Leopard geckos are great pet reptiles known for their easy care requirements and docile personalities. Even though leopard geckos are relatively easy to care for, all reptiles have special housing requirements.
One of the biggest questions that come up among reptile owners is whether or not they should mist their pets.
So, do leopard geckos need misting?
Leopard geckos don’t need regular misting if they’re housed in an appropriate environment. Leopard geckos thrive in dry climates and don’t do well in overly moist environments. However, you might find that misting your gecko around shedding time helps them retain moisture and to shed more easily.
Before we get into why geckos don’t need regular misting, we’ll talk about their natural environment and how it affects how much moisture they need.
Understanding The Leopard Gecko’s Natural Habitat
When we’re trying to figure out what’s best for our pet reptiles, it’s always a good idea to look back at their natural habitats.
Understanding a reptile’s natural habitat can help us make informed decisions about how to keep them happy and healthy in captivity.
Although we often think about leopard geckos roaming vast sandy expanses, they tend to avoid areas where the primary substrate is sand. Leopard geckos stick to rocks and grass where to ground is made of dirt, soft clay, or sometimes sand.
Geckos can withstand wide temperature ranges, just like many other animals that live in the desert. While the summer can get really hot, winters can be so cold that leopard geckos go into hibernation underground.
One common thing amongst leopard gecko habitats is that they’re dry and arid. Unlike chameleons who need almost constant misting, leopard geckos thrive in dry environments.
So, why do some reptiles need more misting than others?
Why Is Misting Good For Your Pet Reptiles?
Misting can be a great thing to incorporate into your daily routine for your pet reptile.
Misting is one of the easiest ways to help keep reptiles hydrated. Reptiles are fascinating creatures and one of the big ways they’re different from us is how they regulate their water intake.
Just like us, reptiles can drink water. But, reptiles also are able to absorb water through their skin to maintain hydration.
Reptile skin is semi-permeable and water can move through the skin layer. This means that if a reptile needs more hydration, its skin can absorb it. But, if their environment is too dry, they might become dehydrated.
When you mist a pet reptile, you essentially line its entire enclosure with small water droplets. The misting helps to make sure that your reptile doesn’t become dehydrated.
Misting can also help pet reptiles when they’re having a difficult shed. If you notice that your pet didn’t shed their skin completely, you can always try to mist them. That should help them slough off the rest of their old skin.
In general misting is good for many reptiles, but the frequency varies by species.
How Often Do Leopard Geckos Need To Be Misted?
Leopard geckos are one of the drier pet reptiles. Since these geckos like hot arid climates, they don’t do well in humidity.
Leopard geckos don’t need to be misted regularly, as long as their enclosure is the right humidity. Leopard geckos aren’t used to having much moisture in the air or on their skin and it can actually make them sick.
Respiratory infections in reptiles are common side effects of humidity imbalances in captivity. Misting your leopard gecko too often might lead to a respiratory infection.
While these infections are completely treatable, it’s almost better not to put your pet in this situation at all. So, you want to avoid over misting your gecko, even though it’s tempting.
The only time you really need to mist your gecko is when they’re having issues with shedding. While this might indicate a larger problem, like dehydration, misting is a quick and easy solution to dry skin.
You’ll know that your gecko is having issues with shedding if a day has passed and they still have the same pieces of skin hanging off of them.
How Often Should You Mist A Leopard Gecko Enclosure?
There isn’t really a need to ever mist your leopard gecko’s enclosure.
Since you need to keep your gecko’s enclosure pretty dry, misting is probably the last thing you’ll want to do.
However, if you do find that your reptile’s tank is too dry, you can try misting the walls of the tank to bring the humidity levels up.
Plus, if you live in a climate that’s even drier than what a gecko prefers, you might find that you do need semi-regular misting to keep humidity levels up.
How Do You Mist A Pet Reptile?
So, when it’s time to mist your leopard gecko, how do you do it?
There are two main strategies to properly mist a pet reptile. For geckos, you won’t need to mist often and can probably go with the more minimal choice. That being said, we’ll provide information on both just in case.
The easiest and most affordable way to mist your reptiles is to purchase a manual mister. A manual mister is a fancy word for a nice spray bottle.
You can buy one of these bottles at a pet store, or almost any other store. Just make sure whatever spray bottle you buy mists lightly and doesn’t squirt too directly.
Manually misting your reptile is as easy as it sounds once you have the mister. You can spray your pet once or twice until they’re covered in tiny water droplets.
If you’re spraying the enclosure, spray the walls so that they’re damp but not soaked.
Remember, you’ll only want to mist your leopard gecko as needed. Unlike some other tropical gecko species, leopard geckos don’t actually need regular misting.
If you do live in a super dry climate, you might want to consider purchasing an automatic mister.
Automatic misters can be set up inside the aquarium and programmed to spray a few times a day. In most cases, leopard geckos won’t need one of these setups.
But, if you notice that your gecko is looking dehydrated on the regular or you can’t keep the humidity up in your enclosure, you might want to invest in one of these misters.
If keeping humidity high enough for your leopard gecko is an issue, you can also try a few other strategies that we mention in our article here before investing in an automatic mister.
How Humid Should A Leopard Gecko Tank Be?
So, how humid should a leopard gecko tank be? How do you even know when it’s time to give a little misting?
A leopard gecko’s enclosure should always fall between 30% and 40% humidity. The way you can track and monitor the humidity in your leopard gecko’s tank is by purchasing a hygrometer.
Hygrometers are meters that measure the relative humidity in the air. You should place a few in your reptile’s enclosure. They’re pretty affordable and usually come paired with a thermometer.
Knowing how humid your reptile’s environment it is so important. Not only will it help you to understand when you need to do a little misting, but it will also give your pet a better quality of life overall.
What Happens When Humidity Is Too High?
It’s difficult for an enclosure to be too dry for a leopard gecko. But, if an enclosure gets too moist, it could be an issue.
When the humidity is too high in a tank, it can lead to upper respiratory infections, as we talked about earlier in this article.
High humidity can also lead to cooler temperatures overall. Environments that are humid will also grow mold more easily and could be more difficult to clean.
So besides not misting the tank regularly, how else can you keep humidity levels low?
How To Keep Humidity Low In Your Reptile’s Tank
If you live in a relatively moist environment, it will be important for you to be able to balance your leopard gecko’s humidity.
Keeping humidity low isn’t always easy, but we have some insider knowledge that might help you keep a desert-like atmosphere for your pet.
Check Your Substrate
The substrate is one of the biggest factors in humidity.
Substates made of wood chips, moss, or plants hold onto moisture. These substrates will be naturally wetter and make it hard to keep humidity levels low.
For leopard geckos, you don’t really want to use any of these substrates anyways. Leopard geckos do well on simple substrates like reptile carpets, dirt, or paper towels.
These substrates won’t hold moisture and should also be pretty easy to clean. Even though sand stays dry, it can get impacted in your leopard gecko’s bowels if ingested.
Obviously, if your substrate is appropriate, you’ll be able to occasionally mist your gecko and not be worried about water buildup or excess moisture.
This video does a deep dive on leopard gecko substrates if you’re interested in learning more!
Another way to lower humidity in a tank is to increase ventilation. This means that instead of having an enclosed tank, you might want to choose one with mesh sides or a mesh top.
The metal mesh helps an environment breathe so that the air inside doesn’t get muggy. In extreme cases, you can also use a fan to lower humidity levels.
Just be aware that a fan might dry things out too much, and then you’ll need to pull out your mister again.
Use A Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers can come in handy if you live in a naturally moist environment.
It can be hard to keep a reptile’s tank dry when the air outside is much more saturated with water.
Adding a dehumidifier to the room will make it easier to regulate your leopard geckos’ relative humidity. Dehumidifiers will also help to prevent mold growth and respiratory infections.
Change Your Water Dish
Surprisingly, the water dish you use can greatly affect the humidity in a tank.
Although leopard geckos might not drink water often, they need to have water readily available at all times.
The size of a leopard gecko’s water dish should be pretty proportional to its own body size. You don’t want a dish to be too large. Not only will a large water dish raise the humidity, but it will also make it hard for your pet to get a good drink of water.
Try using a small shallow dish of water. That way, if your pet decides to jump in, there’s no danger of them drowning.
A smaller dish will keep the humidity levels low for your desert dweller.
Add Some Rice
If you’re really struggling to keep your reptile’s enclosure dry, you can resort to the old rice trick.
Rice is super absorbent of moisture. Try filling a sock up with rice and then putting it in your reptile’s tank.
You can hide the sock behind a corner or anywhere you want in the enclosure. Even though this sounds a little strange, we promise, it works.
For more in-depth information on how to keep humidity levels low, read our article about it here. That way, when it’s time to mist your leopard gecko, you won’t need to worry about raising the humidity too much.
Reptile keeping is a balancing game. First, your gecko might be too hot, then too cold. Next, their enclosure might be too humid or too dry. Finally, they might go from being dehydrated to having too much water in the air around them.
Misting is a great tool that you can use to help balance out your leopard gecko’s enclosure.
Since leo’s are a dryer species, you shouldn’t need to use the mister very often. But, when it’s time for them to shed, you’ll probably be happy that you have one! Just try not to use it more than necessary and you’ll be good to go.