Interested in making a leopard gecko moist hide? This guide is for you!
Every leopard gecko enclosure should have a moist hide. This is a place your lizard friend retreats to when he wants to feel safe and comfortable.
It is a stress-free zone where your leopard gecko can spend time alone, or deal with the challenging situations he’s going through, such as shedding.
Setting up the perfect moist hide for your leopard gecko is easy if you are committed and dedicated to your pet. Granted, it may not be as simple as bringing a few rocks together. However, if you understand your leopard gecko’s specific needs, you’ll have no trouble setting up the proper moist hide for him.
A lot of things can make a leopard gecko in captivity stressed. As such, your little friend needs a place to rest, sleep, and hide from the stressors.
Why is a Moist Hide Essential in Your Leopard Gecko’s Tank?
To understand why your leopard gecko needs a moist hide, you need to know how these reptiles survive in the wild.
Leopard geckos are natives of the hot deserts of Asia and the Middle East. They are found in large numbers in India, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
This region is hot and dry, with sweltering daytime temperatures. However, the environment also provides convenient rocks and crannies where the leopard geckos can hide to escape the searing heat.
Apart from the ubiquitous sand in this desert land, there are cooler and darker places where the reptile can retreat and cool off.
Wild leopard geckos have mastered the art of seeking humid areas in the crevices and cracks of stones and rocks.
In summer, these hides can provide a 70-80% humidity level. However, this drops to 60-70% during winter.
So, leopard geckos have genetically evolved to use moist holes to regulate their internal body temperatures.
They use these holes not only for thermoregulation, but also for hiding from real and perceived enemies.
You should simulate this environment as closely as possible in your leopard gecko enclosure. Your leopard gecko will need a moist hide to regulate internal body temperature.
He also goes to this place during shedding, as it provides the conditions necessary to make this process easier.
The humidity in the moist hide should be about 40%, and the temperature should be about 210 C – 250 C (700 F – 770 F).
These temperatures are cool enough for easy shedding.
Constructing a Leopard Gecko Moist Hide
What Do You Need?
- A Suitable Container
This is the primary item that will house the leopard gecko in the hide. Choose a container that will not get too hot or too cold.
For example, glass, tin, and metallic containers may not be the best options as they don’t handle heat well.
You can go for a container made of plastic, terra cotta, porcelain, or clay. The container should be 3 times the size of your pet.
At the same time, consider an attractive shape that will make life exciting for your leopard gecko.
- Appropriate Substrate
You need to decide on the substrate to use on the moist hide floor. Here, you’re looking at a substrate that will retain humidity.
So, although gravel may work very well for the rest of the enclosure, it may not serve the purpose of the moist hide.
Fortunately, there are many materials out there that retain humidity and won’t harm your leopard gecko.
These include kitchen towels, peat moss, coconut bedding, newspapers, tissue paper, sphagnum moss, and coconut bedding.
Go through the pros and cons of each and decide which is best for your pet. Remember, every substrate has its strengths and weaknesses.
For example, while the sphagnum moss is ideal for humidity retention, some leopard geckos feed on it, leading to impaction and other health implications.
At the same time, consider how often you have to clean and replace the substrate you have settled for.
- A Cutting Tool
Depending on the material to use for the hide, you need a cutting tool to shape the entrance. This can be a knife, a pair of scissors, or any other appropriate tool.
The purpose is to cut a door into the container.
Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Moist Hide
Now that you have assembled all the material needed, the next step is constructing the moist hide.
Although this is not a complicated process, it is the most critical step and must be handled carefully.
One wrong move can render the final product inhabitable and unsuitable for your leopard gecko. Follow these steps carefully:
#1 – Choose the Best Location for the Moist Hide
The moist hide should be located in the cool zone of the enclosure. If the enclosure is vast, you may have to set up more than one humid hide.
This is more so if you have more than one leopard gecko in the tank.
Remember, the moist hide is where your leopard gecko turns to when he wants to cool down. As such, it should not be placed near strong lights or any heat source that could unreasonably raise the hide’s temperatures.
However, you can place the moist hide in the warm zone if you intend to keep the substrate consistently moist.
Again, don’t place the hide close to the heat source. Otherwise, the hide will become too hot, and your leopard gecko will have no use for it.
A moist hide on the cool side of the enclosure should be kept dry. Do not moisten the substrate, likely leading to respiratory and breathing complications.
If the hide becomes too wet, your little friend may contract pneumonia.
#2 – Choose the Right Substrate
This is an essential part of the process because the substrate determines how comfortable your leopard gecko will be.
Remember, your pet will spend considerable time lying on the substrate. As such, you need to give enough attention to choosing the suitable substrate.
Although some leopard keepers prefer using damp tissues and kitchen towels for the substrate, this is not always the best choice.
If you’re dealing with grown-up female leopard geckos, the damp paper substrate will not work. This is because your pet won’t lay eggs on this surface.
This will result in egg binding, which comes with its unique set of health complications. A lower-risk substrate would be sphagnum moss.
However, as earlier noted, every substrate has its advantages and disadvantages. The downside of using sphagnum moss is that some leopard geckos snack on it, leading to impaction.
Also, it may develop mold if it is kept wet for too long. As such, avoid using too much water on this particular substrate.
#3 – Spread the Substrate Evenly
Get enough substrate depending on the hide size you have in mind. Then, spread the substrate evenly to cover the entire area to be occupied by the moist hide.
If you intend to use a reptile carpet or a liner, you’ll still need to spread an inch or so of the substrate over it.
Remember, some substrate material cannot work in the moist hide. For example, pea gravel cannot retain humidity.
As such, use moss or some appropriate substrate that retains adequate humidity. But, of course, this is the purpose of the moist hide in the first place.
#4 – Wet the Substrate
Lightly spray the substrate with a water spray bottle. The intention here is to dampen the substrate, but not to make it soggy.
When you’re done, the substrate should be wet, but no standing water should be on it. It is better more dry than wet.
The leopard gecko would not be seriously disadvantaged if the substrate was a bit dry. However, if it is too wet, there is a real risk of increased parasites.
For example, mold and bacteria will grow and multiply fast if you use wet moss substrate. As such, ensure it is just a little damp – enough to maintain the desired humidity level.
#5 – Cut an Entrance in the Container
Cut a hole for the leopard gecko to use as the door using the cutting tools you assembled earlier. The hole should be tall and wide enough for the pet to use safely and comfortably.
Also, smooth out any sharp edges formed during the cutting.
#6 – Place the Container
Position the container on the right spot, directly above the substrate. Push the container an inch or so into the substrate to ensure it is well anchored.
Also, you can use some material, such as stones or rocks, to hold down the container not to move if your leopard gecko inadvertently leans on it.
Once you have accomplished this, you’re all set!
In a Nutshell…
- Get an appropriate container.
This can be a recycled plastic container that is still serviceable. First, clean it thoroughly with soap and water. For an adult leopard gecko, a container that measures 7 by 4 by 4 (inches) would suffice.
- Get the tools you need for the DIY task.
These tools are meant to be used in making a door on the container for your leopard gecko. So, first, choose an appropriate tool suitable for the container you’re to use.
- Source for suitable substrate
The substrate should be comfortable as well as safe for your leopard gecko. Avoid using substrate material that gets easily wet, as it encourages the growth and multiplication of bacteria.
Use peat moss or sphagnum moss, and avoid aspen and coconut fiber.
- Make the entryway
Cut an entry hole into the container using your cutting tools. The hole should be twice as wide and tall as the leopard gecko.
This gives your pet enough space to comfortably get in and out of the moist hide. If the entrance is too small, your pet will feel cramped and may avoid the hide altogether.
- Spread the substrate
Spread about 1 or 2 inches of the substrate on the chosen spot.
- Moisten the substrate
Spray a fine mist of water on the substrate to moisten it. The goal here is not to make the substrate soggy – just a little wet.
- Place the container on the substrate.
Ensure that the container is well anchored. You’re good to go.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why Do I Need a Moist Hide for My Leopard Gecko Enclosure?
The moist hide provides your leopard gecko with a safe haven he can retreat to whenever he feels scared and threatened.
It is also a good spot for your leopard gecko to rest, relax, and cool down away from the hassle and bustle of the rest of the enclosure.
The moist hide is also a good spot for your leopard gecko to shed in. The humidity in the hide makes this process easier.
How Should I Maintain the Humidity of a Moist Hide?
Ensure you use the right substrate for your leopard gecko’s moist hide. For example, a substrate like pea gravel is not good enough because it cannot retain humidity.
Also, spray the hide with fine mist about 4 times a day.
Be careful not to make the hide too wet. It should not be soggy; neither should it have standing water. Also, avoid substrates that get easily waterlogged, such as coconut fiber.
Which is the Best Spot for My Leopard Gecko Moist Hide?
You can place the moist hide on the cool side of the enclosure. In this case, you need to use dry substrate (materials that don’t hold water).
Alternatively, you can place the moist hide on the warm side of the tank. Avoid placing it directly below the lights as it may become too hot.
In this case, use substrates that absorb water and stay damp for a long time.
How Should I Clean My Leopard Gecko’s Moist Hide?
Since the moist hide is one of the most critical components of the tank, it needs to be kept clean. The best way to maintain its cleanliness is to clean it every time you clean the tank.
Also, regularly check to ensure it is not too dry or water-logged. Change the substrate in the moist hide as soon as it becomes dirty.
Use warm, soapy water to remove the dirt and grime accumulated over time.
Why is My Leopard Gecko Not Using His Moist Hide?
Your leopard gecko will keep away from his moist hide for several reasons. Here are some areas you should check on:
- The humid hide is new – leopard geckos dislike abrupt changes.
- It is improperly set up.
- It is too hot or cold.
- The moist hide is too big or small.
- The entryway is too narrow or low.
- Wrong choice of substrate.
- The moist hide is too wet or dry.
Although some keepers discount the importance of a moist hide, this is one of the most essential facilities in the enclosure.
You should have the safety and comfort of your leopard gecko in mind as you make a moist hide. This facility serves its purpose if it meets the conditions for your leopard gecko to thrive.