Imagine being able to combine your leopard gecko with all your other reptiles in one enclosure. It’d be like some sort of Noah’s Ark…but with only reptiles. Amazing, right?
Well, go ahead and stop imagining because it’s (unfortunately) not a good idea for leopard geckos. Honestly, it’s a terrible idea.
But what can live with a leopard gecko and why is combing leos with other species (usually) not a good idea?
As solitary creatures, leopard geckos generally shouldn’t live with reptiles of any other species and even adding other leopard geckos is a bad idea. If the enclosure is large enough, a leopard gecko may be able to live with a tortoise but it’s usually not worth the effort, and leopard geckos are best housed alone.
I know, that’s a bit disappointing but let’s take a closer look at why leopard geckos do best when they live alone.
5 Reasons Why Leopard Geckos Shouldn’t Have Tank Mates
Let’s keep things simple and break down four big reasons why leopard geckos do better when they live alone.
1. Leopard Geckos Are Naturally Solitary
As with most other lizards, leopard geckos aren’t social creatures and would live solitary lives in their natural rocky desert habitat. Not only that, but leopard geckos would defend their territory from other species and even other leopard geckos.
In other words, leopard geckos aren’t team players and you shouldn’t expect to change hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary instinct when you add a scaley tank mate into the mix.
Even if leopard geckos seem to get along with their reptile roommate, it doesn’t mean they aren’t stressed by having a competitor so close by. So instead of trying to find a tank mate, it’s best to lean into your leo’s natural instincts and allow them to live alone.
2. Leopard Geckos Have Different Needs From Other Species
Keeping a single reptile can be hard enough but adding an entirely different species makes things significantly more difficult. For example, while it’s generally agreed that leopard gecko can do fine without UVB lighting, that’s not true for many other species.
Then there’s humidity and leopard geckos are on the low end of humidity requirements but many other geckos come from tropical regions that do require higher humidity.
But a little extra humidity is a lot worse than it may sound at first and a mismatch from their natural requirements can cause respiratory illness along with many other problems- in either species.
You also have to contend with the preferred habitat of each species and while leopard geckos like rocky terrain, other species need extra heights. Sure, leopard geckos can climb but it’s not a primary need for them like it is with other species.
Leopard geckos are crepuscular which means they’re active during the evening and early hours while other reptiles may be active at different times. That can disrupt the dynamics of the enclosure and cause stress for both species.
The list goes on and on with everything from food and humidity to heights and hours but the short version is this: trying to meet the needs of just one leopard gecko takes effort but adding an additional species makes it much harder to get everything in one enclosure.
3. To Make Monitoring Health Easier
Poop is important. More specifically, the poop of any of your reptiles can tell you a lot about their health but if you can’t attribute a problematic poop to a reptile then you’re stuck guessing.
Eventually, you’d need to separate the reptiles anyways to figure out which species is having the problem. It’s not just poop you need to worry about but also vomit, blood or any other outputs that could be a sign of an unhealthy leopard gecko or reptile.
If you try to combine your leopard gecko with a much larger species, then you can obviously tell where the poop came from but that also sets you up for much bigger problems…
4. So That Every Reptile Eats (And Doesn’t Get Eaten)
Besides outputs, you also need to monitor what leos or any other pet is eating.
If you’re trying to introduce another insectivorous lizard as a tank mate, then it can be very difficult to tell which lizard is eating what. Since leopard geckos aren’t exactly known for their impressive hunting ability, it’s likely that they will be the ones getting left behind during mealtime.
Weighing your reptiles can help you track health, and is a good practice even without cohabitation, but as soon you find a problem you’ll need to separate species anyways.
But sharing meals isn’t the only problem and if you try to add another species that’s too large or too small it could end with someone getting eaten. Even though leopard geckos primarily eat insects, they’re still opportunistic hunters and they’re more than willing to eat a small lizard if there’s one available.
On the other side of things, your leopard gecko could start to look tasty in the eyes of a larger reptile.
So whether it ends in not sharing food or becoming food, combining leopard geckos with other reptiles is rarely a good idea.
5. Conflicts, Confrontations, and Fights
If the other reasons weren’t enough to deter you, then fighting between leopard geckos and other species should be.
While fights may not always be fatal, they can commonly lead to lost toes and high veterinary bills- all of which are reason enough to avoid putting leopard geckos with other animals.
Even if your leopard gecko and their interspecies tank mate seem to be getting along, things can change in an instant and it’s not possible to monitor your herps 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, all it takes is an instant for conflict to turn deadly depending on which species are involved.
It’s also likely that there’s still plenty of stress involved which is not only bad for your leopard gecko’s health but can also make it harder for you to build a bond or get them to like you.
What About Living With Other Leopard Geckos?
If living with other species isn’t a good fit, you might be wondering about matching leopard geckos with other leopard geckos but this pairing has most of the same problems you’d see with any other species along with others (like baby leopard geckos) that are specific to two leos.
In other words, it’s not a good idea. But you can read all about why having multiple leopard geckos live together isn’t a good option in this article.
So, What Animals Can Live With Leopard Geckos?
We’ve talked a lot about reptiles and other species that aren’t a good fit for leopard geckos but what about the ones that are?
As is often the case, tortoises make the best tank mate for leopard geckos and many other reptiles. It’s not a perfect match but the docile tortoise is usually unphased by the addition of a leopard gecko and vice versa.
Tortoises are vegetarian which means they won’t be in competition with a leopard gecko’s insect meals. That will immediately eliminate many opportunities for conflict.
The big downside is that many tortoises can become quite large which means you’ll need a significantly bigger enclosure than you would for a leopard gecko living alone. As we’ve already mentioned, you’ll also need to make sure the husbandry needs of your tortoise are met and they’re usually quite different from the needs of a leopard gecko.
Beyond tortoises, you can also let crickets live with your leopard gecko but you know how that will end!
Frequently Asked Questions About Leos Living With Other Animals
We’ve covered most of the big picture information but let’s take a closer look at some of the specific questions around leos living with other species.
Can A Leopard Gecko Live With A Bearded Dragon?
Leopard geckos and bearded dragons aren’t a great match due to their different husbandry needs, active times, diet, and size differences. While they are omnivores bearded dragons will be interested in many of the same food items that leopard geckos are which can lead to conflict.
Bearded dragons are active during the day while leopard geckos are active in the early morning and evening. This isn’t ideal, especially in anything besides a very large enclosure. There’s also a significant size difference between these two species and leopard geckos may get beat up by the beardie.
So while it’s possible for bearded dragons and leopard geckos to be friends while they’re outside of the enclosure, they don’t make great tank mates.
Can Leopard Geckos Live With Other Lizards?
As asocial and solitary lizards, leopard geckos do the best living on their own. Adding an additional lizard can lead to fights and conflicts, problems monitoring health, and can greatly complicate husbandry as you need to meet the needs of two different species in the same enclosure.
Can Crested Geckos and Leopard Geckos Live Together?
Even though they’re both geckos, crested geckos and leopard geckos are still likely to fight if they have to live in the same enclosure. Additionally, the arboreal and nocturnal crested gecko has a very different set of needs compared to the crepuscular and terrestrial leopard gecko.
While the dream of a big lizard family is appealing (and I know I’m not the only one who likes the idea) it’s not practical for a long list of reasons. Not only does it make husbandry more difficult as you then need to meet the needs of two species, but the risk of conflict is just too high. Still, there are some reptiles that can get along with other reptiles but it’s the exception and not the rule.
Even though leopard geckos seem calm, docile and even a little derpy these little guys take their territory very seriously which can quickly lead to fights with their tank mates.
The one possible exception are tortoises who are pretty much legendary roommates in the reptile world. But even that requires some experience to make work.
What do you think?