Feel like your leopard gecko tank is getting a little boring? Looking for some nice outdoor rocks to fill the tank? One low-cost and easy solution is to go outside for some rocks. But are there risks?
Can I Put Rocks from Outside in My Leopard Gecko Tank? Yes, you can do this, provided you are able to procure the rocks legally, clean and sanitize them, and verify they do not have any sharp edges which could harm the leopard gecko. Sanitizing the rocks is especially crucial because it will prevent parasites from harming your leo.
At this point, you are probably ready to head outdoors for some rock hunting. Before all that, read on to find out how to go about gathering rocks safely.
Table of Contents
Rocks are plentiful in our world- you can pretty much find pebbles, river rocks, and even chunks of the sidewalk when you go outside. Even though they may seem easy to take, you should still be smart about your rock gathering.
- Only take natural-looking rocks. Old brick or sidewalk might look cool, but it’s not natural and could be harmful to the leopard gecko.
- Make sure to ask about taking a rock if the property is not your own. Chances are the landowner will not care about the rock, but it’s always best to be polite.
- Be careful of where you get your rocks. Gravel pits are work zones and are dangerous. Avoid places where chemicals or pesticides are used or parks where dogs tend to play (and use the bathroom). Even though you will sanitize the rocks, it’s best not to take the risk.
Parasites That Can Be Contracted
Your leopard gecko can be subject to parasites if you do not properly clean off the rocks you pick up from outside.
Here are some of the most common ones owners have encountered:
Leopard geckos affected by coccidia lead to leopard geckos that are lethargic and lifeless, they become quite thin, and they look malnourished. Coccidia affects the intestines and tissues of leopard geckos.
Leos will not grow properly, have bloody fecal matter, experience weight loss, and have no appetite. This condition can also depress leopard geckos and give them a sore nose.
Sudden death is also possible. Coccidia is not always seen, so if you suspect any problem in your leo, consult a vet right away.
Reptiles affected by pinworms will have poor appetite, diarrhea, regurgitate their food, and will lose weight. Their fecal matter will not be normal, either. You will need to collect the fecal matter and take it to a vet for evaluation.
They may not be visible to your naked eye, but a vet can absolutely test the waste and aid you in putting together a treatment plan. If you see any of the signs, we mentioned in your leo, consult a vet immediately. Failure to do so could result in respiratory problems or even death.
Leopard geckos that contract this will lose weight, and it will really show itself in their tails. It is known among the herp community as “stick tail.” It is not ideal because leos store their fat inside their tails to be used in times of scarcity.
Even though lack of food is not something they need to worry about, leopard geckos should still have a tail wider than their body. It is the most common reason that a leopard gecko loses weight. If you suspect this in your leo, take them to a vet immediately to begin a treatment plan.
Are There Any Ways to Avoid Parasites?
You can help avoid parasites by making sure to clean off the rocks using organic soap and water first. Find a bucket used solely for your reptiles, such as the one you use when cleaning out the habitat and fill it with water and mix in some organic, plant-based soap.
Wash the rocks off to ensure they are clean and free of any stray dirt or debris.
Now, place the rock into a mixture of bleach and water for 30 minutes. You will want to make sure this is a 10% bleach solution. Once your 30 minutes is up, you can now take it out and rinse it off. Be sure to rinse it very well – go over the rock a few times.
Once that is complete, place it into a container that has pure, clean water and allow it to soak for a few hours. Give it the smell test after about two hours- if it still smells like bleach, allow it to soak for a few more hours until the bleach smell goes away.
If you do not have bleach, you can use a 10% ammonia solution. It is a bit more effective for the sanitizing process as it will kill coccidia. It will require a bit more rinsing than bleach, however.
Another sanitizing solution that will help you get rid of parasites is a dash of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide mix. After you clean with soap and water, you can spray the rock with vinegar and peroxide. These have to be kept in two separate spray bottles- no mixing together!
Spray them onto the rock in equal doses and let them sit on the rock for about five minutes. Rinse well, and you are done. This method is excellent because it does not require you to rinse in such a rigorous way.
Another way to help avoid parasites is to get your rocks from as clean of a place as you can. For example, it will be a better bet to get your rocks in an isolated section of the forest compared to the city park where dogs and other animals eliminate waste, play, and eat.
Alternatives Found on Amazon
This Zilla reptile hide doubles as a nice place for your leo to relax and de-stress, and also climb upon if they would like to satisfy their need to climb or bask. It is non-porous and is very easy to clean with soap and water and very easy to disinfect.
This Penn Plax hide is an easy to climb, large hide for your leo to enjoy. It comes in three sizes to accommodate habitats of varying sizes and is easy to clean.
Chlorhexidine cleaner is a great way to clean the items in your cage if you do not feel like using a bleach or ammonia mixture. It is a great anti-fungal cleaner that helps you disinfect and keep it safe as it can be for your reptiles.
Simply spray and wipe down your cage decorations and rocks after washing them with organic soap and water, and you’re done.
What To Keep In Mind When Placing the Rocks Inside the Tank
First, the rocks should be stable. After that, make sure you set up rocks on either side of your habitat so your leo can comfortably rest or bask as they wish.
You will want a climbable rock on either side of the habitat as well as three hides: a warm and dry hide on the hot side, a cool and dry hide in the cool side and of course the humid hide in the middle.
We hope this guide about finding rocks outdoors has been helpful. Enjoy setting up a great habitat for your gecko!