Tank size is extremely important in keeping your gecko happy and healthy. While a 10-gallon tank is technically large enough to house one leopard gecko from hatchling to juvenile stage, experienced gecko owners prefer a minimum of a 20-gallon tank to house your gecko until adulthood.
If you’re looking to introduce a second leopard gecko into an existing terrarium, you have to consider more than just the tank’s size. Each gecko will need their own hides, water dishes, and heat mat.
In general, you want to be very careful housing leopard geckos together. Leopard geckos do not need social interaction to thrive, and putting two together in any tank, even larger than 20 gallons, can cause your geckos stress or even bodily harm.
Can Two Leopard Geckos Live In A 20 Gallon Tank?
A good rule of thumb for cohabitating leopard geckos is 10 gallons per gecko. While more space can be a benefit, there are some gecko personalities that will not be safe together in any tank, no matter the size.
So yes, two Leopard Geckos can live in a 20-gallon tank. But make sure it is set up correctly.
Inside your 20 gallon (or larger) tank, you will want to have the following in order for both of your geckos to have the best chance at happy cohabitation:
- 2 warm hides
- 2 cool hides
- 2 humid hides
- Ample walking space
- Water dish, or two dishes depending on tank size
- Calcium dish
More space is always better, so consider getting a larger tank to allow your geckos to get the personal space they crave.
Your geckos’ ability to cohabitate will also depend upon their gender and personality.
Housing two male geckos together is a great way to end up with two injured – or worse! – geckos. Male geckos are territorial and will likely fight.
Even pairing a male with a female can result in injury, so you should only place male and female geckos together if you want them to breed. You might also want to consider pairing a male with several females, in which case you would want to increase your tank size to larger than 20 gallons.
The best combination of leopard geckos for cohabitation is female/female.
In the wild, geckos are solitary creatures. While a 20 gallon tank could be ample space for two leopard geckos, be sure to set them up for success. Observe their behaviors together – safety is always paramount!
Do My Geckos’ Sizes Matter For Tank Size?
Adult leopard gecko sizes do not vary so greatly to affect your tank size choice.
Female leopard geckos are usually 7” to 8” long, while adult male leopard geckos range from about 8” to 11”.
You will, however, want to consider your gecko’s size when determining if they will be able to thrive while sharing a tank. Larger geckos, male and female, might dominate the food supply, causing their smaller roommate to risk malnutrition.
What Type Of 20 Gallon Tank Is Best For My Leopard Gecko?
Once you decide to purchase a 20 gallon tank, you may be surprised to learn that your decision-making in the tank aisle doesn’t stop there! There are various options for your leopard gecko’s tank in terms of floor space, tank height, and materials.
In general, there are four types of materials your tank could be built out of: wood, plastic, mesh, and glass. Each of these materials has their benefits and drawbacks.
The first material you should generally cross off your list is a 100% metal mesh container.
Mesh containers are typically used for reptiles that like to climb. A metal mesh container is not recommended for soft-bellied lizard geckos. All the things that a lizard gecko needs to thrive – water, electricity, heat – make a metal container a huge risk to your little friend!
Another material you might want to avoid is plastic.
Though plastic tanks may seem like a convenient, affordable option, in reality, they are typically cheaply made and not built to last. Even in plastic tanks that are well built and made with safe plastic materials, they are still not suitable for proper heating, lighting, or ventilation.
Glass is one of the more common materials you’d find at a typical pet store.
They are on the pricier side, with a 20 gallon tank often starting in the $150-$200 range.
Glass is great for visibility and holds humidity excellently. Glass, however, is a difficult material for heat retention, and cannot be in direct contact with heat for extended periods of time.
Some gecko owners have also noticed their geckos become distressed at the sight of their own reflections! It is theorized geckos cannot recognize their reflections as a reflection, and instead might think a predator is in their enclosure.
Wood enclosures for leopard geckos are becoming increasingly common. They retain heat exceptionally well, much better than a glass tank.
The biggest drawback to these types of tanks is the lack of visibility you have into the space. This problem, however, is easily resolved by purchasing a wooden tank with one clear wall/side.
Wood does have a tendency to absorb moisture, so be sure the tank is properly treated and sealed.
For size, a single leopard gecko needs a minimum tank dimension of 12” in height and 3 sqft in floor space. Most standard 20 gallon tanks meet this minimum, but be sure to double-check.
A rectangular enclosure is ideal for regulating tank temperature, so consider the tank’s shape when purchasing!
Introducing Your Gecko To Their 20 Gallon Tank
Some owners opt to start leopard gecko babies in a smaller tank since it can be easier to keep track of their eating and bathroom habits. However, you can start hatchling geckos in a larger 20-gallon tank right from the start.
Juvenile geckos grow an inch every three months, so providing them space from the get-go can be much more convenient and help your gecko be better acclimated to larger spaces.
Can A Tank Be Too Big?
You may find when upgrading your tank size that your gecko acts spooked or skittish in the bigger space. This does not necessarily mean the tank is too big – after all, these are wild animals, and they would have a far bigger area in the wild!
Do you think your tank is too large? It’s possible you haven’t set up the enclosure properly.
If there is a lack of coverage or hides, your gecko will feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the vast space. Make sure you have plenty of coverage for your leopard gecko within the tank.
You may also have improper temperature regulation within the tank. When one spot of the tank is significantly warmer than others, your leopard gecko may not want to leave their little cozy spot.
Your tank will ideally have a warmer side and a cooler side. While having a cooler side is normal, if the cool side is too cold, your gecko will be unable to store enough heat while basking in the warm side to compensate for the overly low temperatures.
Alternatively, your warm side may not be warm enough, meaning even if the cool side of the tank is at the proper temperature, your gecko will not want to leave the warm side because they cannot bask long enough to regulate their body temperature.
Make sure your tank’s warm side is between 80-85F, with a basking area of 90-100F. The cool side should sit between 75-80F.
By keeping the tank’s temperature comfortable for your gecko, they will be more likely to utilize the wonderful space you have provided them!
What Do Leopard Geckos Do With The Space?
Although it may seem your tank is too large for your gecko to enjoy, you may just not be noticing them using the space!
The leopard gecko sleep cycle means they are most active at night, probably when you are fast asleep.
Consider setting up a night camera! You might be surprised by how often your gecko ventures out from their normal hides to explore. A seemingly timid gecko may actually just be a sleepy one, who thrives a few hours after a slow wake-up.