Leopard gecko hide areas and hide boxes

Because Leopard geckos are often shy and secretive, hiding areas are essential to make them feel more at home. One of the most important hiding places that should be supplied to Leopard geckos is a proper hide box.

Leopard geckos will need a place to hide when they are shy or scared and a place to sleep during the day. During fragile periods (e.g. when they are shedding their skins), some Leopard geckos might also prefer not to be visible.

In nature, Leopard geckos will hide and sleep in tunnels and holes under the soil. To simulate this behaviour and create a similar environment, it is important that a humidifying shelter and one or more additional hiding areas are supplied.

Without proper places to hide, Leopard geckos will feel vulnerable and exposed. Under these circumstances, some Leopard geckos will show signs of aggression, exhibit glass climbing behaviour and might refuse to eat.

Leopard gecko hiding

Hide and sleep areas for Leopard geckos can be supplied in various ways. Popular ones include hide boxes, cave-like structures and custom decorations. Many Leopard gecko keepers make their own, but various commercial Leopard gecko hiding products are available from places like Amazon.com, pet shops, reptile retailers and other online shops.

As long as a humidifying shelter is supplied, one or two additional hide areas are usually enough for most Leopard geckos. Hiding areas can be placed in various locations in larger enclosures. When heating equipment is used, hiding should be supplied in the cooler and in the warmer areas of the enclosure.

Hide areas also act as environmental enrichment and decorative items for Leopard geckos.

Hiding areas for Leopard geckos

As mentioned earlier, hiding areas for Leopard geckos can be supplied in various forms. They include hide boxes, hiding caves and custom decorations. Things to consider when choosing the right hiding areas for your Leopard gecko are its size, the size of the main enclosure, ability to clean, aesthetics and its purpose. Hiding areas should be large enough to simultaneously fit all the Leopard geckos comfortably.

Hide boxes

The most commonly used hiding spot for Leopard geckos is probably in the form of a hide box. By simply being a box-like container with an opening, a hide box can be as simple as a small plastic or wooden container. Having a lid is advantageous for easy access and cleaning. Waterproof hide boxes are also easily converted into humidifying shelters for Leopard geckos (see later). The opening of the hide box can either be high up on the side or on the top (in the lid) of the container. The opening needs to be large enough to allow access to the inside, but not too large.

Leopard gecko hiding examples

Example of a simple, home-made hide box for Leopard geckos. In this case, the hide box (bottom of the photo) is a plastic container with an opening in the lid and is filled with a moist substrate. Image Korean Gardener (CC BY YouTube)

Small to medium plastic lunch boxes are popularly used as Leopard gecko hide boxes. Plastic lunch boxes inexpensive and easy to obtain. To allow for even more privacy, solid-coloured boxes are preferred over see-through ones.

Hiding caves

Cave-like hiding areas for Leopard geckos are structures that are placed on top of the substrate. Although hiding caves serve has appropriate hiding spots and enriches the environment for Leopard geckos, their function is more often decorative.

Cave-like structures come in various shapes and sizes and are popularly available from places like Amazon.com. Non-decorative structures such as paper boxes and upside-down plastic containers can also be used for their sheltering abilities.

Apart from aesthetics, desired properties include their weight, size and ability to clean. For this reason materials such as resin and plastic is often used to produce them.

Commercial Leopard gecko hiding cave

Simple commercial hiding cave for Leopard geckos. Available from Amazon.com.

Leopard gecko decorative hiding spot

Hiding spot in the form of a decorative stomp. Available from Amazon.com

Simple Leopard gecko hide box

Example of a simple Leopard gecko hide area. This is a simple cave-like plastic container (available from Amazon.com).

Decorative hiding for Leopard geckos

Another example of a decorative hiding item for Leopard geckos (available from Amazon.com).

Custom decorations

Leopard gecko hiding spots can also be created by using custom decorations. Instead of using commercial items, many Leopard gecko keepers simply use items such as rocks, pieces of bark, card box, etc. A good example includes stacking or placing rocks to create caves and canopies.

Even though custom decorations can look more natural and add a lot of entertainment for Leopard geckos, they must be used with caution. Loosely decorated items can fall over and/or allow for areas where a leg or tail can get stuck in. Natural items are also more difficult to clean and can house insects, bacteria and parasites.

Humidifying shelters for Leopard geckos

As mentioned earlier, Leopard geckos need a cool moist area to sleep in. In nature, Leopard geckos will hide and sleep in tunnels and holes under the soil. Although the desert surface areas are warm and dry, the soil underneath the earth is cool and moist. For pet Leopard geckos, such an environment needs to be recreated by supplying a humidifying shelter.

Apart from serving as a place to hide and sleep, humidifying shelters will also aid in healthy skin shedding, help increase the humidity and serve as a place for females to safely deposit eggs.

In its simplest form, a humidifying shelter for Leopard geckos is an enclosed area with a moist substrate. A common way to make a humidifying shelter is by using a waterproof hide box (mentioned earlier) layered with peat/sphagnum moss mixtures that are wetted with an equal amount of water. Vermiculite and various other substrates/bedding can also be used. Routine/regular misting will aid in keeping the substrate moist. The substrate should not be soggy wet, but feel moist by touching it.

Although Leopard geckos are known not to soil the areas they sleep in, the hiding areas should still be washed and disinfected from time to time (at least once a month). Old and mouldy hide box substrates should also be replaced regularly.

Humidifying shelters are also used by gravid females to deposit their eggs (see Breeding boxes for Leopard geckos below).

Breeding boxes for Leopard geckos

During the breeding season, gravid females will need a moist, secure area to deposit their eggs. A breeding box for Leopard geckos is basically a hide box converted into a humidifying shelter. To keep the eggs from getting infected, commercial substrates for the purpose of egg deposition should be preferred.