If you are new to keeping Leo's you may be wondering
exactly what you can use to house your Gecko & what accessories you will need.
As general rule I have found that you will need a
minimum tank size of at least 2 feet to accommodate 1 to 3 adult geckos.
A 3 foot tank will allow you to house up to
5 geckos in comfort without stressing them out too much.
It's important to realise that, when adult; you can
never have 2 male geckos together - they are
extremely territorial and they will fight, often to the death; to protect their territory. When
a male Gecko sees another male he will vibrate his tail - the second male will usually then
respond in kind - now that they both know they are males a fight will start! Therefore if you
want to keep more than one gecko you will need to have just one male and the rest females - or
indeed all females. One male can be kept with up to 10 females - the only
limiting factor being the size of the Vivarium!
I personally would recommend that if you just want ONE
gecko to start with - it would be a good idea to have a male - especially if the Leo is to be a
pet for a young child. The males are a lot less demanding than the females for the beginner.
The Leo like many other lizards will when sexually mature, lay eggs regardless of whether it
has mated or not. If you have a single female you may find yourself throwing a pair of
infertile eggs in the bin every 3-4 weeks during the breeding season. If you want to spare
yourself this problem then a Male is a great choice for a solitary Lizard.
Leo's are terrestrial lizards - meaning its more
important for them to have ground to explore rather than a tall Vivarium. They will require a
certain amount of ground space to walk around and you must also allow for the placement of one
to two hides and also a moist hide, a water dish and possibly a feeding dish.
Any good wooden Vivarium will do. But there are
other types of Vivarium you can opt for. The Exo Terra range of glass Vivariums are great
looking housing and if a suitable size is chosen there's a whole host of accessories available
for them - such as lighting hoods etc...
Wood or Glass ⇒
If you opt for a wooden Vivarium you will need to
place your heating solution inside the Vivarium under a suitable substrate. Wood does get
warm but it is also a pretty good insulator and the heating generally works off infra red heat
and just won't work through the wood properly.
If you choose a glass Vivarium or indeed a good
plastic one - you will have your heat mat underneath the Vivarium. Either loose or
stuck to the glass (some heat pads come with an adhesive on
one side for this purpose) The heat will easily go through the glass to the
substrate. However bear in mind you will probably need to have some sort of insulator under
your glass tank to ensure against burning the surface it's sitting on. Most places like B&Q
or Homebase have polystyrene tiles or even rolls of thin polystyrene sheet that you can use for
this purpose. If your glass Vivarium has feet however, there may be enough of an air gap if you
stick the heat pad to the base for overheating to not pose a problem.
Ensure that your Vivarium has some
sort of ventilation. It's rare nowadays to find a Vivarium that has no
ventilation - but bear in mind if you build your own provide some ventilation.
Do this either with a designed gap covered with plastic or wire meshing or any
of the custom built Vents available on the market. Some owners get hold of
small PC like fans and fit them to timer switches.
The Leo is a fairly clean animal - they will soon adopt
a single area of the Vivarium in order to go about their toilet business. I usually provide a
small amount of Kitchen roll for them for this purpose and every 2 days I bin it and replace
it. Your Vivarium has to be big enough to provide a suitable toilet section.
As a rule of thumb I tend to thoroughly clean out the
entire Vivarium and change substrates on the floor and moist hides every 5-6
weeks to ensure against any bacterial build up. I use a product called
Vet-a-Clean for all my cleaning. You can get a concentrate from
eBay for about £10 - it will last you ages and is much much cheaper than buying
disinfectant in all the time!
Why does a gecko need a hide? Basically
to stop them stressing out. A wooden Vivarium is great in that it has 3 sides
that are wood and therefore provides cover - however even in a wood Vivarium
the gecko still needs somewhere to hide - to relax - chill out and feel safe.
They can and do get stressed if they do not have a hide. Unlike humans you will
not be able to see if your gecko is suffering from stress, but they
will be and excessive stress from no
hides often causes the eventual death of a domestic Leo.
Any of the popular Hides will do - like
half a coconut or even a hollowed out tree trunk. Myself I like the look of the
Exo Terra hides and I have the small ones for my hatching's and the medium ones
for my adults. You can find all of the Exo Terra range in any good reptile
shop, online reptile supplier and Ebay.
Hang on - we have a hide why do we need a moist one?
Well the Leo "grows" by shedding it's skin. during this process humidity is vital for the Leo
as it uses the moisture to soften the old skin and enable it to peel it off its body much more
easily. If the skin gets too dry during the shedding process it can bind and cause the gecko
all sorts of problems as it will eventually shrink. Poor sheds can often lead to the Leo losing
toes and trouble with eyes and mouth. This can be easily avoided by providing a moist
To do this all I do is take a suitable tupperware food
tub - the sealable type - and cut a hole in the lid for the Leo to enter/exit.
Tip: use a gas cigarette lighter to melt the edges of the entrance hole
after you have cut it to ensure against the Leo hurting itself - they get very vigorous in
rubbing themselves against any edge they can find when they are trying to remove their
Inside the tub I provide suitably moistened
Eco Earth - which is Coconut Fibre - not too wet though - just moist
enough that it's feels damp and takes on a dark colour. You will find the Leo in the moist hide
more often than not. The humidity is also good for their health as too dry an environment can
lead to respiratory problems for Leo's. You can alternatively use Sphagnum
Moss as your moist hide's substrate. I prefer the Eco Earth as when laying, the
female will bury the eggs nicely and I know that If I am late in finding them; the earth will
provide adequate heat and moisture to keep the eggs healthy until I move them to the incubator.
Oh you will have to re-moisten the hides every few days as they will invariably end up drying
I like to place two moist hides in my 3 foot Vivarium.
One on the warm end and the other halfway down - this gives them the choice of which sauna to