When you have a pet leopard gecko it becomes really important that you take good care of it. You have to be careful about its hygiene, health needs and various other things. In the beginning of this journey, it is possible that you won’t have a clue about what might work but fret not, you’ll gradually improve and become a master of it all too soon.
This article in particular would discuss about the right choice for your leopard gecko substrate. There are many options in the market and yet many more suggestions that you’ll receive from colleagues and close peers who own a leopard gecko themselves. Your focus while making the choice should always be on what suits your pet the best. Each individual gecko is a bit different from another. While one might prefer the classic reptile carpet, others might not enjoy it. Hence, to keep your pet comfortable and healthy, you should consider and educate yourself about all the possible options.
Specific preferences for leopard gecko habitats
Lizards are always specific about their habitats and their own individualistic preferences for their habitats. On a general basis, most lizards prefer horizontally-oriented tanks which are equipped with heat lamps and have a humidity range of 25-45%. The temperature should range from 65 to 85°F. Their habitat should also include some plants here and there (could be artificial as well as real) that could provide them with shade and good hiding spots. Lizards use such spots to cool off and take relaxing naps. The habitat is where your pet gecko would feed itself and hunt down its prey. The problem arises when leopard geckos swallow particles of loose substrate along with their food. These particles get stuck in their intestines during digestion which can eventually cause their death. Hence, it becomes extremely important that you take special care while choosing a substrate for your leopard gecko.
What is substrate and what is its use?
A substrate is basically the material that you would lie down on the bottom of your pet’s tank. Imagine soil on which you build your hour house, walk around and go on about your day. A substrate is like soil is to us. The base on which it would eat, walk, hunt and build. It creates the flooring and bedding of the tank.
Now, as this is an artificial bedding it would need to be cleaned and changed periodically. The frequency for the cleaning routine would depend on the material it is made up of. Even if you used the right material for your leopard gecko’s substrate, if it is clean enough it can cause serious health issues for the pet. Being regular and elaborate about the cleaning is really vital for your pet. It should also be noted that some substrate material is irritating and not good for the gecko’s skin. Also, some materials cause excessive gathering of dust and aren’t easy to clean and maintain, such materials cause respiratory problems for the gecko.
Deadly impactation in leopard geckos
Leopard geckos like any other domesticated lizards are dangerously exposed and threatened by the problems of impactation. Now, it is important to understand what impactation actually is. As discusses before, impactation is the problem where domesticated lizards ingest foreign particles, which are not digestible by them. AS these particles are not digestible by them, they form backups in their intestines which restricts proper functioning of their digestive system. When there is backup formed in a leopard’s intestines, it will not be able to defecate, want to eat and would gradually begin losing weight. This is a severe health issue for the leopard geckos which can potentially cause their death.
Now, you can feel why while discussing about the right choices for leopard gecko substrate people want to avoid loose substances like sand. Even if the sand and pebbles are cemented to the floor/ bedding of the tank, they have a chance of coming loose and be ingested by the lizards. Hence, you should definitely avoid sand in any form or type as a substrate option.
What are some good substrate options for the leopard geckos?
Here is a concise list of those materials that are safe and healthy to be a substrate option for your leopard gecko:
The easiest to use and easily available option are reptile carpets. They come as roll which you can cut and customise as per your need. They are low maintenance and would not be ingested. Also, they are already treated with biodegradable enzymes that reduce odours the geckos and facilitate easy cleaning with cold tap water.
Easy to find and a really affordable option for lizard substrate would be newspapers. Although, if you are using newspaper as a substrate then remember to change it daily. Newspaper if not changed regularly can lead to bacterial infections and many other health problems Also, as clear it is, newspaper cannot cause impactation. Hence, they are safe as well.
paper towels are popular amongst the lizards. They are soft and healthy for their skin as well as they do not cause any irritation or carry the risk of impactation. Again, these are quite affordable options and can be easily found. Also, you should keep it in mind to regularly change them o periodic intervals.
Stones and slate
Rather than using soil or pebbles which can be rather dangerous for the lizards. You can go for a more natural option like stones and slate. These can be found easily and customised as you wish to give a natural vibe for the geckos. They provide good hiding and basking spots and liked by the lizards.
Leopard geckos are amazing reptiles tat can be fun and energetic for your company. It becomes your responsibility that you take good care of them and educate yourself on what is healthy for them and what can cause serious health problems and must be avoided. Hope your lovely pet lives a long and healthy life.