In our experience, we have found that geckos housed as singles have less stress then those housed in a colony. Males want to breed all the time, which stresses the females enough in some cases to stop eating. When geckos are not fighting and not in a constant state of stress, that means they don’t get the serious injuries of missing tails and keep from being killed. Geckos actually prefer to live alone and only come together for the purpose of breeding when the female is ovulating. We place the male into the female’s enclosure, when we see she is ovulating. After the mating process is witnessed, the male is then put back into his own house. The female will actually be bred and continue to lay 1 to 2 eggs every other week throughout the season, without having to re-visit the male. Females can become aggressive towards males who wish to mate when the female does not want to. Females usually do alright with other females of the same size, providing you allow them plenty of hiding spots so they can each have their own private time.
Adult males kept together will harm each other. Some females will actually keep other females from the food and keep them in a constant state of stress. If you keep more than one female, do not mix tiny babies with adults and make sure they have plenty of hides. You do have a better chance of housing more than one gecko, if they are all females who are not dominant and have plenty of places to hide in the enclosure.
Leopard Geckos seem to prefer enclosures that are smaller and that are cozy. This took a while for me to get used to, as my other pets all love more space and also enjoy living in colony situations. A 10 gallon, screen covered tank is just fine for one gecko. If you are housing more than one gecko, then do get a larger tank.
We keep our geckos in racks that utilize various sizes of Sterilite brand containers. The hatchling racks use 6 quart shoe boxes. We use a hot tool to poke air holes in the box. We do not use the lids, or they wouldn’t fit properly on the shelves. These shelves are designed to keep the gecko safely in their enclosure and the air holes allow them to breathe. Each shelve has a plastic heat strip towards the back which allows the geckos to sit in that area when they need a bit of heat and to leave it to walk towards the middle or front of the enclosure to cool down as needed. Geckos do need some sort of “belly heat” source to help them digest their food. Without it, they may not eat correctly or as much as they should.
Our adult racks use the larger 15 qt. Sterilite containers, side by side. You can fit 2 of these containers on one rack. Some of our much larger Super Giant Geckos are in 32 qt containers on the same racks. These size containers fit one per rack.
The baby geckos have a sort of temporary home until they are older and are moved to the adult racks. The main part is a 6 qt Sterilie Shoebox container, and they fit 3 on a rack. Their hide is a Styrofoam hamburger type box that is cut in half and a hole cut into the front for a entry way. This is their cave. They will also have their water and food dishes, as well as a calcium dish if they are at least 20 grams in weight. We use half sheets of paper towel to line the bottom of the enclosure which is cleaned and disinfected weekly or as needed, along with the food, water and calcium dishes.
The adult juveniles and males all have nice little hide caves in the large size by a company called Exo Terra. Hides are very important and give the geckos a feeling of security and well being.
When we know the juveniles and males are about to shed, we take a sheet of paper towel that is moistened and placed in the enclosure underneath the cave to help assist in shedding. We always check their bodies over well after the shed to make sure that the previous layer of skin is all removed. Leaving skin on toes, tail or even above the eyes, can cause permanent scarring and damage, and sometimes the loss of a toe or tip of a tail. This is why it’s so important to inspect your geckos daily, even if it’s not a feed day.
The females have a simple hide/lay box made by Hefty that is plastic and called their Large Deep Dish Container and 64 oz. Kroger brand stores offer the same thing in their “Home Sense” line that is cheaper, but made of the same quality materials. It is also BPA Free. With an Exacto knife, we cut a good sized, half-moon shaped hole above the top lip of the container.
We add a bit of a coconut fiber substrate from Zoo Med that comes in a compressed brick. It can be loosened by placing in a large plastic tub and adding water. You can put a few inches of this inside your female’s hide. We make sure it’s kept moist by spraying it daily with a spray bottle of water. This is where she can hide, shed and lay her eggs. The substrate should be good for a season. After the laying season is over, it should be replaced with fresh and cleaned, or she should be given and Exo Terra Cave like the others.
All geckos in our larger containers have pre-cut liners that can be purchased from Superior Products on line. You may also use paper towels. You should never use any kind of sand substrate for your geckos because they can eat it and become painfully impacted. It’s possible if this happens, that a vet would not be able to save them. They do, however sell mats with a sand surface that is glued down. This is safe.
We use a safe lab grade cleaner for the geckos known as Quatra-Cide. It is used in labs and vets office all over the world and it’s safe for pets. You may also use Hydrogen peroxide which is safe as well. You can put these cleaners in a regular spray bottle, which does help with application.
Geckos are nocturnal animals and they do not need a light of any kind. Some geckos would be bothered by this as well because of the night vision.
In home settings, you may use a 10 gallon fish tank with screen topper. Exo Terra even has some very nice front open enclosures that can be used for your pets as well.
Exo Terra also has some natural looking water and food dishes to decorate your pet tank with as well. They also have safe “heat mats” than can be placed under the tank as well. If using a heat mat, always use a digital thermometer so that you can make sure you are not allowing the pad to go to temps over 90 degrees.