The Best Substrate For Leopard Geckos

The Best Leopard Gecko Substrate

Leopard geckos are great. They have awesome colors, an exotic look and are very easy to take care of. Further they are ridiculously photgenic. There is just one big problem that Leopard geckos have: Everyone says that they are beginner friendly reptiles. While this is true, the problem here is that many people do not do their research before buying such an exotic pet. That is why a lot of Leopard geckos do not even live longer than one year.

If you are visiting this website because you want to know what the best Leopard gecko substrate is, you came to the right place!

It is awesome that you are doing your research and you will definitely get the right information here on substrate for leopard geckos. In this article I will not only give you information on substrate for Leopard geckos, I will also tell you exactly which products you should use to create the best bedding for Leopard geckos.

Why you shouldn´t use pure sand as substrate

The first thing I hear from reptile beginners is: Why can´t I just use sand as substrate for my leopard gecko?

My answer to this question is always the same: ´Cause it kills your Leopard gecko.

It might sound a little bit shocking but that simply is the truth. Sand as a substrate is not good for your pet, it is pretty dangerous. Leopard geckos sometimes eat sand. That might have psychological reasons, or sometimes it happens while hunting crickets or other insects.

The problem with that is that Leopard geckos can´t digest sand and become impacted. Most geckos die after a while when they got impacted and believe me, you do not need such an experience in your life.​

Besides that, loose sand can cause joint problems on your Leopard gecko, because they need a more solid surface to walk on.

Okay enough of that sad stuff. Here is what you need to create a healthy and good looking substrate for a happy Leopard gecko.

Mix it, baby!​ Clay is the answer!

Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate

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So what I do is, instead of using just loose sand as a substrate I mix it with clay. This way the substrate will be more compact and there is no risk that your Leopard gecko is going to eat it, because the substrate becomes solid after a while.

However, there is no need to mix this clay with sand, you can also just use they clay. It will be more solid then. If you want a little bit more of a soft substrate, where your Leopard gecko is able to digg, you should mix it with sand. Please just do not use too much sand. You can find the clay I am talking about here.

I recommend to get 4-6 of these bags to fill your tank with a good amount of substrate.

What´s so great about this substrate

I already told you that there is no risk, that your Leopard gecko might eat this substrate, but there is also another awesome thing about this substrate. You can form caves with it. I use this substrate for a long time now and I also use it for my bearded dragons.

It is simply amazing how easy it is to create some cool caves or holes for your reptiles. Leopard geckos need hides anyway and with this substrate you can let it look naturally. There is a Cavern Kit for this substrate that you can get, which makes it easier to form those caves.

However, you do not really need it. Just use a mini shovel, or your hands and be creative. Maybe use some balloons and pop them as soon as the clay is dry to create some awesome caves.​ In my opinion this is the best Leopard gecko substrate.

Why I am not a fan of repti carpet and the only reason I would use it

Especially pet shops tell people that they should use repti carpet or paper towels as substrate. Come on! Do you really think that paper towel is a good substrate for Leopard geckos? Does this look natural to you?

I mean at least it does not kill your pet, but ​just because it is easy to clean it doesn´t automatically mean that it is a good “substrate”. When it comes to the habitat of my reptiles, I like to keep it natural. Leopard geckos naturally live in the steppes of Pakistan and India and I think it is my job to create an environment for them that is very close to their natural habitat.

I do not think that Leopard geckos live on paper towel, newspaper or repti carpet in Pakistan.​

However if you have a sick Leopard gecko and want to create a quarantine tank, I would go for the repti carpet on the right.

Do not use calcium sand

Another thing that you often times hear in pet shops: Use calcium sand, it is good for your reptile! – NO, it is not! While your Leopard gecko needs calcium, it should not get it from eating terrarium sand. Leopard geckos are not able to digest calcium sand, since it is just a normal sand mixed with calcium. So it will eventually kill your reptile if you use it.


So what do we have learned from this article? Simply have a look at the natural environment of your reptile and try to copy that as best as possible. This way you will never have any problems with your reptile. If you want to know how to set up an entire tank for Leopard geckos, read my Leo housing guide!

I really hope that this article about the best Leopard gecko substrate is helpful for you and I really hope that I could save some reptile lives out there. Impaction is neither funny for your pet nor for you​, because if you want to save your reptile´s live, you might have to pay a lot of vet bills. So just use the right substrate. ​

Which leopard gecko bedding do you use? Let´s talk about it in the comment section below!

Wanna learn more about Leopard Geckos? Read my Care Guide!


  1. Carol August 22, 2017
    • Pierre August 30, 2017

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