Leopard geckos are generally docile and easy to care for, making them a great pet reptile for beginners. While these geckos do not require a lot of maintenance, it’s still essential to give a lot of attention to the conditions in their home. Leopard geckos originate from desert regions, so they need a dry environment for their health and comfort.
Normally, leopard geckos thrive in humidity levels around 30% to 40% RH, which is also an ideal range for your home. This may be achieved within the terrarium, but if you live in a humid area, you may need to employ humidity solutions for the rest of the house.
Like other reptiles, leopard geckos also require a temperature gradient in their tanks with temperatures ranging from 70°F to 95°F from the cold side to the basking spot, but no higher than 97°F. When it’s shedding, your leopard gecko may require different environmental conditions to help keep their skin moist.
In general, keeping a leopard gecko in a terrarium with enough ventilation can help maintain the warm and dry environment it requires. Sustained relative humidity levels for most reptiles around 50% and above can be harmful to your pet’s health. Keep reading to learn how to maintain the ideal humidity for your leopard gecko.
Ideal Humidity Level for Leopard Gecko
First, you must understand the significance of humidity to the leopard gecko’s environment. Humidity is the amount of water present in the air. We express the relative humidity as a percentage of the actual water vapor pressure compared to the maximum vapor pressure at a given temperature. The more moisture is present, the more humid the air feels. Since leopard geckos originally live in arid regions, they require lower humidity levels, typically around 30% to 40% RH.
It may be useful to keep a hygrometer in your leopard gecko’s tank to monitor the relative humidity inside. Some thermostats may also include a hygrometer which makes it more convenient so you can monitor both temperatures and humidity levels in one device.
Note that the ambient temperature can also affect the relative humidity. The higher the air temperature, the greater its ability to hold moisture. So if you have a heat source and a water source in the tank, this can add to more humidity. Leopard geckos need a stable temperature gradient first and you can then adjust the humidity levels from there.
Signs of High Humidity
If you have a hygrometer in the leopard gecko’s tank, the most obvious sign of high humidity is if the reading often reaches above 40% even at nighttime. For those who live in a humid region, you may experience humidity levels beyond 60% to 70%, especially during summer days.
If the relative humidity in the enclosure gets any higher than recommended, you may notice fog on the glass. This is condensation, which occurs when the warm, moist air inside hits the cooler glass surface.
The biggest problems with high humidity though, is it can lead to the growth of mold and other fungi. These fungal microorganisms thrive in moist conditions and can negatively affect your leopard gecko’s health.
Excessive humidity can cause respiratory infections such as pneumonia in your pet gecko. Fungal growth in the tank can also lead to skin infections. Thus it’s essential to maintain the humidity levels within the ideal 30% to 40% range to keep your pet healthy and comfortable.
How to Lower Humidity in the Leopard Gecko Tank
Reducing the humidity and maintaining the proper levels within your leopard gecko’s tank shouldn’t be too hard. You can adjust the humidity by adding ventilation and providing more airflow, both for the tank itself and the room where it’s located. You should also change the tank setup so there’s less source of moisture inside.
Improve the ventilation and airflow
The simplest way to reduce humidity in a leopard gecko enclosure is to have good ventilation. If it lacks airflow, the warm, moist air gets trapped inside. Instead of a full cover, you should use a mesh cover or add an air screen on top to let the cooler fresh air in.
Poor air circulation leads to moisture buildup, making the tank more humid. The best method to improve ventilation in the tank is to add a screen cover. You can also install a USB fan inside to add airflow and facilitate the evaporation of moisture..
Reduce the room humidity
If you live in a tropical or coastal region where it’s typically humid all year round, then high humidity may need a more serious solution not only for your leopard gecko’s tank humidity but also for the room where it’s located. If it’s humid outside, it’s likely also humid inside. The easiest way to reduce humidity in the room is to open your windows and run your fans to increase air circulation.
However, in some cases, this may not solve your humidity problem at all. If the humidity outside is too high, it’s better to keep the windows closed and instead turn on your HVAC system. It will be beneficial to use both a dehumidifier and air conditioner in case it’s too hot and humid outside. When humidity is particularly high, you can run a portable dehumidifier next to your leopard gecko’s enclosure, or place one of those non-toxic mini dehumidifiers inside the tank.
Use a smaller water dish
To reduce humidity in the tank, you can simply remove the sources of moisture. If you have a large water dish inside, more water evaporates into the air, especially if it’s in the warmer side of the temperature gradient. Replace the water dish with a smaller one and put in on the cooler side to prevent adding too much moisture to the environment.
Replace live plants with faux plants
Another possible source of moisture inside the tank are the live plants. Live plants have a lot of benefits for your pet leopard geckos, providing security and allowing it to climb and live as it would in its natural habitat. However, live plants also transpire or release water through its leaves, increasing the humidity levels inside the tank. To solve this problem without removing most of the benefits from the real thing, replace your plants in the tank with faux plants.
Change the substrate
The substrate in the tank serves as some sort of flooring to protect your leopard gecko from too much heat. However, traditional vivarium substrates such as organic mulch and soil typically have a higher moisture content not ideal for your pet. If you have high humidity issues, you might need to change your substrate to a drier option. Reduce the depth of the substrate or let it dry out for a bit before adding it into the tank. You can also drop in some packets of silica gel or place rice inside a sock to absorb the excess moisture.
Increasing Humidity in a Leopard Gecko Tank
When shedding, leopard geckos require humidity levels between 70% and 80%. However, it’s not ideal to increase the humidity levels inside the whole tank to that level without causing significant risks to your pet reptile. To safely provide the needed humidity for the leopard gecko during shedding, you need to add a humid hide in the tank. This is a sort of cave with a moist substrate where the gecko can go when it needs a more humid environment.
To help your leopard gecko shed its skin properly, you should mist it with water about once or twice a week to keep its skin moist. Younger leopard geckos shed once or twice a month, and as it matures, it will shed about once every month or two. During this time, make sure to provide it with a moist hide.
If low humidity is a general problem in your house, especially during winter when the air is too cold and dry, there are ways to increase the overall humidity in your leopard gecko tank up to 30% to 40% RH.
First, you should reduce ventilation in the tank. Add a cover on top to let the moisture stay inside. You should also replace the water dish with a large, shallow dish and place it in the warmest spot of the tank to increase moisture levels. If that doesn’t solve your problem, you can add a humidifier or reptile fogger to the tank.
Ideal Temperatures for Leopard Gecko
Like all other reptiles, leopard geckos need a temperature gradient in their tanks to help them regulate their own body temperature. On the cool side, the temperature should be around 75°F to 80°F, but no lower than 70°F. At night, maintain a temperature above 60°F for your pet’s health.
Geckos also like to bask in the warm spot of their tanks during the day. The basking surface temperature should be around 90°F to 95°F, but no higher than 97°F or you risk overheating. You can look into the best heat sources such as a heat lamp or heat mat for your gecko’s tank. A ceramic heat emitter is commonly used to provide heat and reduce humidity at the same time. Do not use heat rocks and other non-thermostat-controlled heat sources in the enclosure as they can be a cause for burns.
It also helps to have at least two hides inside the tank to help with thermal regulation, especially if you have multiple leopard geckos. Place one on the warm side, where geckos usually like to hide during the daytime, and one on the cool end.
All pet reptiles need proper care and attention to live healthily and comfortably. While leopard geckos require little maintenance in terms of feeding and cleaning, giving them the right environment to live in is absolutely essential. They need a warm and dry terrarium similar to their natural habitat. Keep the tank’s humidity levels around 30% to 40% and the temperatures from 75°F to 95°F with a temperature gradient that helps with thermoregulation.
If high humidity is a problem, you must improve ventilation, add air circulation, and reduce the source of moisture to maintain proper humidity levels in the tank. Remember that your leopard gecko also requires higher humidity during shedding, so give it at least one warm hide and cool hide where it can go to get the moisture it needs.