Eco earth is a substrate which always seems to cause a lot of debate and confusion. That probably why you’re trying to find the answer to “is eco earth good for leopard geckos?”. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Through this article we will dive into the pros and cons of eco earth and some great alternatives for peace of mind.
(Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to find ‘Other related articles you might like’, once you are done reading).
What is Eco Earth? And Is It Good For Leopard Geckos?
Eco Earth is a substrate which can be used for some reptiles, but not all of them. It’s mostly seen in vivariums which house frogs, and some crested geckos. The substrate is made up from coconut fibres which has been compressed. The fibres are very soft, which is great for frogs and geckos which have sticky toe pads as it causes less damage than other substrates might.
When water is added to the fibres, they will expand. This creates a spongy flooring for the reptiles to walk on, as well as helping to regulate humidity levels. In some cases (which we will go over a bit later on) too much moisture can cause the growth of mould inside the vivarium, and can also cause respiratory health related problems.
What Are Some Problems With Eco Earth?
Is Eco Earth good for leopard geckos? Eco Earth is a great substrate to use if you are trying to raise the humidity levels within the enclosure. This substrate holds water and moisture very well and will keep the humidity levels high for a long period of time. But unfortunately a leopard gecko doesn’t need high humidity levels.
It is fairly expensive too. Commonly, Eco Earth is rough 50% more expensive than other substrates. So for this reason alone, it isn’t very popular with exotic animal owners. There are many other substrate which are far more suitable for leopard geckos which are considerably cheaper.
The coconut fibres which are used for this substrate are extremely absorbing. This is great for humidity reasons, but it also has adverse consequences in relation to reptile waste or stools. When an animal pee’s or poops on this substrate, it will absorb all the watery waste. This means that cleaning the enclosure can be very hard and usually means the substrate has to be changed on a regular basis.
Lastly, it can cause serious respiratory issues for leopard geckos. It has been linked with causing Respiratory Tract Infection (RTI) within leopard geckos, which is caused by harmful bacteria. If you suspect this at any point in time then please visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your gecko should be prescribed some antibiotics to help fight the infection.
Follow this link for more information on Eco Earth Substrate.
What Are The Alternative Substrates To Stay Away From?
Choosing the best substrate for your leopard gecko can seem a little overwhelming. You can read article upon article and still not be any wiser which one you should choose. So I’m going to make it very easy for you.
First of all, here are the substrates you need to stay away from;
- Sand (of any kind)
- Walnut Shells
- Wood Chipping
- All other forest flooring
Sand is possibly the worst of all substrates. The grains can become so fine that you can be inhaled when your gecko is breathing and also it can be ingested when feeding. Both of these actions are highly common and cause respiratory issue when stuck in air passages, and can also cause digestion problems.
Walnut shells are commonly very sharp. They are usually crushed, so they crack into pointed fragments which can cause serious impaction. The shells have been known to pierce the skin of reptiles due to their soft skin. For this reason it is advised to stay away.
Sometimes wood chipping can contain harmful toxins. These toxins are natural in the wood and therefore can not be removed. This can cause a lot of irritation for reptiles and in turn will raise their stress levels if exposed to the toxins for longer periods of time.
Besides Eco Earth, What Other Suitable Alternatives Can You Consider?
There are four main substrates which are believed to be beast suited for leopard geckos. These are; Paper towels, Reptile carpet, Slate slabs and Pebbles/Stones. Continue reading to find out the benefits of each suitable substrate.
Believe it or not, paper towels are actually one of the best substrates for leopard geckos, specially juveniles. Paper towels are the cheapest substrate on the market, and they are fit for purpose too. They are soft and spongy to walk on and will cause no impaction damage to your gecko. It will also absorb all your geckos waste and stools, as well as being very easy to clean out and replace afterwards. Being so easy to clean means paper towels are very hygienic which reduces the chance of illnesses and disease.
They only bad thing about paper towel is that it doesn’t really look that appealing. In fact, it’s not very nice to look at, at all. Paper towel doesn’t look natural inside an enclosure, and makes it look kind if messy. Ideally you want a substrate that looks natural and aesthetically pleasing too.
Our best recommendation of towel is Single Ply Hand Towels (in green).
Reptile carpet is great. You can buy a roll and cut it to the size you need and then just lay it in the bottom on your geckos enclosure. There is little to no risk of ingestion as the carpet rarely frays. The only problem you have to keep an eye on is loose bits of carpet. Leopard geckos can sometimes get their little toes caught in the loose bits of carpet which can cause them to become stuck if they can free themselves (but this is very rare).
The carpet can be removed, washed, sanitised and replaced back into the enclosure once dry. This means that substrate costs are kept extremely low as they can be re-used. Again, this also helps to reduce illness or disease if you are able to clean out the enclosure, easily and regularly.
Here is our best recommendation for Reptile Carpet.
This on is a bit more expensive, but can look amazing. Slab of slate rock can be used as substrate for your leopard gecko. It can be held into place by reptile gravel, as this will be underneath the slate, so this reduces the risk of ingestion when eating.
The great thing about slate slabs is that you can clean them easily and reuse them also. You can slant them slightly to create some elevation inside your geckos enclosure. This substrate will make your enclosure look the most natural as in the wild leopard geckos spend most of their time on rocky surfaces.
Our best recommendation of slate is Fennstones Flat Slate.
Small Pebbles and Stones
Pebbles and stones are another top choice for making your geckos enclosure look as natural as possible. These can also be held in place with reptile gravel, for the same reasons as above. Its worth noting that some of these stones may have sharp edges, so don’t want to include these into the enclosure.
Our best recommendation for pebbles are the Exo-Terra Turtle Pebbles.
What Would We Personally Recommend, Other Than Eco Earth?
I know this goes against all rules, but I do actually use a bit of reptile sand in my enclosures. I like to make my enclosure look as natural as possible. To the point where I will use many different substrates all together.
I like to have my enclosures look like a natural habitat, so this will include, sand, gravel, pebbles/stones and slabs of slate. Yes, this does get expensive, but what do you expect when caring for an animal. Plus, this is something you have have to live with for many years so you’ll want it too look good.