Terrarium: Size & Lighting

Size Matters

When looking for a leopard gecko terrarium, consider your gecko’s age and size.

  • 6” (16 cm) or shorter → 10 gallon tank (or equivalent)
  • 7” (17cm) or longer → 20 gallon tank (or equivalent)

In other words, juvenile leopard geckos need about 1.5 sq ft of floor space, and adult leopard geckos need at least 2.7 sq ft of floor space. (Please don’t ask me to convert it to metric because for the life of me I tried and failed…several times.) Floor space is the only important consideration here, as leos are considered terrestrial lizards. That being said, they will climb if vertical space and climbing materials are provided.

Most casual leopard gecko keepers prefer to house their geckos in glass aquariums or terrariums, which usually works well since heat pads permeate glass well. Glass can make it difficult to maintain air temperature, though, so wood and PVC enclosures like the Animal Plastics T1 tend to be more efficient.

Can Leopard Geckos Be Housed Together?

Cohabitation is not recommended for leopard geckos.

Multiple geckos housed together often results in dropped tails, severe bite wounds, and even broken bones. This is particularly the case for male geckos, but can also happen within groups of females. And of course, males and females should not be housed together unless you want babies.

You don’t want babies.

So, to summarize: Leopard geckos should not be housed together.

leopard gecko cohabition

These two females lived together for years without incident until one day they snapped. Cohabitation may seem fine when nothing happens, but how long will your luck last? Source: Lizard Beans on Tumblr


Leopard geckos are crepuscular (most active at dawn/dusk), which means that they do not need light to see or function. This also means that they don’t need UVB lighting, which makes them an ideal pet for beginner reptile keepers or those with a tight budget.

That being said, having a light on in the tank 12 hours/day helps regulate their day/night cycle, which is good for their mental health and stimulates appetite. Daytime light is also nice for viewing; occasionally geckos will come out during the day. Many nocturnal species have been observing basking during the day on occasion. If you would like to use a day bulb, I recommend the Exo Terra Reptile Vision bulb. Note that this bulb does not produce heat.

Black or red lights are not needed for nighttime heat, and can interfere with your gecko’s day/night cycle. It is best to save your money and not purchase one.

leopard gecko terrarium setup

Example of a leopard gecko terrarium setup. UVB is not required, but at low intensities (Ex: Zoo Med ReptiSun 2.0) can be beneficial. Source: GeckosUnlimited.com

Next → Substrate Options for Leopard Geckos