Many beginners think a Leopard Gecko’s habitat is dry and arid with no humidity.
This is a common mistake that can lead to serious health problems and a shortened lifespan. Leopard Geckos actually do need humidity! Without it they can quickly become dehydrated and have trouble shedding.
One simple way to fix low humidity is by using a moist leopard gecko hide.
Using a moist hide for leopard geckos provides them with an area of high humidity where they can hang out. It will make shedding simple and easy and stop them from becoming dehydrated.
If you want to learn how to make a humid hide for leopard geckos then keep reading. We share our seven best tips for building the perfect one.
Leopard Gecko Humidity
Leopard Geckos are native to the rocky deserts and outcrops of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and some parts of Western India. Because of their natural desert habitat many keepers incorrectly think that these lizards need very low humidity.
Surprisingly a Leopard Gecko’s enclosure should have a humidity level of around 40% at all times. They require less humidity than tropical species like ball pythons, but it is still very important for them.
Low humidity of 30% or under can lead to respiratory infections, pneumonia, skin infections and even problems shedding.
Even though Leopard Geckos get most of their hydration from their diet in extreme cases of low humidity they can also become dehydrated.
If you are having trouble with low humidity in your Leopard Gecko’s enclosure there are a few ways to increase it:
- Moist hide (i.e. humid)
- Using a glass lid
- Misting the enclosure
- Putting in a larger water bowl
- Adding high humidity substrates like sphagnum moss
Moist hides for leopard geckos are usually enclosed plastic containers that have a substrate which keeps moisture easily. Good substrates to use include sphagnum or peat moss as they naturally create high levels of humidity.
The humidity level in a leopard gecko moist hide can be as high as 80%. This is nearly double the 40% that the rest of their enclosure should be kept at.
Using one is a great idea as it allows for an area of high humidity without raising the humidity in the entire enclosure. They provide a safe, comfortable area for your lizard to retreat to if they find themselves a little dehydrated, constipated or having trouble shedding.
Having an area of high humidity is especially important when it comes time for a leopard gecko to shed.
Low humidity often causes shedding issues and can even cause their shed to get stuck on their body. This stuck shed if not properly fixed can be retained over multiple sheds and cause serious damage. Severe stuck shed has even been known to cause tail and toe amputation.
If you have decided that a moist hide is exactly what your Leopard Gecko setup needs, then keep reading. They are quick and simple to make and you likely already have everything you need to make one.
How To Make A Moist Hide For Leopard Geckos
- Plastic container and lid (7″x4″x4″)
- Substrate (Sphagnum or peat moss)
You can use many different containers as the base for your moist hide. One thing that you should keep in mind is the material that the container is made from. Plastic will be best because materials like glass can get way too hot. Plastic also has a very high melting point so it will not be affected by the high ground temperatures.
Leopard geckos need a ground temperature of between 86°F and 92°F measured at the hottest part.
In general the circumference of the container needs to be around twice the size of your Leopard Gecko. You can also measure this by taking the length and the width of your container and making sure those two sides combined are longer than your Leopard Gecko. Do not use a container that is too small or they will feel cramped. They just need to be able to curl comfortably within it and turn around easily. Containers larger than twice their body size are too big and will have a hard time retaining humidity.
Typically adults reach seven to ten inches long so a hide measuring 7″x4″x4″ should work comfortably.
Recycled plastic containers like those used for deli meat or margarine are normally a perfect size. These containers will usually have lids that are extremely helpful for changing the substrate.
You will then need a substrate that holds humidity very well. Keepers often choose a substrate like sphagnum moss or peat moss.
Peat or sphagnum moss for leopard geckos are ideal substrates for keeping high humidity levels. Moss in particular is a very popular substrate as it can hold a lot of water. You can also buy large bags of moss designed for reptile enclosures. For an average sized adult you can expect to use about a handful of moss.
Substrates like coconut fiber or aspen bedding are far too dry to use. These substrates do not hold moisture well and should not be used. Its entire purpose is to be humid!
Some keepers suggest using damp paper towels as a substrate. Paper towels are not recommended because they are usually too damp and can lead to respiratory infections.
Once you have picked a substrate you will need something sharp to cut an opening in the container. This can be a variety of things from scissors, to box cutters. You will use it to create the entrance.
If the plastic container you are using is made of thicker plastic that is hard to cut, you can also use a hot knife. Hot tools have the added benefit of creating smooth edges that won’t injure your pet. Once you have gathered your three materials, it is time to start building.
Luckily making one is relatively easy, but it is possible to make mistakes.
Cutting The Entrance
When making a leopard gecko moist hide the first thing you need to do is to take your plastic container and measure the entrance. This entryway will be used by your gecko to enter and exit their new hideout place!
The entrance needs to measure between 1.5x to 2x as tall and wide as your leopard gecko. For an average adult this means the entrance should be three inches tall and four inches wide. It needs to be big enough so your lizard can easily come and go, but not too big that they will feel unsafe. A big entrance will also make it hard to keep high humidity levels in the hide.
Take a marker pen and at the bottom of your plastic container mark an entrance measuring three inches tall and four inches wide. Make sure this entrance is at the bottom of your container when it is placed lid up.
It is usually easier to place the plastic container lid up with the substrate in the bottom. This makes it easy to change the substrate as the lid can easily be removed.
Now take your sharp tool and cut an entry hole on one side of your container. Make sure that the edges are smooth. Sharp, jagged edges can cause injury to your lizard when they try to use their new hide. If you are having issues with sharp edges a hot knife can help melt down the edges and make them smooth.
At this point you should have a plastic container that has one entry hole. The rest of the plastic container should be entirely closed, including the lid.
Adding The Substrate
The next step to making a leopard gecko moist hide is to add the substrate.
Sphagnum or peat moss are ideal substrates. These substrates lock in moisture and provide the perfect humid environment.
When you place your substrate in the container you will want to cover the floor completely and make it around two inches thick. Do not put too much substrate as it can make the container feel too small for your leopard gecko to use it comfortably.
For an average humid leopard gecko hide you will want to use about a handful of moss.
Misting The Substrate
Once the substrate is added to the container it should be misted with distilled water. Misting will help to increase the humidity level from 40% up to the 80% needed for moist hides.
A light misting will be sufficient. In general, less is more.
The substrate should be damp with no water pooling on the bottom of your hide.
Too much standing water can cause respiratory infections like pneumonia. You can avoid this by checking for standing water in the bottom of your container and making sure the humidity stays below 80%.
Placing The Hide
Now that you have successfully built a DIY moist hide for leopard geckos it is time to place it in the enclosure. You should always place it on the warm side of the enclosure and ideally above an under-tank heater.
There are two things that go into making humidity, water and heat.
Since we already have water with our misted substrate, all we need is the heat.
Most keepers use under-tank heaters for leopard geckos because of their need for belly heat.
You will want to place it somewhere in the enclosure that is warm. It usually does best on top of an under-tank heater. This provides the necessary heat, without reaching dangerously hot temperatures. If you place your humid hide directly under a heat bulb the temperatures inside can get too hot.
Do not place it on the cool side of the enclosure. Cold temperatures combined with water is a recipe for pneumonia and breathing issues.
You have now successfully built the hide, but how do you know it is working?
Monitoring The Hide
It is important to monitor both the temperature and humidity level.
Temperatures within the moist hide should remain fairly high. Ideally your hide should be between 83-90°F. You can check the temperature easily by removing the lid and using a temperature gun.
It is normal for the hide’s humidity to be anywhere between 70 and 80%. These high humidity levels will be perfect for a Leopard Gecko that is dehydrated or having trouble shedding.
Once you are sure that your temperatures and humidity are where they need to be, you know that the hide is doing its job.
The general humidity in your Leopard Gecko’s enclosure should remain at around 40% at all times.
Step by Step Summary
All it takes is a recycled plastic container and lid, sphagnum or peat moss substrate and some scissors to be well on your way to a great leopard gecko moist hide.
- Get a plastic container that is twice the size of your Leopard Gecko. Recycled margarine or deli meat containers work great. Most adults do well with a container that measures 7″x4″x4″.
- Use scissors or a sharp tool to cut an entry hole that is three inches tall and four inches wide. Avoid making sharp edges and use a hot knife if you are having trouble making smooth edges.
- Add two inches of substrate like sphagnum or peat moss. Avoid dry substrates like coconut fiber or aspen or overly damp substrates like wet paper towels. Cover the entire floor with two inches of substrate.
- Mist the substrate with distilled water, but avoid soaking it completely. Make sure water is not pooling on the bottom. Too much water can lead to breathing problems.
- Place it on the warm side of the enclosure, ideally on top of an under-tank heater. Avoid placing it directly under lights.
- Monitor the temperature and humidity in your moist hide to ensure that it is working. Temperatures should be between 80-90°F and humidity between 70-80%.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Do You Place A Moist Hide For Leopard Geckos?
Humid hides should always be placed on the warm side of the enclosure. The ideal spot is on top of an under-tank heater where temperatures can be between 83 and 90°F. Avoid placing it directly under any lights or on the cool side of the enclosure.
Should I Spray My Leopard Gecko With Water?
Spraying your leopard gecko with water is perfectly fine and they often enjoy it. Lightly misting your gecko can help if they are dehydrated and they will often use the opportunity to drink the water droplets. You should be careful when misting their enclosure as excess water in the substrate can lead to mold issues. Excess water can also lead to increased humidity which can cause respiratory infections and breathing problems.
Why Is My Lizard Not Using His Humid Hide?
Not using a moist hide can actually be due to a number of reasons. If the hide is new they may just be taking some time to get used to it. Other reasons could be because of improper setup. It could be that the hide is too hot, too cold, not big enough, too big, or the entryway is too small. When in doubt double check that you followed all of the steps above in the step by step guide!
Humidity is an extremely important part of any type of leopard geckos care.
Leopard Geckos should have a humidity level of around 40% in their tank at all times. The humidity level in a leopard gecko moist hide can be as high as 70 to 80%.
Low humidity levels are often associated with stuck shed and one of the simplest ways to combat low humidity is with a moist hide.
Making a humid hide for Leopard Geckos is a great way to make sure they will never have trouble with shedding or dehydration.
Let us know how you got on in the comments.