Enclosure questions


New Member
So I purchased a thrive 20l desert starter kit. Much of it was junk, but I got some good things in there.

It's a mesh screen, open from top enclosure. People on fb were telling me a mesh top, top opening enclosure was a bad idea. Not seen any corroborating evidence. I'd prefer side opening but it was out of my price range. I'll upgrade eventually. What say you?

Same group was telling me tile was also a bad idea. I am planning on swapping for shelf liner but curious. Here's the tank as it is at the moment. Still waiting on accessories to come in. No gecko yet.



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The lizards

I have top opening, screen/mesh lids on all 3 of my tanks. I'd also prefer front opening, but it's also not in my price range. Tile is fine, you just have to make sure there's no sharp edges that can harm your gecko.


Staff member
I have both top opening and side opening. Either is fine. The only kind I have a problem with is the one where you open it by sliding the screen forward. If the enclosure is against a wall and you slide the top forward, it's really hard to reach into it (especially if you're short like me). The only issue I see with the cover you have is that there's a really small "door" to open and reach through, but if your gecko (or the poop you have to clean up) ends up in the back left corner and your "door" is in the front right corner, it's going to be hard to reach. Consider replacing the cover with a hinged mesh cover (it can be hinged width-wise or length-wise; either works). Don't necessarily buy one; check craigslist.

I use tile for all my leopard gecko cages. I get the cheapest tile from the home improvement store flooring section and I highly recommend it.


Personally, and after speaking to several gecko experts on the whole substrate debate, it is determined that solid substrates such as tile, and kitchen cabinet liner are actually not good choices at all for leopard geckos. I'm not quite sure how it has become misinformed as good, quality flooring, but it is not.

Leopard geckos have natural digging behaviors. Having a loose substrate, or at least providing loose substrate in 1/3 of the tank is imperative for adult, healthy leopard geckos. For leos who are sick, hatchlings, or geckos with neurological issues, solid substrate such as tile or paper towels are frequently used and encouraged.

However, for otherwise healthy adults, it is not appropriate.
Offering loose substrate such as 70% top soil and 30% play sand mixture is the ideal route to take for loose substrate. I also include Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate in all of my enclosures to offer my leos a variety of different terrain, most natural to their native environment in the rocky outcrops of the Middle East.

For more detailed information on good substrates and substrates to avoid, feel free to visit the Rydikulus Reptiles Facebook page! Our "Files" tab has a lot of valuable information on leopard gecko care and husbandry that is well organized and easy to understand!

Also please don't hesitate to shoot me a DM if you have anymore questions or concerns!



Staff member
I've helped the digging issue by providing humid hides with coco fiber. I have to say that I haven't seen any of my geckos digging in there unless they are females laying.

Hi Aliza!

From my experience and conversations with over a dozen leopard gecko experts, solid substrate is not ideal for Leo’s.

Solid slate substrate, for example, can cause discomfort and joint issues. Leopard geckos naturally don’t live their whole lives on rock. They have a variety of terrain that they traverse throughout the course of their lifetime! So I’m not necessarily against tile or other solid substrates when combined with other forms of substrate. However having exclusive solid substrate isn’t the best choice. Variety is key to a happy, healthy leo

Having SOME slate or tile in the tank is okay. But for a leopard gecko to thrive and to minimize health issues later in life, providing a variety of different types of substrate is ideal.

Leos do best on loose substrate, a top soil/play sand mixture is the best by far. But for enrichment and aesthetic purposes, I also added Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate in my enclosures, as well as numerous bridges, ramps, and “hills” in the form of cork, chollo branches, spider wood, and resin decor.

Leopard gecko care and husbandry gets updated and improved upon all the time, and I learn something new every day! We just have to make sure when offering educative advice, we’re respectful and non judgemental (not saying you are! Just sharing my opinion on the matter in general.)

- Rai

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