How To Set Up Rack Systems for Reptiles

If you only own a single reptile of any sort, and you’re not a reptile collector, odds are you might not have even heard of a rack system. So, we’re going to preface this article by explaining exactly what a rack system is…just in case you’re unfamiliar.

When reptile enthusiasts and hobbyists speak of rack systems, they are referring to what is essentially a shelf filled with reptile “cubby” habitats in the simplest of terms. It is a specially designed shelf lined with bins that are heated to support reptile thermoregulatory habits and tend to be most useful to breeders or hobbyists who keep many reptiles.

How To Set Up a Leopard Gecko Rack System

First, we’ll tell you a little about using a rack system when breeding leopard geckos. We’ll outline what you need, how to set it up, and even include a brief video tutorial to explain how to set up our rack systems for leopard geckos at Backwater Reptiles.

leopard gecko rack system
Leopard geckos like this super snow morph, thrive in rack system set ups.

Items needed for a leopard gecko rack system set up
Plastic bins or tubs. These are used to house individual animals within your shelving unit. They function as lidless mini “cages.”
Shelving system to stack bins. Obviously you’ll need the shelf system in order to accommodate the bins your leopard geckos are living in. These units can be purchased online from specialty retailers or, if you’re handy, you can build your own.
Heat tape. Rather than hook up many pesky individual heat pads and wind up with a bunch of bulky electrical cords and ultimately, an electrical hazard, you should use heat tape to make sure the temperatures within your leopard gecko’s bin stays within the proper range.
Appropriate substrate. Just like with any other enclosure, your leopard gecko rack system bins will each require an appropriate substrate. You can use sand, paper towels, or any other substrate suitable for leopard geckos.
Water dish, food dish, and vitamin dish. Leopard geckos will need three kinds of dishes within each bin. Each dish’s purpose is pretty obvious based on what it will hold.
Egg laying bin or box/Hide space. Because most people using a rack system with leopard geckos intend to breed them, it’s necessary to have a hide space with dirt inside so that the females can lay their eggs when the time is right. The egg laying box also functions as a hide space for when your geckos feel like being secretive.
Drill. Each individual bin will need to have air holes drilled into the sides to allow for proper ventilation and moisture retention. You will only need the drill to poke holes in the sides of the plastic bins.

How to set up a leopard gecko rack system

As we’ve already established, a rack system will house numerous bins with various geckos living separately in each bin. The best strategy for success is to make each bin the same. In other words, follow the instructions below and replicate for however many number of bins you have in your shelving unit.

Step one – Drill holes in each leopard gecko bin. This is fairly straight forward. You should have at least ten to fifteen holes on each side of each bin. Spread these holes out evenly.

Step two – Hook up your heat tape. You’ll want to make sure that each bin that will have animals in it is properly heated. If you need some guidance using heat tape or setting it up, we’ve got an entire blog article dedicated to this process.

Step three – Line your bins with substrate. As we’ve mentioned prior, there are several substrates known to be appropriate for leopard geckos. Simply choose your favorite and line the bottom of each bin.

Step four -Set up your leopard gecko’s hide box. We use plastic shoe boxes with lids. You’ll want to put organic, chemically untreated soil inside and cut a round hole in the top so that the geckos can exit and enter easily.

Step five – Prepare your leopard gecko’s dishes. You will need three dishes, as previously mentioned above. The largest dish should be used for water. The mid-sized dish should contain mealworms, reptiworms, or whatever type of insect you will be feeding to your gecko. And lastly, the small dish should contain vitamin powder.

Voila! You’ve set up bin number one! Now all you need to do is repeat the process for each breeding pair of geckos you wish to house.

Leopard gecko rack system video tutorial

In the video below, we show you a physical example of how we set up our leopard gecko bins that we use within our rack systems.

How To Set Up a Snake Rack System

Items needed for a snake rack system set up
Plastic bins or tubs. Again, these bins or tubs will be home to a single snake. They will be “cages” without lids.
Shelving system to stack bins. As we discussed with leopard gecko rack systems, you will need a shelving unit to organize your snake bins. Shelving units can be purchased from specialty retailers or you can always make your own if you prefer.
Heat tape. This is the alternative method used to heat rack systems as it’s much too cluttered and unsafe to use individual reptile heating pads when working with so many animals.
Appropriate substrate. The preferred substrate for most species of snake (but not all!) is aspen bedding. You can use whatever substrate works best for your particular species, but always avoid cedar bedding as the fumes given off are toxic to snakes.
Water dish. Unlike leopard gecko bins, which require three dishes, a snake’s bin will only need a single water dish. We recommend one that is sturdy enough that the snake can’t tip it over.
Two hides. Ideally, snakes should have two hide spaces available to them, no matter what type of cage they are housed in. One hide should be on the warmer side of the cage and the other hide should be on the cooler side of the cage. This allows the snake to thermoregulate while still feeling safe and secure.

How to set up a snake rack system

snake rack system
Snakes such as ball pythons do quite well in rack systems.

Just like with the leopard gecko bins, once you’ve set up one snake bin, all you need to do is replicate the process for the remainder of the bins. Uniformity works well when it comes to rack systems.

Step one – Drill holes in each snake bin. Just like with leopard gecko bins, snake bins will require “breathing” holes. These holes aren’t so that the snakes can breathe, but rather so that their miniature ecosystems can. The holes will allow moisture to exit and will allow air to circulate better. As with leopard gecko bins, ten to fifteen holes per side should suffice, unless you are housing very large snakes in very large bins. Use common sense and space the holes evenly for best results.

Step two – Hook up the heat tape. Again, this process should be exactly the same as with the leopard gecko bins. Although we’ve already given you this link above, just so you don’t have to scroll back, here’s the link to the article we wrote discussing the ins and outs of how to set up reptile heat tape.

Step three – Place your chosen substates within the bottom of the bin. A thin layer is fine. Don’t overfill the tub/bin. You should have just enough to absorb any spilled or collected moisture and snake waste.

Step four – Set up a hide box on each side of the snake’s bin. One should go on the cooler side and one on the heated side.

Step five – Place the snake’s water dish inside the bin. It’s not really that important where you put it, but be aware that if you place it above the heated side, you will create more moisture in the environment due to more rapid evaporation. If your snake likes humidity, this is great, but if you have a species that prefers a more arid, dry climate, then it’s probably best to put the water dish on the unheated side of the bin.

Guess what? Your snake bin set up is now complete! All you need to do is repeat the process for each pet snake you have and finally…add snakes!

Setting up a snake rack system video tutorial

In the video below, we walk you through how we set up our individual snake bins used in the rack systems at Backwater Reptiles.

Reptile Rack System Frequently Asked Questions

-How do I heat a rack system?

Hopefully if you’re invested in reptiles enough to need a rack system, you’re aware that they need a source of warmth in order to thermoregulate. But because rack systems are not set up like normal cages and you can’t place a heat lamp on top of the cage or attach a heat mat to the bottom of the cage, how then, do you provide heat to all the individual bins?

The answer is simple really. At Backwater Reptiles, we use reptile heat tape. This allows us to control temperature and is also safe and convenient for both humans and animals alike.

As we’ve previously indicated, we actually have an entire blog article tutorial complete with video instructions on how to set up heat tape. Click here to read the entire article.

-Do I need UV lights when using a rack system?

Luckily, most of the species that thrive in rack system set ups (i.e. leopard geckos, corn snakes, ball pythons, etc.) don’t require UV lighting.

You can always take each animal out individually or in groups and expose them to natural UV light by taking them outdoors, but due to the way rack systems are set up, there’s really no way to provide a consistent source of UV lighting.

Ultimately, this means that reptiles that require UV light in order to process vitamins and maintain healthy bones and immune systems cannot be housed in rack systems. So do your research before your invest in a rack system for any particular species.

-How many animals can live in each bin?

This is a question with variable answers. In reality, the answer will depend on the species you are housing as well as how large your individual bins are.

With leopard geckos, generally a breeding pair or trio is acceptable. A single male with one or two females tend to get along just fine in the amount of space provided in a single bin within a standard sized rack system.

We don’t recommend keeping more than a single snake of any species within a single bin. The bins are just too small and the snakes will end up feeling stressed and competing for resources.

-Don’t the animals escape since there are no lids or screens?

The short answer to this question is yes, the animals can escape due to the more open nature of the rack system.

Because the plastic tubs or bins that house individual animals don’t usually have lids, some more tenacious and stubborn reptiles can and will find ways to climb over the edges of the bins and out into the real world.

There really is no guaranteed way to avoid this other than keeping a close eye on your animals and making sure that all their needs are met so they have little to no reason to seek outside stimulus.

We recommend checking each bin at least twice daily if not more. And as you learn the personalities of your individual animals, you will learn to watch out for the trickier ones who might be more inclined to be escape artists.


Rack systems are efficient for serious reptile hobbyists who intend to keep many animals or start breeding projects of their own. They take up less space than keeping multiple large cages would and they give convenient and easy access to the animals all in one place.

We hope this tutorial on setting up reptile rack systems has proved helpful. If there’s anything we didn’t cover or if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!

How to Breed Leopard Geckos

Ever wondered how to breed Leopard geckos? Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) are quite possibly the most common pet lizard. You can find them for sale at big pet stores as well as get them from specialty breeders and reptile shows. They are very well-loved and respected amongst reptile enthusiasts.

But did you know that in addition to having very basic care requirements that are quite simple to meet, leopard geckos are also really easy to breed?

Read on to find out how we take care of our leopard gecko breeding groups. We’ll cover everything from mating to caring for your hatchlings, and everything in-between.

how to breed leopard geckos
Get ready to learn exactly how to breed Leopard geckos.

Step-by-step: How to Breed Leopard Geckos

Leopard Gecko Mating

It’s common sense that in order to get leopard gecko babies, you’ll have to get your leopard geckos to mate. The good news is that this is almost easier done than said!

Because leopard geckos of similar size can usually be housed communally, you can keep several females in the same enclosure with one male. Never, ever, keep two adult males in the same enclosure unless you want a bloody battle royale to ensue.

One easy way to tell if you have a male leopard gecko is by looking beneath the lizard’s tail. It should have a pronounced hemipenile bulge, whereas females won’t. Also, males and females both have a broad V-shape of pores at the base of their tail. Males have much deeper pores, and often times you can see a waxy substance in and around the pores of males (but never females).

Make sure that your geckos are of breeding age. Most will be ready to reproduce when they are nine to ten months old or weigh approximately 50 grams.

You most likely won’t witness the actual mating behavior because it only takes two to three minutes, and they are nocturnal lizards. However, most females are receptive to males unless they are malnourished or unhealthy. Excited males will vibrate the very tip of their tail prior to mating, and it can actually be fairly loud!

Females can lay several clutches of eggs from a single mating. However, in order to maintain peak fertility and laying, keep the male with the female at least once per week.

We have a rack system and continually move breeder males from bin to bin during breeding season. This have provided great results and our females lay eggs very regularly.

Hopefully we’ve sufficiently answered how to breed Leopard geckos, but if you have any additional questions, please feel free to e-mail us.

How Leopard Geckos Lay Eggs

The average clutch size for a leopard gecko is two eggs. However, don’t be alarmed if your female only lays a single egg as this does happen from time to time, albeit infrequently.

leopard gecko eggs unearthed
This clutch has two eggs. You can very gently uncover the eggs once you think the female has laid them. Most often, she will deposit them in the corner of the substrate container.

Over the course of a year, a successful mating pair can produce anywhere from eight to ten eggs. If you are repeatedly allowing your female to breed, we recommend proper vitamin dusting with calcium supplements as producing and laying eggs is a very strenuous process for a female.

We follow Ron Tremper’s advice and offer Vionate (vitamin) and Osteo-Form (calcium) to our Leopard gecko breeding colonies. Ron Tremper is, in our opinion, the most venerable Leopard gecko breeder in the world, and the industry owes him a great debt of gratitude.

fertile leopard gecko eggs
These two eggs are most likely fertile because they feel firm and dry.

If you observe your geckos closely, you will notice that the substrate in which the eggs are buried will appear slanted. For example, at Backwater Reptiles, we have special shoe boxes with lids filled with substrate to give the females a good medium to comfortably lay their eggs (another Ron Tremper recommendation).

When we open the lids, if we see that the substrate is piled up on one side and angled downwards on the other side of the box, this indicates that the female has been digging and signals us to unearth the eggs and transfer them to the incubator.

buried leopard gecko eggs
If you look closely at this photo, you’ll see that the substrate is at an angle. This indicates that the female has been digging. The eggs will be buried under the side at the top of the slant.

Incubating Leopard Gecko Eggs

Once you have gently unearthed your leopard gecko eggs, you can transfer them to an incubator.

leopard gecko eggs in incubating medium
Here are the leopard gecko eggs nestled gently into the incubating medium within the incubating cup.

Fertile eggs are firm, taut, and have a small amount of weight to them. If the eggs feel squishy and soft, odds are they will not hatch. However, we always incubate all the eggs just in case, even if we do think they aren’t fertile.

At Backwater Reptiles, we use an incubating substrate called Repashy Superhatch as our incubation media. We fill small plastic cups with lids with the medium, soak the clay granules for a minute, pour standing water out, and place 2-6 eggs into each vented deli cup with the lid on.

leopard gecko incubation medium
Backwater Reptiles uses Repashy Superhatch incubation medium to hatch our baby leopard geckos, but there are other options such as perlite or vermiculite.

Fun fact: If you know what morph your parent leopard geckos are, you can keep track of the mixes of babies you produce. It can be interesting to see what patterns and colors result from different breeding pairs.

Once you’ve placed your eggs securely in the incubation substrate (they should be embedded about halfway into the media), you can label your cup if you desire. At Backwater Reptiles, we include the date we uncovered the clutch as well as what morphs the parents were and the bin where the eggs were found.

leopard gecko eggs in incubator
As you can see, you can incubate multiple clutches simultaneously. This is why we label our incubation cups at Backwater Reptiles.

Keep your incubator temperature set anywhere from 77 to 90+ degrees. The gender of the babies will be determined by what temperature you select, so if you want females, keep the temperature in the lower range. If you want males, keep it warmer.

What to Do When Your Leopard Gecko Eggs Hatch

After about two months, you can expect your eggs to start hatching.

hatching leopard geckos
These hatchlings are ready to be moved from their incubation cup to a proper enclosure.

The babies know how to exit the eggs. They won’t need any help. Odds are that if you start checking the eggs on a daily basis around the time that two months have elapsed, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to open your incubator lid and – voila! – hatchling leopard geckos!

Here’s a story that proves just how easy it can be to incubate Leopard gecko eggs. Once when we were cleaning, feeding, and checking the bins we came across perfect little babies in one of the Super Snow shoeboxes! They were eggs that we didn’t notice, but that incubated successfully inside the main enclosure.

Conclusion – How to breed Leopard geckos

It honestly doesn’t take a lot to breed leopard geckos. This is a species that takes to captivity very well and will therefore reproduce naturally if you have a male and female together.

If you think you’d like to start a leopard gecko family of your own, Backwater Reptiles has leopard gecko morphs of all types and can get you a male and female to begin your journey, including many different morphs, and even giant and super giants!

How to Tell If Your Lizard Is Ready to Shed

Have you ever wondered how to tell if your pet lizard is preparing to shed its skin?

The truth of the matter is, all lizards shed their skin as they grow. This is because as the animal grows, its skin actually doesn’t grow with it, so when the animal outgrows the old skin, it becomes time for a new one. In scientific terms, this process is called ecdysis.

Some lizards will shed in a fast, singular fashion (i.e. shed their entire skin in a single session), but most shed their skin in pieces and the whole process may take several days to complete.

gecko shed comparison
These are both tangerine morph leopard geckos. The gecko on the left is grey and dull because it is preparing to shed. The gecko on the right however is displaying its natural vibrant orange coloration. Can you see the difference?

Signs Your Lizard is Going to Shed

Nearly all lizards will become duller in coloration. Normally shiny and even iridescent scales will become matte and have a grey cast to them. This is a classic sign and because it affects your lizard’s physical appearance, most pet owners will notice right away.

fat tail gecko shedding
This African Fat Tail Gecko (Hemitheconyx caudicinctus) is preparing to shed. Normally this species of gecko is brown, but this guy is very dull and grey because he is in his pre-shed phase.

Your lizard’s behavior will also change. Many will refuse food for a day or two prior to shedding. Sometimes they will also become lethargic. They’ll probably be more secretive and will also dislike being handled or disturbed, so we recommend leaving them be until the process has finished.

What to Do When Your Pet Lizard Sheds

Due to temperament changes, we recommend minimal handling of your lizard during the shedding process.

Because the lizard will most likely refuse food, be sure to remove any crickets and other insects that aren’t being eaten. Crickets are known to nibble on vulnerable lizards, so if you don’t want your lizard to come to unnecessary harm, we recommend following this rule.

If your lizard is not grumpy, you can help it get rid of small pieces of skin that are loosely attached, but certainly don’t pull off pieces that are still hanging on to the animal as this could be painful.

chameleon shedding
Although this male Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) might appear bright, in truth, they are generally much more of a brilliant blue tone. This particular chameleon will begin his shed process in a few days, so he is much duller than normal.

Problem Shedding

Sometimes your lizard might have trouble getting rid of its shed skin. An improper shed is called dysecdysis and can be dangerous to your lizard.

A number of things can actually cause dysecdysis ranging from improper humidity conditions to an ill animal.

If you feel that your lizard is suffering from an incomplete shed, we recommend veterinary attention, however there are home remedies you can try. Make sure that the lizard has plenty of accessories to rub itself against as it will use these items to help stubborn skin pieces fall off. Provide a bowl of water large enough for the animal to soak in, or alternatively, give the lizard  mandatory soaking sessions in lukewarm water.

leopard gecko shed
Fun fact: When leopard geckos shed they actually eat the skin they lose. They are master recyclers!


All lizards shed as a part of their natural growth process. When you notice signs that your lizard is going to shed (i.e. change in appetite and dull coloration) try to disturb the animal as little as possible. And keep an eye out for incomplete sheds, which could be a sign of a larger issue in the lizard’s habitat.

Creating a Leopard Gecko Habitat

Creating a Leopard gecko habitat is extremely simple, and we’ll explain exactly how to do it, based upon the tremendous success we’ve had with Leopard geckos at our facility. These lizards make wonderful pets as long as you support them correctly. We’ll provide some easy step-by-step instructions, so get ready to learn!

leopard gecko habitat
This beautiful hypo Tangerine male was raised in the same Leopard gecko habitat we’re describing in this article.

Leopard Gecko Habitat

Step 1:  Let’s start with the cage itself. Leopard geckos don’t need much space to be happy, so larger is not necessarily better. You can use a standard ten-gallon glass tank to comfortably house a pair of geckos. A simple plastic bin can work just as well, albeit less visually appealing.

Note: don’t ever keep more than one male Leopard gecko per habitat, as they will brutally fight, often immediately upon introduction. We’re talking limb-over-limb-flying-through-the-air kind of fighting. However, several females can be kept in the same cage without issue.

Leopard Gecko Substrates

Step 2:  Now that you’ve selected the cage for your Leopard gecko, it’s time to decide upon a substrate. Here are some viable options, with pros and cons:

Newspaper or paper towels – This is an inexpensive, absorbent option that is also easy to replace with fresh material when cleaning. It’s not visually attractive, however, doesn’t hold moisture, and doesn’t allow digging behavior.

Green carpet or turf – A slightly more aesthetically attractive option when compared to paper towels or newspaper, but very difficult to clean as waste accumulates in the fibers and must be washed regularly. It also doesn’t hold moisture or allow digging.

Sand or gravel (or a mixture) – These substrates can be attractive and a bit more natural, although there’s a mild risk of ingestion when eating. We’ve never had an issue with this occurring though, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. These substrates can hold moisture fairly well, especially when mixed together.

Packed dirt, soil, or cypress mulch (or a mixture) – This substrate holds moisture very well, can form a biological system for breaking-down waste, and can sustain live plants. It can lead to a bit more dirt dust dispersed around the Leopard gecko habitat, but its merits far outweigh any negatives. The most natural choice, and our highest recommendation.

Any of the above substrate options can lead to a long, healthy lifespan for your pet Leopard gecko, so don’t fret too much over the choice. Although some disagree, we do think there’s an advantage to using a substrate that retains some moisture, and thus increases humidity within the cage.

Increased humidity helps shedding go smoothly, and helps prevent dehydration. Dehydration can lead to many issues, and can shorten a gecko’s lifespan. Just because they come from dry areas doesn’t mean the habitat should be dry.

leopard gecko cage
Here are a couple of our Leopard geckos emerging from a tunnel they excavated. Digging is commonly enjoyed by these lizards.

Step 3:  Now it’s time for the gecko habitat furnishings. There are three mandatory items, and one optional (but recommended) item, as follows…

Hide spot – No Leopard gecko habitat is complete without a proper hide spot. It’s really important, and central to your gecko’s existence. It should be large enough to allow the gecko(s) to comfortably climb into and move around, but small enough to provide a “secure” feeling.

We use plastic shoe boxes filled halfway with slightly dampened peat or sphagnum moss with great success, as do many breeders, but you could also use something of similar size that’s a bit more attractive for a display cage, such as curved cork bark or faux-caves.

Ideally, provide two hide spots–one on the warmer end of the cage, and one on the cooler end. Your geckos will thank you!

Here’s a great hide spot that we highly recommend:

Water dish – This should be shallow and doesn’t need to be large, just 2-3 inches in diameter is perfect. But, keep the water fresh by replacing it every couple days. We recommend sterilizing the water dish once per week with a mild 5% bleach solution, or other similar product such as Virosan or Nolvasan.

Food dish – We also recommend having a shallow food dish available in the habitat. This is where you can place mealworms, superworms, or waxworms for the Leopard geckos to consume at their leisure. Make sure the worms can’t escape–this can be accomplished with virtually any smooth-sided dish. Leopard geckos often prefer to eat at night (they are nocturnal after all), so leave the food dish in the enclosure overnight.

Vitamin/calcium dish – While this is optional, we do maintain a small dish of vitamins and/or calcium in the habitat at all times. Leopard geckos will naturally lick the supplement when their bodies need more minerals.

This is especially important for babies and juveniles as their bodies are growing rapidly. It’s less important for adults, unless the females are breeding, in which case they’ll need plenty of calcium.

eublepharis macularius habitat
Here’s an example of a very successful Leopard gecko habitat, this one is from a rack. There is no substrate shown. Note the importance of having one hide placed upon the heated side of the enclosure. The other hide is on the cooler end of the cage, and contains dampened peat moss for digging and egg laying. With Leopard geckos, you can get as simple, or as fancy, as you’d like–as long as these basic needs are met. Click the photograph for a larger version.

Step 4:  Decorations such as plants (live or artificial) are a nice touch, as are climbing rocks and branches, but make sure they’re secure and won’t topple onto your gecko. Leopard geckos love to explore and investigate, so offer them a fun habitat that allows them to do so.

The best live plants for Leopard geckos are Pothos in our opinion. They are a tough, long-lived plant that is non-toxic and grows well without much light. Here’s a link for purchasing a live Pothos plant.

Step 5:  One of the most common questions when creating a Leopard gecko habitat is, “How do I light the enclosure?” Fortunately, they don’t require UVB lighting and, in fact, they don’t require any lighting whatsoever. They are nocturnal, remember?

However, for viewing the enclosure and your geckos, you can absolutely install gentle lighting, but avoid the intensity of a spot or flood bulb. Fluorescent is a good option, or soft LEDs.

blizzard leopard gecko cage
Here’s one of our Blizzard leopard gecko morphs–these albino strains often shut their eyes near bright bulbs because they are sensitive to light.

Leopard Gecko Heating

Step 6:  Another very common question we receive is, “How do I heat my Leopard geckos?” Now, we’ve established that they’re nocturnal creatures, so heating them with a bright light bulb isn’t recommended like it is for diurnal (daytime) reptiles.

There are two options–you can heat your gecko with an infra-red bulb (in other words, a bulb that emits heat but not much light), or you can utilize the more common heat pad or heat tape, which gets affixed externally to the under-side of the habitat bottom, and not inside the actual cage.

Heat pads are fully assembled and ready to go right out of the box. You need one for each enclosure, and they are a great option if you’re housing just a few geckos or have just a few enclosures.

Heat tape is something you usually assemble yourself, and it’s a little more involved. It’s generally recommended if you’ll be setting up several Leopard gecko habitats because it’s much less expensive to buy and operate on a larger scale. We use three to four inch heat tape underneath our Leopard gecko habitats. We have a simple tutorial explaining how to install reptile heat tape available for you to peruse.

super snow leopard gecko
Super snow Leopard gecko

Whichever option you choose, make sure the heat source is on one end of the enclosure, not in the middle. This allows your gecko to “thermoregulate,” which is a fancy word for letting it choose whether it wants to be warm or cool. There should always be a warm side, and a cool side, of the habitat.

Also, don’t let the heat pad/tape rest on anything flammable (wood, for example), and try to keep a 1/8″ – 1/4″ gap between the heat pad/tape and the structure the cage is resting upon.

Your target temperature for the inside surface of the Leopard gecko habitat directly above the heat pad/tape is right around 87F-92F. In other words, the surface on which the Leopard geckos will come into direct contact. This is ideal and has proven to be the best temperature range by countless breeders. Don’t shut the heat off at night. We leave our’s on 24 hours per day. You can use a digital infrared sensor to check the temperature–you just point at the surface and click the button for a digital readout. Here’s a link to an excellent model:

Lastly, be sure to use a thermostat or rheostat with your heat pad/tape. If you plug the heat pad/tape directly into the wall, it will heat in an unregulated manner and can get far too hot, even dangerously so.

This is why we use an electronic thermostat, which maintains whatever temperature we input. They are about $50-$100, but if you’re looking for a more cost-effective solution, a reptile rheostat is a great option as well. Rheostats are around $15-$20 (Amazon link below) and work just like a light dimmer in a house, so you just turn the dial for lower or higher temperatures. Our most recommended heat pads are linked below as well.

Step 7:  Ventilation is the final item to check off the list. Make sure there is plenty of circulation to avoid stagnant air. This will not only increase the oxygen exchange, but will also prevent the habitat from becoming too wet, humid, and smelly.

Creating a Leopard Gecko Habitat – Conclusion

Hopefully you’re now prepared to design your own Leopard gecko habitat using the above instructions. As usual, if you have any questions at all, just leave us a comment below. If you haven’t yet purchased your own gecko, you can do so now on our page of Leopard geckos for sale–we’ve got many different captive bred sizes and morphs available, and we can ship right to your doorstep!

We also have a tremendous offering of feeder insects available.

Here’s an excellent, easy-to-read book on keeping Leopard geckos in captivity, and we highly recommend you get yourself a copy. You just can’t go wrong with anything written by Philippe De Vosjoli:

You can also read a bit more general information by visiting Wikipedia’s Leopard gecko page.

What do Leopard Geckos eat?

Ever wondered, “What do Leopard geckos eat?” It’s a fair question to ask, since feeder insects vary greatly in a variety of ways. There are factors to consider that can be easily missed, so we’ve put together a quick article detailing the pros and cons of each of the commonly available feeder insects, as they apply to Leopard geckos. This is definitely worth a read, so stay with us.

what leopard geckos eat
Here’s one of our super hypo Tangerine carrot tail Leopard geckos.

Leopard Gecko Foods

It’s important to realize that Leopard geckos generally prefer to eat live insects, although they will also accept commercially available canned diets on occasion. But, live foods are always best.


Crickets make an excellent food for Leopard geckos, although it’s important to make sure they are appropriately-sized. If the crickets are too small, the geckos will ignore them, but if they’re too large, the crickets may be too large to swallow. Also, large crickets can bite and chew on reptiles as they are voracious and opportunistic feeders, so make sure the number of crickets you place into the enclosure matches what your Leopard gecko will eat that day.

Baby Leopard geckos can generally be fed 3/16” to 1/4” crickets, while juveniles and adults are usually fine with 1/2” to 3/4” crickets. We advise avoiding adult crickets altogether. They have a lot of undigestible chitin (exoskeleton), are the most aggressive, and have the shortest lifespans.

Dusting crickets with a quality calcium supplement is advised, especially with babies and juveniles. We recommend having a small dish or bottle cap of calcium available inside the enclosure at all times. The Leopard geckos will actually ingest the supplement as they see fit.

Don’t bother breeding crickets, it’s just not worth the hassle, smell, and mess. We can ship crickets right to your doorstep.


Slightly higher in fat than crickets, mealworms are a fine addition to the Leopard gecko diet. In fact, you could present a great argument that they make a great feeder for them, since they are easy to contain in a dish, they are easy to breed, they don’t smell, they don’t jump, they don’t climb, and they don’t make noise.

There’s an old wive’s tale that mealworms can eat out of the stomach of a lizard, and it’s completely untrue. We have never once, in our history, had an issue with feeding Leopard geckos mealworms.

When mealworms in the feeding dish stop moving, it’s time to replace them, as the Leopard geckos only react to movement. Mealworms will pupate after several days in the dish, at which time you can either dispose of them, or place them into a breeding bin (they’ll turn into beetles which will mate and lay eggs).

Dusting mealworms doesn’t work well since their exoskeleton is so smooth the dusting doesn’t stick. Although, we highly recommend gut loading your mealworms by placing them into a plastic shoebox of chick feed or vegetables 12-24 hours prior to feeding. We can ship mealworms right to your doorstep as well.

leopard gecko food
Leopard gecko foods primarily should include crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and superworms.


Waxworms are on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to fat content, but in moderation they are a valued member of the feeder insect menu for your Leopard gecko. Their ease of care is an added bonus—they don’t eat, and can be kept for 1-2 weeks at room temperature. Remove any worms that turn black. Some may morph into wax moths, at which point they can be discarded or fed to another reptile, but the Leopard geckos won’t eat the moths.

A few Leopard gecko keepers have said some Leopard geckos can become addicted to waxworms and won’t accept any other feeder insect, but we’ve never experienced this supposed phenomenon and believe it’s mild exaggeration.

Too many waxworms as a food item can lead to obesity in Leopard geckos, but again, moderation is key. Variety is the spice of life, so offer your Leopard geckos a selection of foods to keep things interesting. We can ship waxworms directly to you.

Giant Mealworms

We avoid giant mealworms because they are simply normal mealworms treated with a steroid that prevents them from pupating when they normally would. If you’re looking for a larger feeder insect, we recommend the below option rather than this unnatural choice.


Adult Leopard geckos are large enough to consume superworms, which are about a half-inch larger than giant mealworms but are naturally raised. One advantage they have over normal mealworms is a more favorable chitin-to-meat ratio, which means their exoskeleton is a smaller percentage of their overall composition, making them easier to digest.

Don’t refridgerate superworms either, it will eliminate them. Keep them similarly to normal mealworms, meaning a bin of bran or oatmeal. They can be gut loaded the same way as mealworms. Breeding them is generally not worth the hassle. Yes, you guessed it, we can also ship superworms right to your door.

Leopard Gecko Foods to avoid

Now that we’ve covered what you should feed your Leopard geckos, let’s cover a few things not to feed them.

  • Avoid feeding your Leopard gecko beetles of any sort–they can be difficult to digest, and the geckos likely won’t be interested in them anyway. (beetles often emit a musk that reptiles find distasteful).
  • Avoid flying insects as a Leopard gecko food. The geckos cannot catch, nor are they interested in, moths, butterflies, and flies.
  • Avoid feeding vegetable matter to your Leopard gecko. They likely won’t touch it, and it will usually rot quickly.

What do Leopard Geckos Eat – Conclusion

We hope we’ve been able to answer the question of what Leopard geckos eat in captivity. Each gecko is different, and will have various “favorite” foods, but do keep in mind the guidelines listed above as you raise your new pet. It should also be mentioned that Leopard geckos eat their shed skin, so don’t be alarmed when you see your gecko with a mouthful of it!

You can experience the joy of keeping your own gecko by visiting our captive bred Leopard geckos page. We’ll ship right to your door in an insulated, temperature-controlled box, with a full live arrival guarantee.

Leopard Gecko Lifespan

How long do Leopard geckos live? Leopard gecko lifespans are often impressively long in captivity, especially when compared to other lizards of similar size, such as anoles and swifts, which usually live for a maximum of 2-3 years. This longevity, coupled with their extreme ease of care, makes these lizards perhaps the best pet reptile in the world.

leopard gecko lifespan
Here’s one of our big hypo Tangerine carrot-tail leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius), one whose lifespan we expect to be well over a decade.

Female Leopard Gecko Lifespan

Female leopard geckos can easily live for 7-10 years, although this pales in comparison to how long the males can live (see below). The reason females don’t live as long as males is primarily because they repeatedly go through the physically taxing process of mating, reproduction, and egg laying.

Developing and laying two eggs up to eight times each year places an incredible demand upon their relatively small bodies, yet they do so year after year.

Eventually, however, it catches up with them. Females can breed successfully at around 50 grams in weight, but doing so at such a sub-adult size can stifle their growth and shorten their lifespan. The longer female Leopard geckos can go without breeding and reproducing, the longer their lifespan.

Male Leopard Gecko Lifespan

Male Leopard geckos, on the flip-side of the coin, can have extraordinarily long lifespans, with some living past 25 years of age! Yes, you read that correctly. The fact that they don’t have to endure egg development and laying means their bodies are spared the arduous work involved in reproduction.

In fact, they can be effective breeders virtually their entire lives. They do stop growing noticeably after about 14-18 months. A single male can breed a colony of 6-10 females with relative ease. Never keep two males in the same enclosure as they will almost certainly fight, which is at times fatal.

Diet and its effect upon Leopard Gecko Lifespan

Avoid the temptation to overfeed your pet Leopard geckos. There is a trend within the U.S. whereby hobbyists try to get their geckos as big as possible, as quickly as possible, usually for purposes of breeding or sale. This method, usually accomplished by maintaining a dish full of food at all times, is an unnatural way to raise your Leopard geckos.

This type of overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can lead to reduced breeding potential, organ failure, and an early death. There’s a tendency to think a fat lizard is a healthy lizard, but just as with humans, this is not correct. A healthy leopard gecko should be lean (not skinny) and energetic, with a plump tail. Obese leopard geckos have bloated-looking bellies, unusually thick tails (fat reserves), and are usually far less active. Some have fatty deposits directly behind their front legs as well.

In the wild, these lizards don’t have an ever-present cache of food available to them, and as such, should not have food constantly available to them in captivity. Feeding your pet gecko a reasonable number of feeder insects 3-4 times per week is absolutely ideal. Avoid too many waxworms and pinkie mice–moderation is key.

how long leopard geckos live
Here’s a gorgeous tangerine morph with black spots that contrast against the orange color very nicely. If you’re wondering how long Leopard geckos live, the answer is: a long time.

We hope our article on Leopard gecko lifespan has helped expand your knowledge of these wonderful pet reptiles. Consider ordering your own today for delivery to your doorstep, on our page of Leopard geckos for sale. Please don’t miss our Leopard gecko care sheet, either.

Most Popular Leopard Gecko Morphs

Are you overwhelmed by the litany of Leopard gecko morphs available? There are so many Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularis) morphs on the market that it can be hard to know what the names mean if you’re not an expert on the subject. In this article, we will show you photos of our most popular morphs and explain why or how that morph got its name.

Pinstripe Leopard Gecko

Commonly morphs are named after something they resembles in every day life, such as a fruit or a color. This particular morph is named because it causes the gecko’s spots to blend into lines or “pinstripes” on its body. Pretty straight forward.

popular leopard gecko morphs
Take note of the stripes on this pinstripe leopard gecko’s sides, one of many popular morphs.

Blazing Blizzard Leopard Gecko

The blazing blizzard morph is a variation on the standard blizzard morph. When a gecko is a blizzard, it lacks patterns (stripes, spots, or tail banding) and will range in color from grey to pure white. They also occasionally display yellow highlights.

blazing blizzard leopard gecko
Blazing Blizzard Leopard geckos are sensitive to light, which is why this guy was blinking in the photo.

The “blazing” added onto the blizzard gecko means that the animal is both albino and patternless. The main aesthetic difference between this morph and the standard blizzard is the lack of any grey tints. Both the blizzard and the blazing blizzard can have yellow highlights present.

Leucistic Leopard Gecko

Leucistic Leos are also known as patternless or “Murphy’s Patternless” morphs. This is because when the animal is leucistic, its genetic makeup causes it to lack certain types of pigment.

leucistic leopard gecko
This photo makes it easy to see why the alternate name for this morph is “patternless.”

High Color Leopard Gecko

When referring to morphs and the names of reptiles, “high” indicates a particularly strong expression of a particular genetic trait. So, if a gecko is high color, it means that its colors are particularly vibrant.

high color leopard gecko
A super high color morph Leopard gecko. Notice how most of its body lacks pigment, except for the tail and top of the head.

This morph is also referred to as hypomelanistic, which means that the gecko displays a greatly reduced amount of color in its body, but some spots may be present on the head and tail.

Snow Leopard Gecko

Also known as “Mack Snow,” this morph means that the gecko’s main body color will be white and any spots or markings will be black. Essentially, the gecko is black and white with little or no yellow or orange tones present.

mack snow leopard gecko
This is a mack snow leopard gecko. Notice how there are extremely faint yellow undertones to his skin. This is what makes his morph different than the super snow morph.

Super Snow Leopard Gecko

The super snow or “super mack snow” morph is an exaggeration of the snow morph. The black and white contrast on these geckos is very noticeable and they have solid black eyes.

super snow leopard gecko
This is a super snow leopard gecko. This morph is created by breeding a mack snow to another mack snow.

Albino Leucistic Leopard Gecko

Albinism is the lack of the pigment that causes black tones in skin or scales, so any albino leopard gecko will lack black spots or tones. When the gecko is also leucistic, it lacks any discerning pattern. You could also call this morph “Albino Patternless.”

albino leucistic leopard gecko
Albino leucistic or albino patternless leopard gecko morph.

Interesting side note on albinism in leopard geckos – it’s not necessary for the gecko to have red eyes in order for it to be considered albino.

Enigma Leopard Gecko

When they’re babies, leopard geckos of this morph are splotchy, but as they mature, the splotches become speckles. They also have white tails.

enigma leopard gecko
Notice how this enigma’s tail is nearly completely white.

This is a popular morph for breeders because when crossed with other traits, it tends to amplify the trait.

Super Giant Leopard Gecko

There are two forms of this morph. First, there is the giant leopard gecko, which grows to weight 80 to 110 grams and can display any combination of morphs that express color.

super giant leopard gecko
A male super giant albino leopard gecko with regenerated tail.

Next, there is the super giant, which is what we have pictured as an example. Naturally, the super giant gets larger than the giant.

Tangerine Leopard Gecko

If you haven’t guessed already, the tangerine morph displays a bright orange color that is quite stunning.

tangerine leopard gecko
One of our super giant tangerine morph leopard gecko.

Please be aware that there are more morphs out there than the ones we discuss in this blog. These are the most popular and therefore most commonly bred morphs. Morphs can also be combined in specific instances depending on the lineage.

leopard gecko morphs
A collage of the various leopard gecko morphs we’ve discussed today.

Backwater Reptiles currently has quite a selection of these particular leopard gecko morphs for sale.