The substrate mediums


In his natural habitat, the leopard gecko lives in rocky dry lands and not in sandy deserts. The habitat is composed of rocks, grass tufts and sand. In my opinion, he should not be kept in sand only habitat in captivity. 


The substrate is there to collect the excrements and to provide a steady walking medium for the gecko to move around. Speaking of excrements, the leopard gecko is known to poop always in the same spot. Even if there are many individuals in the same tank, they will end up all in the same place. So, the cleaning task is very easy. 



This is a topic that makes and will make reptiles breeders talk a lot about. In Pet Stores, you'll find many different types of sand in a wide variety of colours and textures. The problem with the sand is that the gecko eats of it when licking the substrate and also when catching preys walking on it. If the gecko eats too much of it, it can compact and block his digestive track and then kill him.  Some will say that they been using sand with their geckos for a long time without any problems. Even me, I housed my first pair on sand and they did very well. It's up to you to make the choice. 


There is one thing sure, it's that young gecko under one year old should not be kept on this substrate as their digestive system is too small and the risk of compaction is higher. 


Repticage carpet

Surly the best compromise between esthetic and security. Those are carpets made in a variety of colours precutted to the standard aquariums sizes. To make your cleaning time easier, buy two of them so that you can change the carpet and replace it with the other one while cleaning it. I noticed that young gecko sometimes had little problems walking around on these because their claws get caught in it, but not to the point of being a real problem.





Paper towel

This may seem a little odd but this is the substrate use the more often by gecko breeders. It is safe, cheap and it makes the job but it's not so esthetical. Once it is dirty, all you have to do is get rid of it and place a new one. The geckos are totally safe with this substrate and won't eat of it. You can place some little rocks around it to prevent the crickets to go under it. 





You can build a realistic rocky habitat with some slate rocks. You can also build the hiding spots with those rocks. Just pay attention to the way you place them together so that it don't fall apart on your gecko. You can glue them together with melting glue. One of the disadvantages is that crickets can hide more easily in this kind of habitat. Try pouring some sand in the small holes between the rocks but be aware that crickets can dig small holes in sand to hide. The other thing is that cleaning can be a little more complicated as the substrate is part of the habitat. You'll have to clean the habitat directly in the tank.  


Ceramic tiles

At your hardware store, you can find some really nice ceramic tiles of the colour of your choice. You'll only have to remove the dirty ones, clean them under hot water and place them back in. 



This is a material used in many domains. Like in horticulture, it's used to keep the moisture, in construction it's used to make the concrete lighter. Usually with reptiles, vermiculite is used to create laying condition, for incubating eggs and to create a humid environment for the shedding box. I do use it dry as a substrate for all my geckos. I noticed that young gecko would eat some of the substrate found in their hatching box and that this didn't seems to make them sick as I found some in their excrement. To be certain that they don't choke with big vermiculite parts, I use a strainer to ground it in small particles. The vermiculite has the characteristic to be very soft and easy to crush. You can even crush in with your fingers. It is spongy when compress. This may be why it seems to pass so easily in the digestive track.

Note: This is a personal observation and it never been proven good or wrong by any reptile specialist. 




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