As much as we might wish it wasn’t, cleaning your Leopard Gecko’s tank regularly is a necessary part of the routine. From left-over food to poop and bacterial infections, a gecko’s habitat needs to be cleaned about once every 1-2 months.
Why is cleaning your gecko’s tank necessary?
The two main reasons for cleaning are feces and possible uneaten food. Leopard Geckos tend to pick one corner, and use it to poop every time. This makes it easier to remove it quickly – but it also means it builds up quickly if you don’t clean up regularly. Ideally, you remove this dried waste once every 1-2 days with a paper towel.
While most food is served in some kind of feeding dish, ideally one that the feeder insect can’t escape from, it might still sometimes happen. If a worm escapes, it can end up burrowing and eventually turning into a pupa and eventually a beetle or moth (depending on the worm). To prevent this, regular cleaning helps.
Finally, any kind of dirt, food, and feces help bacteria to build up in the tank. If left unchecked, this will eventually become a big health problem for your little Gecko. Apart from the visual appeal of a clean gecko tank, keeping it clean and sanitized also helps prevent disease and illness.
How often should you clean your Leopard Gecko tank?
Spot-cleaning should be done every one to two days (mainly dried feces and any food leftovers).
Spot-cleaning rocks and environment should be done about once a week with a wet paper towel.
A deep, thorough cleaning of the entire tank should be done about once every one to two months. This usually includes replacing (soil/clay/sand-like substrate) or cleaning the substrate (mats/tiles/…).
Benefits of a bioactive tank for Leopard Geckos
A bioactive tank is a great option for Leopard Geckos to both provide a natural environment and live ecosystem, while also offering a lot of help with your cleaning routine. With a host of tiny insects and worms, this “clean up crew” naturally take care of most waste that ends up in or on the substrate. This makes for a long-lasting substrate that does not need to be replaced often. The more natural and lively substrate also offers additional stimulation to your Leopard Gecko, as it is the closest to their natural habitat. Read more about choosing a substrate here.
Supplies you need
To thoroughly clean a Leopard Gecko’s tank, you need a few supplies:
- Latex (or similar) gloves (singular use) to wear while cleaning (like these)
- A reptile-friendly soap or gentle dish soap
- Paper towels and a sponge
- Reptile-friendly disinfectant spray (Reptile Terrarium Cleaner)
- A large bowl for rinsing items
- A mesh scoop for cleaning out poop helps if you have sand-like substrate
Cleaning your reptile’s tank in 3 Steps
When it’s time to do a thorough cleanse of your pet’s tank, follow this procedure to get it done quickly and safely:
Step 1 – Preparation
First, you’ll need to move your gecko to a separate tank for a while. This can simply be an empty box – just make sure it’s high enough to prevent your gecko from escaping, and make sure it has air holes if it has a lid. You can also use a small terrarium for this, if you still have your tank from when your gecko was a baby, for example.
Put on your one-time-use gloves (always throw them away directly after the cleaning is done).
Then, take out all decorative items, rocks, and supplies in the tank.
If you have a natural, bioactive setup, only take out everything artificial.
If you have a fine-grained or earth-like substrate, you’ll likely need to replace it entirely. If this needs to be done every 1-2 months with these deep cleanings or less frequently depends on the exact substrate you use.
If you have a substrate like reptile mats or tiles, take them out for cleaning as well.
Step 2 – Cleaning the tank
First, wipe off the empty cage with a dry paper towel. Next, use a sponge with warm, soapy water, and wipe off the entire tank. This cleans off the more obvious and bigger types of dirt. Once that’s done, clean and dry the entire tank with dry paper towels.
Next, spray on the reptile-safe disinfectant on the walls. A glass tank helps here, as glass tends to be very easy to clean and stays clean longer.
The disinfectant should be left on for as long as the manufacturer recommends. This can be anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. Once that’s done, wipe everything clean with a paper towel again, then let it air-dry for a bit to ensure that everything is clean and dry.
While waiting during this step, you can do step 3 in parallel.
Step 3 – Cleaning all items
Just like the tank, all decorative items should be cleaned with a sponge, first. For this, you can use a large bowl with water and safe dish soap, soak all the items in it, then rub them with a sponge one by one.
Next, wash them off with warm water briefly, then dry them off with paper towels.
After that, like with the tank itself, spray all items with disinfectant, wait for it as long as necessary, then wipe them off, too.
If you have a mat or tiles as substrate, these should now be washed, too.
Once everything is thoroughly cleaned, put everything back in its place (including replacing the substrate if necessary), then bring your little gecko home.
Finally, make sure to also throw away the gloves and thoroughly clean your hands to prevent any bacteria from irritating or infecting your skin.
How to make cleaning easier
As mentioned above, a bioactive habitat takes care of a few things – the substrate doesn’t need to be replaced often, and the clean-up crew takes care of most dirt and waste. Real plants also don’t have to be taken out to be washed and disinfected (unless they have started wasting away or rotting).
Alternatively, easy-to-clean substrate (like stone or ceramic mats and tiles), easy-to-replace substrate (like mats or tiles), and décor that’s easy to take out and rinse make this whole process less effort.