Humidity is an often overlooked topic in Leopard Gecko tank setups – and yet, while it’s easier to manage, it’s just as important as temperature and lighting.
Leopard Gecko humidity levels should be between 30% and 40%. You can decrease humidity with improved air flow, and increase it with moss, misting, and humidifiers.
High humidity can quickly lead to bacterial infections, while low humidity can cause skin and shedding issues. To prevent these, read this guide and set up your Leopard Gecko’s humidity levels the right way!
Optimal Leopard Gecko Humidity Setup
First, a quick explainer on humidity: Humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air. It is often expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor that the air can hold at a given temperature. For example, if the air is holding 20% of the maximum amount of water vapor it can hold at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, we would say that the humidity is 20%.
Humidity is affected mainly by three factors: The amount of water that can evaporate (into the air), the surrounding material’s ability to retain moisture, and the temperature.
In rocky desert regions, where Leopard Geckos come from, humidity is quite low for these reasons. There is not too much rainfall, the rocky terrain does not retain moisture well, and high temperatures lead to lower humidity.
Optimal Humidity for Leopard Geckos
Leopard Geckos do not require high humidity levels in captivity, either. In fact, too much humidity can be dangerous for your gecko as it can lead to respiratory problems. The ideal humidity level for a leopard gecko is between 30-40%.
If the humidity is too high, it can lead to parasites, infections, or pneumonia.
If the humidity is too low, your gecko can suffer from dehydration, overheating, or shedding problems.
The first thing you need to control humidity is a Hygrometer. It measures humidity in the air like a thermometer measures temperature. Many reptile tank thermometers actually have a hygrometer built-in. If you don’t have a thermometer yet, make sure to buy one that has both so you don’t need to have two devices. Our recommendation is this Repti Zoo’s thermometer/hygrometer combo, which is perfect for managing humidity and temperature and easy to install.
Note that the 30-40% should be measured at the cool end of the tank. Setting up a healthy temperature environment should be done before worrying about humidity. Once the temperature is stable, adjust the gecko habitat to fix the humidity levels. As the heat sources affect humidity, figuring out humidity first and then changing the heat sources/settings is often inefficient.
The main method to lower the humidity in your reptile tank is to have good ventilation. You should not use a full cover on the tank – a mesh is often used, which lets air flow in and out freely.
If necessary, you can install a small USB fan on top of the tank to improve air circulation. (don’t point it directly into the tank, just barely into the top end)
If you have a large water dish, swapping it for a smaller one also helps by reducing the amount of water that evaporates from it. It’s also good to keep the dish on the cool side of the tank to further reduce evaporation.
However, if you have high humidity in your home or this specific room, a dehumidifier might be needed. You can opt for a big one to lower humidity in the entire room (or home), or find a small one for only the tank or the immediate surrounding.
Option 1: Increase ventilation to lower the humidity:
This is usually enough if your gecko tank is more humid than your room because the moisture doesn’t escape the tank.
Option 2: Lower the humidity in your room:
If the entire room is humid, because of your climate, for example, you’ll need a room dehumidifier.
To increase the overall humidity, you can reverse the methods above:
By covering up more of the tank’s top and reducing air circulation (between the tank and the room), more humidity will stay in the tank.
Similarly, you can install a larger water dish and/or place it further in the warm zone of the tank to increase the water evaporation speed.
Another great, easy fix is to improve moisture retention. Adding a few spots of the right moss can easily increase humidity levels while also keeping them relatively stable. That’s because moss soaks up water, which then slowly evaporates over time. Just spray or mist the moss once or twice a week with clean water, and that’s it! Read our guide here on how to choose the right moss.
If that is not enough, there are special humidifiers for reptile tanks – in most climates, a healthy humidity should be easy to achieve without one, but if not a humidifier can help.
Here’s a great choice for a humidifier by a trustworthy brand (Repti Zoo):
If you want an automated system, but only need a bit of misting, this Moistenland Humidifier system can be set up to only mist once per hour, per day, or even once ever 1-30 days for a complete hands-off system.
Humidity for Shedding
For shedding, Leopard Geckos need humidity levels of about 70-80%. However, you can’t increase the humidity levels in the tank that far without harming your gecko. Instead, you need to install a “humid hide” – a cave or hiding spot with a humid substrate. Sphagnum moss is commonly used for this. (read our full guide on choosing the right moss)
Mist it with water if necessary, and make sure to keep it in a cave-like structure where humidity can build up without spreading through the entire tank. Also make sure you choose a large-enough gecko tank so you have enough space for both a humid hide and a dry hide!
Additionally, you should mist your Leopard Gecko about twice a week, especially when it’s shedding. This helps not only with overall humidity, but also with keeping their skin moist enough during shedding.
Use an artificial reptile cave like this one and add moss to create a great humid hide!
Symptoms of Humidity Problems
Humidity levels are about more than just comfort. High or low humidity can be dangerous or even deadly for your leopard gecko! If you aren’t yet familiar with the most common diseases that can endanger your leopard gecko, you should read about them – and how to avoid them!
Make sure to check in on the hygrometer in the tank daily, and check in on your gecko from time to time to look out for the following symptoms.
Symptoms of High Humidity
Respiratory issues: If the humidity in your leopard gecko’s tank is too high, they may develop respiratory problems, such as wheezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing. You might notice your gecko making unusual noises or appearing to struggle when they breathe.
Increased risk of infections: Excess moisture in the tank can promote bacterial and fungal growth, increasing the risk of infections in your gecko. You might notice symptoms like swelling, discolored skin, or a foul smell.
Mold and mildew: High humidity can lead to mold and mildew growth in your gecko’s tank, which can be harmful to both your pet and you. Keep an eye out for moldy spots on the substrate, decorations, or walls of the tank.
Symptoms of Low Humidity
Shedding problems: Low humidity can cause shedding issues in leopard geckos. In this case, their skin may become dry and brittle, making it difficult for them to shed properly.
Dehydration: Low humidity can lead to dehydration in your gecko. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, wrinkled or loose skin, and lethargy. Your gecko may also be less active than usual and may have a decreased appetite.
Dry, flaky skin: Insufficient humidity can cause your leopard gecko’s skin to become dry, flaky, and dull in appearance. This may also make them more prone to skin irritations and infections.
Impaction: Leopard geckos need some humidity to help with digestion. If their tank is too dry, they might struggle to pass waste, leading to impaction. Symptoms of impaction include bloating, constipation, and lack of appetite.
Is 50-60% humidity too high for Leopard Geckos?
While it feels normal for us, 50-60% humidity is too high and potentially dangerous for a Leopard Gecko. From respiratory issues to bacterial infections, high humidity can cause many health issues in these geckos. Aim for 30-40% humidity in the tank, and only have one or two hides (caves) with high humidity as a “shedding retreat”.
What humidity is too low for Leopard Geckos?
Humidity levels below 30% are too low, as they will make it difficult for your Leopard Gecko to shed properly. When the old skin should peel off, fluids are excreted to make the peeling easy and safe. With low humidity, this doesn’t work as well, and stuck pieces of skin can become a problem for your gecko. Around limbs and the face, these stuck pieces can cause serious harm! Limbs may even die off if the old, stuck skin restricts blood flow to the limbs or digits.
Do Leopard Geckos need a humidifier?
You can use a humidifier for your Leopard Gecko, but you don’t need to. If the tank’s humidity is low, try putting a larger water dish (but not deeper!) in the tank, and try moving it towards the warm side for increased evaporation. If that’s not enough, use a misting bottle and mist the vivarium once a week. If that’s still not enough, add some spots of sphagnum moss and mist those spots once a week. This moss retains moisture incredibly well and can hold up to 10 times its weight in water.
Do I need to mist my Leopard Gecko?
No, you don’t need to mist your Leopard Gecko directly. That is useful only while it is shedding and the old skin is starting to come off.u003cbru003eOtherwise, misting your gecko directly does not provide much benefit, as they can’t take on moisture through their skin well
Why is my Leopard Gecko always in his humid hide?
If your Leopard Gecko hides in their humid hide for only a few days, it is most likely about to shed.u003cbru003eIf this behavior doesn’t stop after a shed, there may be a few reasons:u003cbru003eIf the overall humidity in the tank is too low, a gecko may retreat into the humid hide.u003cbru003eAlso, make sure to have other hiding spots and caves available for them to hide in. Leopard Geckos spend quite some time in hiding to stay safe from predators – even in captivity. They need to have “dry hides” (with regular 30-40% humidity) both in the warm and cool zone of the tank. Without such dry hides, your gecko may use the humid hide as a regular hiding spot.