What is the Best Substrate for Leopard Gecko Enclosures?

by David Lowbridge
best substrate for leopard gecko

When it comes to leopard gecko setups, one of the most asked questions is what is the best substrate for leopard gecko enclosures. This question is easily one of the most debatable questions because there are lots of variables that you need to consider. So what is the best substrate, and what do you need to consider?

What to Consider

There are numerous things to consider. Here are some of the things to think about before selecting your substrate.

1. Bioactive or Nonbioactive

There is a movement for bioactive enclosures. However, that isn’t always the best option for everyone. When you want a bioactive enclosure, you will need to have the substrate set up in the right way. This will include a substrate with a drainage layer and other aspects. Also, your substrate needs to be suitable for the cleaner crew.

2. How Much Time you will Clean it

If you’re looking for a lower maintenance enclosure then a bioactive substrate might be best. If you’re willing to be more hands-on and clean all the time, then you might want to consider paper towels.

3. Availability

Availability of the substrates near you might be one deciding factor. Some people can’t get access to Leo life or sand/soil mixes that are suitable. Therefore, you might need to rely more on paper towels and other substrate options.

What Substrates are Best for Leopard Geckos?

There are three different substrates that we recommend. These are detailed below.

1. Paper Towel

Regardless of the long-term plans you have, the paper towel should be used for the first two to four weeks you have a new leopard gecko. Paper towel is perfect for quarantine, allowing you to check everything is okay with your gecko before moving them onto other substrates.

For those who prefer to use paper towels because it is an easy substrate to maintain and clean.

2. Leo Life

Leo Life is a purchased product that is a mix of substrates that is there to replicate the natural substrate in the wild for leopard geckos. It is a good choice for those who want something that is off the shelf and easy to apply.

One of the problems with Leo Life is that it can be expensive and not all shops stock this. Do not be tempted to use other mixes like Bearded Dragons or Crested Gecko alternatives as these are not the correct mix.

3. Sand/Soil Mix

The sand soil mix is another perfect option. You ideally want to mix 40% organic topsoil, 40% sand, and 20% excavator clay. You need to mix this in, soak it until it is muddy and then add this to your enclosure. Before you add your leopard gecko, make sure that it is 100% dry first. If you already have a gecko in the enclosure, then you can move them for a couple of days into a RUB box.

The advantage of this mix is that it is perfect for bioactive enclosures as well as being cost-effective. However, it is one of the harder options to clean out.

Do Not Use Calci Sand or Reptile Carpet

One of the worst enclosure substrates to use is calci sand. This sand mix should be avoided as it can cause ill health to any leopard gecko in it. We also don’t recommend reptile carpet, which can catch their toes.

Final Word: What is the Best Substrate for Leopard Gecko Enclosures?

There are numerous substrates for leopard gecko enclosures, above is our selection of the best three to use. Each one of these is suitable and can help your gecko to live a long and happy life.

The cost of a leopard gecko will depend on several factors. For example, some breeders are more experienced and can offer more premium geckos. In addition, the morph can make a significant difference.

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