middle of the enclosure and the cool end, leaving the basking area open for easy access.

You can incorporate live plants into your leopard gecko's tank to create a more natural and enriching environment. Species such as succulents and Carex grasses, which thrive in arid conditions, are well-suited for a leopard gecko enclosure. Just be sure to water them regularly to maintain a suitable habitat for your gecko.

Artificial plants are a practical choice for decorating your leopard gecko's enclosure as they can provide essential cover and shade. They are easy to maintain and add a touch of greenery to the habitat without the care requirements of live plants.

Providing a humid hide for your leopard gecko is beneficial, as it allows them to access higher humidity levels when necessary. This can be particularly helpful during their shedding process, aiding them in shedding their skin effectively.


Tank Hygiene

Vivariums will need to be checked regularly and kept clean. It’s a good idea to give your Gecko fresh water, do a spot clean and check your vivarium’s vents to make sure they aren’t blocked every day. Once a week, set aside some time to clean the water bowl and wipe down the glass and walls with a reptile-safe disinfectant. This is also a good time to take out any dirty bedding and give the rest a bit of a shake-up to prevent nasty bacteria building up. You’ll need to do a deeper clean once a month, removing all of the old bedding and wiping down the whole vivarium and any decorations with a safe disinfectant. Once this is done, you can put in some nice fresh bedding for your pet.

Remember: always wash your hands, equipment and surfaces immediately after cleaning your vivarium or handling or feeding your Leopard Gecko.


Leopard Gecko


Leopard Gecko Enclosure Shopping List



We've covered essential aspects of setting up the ideal habitat for your leopard gecko. From choosing the right enclosure to providing proper heating, lighting, and substrate, we've discussed everything you need to create a safe, comfortable, and stimulating environment for your pet. Whether you're a new leopard gecko owner or looking to enhance your current setup, these insights will help you ensure the well-being and happiness of your scaly friend.

Remember to check out the full details with our Leopard Gecko care sheet and take a look as our starter kits


Image Credits

Andrey Tikhonovskiy


verdian chua

Subscribe to our mailing list, for all the latest Reptili news!