If you keep a leopard gecko as a pet then one of the things you will need for their tank or enclosure is a good substrate layer or bedding. Substrate layers are used for lizards, amphibians, snakes, fish, and other animals.
There are lots of different types of substrate and not all of them are suitable for all animals. Eco Earth is a substrate that has caused a lot of debate among the gecko community.
There are mixed opinions on whether it is the right substrate to use for your gecko, making it hard to know which is best. Can you trust Eco Earth? What should you use?
To help you decide, we have put together this informative guide to Eco Earth. Keep reading to find out if this is the right choice for your Leopard Gecko or not.
What Is Eco Earth?
Eco Earth is a substrate product that is made of compressed coconut fibers. It is a very soft substrate that is great for reptiles or amphibians with sticky feet as it will prevent them from getting damaged.
It is ideal for frogs and certain types of geckos but is not suitable for all lizards. When the coconut fibers come into contact with water they expand, which creates a spongy flooring layer for the geckos to walk on. This is nice and comfortable for the geckos.
What Are The Issues With Eco Earth?
When the coconut fibers absorb water it can be helpful when you are trying to raise the levels of humidity in the enclosure. The substrate will hold onto water for a long time to keep the enclosure humid.
However, leopard geckos do not need a very humid environment so this would be more useful if you had a different type of reptile.
The trapped moisture may lead to mold growth which can cause respiratory issues and health problems. Respiratory tract infections are quite common in leopard geckos, particularly if their living environment is very moist or damp.
If your leopard gecko develops a respiratory tract infection then they might need antibiotics to recover, so you should take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Another issue with Eco Earth is that it absorbs waste products in the tank, not just water.
The moisture from the gecko’s urine and stools will be absorbed into the substrate, which means it will need to be replaced regularly to keep the enclosure clean and sanitary.
If you do not change the substrate layer often enough then your gecko will be spending too much time in their waste, which increases the risk of infections and health problems caused by harmful bacteria.
A less absorptive substrate would not need to be changed as often.
An important thing to note if you are considering using Eco Earth as a substrate is the price.
It is much more expensive than other types of substrate, and it needs to be replaced more often which means you will end up spending a lot of money.
Which Substrates Should You Avoid?
There are lots of different kinds of substrate available, but there are also some that you should avoid if you have a leopard gecko.
Sand is one of the worst substrates you can use. The grains are too fine, which can cause them to be inhaled when the gecko is breathing.
They can also be ingested when the gecko is feeding. A build-up of sand in their system can lead to respiratory problems and digestive problems which could end up being fatal for your leopard gecko.
Crushed Walnut Shells
These are other kinds of substrate that are commonly used in reptile enclosures. They can be very sharp and have been known to pierce the skin of reptiles like geckos. They are not very comfortable to walk on either.
While wood chipping might seem like a suitable substrate for a lizard- it is natural and relatively soft to walk on, you need to be careful. A lot of wood chippings have harmful toxins that can be dangerous for your reptiles.
If your leopard gecko is exposed to these harmful toxins over a long period of time it will raise their stress levels, cause irritation, and generally harm their health.
Which Substrates Are Suitable For Leopard Geckos?
There are several types of substrate that are very suitable for leopard geckos.
These are some of the best substrates and they happen to be the cheapest. They are soft to walk on and they are nice and spongy. They won’t cause any injury or damage to your gecko and the towels will absorb their waste easily.
It is really easy to replace the paper towels and clean out the enclosure, which means your gecko is less likely to develop bacterial infections or health problems.
The downside to using paper towels as a substrate is that they look quite messy and unnatural.
This makes a good substrate for geckos. You can cut it to whatever size you need to fit the bottom of the enclosure, and when it needs replacing you just lift it out and place a new piece down.
The carpet can be washed and reused, so you don’t need a brand new one each time. The carpet shouldn’t fray so there is little chance of your gecko ingesting any of it.
The only danger is if your gecko gets themselves caught on a loose thread, but this is very rare and they should be able to free themselves if this happens.
Slabs Of Slate
These can also be used as a reptile substrate. They are quite expensive, but they look great and very natural. They are usually placed on a layer of reptile gravel to keep them level.
Reptile gravel can be dangerous to geckos, but it will be underneath the slate so the chances of your gecko ingesting any are slim.
The slate slabs are easy to clean, and you can create different angles and elevations so that your gecko has a more interesting environment.
Whilst Eco Earth is a possible substrate you can use for your leopard gecko, there are more suitable and cheaper alternatives.
Why not use one of the alternatives suggested in today’s article to ensure that your leopard gecko is happy and healthy?