There are countless water features in pet shops, and each has a mile-long list of perks. That’s why leo owners can get confused when picking one out for their pet’s enclosure. Since fountains are more aesthetically pleasing, reptile parents often ask, are waterfalls okay for leopard geckos?
Waterfalls are not recommended for leopard gecko enclosures because they can create excessive humidity, leading to health concerns. They can also be a drowning hazard for leos and require time and effort to keep clean.
If you’re looking for a safe and helpful water feature for your leo, we can help. This article will cover topics like whether waterfalls are safe for leopard geckos, pros and cons, and water source alternatives.
Why Waterfalls Aren’t Safe For Leopard Gecko Enclosures
More often than not, gecko owners are drawn to waterfalls because they add beauty and movement to their reptile’s terrarium. However, waterfalls present some serious challenges when it comes to leopard geckos.
Here’s a list of drawbacks related to waterfalls that gecko owners should be aware of:
Leopard geckos are native to the mountainous and desert regions of Asia and the Middle East. They are used to dry environments and require specific humidity levels to thrive.
Experts recommend keeping the humidity levels between 30 to 40 percent in leo enclosures for optimal health. Anything above this level can cause health issues for your reptile (discussed below).
Adding a waterfall (with a sizeable water capacity) to your gecko’s tank will inevitably lead to high humidity, leading to owners scrambling to bring the levels down by adding extra ventilation or dehumidifiers.
Too High Humidity Causes Numerous Health Issues In Leopard Geckos
If you’re wondering why excessive humidity can be bad for your leo, this section is for you. Excessive moisture can lead to various health conditions in leopard geckos, ranging from respiratory infections, bacterial or fungal infections, and skin problems.
On the other hand, low moisture levels can also cause issues like shedding concerns. The best way to provide an ideal environment for your gecko is to keep a hide box handy for the daytime when leos need more moisture.
You can keep the hide box humid by adding moist mulch or sphagnum moss. We recommend getting this box here!
Risk Of Drowning
Another significant factor that makes waterfalls unsuitable for leos (especially young ones) is the risk of drowning. Waterfalls will typically include a pool at the structure’s base where water collects after trickling down.
While leos enjoy cooling down or bathing in their water bowls, high water levels pose a risk because they can’t swim.
Remember, leos come from regions that don’t include big bodies of water, which is why there have been reports of geckos drowning in water they can stand in.
As such, it’s best to err on the side of error and not add any feature to your pet’s enclosure that can pose such a risk.
Tip: If you’d like to know what kind of water you should give your leopard gecko, read this article!
Difficult To Keep Clean
Waterfalls include a solid structure along with a water pump and pipe, which means they’re not too easy in terms of maintenance.
It’s imperative to give your leo fresh water every day, but besides that, cleaning the water feature to eliminate microbes is also necessary.
Leo owners looking to buy waterfalls should note that this will add to the time they spend on their pet’s upkeep and its enclosure, and that’s not something that everyone can commit to.
Alternative Water Features For Leopard Geckos
Gecko owners looking for viable alternatives to waterfalls might want to pay attention here. We’ve compiled a list of water features that include functional elements to ensure your pet’s health and safety.
The Zoo Med Repti Rock Reservoir is made from plastic, making it non-porous, easy to clean, and bacteria-resistant. The bowl-shaped water feature is designed to fit all terrariums and is sturdy to boot.
Additionally, the product is available in two sizes (small and medium) to ensure suitability and includes a convenient set of stairs to allow your gecko to climb out easily.
If you’re looking for a water bowl with a ‘stepping stone’ feature, the Repti Ramp Bowl might be worth looking at.
This water dish includes a ramp to allow leos to climb in and out. The product is made from propylene and is available in large and extra-large variations.
Exo Terra’s Reptile Water Dish features a pebble-rock finish and is devised to fit into corners. The bowl includes a resin (food grade) finish to keep bacteria at bay and a stable base to avoid tipping over.
Note: We explain how long leopard geckos can go without water here! (And what to use when you are away).
Setting up a waterfall in your gecko’s tank isn’t advisable, but that doesn’t mean leo enthusiasts don’t have other, more viable options.
When you’re out browsing for water features for your pet, keep your leo’s age, size, tank size, and other considerations in mind to avoid hassles like replacements or returns.