Artificial Leopard Gecko Substrates
Artificial Leopard Gecko Substrate Ideas
Artificial Substrates - No Substrate
The average enthusiast will prefer to use a substrate with their leopard gecko. Breeders on the other hand often have a large amount of animals that require tending to, and ease of care is a top priority to ensure everyone is properly being cared for. Racks are great for this, and not using a substrate is a simple method to help remove a portion of the equation when it comes to their care. While this is not the most feasible solution for the typical enthusiast, it is an option that many breeders take advantage of. The benefits of using a substrate free housing structure is that there is no chance of impaction, general maintenance is much faster, and there is no overhead for the cost of a substrate. The largest downfall for this type of setup is that it is visually unappealing.
Artificial Substrates - Carpet
The available carpets for use with reptiles come in several colors. The tan color, which looks a great deal like a sandy beige, is complimentary to the leopard geckos habitat. When opting to use reptile carpet as a substrate, it is a great idea to melt the edges of the carpet so that they do not become frayed. A frayed edge could catch the leopard geckos toes and cause complications. It is also advisable to purchase two of the carpets during the initial purchase. This will allow you to swap out the soiled carpet each week and replace it with a clean carpet. If you do not rotate the carpets, over time the one carpet you are using is going to begin to smell, even when cleaned regularly.
The carpets sold today are machine washable. After each washing however, you should take a moment to run a lighter over the carpet. This will remove any frays that have come out as a result of the washing. In doing this, you limit the chance that your leopard geckos toes will become entangled in the frays.
Reptile carpet should be purchased annually, or sooner, if you find that it has begun to smell or has frayed edges that are catching your leopard geckos toes.
Reptile carpet is a relatively safe substrate and simply requires constant attention to ensure your leopard gecko can easily move across it without its toes getting snared. This is a non-impactable substrate and has appealing visual qualities.
Artificial Substrates - Paper
Paper can come in many forms. Newspaper, butcher block paper, and paper towel are all considerations. These substrate are extremely safe for use as there is no risk of impaction. They are not very appealing to the eyes, but they are the perfect substrate for quarantine tanks and hatchlings. Their bland appearance allows for easy monitoring of the stool and is great for identifying external parasites (like mites) with numerous reptile species.
The availability and low cost of these substrates makes them perfect for rearing young.
Artificial Substrates - Tiles
There are two types of tiles that can be purchased. There are those that require grout and glue for permanent placement and those that are self adhesive. Self adhesive tiles come in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures. They are easy to cut to shape and are visually appealing. They have a sticky backing that allows them to be adhered to surfaces with ease. That same glue however may produce gases when it is heated with an under tank heater and for this reason the tank should be established for one- two weeks prior to the leopard gecko being placed on it. With the heat running during this time, this will allow the glue to off-gas.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles are beautiful. They come in some wonderful textures and equally appealing styles and colors. They also come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so creating a nice display pattern for your enclosure is not difficult. If you know the exact dimensions for your enclosure, you may want to figure out the sizes you will need in order to cover the bottom of the enclosure with these tiles. They require special cutting tools to be cut to shape. Alternatively you could combine the use of these tiles with a tan reptile carpet base. This would allow you to place the carpet in first, and then displace the carpet with the tiles. Using this method, you could create an attractive terrain while not having to worry about having the tiles cut. If there is an opening in the layout of the tile, the tan carpet below will be exposed.
Artificial Substrates - Custom
If you scour the internet, you will find that many people create their own terrains and back drops using varying materials. Custom enclosures and designs can create beautifully landscaped environments for your leopard gecko. Many of these terrains are created with Styrofoam, grout or cement, epoxies, and various other materials. If this is something you are interested in creating, you are strongly advised to research the materials you will be using, how well they transmit heat, and if they produce harmful vapors when heated. Online discussion forums, like the Herp Habitats section of Herp Center, are great places to discuss different materials, designs, and ideas. The feedback you receive could be invaluable.
Author: Richard Brooks