Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience.  If you are the proud owner of a Leopard gecko, then you must know about the great debate about deciding which is the appropriate substrate to use in your Leo’s cage.  There is no clear cut answer to this question, and is mostly based on personal choice.  Here are my list of the “TOP FIVE” acceptable substrates.

5.  Unprinted Newspaper

Unprinted newspaper is a great choice as a substrate for your gecko’s cage. The texture of newspaper makes it more absorbent than other types of paper. This makes cleaning your Leo’s cage just that much easier!  Can you use regular newspaper?  You could, but I wouldn’t recommend it because of the ink.  The ink on printed newspaper will quickly transfer to your pet’s feet and stomach causing unnecessary irritation and dry skin.  Where can you get unprinted newspaper?  This can usually be purchased rather cheaply as end rolls from your local newspaper.

4.  Bath Towel

If you are a “GREEN” person, this will be your best choice in a substrate.  Bath towels can be purchased very inexpensively at stores like Target or WalMart.  Not only are they inexpensive, they can be washed and then re-used to save you money. Keep these two things in mind when using a kitchen or bath towel.  First, make sure it is tightly knitted so that your Leopard gecko doesn’t get its mouth caught in the fibers. Second, make sure you use a very little detergent, if any, when washing the towels so not to irritate the skin of your gecko.

3.  Vinyl Tile

Cheap, durable, and easy to clean are the three words that best describe this possible substrate.  Another benefit of using a vinyl tile is you ability to cut them to size to fit your tank (does it get any better)?  Those aren’t the only cool reasons to use vinyl tiles.  Just think about all the decorating possibilities with the different colors and types of tiles available.

The only negative about using vinyl tiles is the glue. You are going to want to find tiles that do not have any glue already applied to the back because if you use an under tank heater, the heated glue will release toxic fumes which could be deadly for your pet.

2.  Reptile Carpet

This is Astro Turf for your gecko!  Specifically designed for reptiles, this is a great product to use.  Easy to clean and comes in a variety of sizes are some of its benefits.  The only drawbacks of this product are its price because it is more expensive than the other options, and safety.  You just have to watch out and make sure your Leo isn’t getting its’ mouth stuck on the carpet fibers just like the towel.

1.  Slate Tiles

This is my favorite substrate. Hard, natural, and has thermal mass.  Using slate tiles as a substrate is a more natural material that would be found in its native environment.  I like slate because I can have them cut to the size of my tank but also that they absorb heat.  My geckos love to lie on them to stay warm.  Another benefit is the can also be used to create hides and other creative things for your Leo to play one.


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