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How Do I Set up Gecko Terrariums?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Setting up gecko terrariums isn’t a difficult task. The terrarium size depends upon the age, sex, and number of geckos. Regardless of whether the habitat is for one gecko or several, you’ll need to supply the right kind of flooring, called substrate, and uneven heat. Geckos, despite their fierce demeanors and their ability to terrify human children by rolling their eyes in complete circles, also need hiding places for when they become inexplicably shy.

Many lizards have the kind of feet that make superheroes jealous because they can take a casual stroll up a wall and across a ceiling. Geckos, although they might inspire superhero jealousy for other reasons, lack the adhesive lamellae that permits these magical feats. That means that, unless you’ve got a furry and curious pet or a curious child, furry or not, gecko terrariums really don't need lids because the gecko can’t escape. Ventilation is important, so if a lid is used, it should be entirely screened to allow air flow.

The terrarium can be a purchased piece that is retrofitted to suit the gecko’s needs, or it can be built from wood and glass. The substrate is very important because this is where the gecko will spend most of its time. Under no circumstances should the gecko’s habitat be lined with sand, because if the gecko ingests it, there’s a good chance it will become intestinally impacted, which could potentially kill the lizard. Safer bets include special nontoxic carpet that can be purchased at a pet store, newspaper, or pea gravel.

Gecko terrariums are sized according to the number and ages of their occupants. Full-grown geckos require about 15 gallons (about 58 liters) per gecko; be aware that, while housemates are fine, two mature males might hurt each other by practicing their professional wrestling moves. Teenage geckos are comfortable with 10 gallons (about 38 liters) of sprawling-around room. If you’re housing hatchlings, a translucent, plastic shoebox is about right, as long as holes have been drilled all the way around.

Lizards love to warm themselves in the sun, and when there isn’t one, they need an acceptable substitute. Like people, they want to be able to cool off when the heat’s too much, so the habitat should offer gradient heat that ranges up to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (31.1 degrees Celsius). A reflector lamp is an option, but it will need monitoring. Gecko terrariums can be heated with undertank heaters that will cost a bit more, but they minimize the inconvenience and possible danger of a reflector lamp that has tipped over.

Feel free to make your gecko’s home homey with some pet store greenery. A big rock or two gives the gecko the chance to scramble. A cardboard paper towel roll will make a fun hideout for a gecko too!

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