Terrarium: Size & Lighting

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Size Matters

When looking for a leopard gecko terrarium, consider your gecko’s age and size before making your choice. Given measurements are length x width x height.

  • 6” (16 cm) or shorter → 20 gallon tank (or about 30″ x 12″ x 12″)
  • 7” (17cm) or longer → 40 gallon tank (or about 36″ x 18″ x 18″)

However, as long as they have enough places to hide, small or young leopard geckos can be easily housed in an “adult” sized enclosure. This saves the hassle and expense of upgrading, too!

Many other leopard gecko care resources recommend that leopard geckos should be housed in a 10 or 20 gallon enclosure to prevent them from getting “overwhelmed” in a larger space, or stating that more room is simply “not necessary.” However, reptiles will utilize every inch of space that we make available to them, and larger, enriched enclosures encourage our pets to exercise more, which in turn keeps them healthier and helps them live longer.

As the reptile hobby comes to understand our beloved reptiles better, we are realizing that they need more room than we have been giving them in the past. For these reasons, ReptiFiles recommends that adult leopard geckos be housed in no smaller than a 36″ x 18″ x 18″ enclosure with at least 4.5 sq ft of floor space. Floor space is the most important consideration here, as leos are terrestrial (ground-dwelling) lizards. That being said, they will climb if vertical space and climbing materials are provided.

Most leopard gecko keepers prefer to house their geckos in glass aquariums or terrariums, which are attractive and can help create a more varied temperature gradient. However, if you have trouble with your temperatures, wood and PVC enclosures insulate very well and are quite popular. We recommend the following commercially-available enclosures:

Can Leopard Geckos Be Housed Together?

Generally speaking, no. We do not recommend cohabitation for pet leopard geckos, and especially not if this is your first pet reptile.

Multiple geckos housed together can result in dropped tails, severe bite wounds, and even broken bones. This is particularly the case for male geckos, but can also happen within groups of females. And of course, males and females should not be housed together unless you want babies.

Pro tip: You don’t want babies.

However, leopard geckos do live in colonies in the wild, and they will often share resting areas or hides with other leos. However, this sharing of space is only during the day when they are asleep. During the night when they are most active, they scatter to forage so they don’t have to compete for food.

Some experts speculate that housing leopard geckos together, such as a male with two females or a small group of females, is a form of enrichment for this species. When leopard geckos are housed together, they are generally more active and demonstrate more social behaviors.

The conclusion? If you choose to house leopard geckos together, give them a larger enclosure so each can have its own territory. Also keep in mind that, much like humans, not all leopard geckos can get along with each other, so be prepared to separate them immediately into individual enclosures if they start to fight.

When in doubt, just house your leopard gecko by itself and it will be fine.

leopard gecko cohabition

These two females lived together for years without incident until one day they snapped. Cohabitation may seem fine when nothing happens, but how long will your luck last? Source: Lizard Beans on Tumblr

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Keep reading:

  1. Introduction to Leopard Geckos
  2. Shopping List
  3. Terrarium Size and Cohabitation (YOU ARE HERE)
  4. Lighting, Temperature & Humidity Needs
  5. Substrate (Bedding) Options
  6. Decorating Your Leopard Gecko’s Enclosure
  7. What to Feed Your Leopard Gecko
  8. Handling Tips & Leopard Gecko Body Language
  9. Common Diseases, Illnesses & Other Health Questions
  10. Additional Resources