Introduction: Leopard Gecko Habitat
Leopard Geckos (hereafter referred to as LG's) are one of the easiest and low maintenance pets you can get. I had an LG back in the day named Vin and I thought that he was an easy pet at the time, but 16 years later I've realized there's so much I didn't know, but they are still great starter pets. They are so easy, I ended up getting one as a classroom pet to promote authentic research and writing experiences for my students, as well as promote a myriad of skills that you might not realize kids can learn through pet ownership (such as accountability, responsibility, hygiene, social skills, socio-emotional learning, turn-taking, and more!).
There are a ton of classroom grants available for getting and maintaining a classroom pet. I decided to skip the paperwork and started scavenging CraigsList and Facebook yard sale groups.
This Instructable is specifically about the housing aspect of LG ownership. There are other areas that I may write additional Instructables on.
Step 1: BoM
20+ gal long (bigger is better)
Under Tank Heater (UTH)
Infrared Heat Gun
Paper towels (for bedding, we'll discuss this)
Food dish (we'll also talk about this)
Step 2: The Tank
Leopard Geckos need a home that is a
Do not try to house Leopard Geckos together. Males and males will fight. Males and females will breed and fight. Females and females can fight. They are solitary animals and it's really just better to let them be alone. You are your pets friend and you are all the socialization your LG needs.
Step 3: Heating
Leopard Geckos do not need overhead lighting or heat rocks. Heat rocks in fact will likely burn your gecko so don't do it. LG's absorb heat from their bellies, so overhead lighting does nothing.
What you want is an appropriate sized under tank heater (UTH) to stick under one side of your tank. You want it on one side and not in the center so that it creates a heat gradient.
Infrared Heat Gun
Step 4: Bedding
Despite what you see in some petstores and online, the sand marketed for reptiles is actually dangerous for LGs. LGs can become impacted and have health issues if they accidentally eat sand. Probably the best (and easiest for clean up) bedding you can use is paper towel. Repit-mats may also work, but there's also a risk of a toe being caught and the clean-up isn't necessarily as easy as with paper towels. Some people also put tile at one end of the tank, above the UTH.
Step 5: Hides
Your Leopard Gecko will need 3 hides/houses. One on the hot side of his tank, one in the middle that will act as his humidity hide (this is helpful when shedding), and one on the cold side of the tank. The humid hide should be fairly enclosed and have moist paper towel (when shedding) or coco fiber for substrate.
Step 6: Food
Fresh water in a shallow dish should always be provided to your gecko. The dish should be changed and cleaned daily.
Leopard Geckos can eat a variety of live insects such as crickets, mealworms, and Dubia roaches. Crickets are noisy, messy, and may bite your gecko if they are not eaten fast enough. Mealworms are fatty. Dubia roaches are increasing in popularity for their nutrition and ease of keeping. Our classroom LG Sunny won't eat anything except dubias.
Whatever you feed your gecko, it must have it's food dusted with Calcium w/D3 at least twice a week and Herptivite at least once a week. A small dish of calcium without D3 should always be provided. These vitamins are extremely important in giving your gecko all the vitamins and minerals he needs, as well as preventing metabolic bone disease, which is horrible and painful and can be deadly.
Step 7: Candids
Our classroom gecko, Sunny, was a former breeder that I got from a semi-local LG breeder at a reptile expo. He weights over 100 grams but is not considered a giant (he probably didn't break the weight requirements to be a giant in the right amount of time) but he is a very big boy---which I thought would be helpful for student handling.