Gargoyle Gecko Substrate Options

Loose Substrates

  • Organic topsoil
  • Lugarti Natural Reptile Bedding
  • Bioactive

Personally I prefer Lugarti’s product for all small reptiles with moderate to high humidity needs, including use as a gargoyle gecko substrate. However, the loose nature of these substrates can pose an impaction risk to geckos smaller than 13g, so a solid substrate is better in these circumstances (see below). Risk of substrate ingestion can be reduced for adult geckos by confining feeder insects to a special dish, or even feeding in a separate enclosure.

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

Solid Substrates

  • Paper towels
  • Shelf liner/contact paper
  • Linoleum

Solid substrates win no awards for being particularly attractive or natural-looking, and they can make maintaining humidity a bit challenging. That being said, they are cheap and easy to replace or clean, making them a favorite for many keepers. Solid substrates should be spot cleaned daily, and paper towels 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 a gecko very sick.

Nightshift Exotics and ReptiFiles - gargoyle gecko substrate guide

Photo by Nightshift Exotics

Bad Substrates

  • Coconut fiber/Eco Earth
  • Cypress mulch
  • Bark chips
  • Pine/cedar shavings or bark
  • Reptile carpet

Most of these substrates pose a substantial risk of impaction and other internal injury if accidentally ingested. Additionally, reptile carpet fibers can catch and damage delicate gecko toes, and pine/cedar oils are well known to cause permanent neurological damage in reptiles.

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