Leopard Geckos are one of the best starter reptiles that you can choose. They have no special lighting requirements, they are not expensive to feed, and they don’t take up much space. My favorite part about Leopard Gecko ownership, besides how docile and friendly they are, is that you do not need a huge cage for them. In fact, it is possible to create your own Leopard Gecko cage for relatively cheap. That’s what I want to teach you about today, how to create an inexpensive, yet comfortable, home for your leopard gecko.
What do you need?
First, there are a few things to decide on before buying any materials. Are you going to buy an adult or a hatchling? Are you going to buy just one or are you buying more? The items you need to purchase are influenced by this decision.
If you decide on a hatchling, you are going to want to look into getting a six quart plastic container. Keep in mind that you will need to change them out of this setup when they start getting bigger. It’s also important to note that if you buy more than one hatchling, it is better to keep them in separate six quart containers. Once they’ve grown up and need a bigger home, it should be okay to put them together in one cage.
A single adult can be housed comfortably in a 16 quart plastic container, while a group of adults (about 2 to 3) should be housed in a 28 quart container (32 quart works as well). It’s important to remember that Leopard Geckos are terrestrial, so you are looking for more length and width than height. Below are images and links to the containers I like to use.
Getting the Container Ready
Now that you’ve got your box, you need to take care of something very important. You need to poke some air holes in the sides of the box. While you can use a knife, or any other sharp tool, the easiest way to do this is with a soldering iron. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. There are a couple of cheap soldering irons that you can purchase from Amazon. Honestly, you probably want to purchase a cheap one even if you do have a soldering iron already. The melted plastic tends to stick to the soldering iron and cleaning it up is not fun.
Once you have your soldering iron, you can poke holes through the box at the top of every side. If you notice that the humidity is still too high after this, holes can also be poked into the lid to allow for more airflow. If that also does not seem to do the trick, try cutting a big hole in the lid and attaching wire over the hole. This will allow for even more airflow while still preventing your gecko from escaping.
Safety Note: Please keep in mind to use some kind of mask when using the soldering iron to poke holes. I do not recommend breathing in the fumes from the melting plastic. Also, please do not burn yourself when using the soldering iron.
Setting Up The Cage
So, now we’ve got our box and we have holes in our box, what’s next? Setting up the cage of course. Your cage/box is ready to go, so now it’s time to make sure it’s ready for its new inhabitant(s). If you look at the Leopard Gecko care sheet, you will see some special notes regarding items for the cage. There are three very important items required when setting up the contents of your cage.
- Under Tank Heater
- Hide Box
- Moist Hide Box
These three things are very important in keeping your gecko happy and healthy. You do not want to get a leopard gecko without having at least these three cage items (and not without their food and vitamins as well). Let’s look at each of them individually.
Under Tank Heater
This is how Leopard Geckos get their heat. They don’t need any heat bulbs or lights, they need this one small heating pad. The heat helps the geckos digest their food, so without it they can experience severe health problems – remember they die if it gets too cold. In order to use a heat pad, all you need to do it purchase it, peel off the paper covering the sticky side, and stick it to the bottom of your gecko’s cage on one side. If you find that it is not staying on, using some aluminum tape will keep it from falling off.
There is one item you must have in addition to your heatpad, a thermostat. Without the thermostat, you have no easy way of controlling the temperature the pad gets to. Leopard Geckos only need a basking spot of 88 to 90 degrees and heat pads are able to get up into the 100s. Most thermostats you purchase that are made for heat pads come with a temperature probe. You want to place this inside the cage above the heatpad for an accurate reading. It’s also a very good idea to purchase a laser infrared thermometer to check that the temperature is right from time to time. Below are the items that I use with my Leopard Geckos.
This one is simple, all you need is an opaque box with an opening in it. This box gives your gecko a place to hide. There are many different things you can use from plastic snake hide boxes to a shoebox with a hole cut in the side. All that matters is that you can’t see through it and your gecko can fit into it. This box will need to be placed directly over the under tank heater, you can think of this as the hot hide box. I personally use the reptile hide boxes from Pangea. They are sturdy, easy to clean, and my geckos (and snake) absolutely love them.
Moist Hide Box
Like all reptiles, Leopard Geckos shed from time to time. If the humidity is not high enough, there can be issues with this process. This is where the moist hide box comes in, it provides a hiding spot for your gecko that has a higher humidity than the cage itself. This helps the shedding skin to become loose and come off easier. A moist hide can be made from a simple tupperware container of the appropriate size. Just cut a hole big enough for the gecko to fit through in the top of the lid and voila, you have a custom made moist hide. All that needs to happen next is to fill the box with moist moss, vermiculite, or moistened paper towels. It’s important to remember to spray the moist hide with a bit of water from time to time in order to maintain the humidity.
The Finishing Touches
So now you have your three essential items, it’s time to put everything together. We already know that the under tank heater needs to be attached to only one side of the cage. We also know that the hide box should be placed directly over the heater. The moist hide needs to be placed close to the heater as well, the heat helps keep it moist and helps the gecko with shedding. With these three essential items in place, the remaining items can be set up. Below is the list of what else needs to go in the cage:
- Water Dish
- Food Bowl
- Small cap filled with Calcium with D3
- A second regular hide box on the cool side of the cage (optional)
Once everything is in place, you are ready to welcome your Leopard Gecko to its new home. One important note, set up the cage a few days before receiving your new gecko. You want to be sure that the temperatures are staying where they need to be. Don’t want to risk not having something set up correctly and harming your gecko in some way.
That’s all there is to it, you now have a comfortable cage for your new gecko friend without breaking the bank. This was just a quick guide, so if there are any parts you aren’t sure about please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also some other guides and videos on the internet that can assist as well. Also remember to make sure to perform thorough research on the reptile you are purchasing before you actually get it. I gave a quick overview of everything you will need to take care of a leopard gecko, but always double check to make sure you have everything.