Leopard Gecko Moist Hide Creation
This Leopard Gecko Moist Hide Creation entry will help new users understand how they can make a moist hide, and why it is important to provide one for their leopard geckos.
Moist hides have several different names they are referred to as in the hobby. Some of those names include humid hides, humidity chamber, egg laying box, egg laying chamber, and shed box to name a few. No matter what they are called, they all serve the same general purpose.
Moist Hide Uses
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 Hide Materials
Moist hides can be created out of almost anything that can be cut, hold a moistened substrate, and be opened when required. My personal preference for moist hides are the various sterilite and Rubbermaid containers found on the market. I also like to use the Ziploc Tupperware containers that are disposable. They are inexpensive, come in a variety of sizes, and they retain moisture extremely well.
Once you have selected what you will use for the moist hide, you will need to have something that can cut into the material. This will be used to cut the opening that will allow the leopard gecko entrance to the moist hide. Scissors, razor knives, drill and hole saw bits are all feasible cutting utilities. I prefer to use my hole saw bits as they allow me to create a uniform size opening in each of my moist hides. They also leave clean and smooth edges, which means I do not need to worry about the leopard gecko getting poked or cut from going in and out.
You will then require some sort of medium or substrate to place in the moist hide. There are a number of materials that can be used. For my hatchling leopard geckos I prefer to use paper towel. It's inexpensive, easily and quickly replaceable, and does a decent job retaining moisture. For my adults I use vermiculite. I have used sphagnum moss for many years and it worked extremely well also.
Moist Hide Hole Location - Placement
I prefer to put the entrance to the moist hide on the top of the container. While the hatchlings can't make a mess digging on the paper towels, when they mature they can certainly make a mess when digging in other substrates. For this reason, I try to teach the hatchlings that the moist hide entrance will always be on the top. It gets them use to climbing on top of it to get in, and it makes the transition to a larger moist hide, also with the hole on top, seamless.
If you so choose, you can place the entrance on the side. Typically you would want to come up at least 1.5 inches from the bottom before you began cutting the opening. This will create a reservoir for the substrate. Side entrances can lead to the substrate being kicked out when the gecko is digging. If this doesn't bother you, the side entrance will work just fine.
Once the moist hide has been created, you will want to add the substrate, moisten it to the point that water is not pouring out, and place it in the enclosure. When placing it in the enclosure, it is best to steer clear of the heat sources. Placing the moist hide near the heat source will increase evaporation and help dry it out. It may also get too warm for the leopard gecko to feel comfortable laying her eggs in it if you are breeding. I prefer to place my moist hides somewhere on the opposite end of the enclosure from the heat source. This works well for me and my leopard geckos consistently use their moist hides intermittently.
Sometimes it is just easier to see an example than it is to read instructions. Here we have the moist hides I use with my leopard geckos. The first images shows 2 of my younger leopard geckos utilizing their moist hide. The second image shows one of my adults using hers. As you can see, I use different size containers and substrates for each.