Leopard Gecko Substrate

Braden

Arachnosquire
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Hey everyone!

So I have a leopard gecko, his name is Pablo, and for the last year I have been keeping him on eco earth loose substrate. I really hate how fake and bland it looks and I wanted to do something natural. Does anybody know if they can be kept on topsoil(from a bag without fertilizers or that crap), possibly mixed with eco earth? I was hoping to put some arid plants in.

Thanks :)
 

emartinm28

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Yes, the only thing you need to worry about is to make sure that the gecko doesn’t ingest a lot of substrate during feeding time, i use a piece of slate because mine is quite the fool. The only thing that i wouldn’t recommend is using eco-earth in the mix or at least keeping it to a minimum, ime it just attracts mold and mites and makes the tank smell after a while even when it isn’t kept that wet. I’d recommend just making a mix with topsoil and maybe some botanicals and whatnot, the biodude has some good soils that can be easily replicated
 

Sterls

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You could use topsoil, depending on where you live. The dirt cheap (= no fertilizers, pesticides, etc) topsoil in my area is too clayey for my taste though so if you're from a clayey part of the country you might run into the same issue. Personally I use reptisoil, which is basically dirt and peat. It looks pretty natural imo, way better than coco fiber.

A lot of people hound against loose substrates for leopards but I've never had an issue with adults. I would keep juvies on something else just to be safe. I let hunt roaches throughout the enclosure and if I feed mealworms I put them in a dish to minimize any sub eating.

If you want to most natural look possible I'd mix several substrates. That'll get rid of the homogenous look any one would give you. I started doing it with my Ts and have carried it over to all my reptiles too.
 

viper69

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I kept mine off particulate matter to avoid swallowing and turning into a sand bag.
 

Malum Argenteum

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I kept mine off particulate matter to avoid swallowing and turning into a sand bag.
Yep, me too. One less thing to worry about. Doesn't matter how the viv looks if the animal dies, but the 'bioactive' parade isn't showing any signs of stopping.

Eco Earth is a known impaction hazard -- I've seen a peer reviewed article about it, but I couldn't hunt it up just now.
 

viper69

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Yep, me too. One less thing to worry about. Doesn't matter how the viv looks if the animal dies, but the 'bioactive' parade isn't showing any signs of stopping.

Eco Earth is a known impaction hazard -- I've seen a peer reviewed article about it, but I couldn't hunt it up just now.
Yep- bioactive is crap

Great for dart frogs and such- stupid for repltiles.
 

Malum Argenteum

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Yep- bioactive is crap

Great for dart frogs and such- stupid for repltiles.
Most reptiles -- virtually all. Some of the micro-geckos are best kept much as we keep dart frogs but warmer and drier. You're right, though, and 'stupid' is a good description.

I was hoping to get another chance to post in this thread to mention how disappointed I am by posts that suggest a certain bioactive nonsense-monger dude be patronized. I just poked around on his store site, and was really saddened by the Bioactive Tarantula Kits that not only imply poor husbandry suggestions (humidity is the big one, but they include a light and a live plant, too) but have kit sizes for enclosures far larger than would ever be used (a 24 x 18 sold for a C. versicolor, for example).
 

goliathusdavid

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I think another one of the major issues with Bioactive tanks (particularly with herps but also inverts) is the tendency to use plants and clean up crews that would never naturally interact with the animal in its native habitat. And while there are examples of this unnatural co habitation working successfully, more times than not I find it to be problematic.
 

viper69

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Most reptiles -- virtually all. Some of the micro-geckos are best kept much as we keep dart frogs but warmer and drier. You're right, though, and 'stupid' is a good description.

I was hoping to get another chance to post in this thread to mention how disappointed I am by posts that suggest a certain bioactive nonsense-monger dude be patronized. I just poked around on his store site, and was really saddened by the Bioactive Tarantula Kits that not only imply poor husbandry suggestions (humidity is the big one, but they include a light and a live plant, too) but have kit sizes for enclosures far larger than would ever be used (a 24 x 18 sold for a C. versicolor, for example).
I couldn’t agree more 100%. I’ve seen that guy when he just started- wasn’t impressed.
He’s only gotten larger, like a cancer.
 

Braden

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Ok, if eco earth is a no, and bioactive is a no, loose substrate in general is a no, what would you recommend? I have heard repti carpet is bad(cleanliness and for the gecko). Paper towel is bland. I need to think about a sub that would aid in shedding too, as glass+loose isn't the best combo.
 

Braden

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Also, what about zoo med excavator clay, the stuff you can shape and it hardens?
 

Malum Argenteum

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I keep mine on textured kraft paper, with cork bark half-rounds for warm hides (they preferentially use cork bark hides over plastic hides, even when the plastic hides are in an obviously better location) and scratching surfaces. I haven't found anything better than plastic Ziplok boxes for moist hides, so that's what I use. None of my leo enclosures are for "display" but I don't do herp display enclosures at all.

On 'bioactive': there isn't anything inherently wrong with trying to make the enclosure look nice, until appearance takes precedence over animal care, which it very often does. Making it look natural for leopard geckos would be flat rocks and maybe a half-dead scrubby branch (someone was nice enough to upload in situ pics from the best Eublepharid book that I know of here; most (all?) of the 'wild leo' videos on YT are fake, just FYI). But there won't be anything 'bioactive' in an enclosure suitably dry and ventilated for leos -- neither springtails nor isopods would tolerate it, and so setting one up would just be throwing money at a movement that's mostly misinformation.

I don't have any experience one way or the other with the clay. We used to have quality forums for learning about this sort of thing, until someone thought that moving fast and breaking things was a good idea, and so now with just a couple of exceptions we don't. (No extra change for the ranting, and I'm glad we're talking about this :)).
 

Braden

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I keep mine on textured kraft paper, with cork bark half-rounds for warm hides (they preferentially use cork bark hides over plastic hides, even when the plastic hides are in an obviously better location) and scratching surfaces. I haven't found anything better than plastic Ziplok boxes for moist hides, so that's what I use. None of my leo enclosures are for "display" but I don't do herp display enclosures at all.

On 'bioactive': there isn't anything inherently wrong with trying to make the enclosure look nice, until appearance takes precedence over animal care, which it very often does. Making it look natural for leopard geckos would be flat rocks and maybe a half-dead scrubby branch (someone was nice enough to upload in situ pics from the best Eublepharid book that I know of here; most (all?) of the 'wild leo' videos on YT are fake, just FYI). But there won't be anything 'bioactive' in an enclosure suitably dry and ventilated for leos -- neither springtails nor isopods would tolerate it, and so setting one up would just be throwing money at a movement that's mostly misinformation.

I don't have any experience one way or the other with the clay. We used to have quality forums for learning about this sort of thing, until someone thought that moving fast and breaking things was a good idea, and so now with just a couple of exceptions we don't. (No extra change for the ranting, and I'm glad we're talking about this :)).
Is reptile carpet safe, like the felt kind not the hard spikey
 

Sterls

Arachnobaron
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Is reptile carpet safe, like the felt kind not the hard spikey
Reptile carpet absorbs odors, most people I've come across struggle to clean it adequately. If you're not going to use loose sub just use paper towels or something similarly disposable.
 

sk063

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Jan 26, 2021
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Just going to chime in real quick, loose substrate is ok, " as long as your LG isn't ingesting it at feeding time, as stated above" Glad your doing your homework, but don't over think it. You can always feed your proteins " crickets, mealworms, etc." in a second enclosure. Hope that sounded helpful and not like a rant.
 

goliathusdavid

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Another option is substrate chips such as Zoomed's reptichips, which can be mixed with soil. I would also echo others by suggesting a separate feeding enclosure (it need not be luxurious, a plastic bin will be fine).
 

Matt Man

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I use a mix of things but have hard material where the feedding occurs, and also dishes where we place the mealworms. Haven't had any soil ingestion issues (knock wood) but we are pretty active in avoiding feeding errors
 

RoachCoach

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IMHO don't use topsoil from the hardware store. Y'know the plain kind with no "additives". I also garden and you know what I find in that crap that I have to pick out a lot? Glass and rusty metal chunks. You can get that stuff but I would worry even after sifting, it could still contain machine oil and w/e brand cigarette leftovers the people bagging it were smoking.
 

Freves

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Dec 3, 2007
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8
I keep mine on a 50/50 mix of play sand and coir. It looks more desert-like than a pure sand substrate in my opinion anyway. I've had my oldest female since 1988 and have experimented with different substrates over the years. This is my favorite so far.
 

Wabluska

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Bit late to the party but try mixture of 1/3 play sand and 2/3 top soil. Your gecko will love it.
 
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