Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience. If you’re a proud owner of a leopard gecko, you must be aware of the heated debate about which substrate to use in your Leo cage. There is no clear answer to this question and it is mostly based on personal choice. Here are my “top five” acceptable substrates.

5. Unprinted Newspapers

Unprinted newspaper is an excellent choice for a gecko cage substrate. The texture of newspaper makes it more absorbent than other types of paper. This makes cleaning Leo’s cage a lot easier! Can I use regular newspaper? You can, but I don’t recommend it because of the ink. Ink from printed newspapers can quickly transfer to your pet’s feet and stomach, causing unnecessary irritation and dry skin. Where can I buy unprinted newspapers? This can usually be purchased for quite cheap from the local newspaper.

4. Bath towel

If you are a “green” person, this will be your best choice in substrates. Bath towels can be purchased for very cheap at stores like Target or WalMart. Not only are they inexpensive, but they can be washed and reused, saving you money. Keep these two things in mind when using kitchen or bath towels. First, make sure it’s tightly woven so your leopard gecko doesn’t get caught in the fibers in its mouth. Second, make sure to use a very small amount of detergent (if any) when washing your towels so that you don’t irritate the gecko’s skin.

3. Vinyl tiles

Inexpensive, durable and easy to clean are the three words that best describe this possible substrate. Another benefit of using vinyl tiles is that you will be able to cut them to size for your tank (it will get better)? Those aren’t the only cool reasons to use vinyl tiles. Think about the decorative possibilities of all the different colors and types of tiles available.

The only downside to using vinyl tiles is the glue. You’ll want to find tiles that don’t have any glue on the back, because if you use a tank bottom heater, the heated glue will release toxic fumes that can be deadly to your pet.

2. Reptile Carpet

This is the Astro Turf for your gecko! Designed for reptiles, this is a great product. Ease of cleaning and a variety of sizes are some of its advantages. The only downside to this product is its price, as it’s more expensive than other options, and it’s safe. You just need to be careful and make sure your Leo doesn’t get his mouth stuck on the carpet fibers like a towel.

1. Slate

This is my favorite substrate. Hard, natural and thermal mass. Using slate as a substrate is a more natural material that can be found in its native environment. I love slates because I can cut them to the size of my tank and they also absorb heat. My geckos like to lay on them to keep warm. Another bonus is that it can also be used to make leather and other creative things for your Leo to play with.

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