Leopard Gecko Hides - Shelters
Leopard Gecko Hides - Shelters can be just about anything. So long as the leopard gecko can fit in the hide comfortably, and the material that the shelter is made from is non-toxic, it can be used.
The minimum number of hides any one enclosure should have is two. This would include a shelter placed over or beneath the primary heat source and a moist hide. Ideally, each enclosure should have three hides. These would include a shelter placed over or beneath the primary heat source, a cool hide placed on the opposite end of the enclosure, away from the heat source, and a moist hide.
Hides - shelters should be included in the enclosure to create a safe haven where your leopard gecko can "hide" or "shelter" itself out of plain view. This helps reduce stress and creates a feeling of security within its habitat. Since leopard geckos are a nocturnal species, this also allows them to hide from the light in the room of placed over their enclosure.
The idea behind the three different types of hides is fairly simple. Leopard geckos are poikilotherms. This means that they are cold-blooded and need to thermoregulate their body temperature. By providing three hides for the leopard gecko, it can choose which temperature its body requires while not having to choose between feeling secure or adjusting its body temperature.
Warm Hides - Shelters
The warm hide is the shelter that is placed directly above or below the primary heat source for the enclosure. Within the enclosure, this will be the warmest location. Typically after a leopard gecko has eaten, this will be the location in which it retreats as the added heat helps with digestion. This is a required hide within the enclosure if the leopard gecko is to thrive.
Cool Hides - Shelters
The cool hide is the shelter that is placed furthest away from the primary heat source for the enclosure. Once the leopard geckos core temperature has reached a certain point, it will wish to lower the temperature, or thermoregulate it, and will use this hide to do so. If you are using a moist hide, which you should be, this hide isn't required but is highly suggested. It is suggested because it will provide a cool, dry location to retreat when the leopard gecko wishes to thermoregulate.
Moist Hides - Shelters
Moist hides are a very simple means of providing a location in the enclosure that has a higher ambient humidity level than the rest of the surrounding air. This unique hide offers an escape for the leopard gecko when it is preparing to shed. The humidity in the air helps to soften the skin that is preparing to shed, and helps to separate it from the new skin below. This makes removing the shed skin much easier and improves the chances greatly that the skin found around the toes and eyes will come off without any issues. (You can learn more about why this is important by reading the "Retained Shed" section under health issues.)
In addition to aiding with the shedding process, humid hides also offer an additional means and location to thermoregulate. Pending you haven't placed your moist hide over or below a heat source, which you shouldn't do, the leopard gecko can use this hide to help cool itself when required.
Moist hides also act as an egg laying chamber for gravid females. Several days prior to depositing eggs, a female will often be seen digging in the moist hide and clearing a spot where she will deposit the eggs themselves. Once deposited, she will then cover them with the substrate she had dug out.
Moist hides play a crucial role in the proper husbandry of leopard geckos and should be provided in every leopard gecko enclosure that you might have.
Moist hides are best placed in the center of the enclosure or slightly off-center toward the heat source. This will slow evaporation while still maintaining a warmer temperatures.
Leopard Gecko Hide Placement Example
To learn more about Moist Hides, and how to create one, please read our Leopard Gecko Moist Hide Creation section located here: Leopard Gecko Moist Hide Creation
Commercial Leopard Gecko Hides - Shelters
There are all sorts of commercially available hides on the market today. From rock-like structure to injection molded hides, the selection is vast. Some of the commercially available hides on the market are beautiful and can add a nice touch of naturalism for you and the gecko whereas some are as basic as they come and are simply designed to let the leopard gecko hide. If your budget allows for some spending on items to help beautify the enclosure, look into the varying shelters available and choose the style that fits into the design you are creating or striving toward.
Below are a couple of commercially available hides.
Custom Leopard Gecko Hides - Shelters
Creating hides at home is not difficult and can actually be pretty rewarding when some thought has gone into it. A hide can be as simple as overturning a dark plastic container and cutting an entrance hole into or it can be an elaborately designed stack of slate that has been secured with cement or mortar. When designing your own hides, your imagination is the limit. Just remember to ensure that whatever you use for a hide is 100% stable and won't fall on the leopard gecko using.