To stay healthy and active, pet leopard geckos require a habitat that mimics their natural environments as much as possible. Since these reptiles are native to arid and semi-arid regions- which typically have low humidity- the humidity inside your pet’s tank shouldn’t be higher than the recommended levels. Read on for a detailed guide on the ideal humidity levels for leopard geckos, determining if the humidity is too high or too low, and how to increase or lower the humidity levels inside your pet reptile’s tank.
Ideal humidity level for a leopard gecko
Leopard geckos prefer a relatively dry living habitat. As such, the humidity on the cool side of the vivarium should fall no lower than 20%, while that on the hot side should be no higher than 40%. Failure to avail the optimal humidity conditions for your pet leopard gecko can affect the shedding process, cause dehydration, and increase chances of disease infection.
Signs the humidity is too high
The most obvious sign that the humidity inside your pet reptile’s tank is too high is if the hygrometer reading exceeds 40%. A hygrometer is a humidity sensor machine that you can place inside the leopard gecko’s enclosure to measure the humidity levels.
Also, if your pet’s tank has a steamy or foggy appearance, with condensed moisture droplet dripping down the sides, then the enclosure is too humid.
If you can spot any kind of fungal growth inside the tank- such as black mold- it could mean that humidity levels are too high. Fungal organisms thrive in high moisture conditions. Since humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air, high humidity levels will attract them.
Finally, you can observe your leopard gecko to determine if the humidity levels are too high. Does it seem lethargic or sickly? Does it have a skin infection? Excessively humid conditions inside the vivarium can cause your leopard gecko to develop respiratory infections like pneumonia, as well as skin infections. What’s more, the fungal growth triggered by high humidity levels can subsequently cause your pet reptile to develop health problems.
How to lower humidity in leopard gecko tank
Below, we delve into some of the strategies that you can use to reduce the humidity level inside your pet leopard gecko’s enclosure:
Poor air circulation inside the leopard gecko’s tank facilitates the build-up of heat and condensation, making the enclosure more humid. The best way to ensure improved ventilation if your tank doesn’t have a screen top is to invest in a screen cover. Alternatively, you can install a USB fan inside the vivarium.
Lower Room Humidity
If you live in a region where the climate is generally more humid- such as coastal areas- it’s likely that the room humidity inside the room where you keep your pet could be affecting the tank’s humidity. To lower room humidity, you can open the windows, install a ceiling fan, or turn on your HVAC system. All these solutions options will increase air circulation inside the room, thus reducing humidity.
Alternatively, you can place a room dehumidifier near the vivarium. Some commercial dehumidifiers can draw up to ten ounces of moisture from the air per day. If a dehumidifier seems like a costly investment, you can opt for a mini dehumidifier. These cost much less and can be placed directly inside the leopard gecko’s tank.
Use a smaller Water Dish
If your leopard gecko’s water dish is too large, more water will evaporate from the dish into the atmosphere when temperatures are high, thus raising humidity levels. To prevent this, replace the dish with a smaller one. You’ll also want to ensure that you place the water dish on the cooler side if you’ve created a temperature gradient inside the tank.
Replace live plants with faux plants
Live plants are usually used in reptile environments to ensure that the pets mimic the same behaviors that they exhibit in their natural habitats- such as climbing. However, they also raise the moisture and humidity levels inside the tank. To solve this problem without denying your pet branches and twigs to climb, consider replacing the live plants inside the tank with faux plants.
Replace the substrate
Traditional substrates like soil and organic mulch usually contain more moisture compared to modern substrates used in enclosures designed for pet reptiles. Common, low-moisture, commercial substrate options that you can opt for include reptile carpets, shelf liners, and tile substrates. If you can’t afford to replace the substrate at the moment, you can instead use dry rice socks or silica packets to absorb the moisture inside the substrate.
Read more: Best Substrate for Leopard Geckos
Signs the humidity is too low
While leopard geckos thrive in relatively low humidity conditions, very low humidity levels will also affect their overall health. Ideally, the humidity inside your leopard gecko’s terrarium shouldn’t be lower than 20%. Low humidity levels can trigger difficulties in the pet shedding its skin, dehydration, and other health issues.
Leopard geckos shed their skin regularly to allow for physical growth. Those that are at the rapid growth phase of their lives will even shed their skin as frequently as once every week. Therefore- if your leopard gecko is having trouble shedding its skin and is suffering from stunted growth- it’s most likely due to the low humidity conditions within the tank. This is because they need high humidity levels of up to 80% to properly shed their skin.
The easiest way to know if your leopard gecko is having trouble shedding its skin due to low humidity is by observing its physical appearance for a dry skin condition called dysecdysis. This condition is caused by the retained skin from the ‘botched’ shedding process and can cause poor vision and restrict blood flow to the arms and tail.
How to increase tank humidity for a leopard gecko
You can use the following strategies to increase the humidity levels inside your leopard gecko’s enclosure:
Install a humid hide
Remember- leopard geckos only need high humidity levels for shedding- but can’t survive in such humid conditions for long. As such, humid hides are a great way of providing a high-humidity shedding spot within the pet’s habitat, without significantly raising the humidity of the rest of the enclosure. They’re usually made of a moisture-laden substrate such as sphagnum moss. You should place the hide on the warm side of the tank.
Lower Tank Ventilation
Most commercial reptile terrarium’s come with multiple openings to facilitate sufficient air circulation. However, if the humidity levels are too low, you can cover these openings to trap air inside the tank and raise humidity levels. For instance, you can cover up about two-thirds of the screen top.
Install a water dish
Placing a water dish inside the enclosure will also help increase humidity levels, as some of the water evaporates into the immediate atmosphere. If you already have a dish inside the tank, you can replace it with a larger one to ensure more evaporation.
Do leopard geckos need to be misted?
Yes, you should mist your leopard gecko at least twice per week. To mist your pet reptile, gently spray its body with freshwater. When the leopard gecko moves to the hot side of the enclosure, the water will evaporate from its body into its immediate surrounding atmosphere, thus enhancing humidity levels. Misting is especially helpful when undertaken prior to shedding.