“Substrate” is another word for bedding, the material you use to cover the floor of your gecko’s enclosure. For your convenience, here’s ReptiFiles’ picks:
- organic topsoil
- Lugarti Natural Reptile Bedding
Natural substrates should be spot cleaned daily and replaced monthly.
I prefer natural substrates because they hold humidity better (Lugarti Natural Reptile Bedding is my favorite!). However, these substrate have loose particles can can pose an impaction risk to individuals smaller than 13g. Furthermore, geckos housed on loose substrate should be offered feeder insects either in a separate enclosure or using a special dish to prevent substrate ingestion.
Bioactive substrates and enclosures are nice because they use symbiotic relationships between the animal (in this case, gargoyle gecko) and certain detritivore species to break down waste. The result? Essentially a self-cleaning terrarium. For more information, read the files in Reptile & Amphibian Bioactive Setups on Facebook or visit TheBioDude.com.
If you have a young crestie or wish to skip the risk altogether, consider the following options.
- paper towels
- butcher paper
- shelf liner
These are cheap, easy to clean/replace, and favored by many keepers. Should be spot cleaned daily, and disposable substrates should be replaced weekly.
Warning: If you use shelf liner or linoleum, take care to choose one that does not contain toxic glues and is low off-gassing. The glues and plastics in certain plastic products can make a small animal like your gecko very sick.
Substrates to Avoid
Some keepers argue that loose substrates should be never be used, due to the risk for impaction in geckos of any size. These claims should be taken with a grain of salt, as larger geckos are more capable of safely passing ingested particles with proper husbandry. However, there are some substrates that pose too great a risk, even with precautions in place.
- large-particle beddings like cypress bark (impaction risk)
- pine/cedar-based substrate (oils can cause neurological damage)
- reptile carpet (the fibers can catch and damage delicate gecko toes!)
- coconut fiber/Eco Earth (expands in the stomach)