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Create The Perfect Mourning Gecko Enclosure In 7 Steps

mourning gecko tank setup

Mourning geckos are friendly, quiet, and easy-to-maintain pets, and it’s no surprise they’re increasingly popular. But, as with all reptiles, the environment is key. So what exactly do you need to prepare for your mourning gecko?

Mourning geckos need a home that imitates their natural wild environment for them to thrive. To create this, you need to provide the following:

  • Tank or vivarium
  • A good substrate 
  • A heat source
  • UVB light
  • Humidity
  • Food source
  • Plants

In this article, we will look at how to create the perfect mourning gecko enclosure in 8 easy steps, what you need, setting it up, and creating the perfect environment in the enclosure for your geckos to grow. Let’s dive in!

What to Get for a Mourning Gecko Enclosure: Shopping List

To create the perfect replica of their wild, natural environment in your home, you need to budget for the following items for your gecko enclosure.

The exact price of your set-up depends on how big a tank you need and which items you choose. To set up a small terrarium, you’ll be looking at between $250 and $350.

If you’re looking for a larger terrarium to hold a bigger group, the set-up may cost nearer $500.

How to Set Up the Mourning Gecko Enclosure in 7 Steps

  1. Decide Who Will Be Living with Your Mourning Gecko
  2. Prepare the Mourning Gecko Enclosure
  3. Install Some Tropical Substrate
  4. Set Up a Temperature Gradient and Lighting
  5. Prepare for Humidity
  6. Plant Live Mourning Gecko Plants
  7. Install Your Mourning Gecko Feeding Ledges

Step 1: Decide Who Will Be Living with Your Mourning Gecko

Mourning geckos are social creatures, and it’s best to house them in a group of 2-4 or more rather than keeping one alone. Their personalities come out when they’re in a group, so expect lots of chirping and activity! 

You may also choose to house them with other friendly reptile species, like poison dart frogs. You can read more about good mourning gecko tank mates here.

The number of pets inside the enclosure will dictate the size of the enclosure. The more reptiles in it, the bigger the enclosure should be, so they can move about freely.

mourning gecko substrate

Step 2: Prepare the Mourning Gecko Enclosure

The mourning gecko enclosure is often just called a tank, but it can be a vivarium, a terrarium, or a paludarium depending on how you set it up. 

For mourning geckos, the ideal enclosure is probably the vivarium, but a paludarium works as well. We show you how to set up the vivarium.

Also, mourning geckos are arboreal creatures that spend most of their time in trees and vertical spaces rather than horizontal spaces. 

A tank with a front-opening design is a good option for your geckos. This design works in terms of security, simplicity, and functionality.

It’s important to ensure that the enclosure is secure with well-fitting lids and doors because mourning geckos tend to escape easily and hide (or get stepped on by accident). A glass terrarium is secure enough. 

Make sure to put the mourning gecko tank in your home in a place that is not too busy. Also, to make keeping the right temperatures in the tank easy, the tank should be in a spot without direct sunlight and far away from air conditioners.

The minimum size of your mourning gecko enclosure depends on the number of geckos you want to house:

No. of GeckosVivarium measurements
2-412 x 12 x 18 inches
6-1018 x 18 x 24 inches 

TIP. If you’re wondering whether it’s ok to mix males and females, and are worried about having a lounge of baby geckos on your hands, here are two key facts:

  • Almost all mourning geckos are female, so the chances of you getting a mix of sexes is rare.
  • Female mourning geckos can reproduce without males.

So even if your group is all girls, some babies might appear as time goes on. For more information on mourning gecko breeding, you can check out our guide.

Step 3: Install Some Tropical Substrate

To help maintain humidity in the enclosure, add a layer of chemical-free substrate on the floor. You’ll need to change this every 3-4 months. 

Mourning geckos thrive in tropical environments, and the substrate you use in your terrarium will affect how comfortably your geckos rest, hide, and lay their eggs. 

Bioactive substrate kits are an easy way to replicate this environment in three steps:

  • Start from the bottom and create the drainage layer, which consists of small stones, leca balls, or gravel. 
  • Then install a nonporous mesh to separate the substrate and prevent it from falling into the drainage layer. 
  • For the top layer of substrate, mix soil, cypress mulch, sphagnum moss,  and sand. You can use equal proportions of each, except for the moss, which should be double.

The top layer substrate should be made of tropical soil because it maintains moisture better than any other type of soil. It should also contain small particles rather than large stones so that the geckos don’t get injured.

Step 4: Set Up a Temperature Gradient and Lighting

In their natural habitat, mourning geckos would bask in the sun. In a tank, we mimic the sun by creating a basking spot with a heat lamp. Heat lamps produce light and warmth for your terrarium.

To make a basking spot, use a low-wattage incandescent bulb, preferably about 15-25W. You need to monitor the temperature at the top and at the bottom of the vivarium with a thermometer. The bulbs should be turned off at night. 

The ideal temperatures are shown below:

LocationIdeal Temperature
At the top80-85 °F
At the bottom70-75 °F
At night65-72 °F

If your tank is too warm, increase the distance from the heat lamp to the enclosure to help lower the temperature, or change the bulb for one with a lower wattage. Some lamps also have dimmers so you can adjust the intensity.

For the lighting, mourning geckos need around 12 hours of light every day, including UVB lighting. UVB helps your mourning gecko produce vitamin D and absorb calcium, which is an integral part of bones and eggs. 

The UVB should be placed close to the heat bulbs, and it’s often easiest to purchase an all-in-one light and UVB fitting, as we recommended at the beginning of this article in the shopping list.

The UVB bulb has to be changed every 6 months.

Step 5: Prepare for Humidity

For your mourning geckos to thrive, they need an ideal humidity of 60-70%. You should have a hygrometer (or a thermometer with a humidity function included) to check your tank daily. 

One great option for maintaining humidity is to use a mister. It’s not essential, because you can spray tap water into the tank each day, but the mister takes the work out of it. 

If you do decide to buy a mister, look for a reputable brand, like this Coospider Fogger. Although this style is quite bulky, they do the job better than the slim-line versions, which have a tendency to leak.

While you could use a separate thermometer and hygrometer, a 2-in-1 product is usually easier.

Step 6: Plant Live Mourning Gecko Plants

To replicate the wild environment of your mourning geckos, it’s best to use live plants rather than artificial ones. Live plants give shade, help maintain humidity, provide egg-laying sites, and serve as climbing lanes and hiding spots. 

Invest in safe plants because not just any plant will do. Some safe plants for your mourning gecko are:

  • Bromeliads
  • Orchids
  • Wandering Jew
  • Ferns
  • Moss
  • Arrowhead vines

Other enrichment items you can set up in the enclosure are cork barks, branches, twigs, and rocks. The more places your mourning geckos can hide, the more likely they will thrive.

Check this video for inspiration:

Step 7: Install Your Mourning Gecko Feeding Ledges

Set up your mourning gecko feeding ledge in a convenient spot. You should also place a large water dish in the enclosure for them to drink from. Make sure it’s large enough for them to crawl into.  

Food cups and ledges provide a hygienic place for mourning geckos to eat. Old suction-cup style ledges have given way to modern magnetic ones. The magnetic design allows for easy removal and cleaning.

Sometimes, mourning geckos will also drink from water splashed onto the plants in their tank, or droplets that accumulate on plants because of the mister.

Once all these items have been set up, your gecko and its friends will be finally ready to be put in the vivarium. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Mourning Gecko Tanks

Let’s talk about the most popular questions of beginners who’d like to set up a mourning gecko tank.

Can Mourning Geckos Live in a Jar?

With proper ventilation, you can keep mourning geckos in a jar. However, because a jar is smaller than a vivarium, you can only keep up to three baby mourning geckos in a 4-quart jar. You will need a standard enclosure once they grow bigger.

Can Mourning Geckos Live in a Paludarium?

Yes! A paludarium is built to simulate the wetland environment that houses both plants and aquatic animals. Mourning geckos thrive in these tropical environments.

Do Mourning Geckos Need a Heat Lamp?

In order to provide the correct temperature gradient of 85 °F to 70 °F in which mourning geckos thrive in, a heat lamp should be used in a mourning gecko tank setup.

Do Mourning Geckos Need a Heat Mat?

To maintain the ideal temperatures on winter nights, you may need a heat mat at the bottom of the vivarium. 

However, if your mourning geckos are in a heated room in your house, you may not need the extra heat. If you do use a heat mat, you’ll need a thermostat to regulate the temperature.

How Many Mourning Geckos Can Live Together?

It depends on the size of the vivarium. A small-sized vivarium of 12 x 12 x 18 inches can house 2-4 geckos. A large-sized vivarium of 18 x 18 x 24 inches can house 6-10 geckos.


If you meet their basic needs and stick to the stipulated guidelines, taking care of mourning geckos is easy.  A secure enclosure that imitates their wild environment with plants, temperature, lighting, and food is all they need. 

Keep an eye on the cleanliness and maintenance of the enclosure, including changing  to ensure your pet thrives without any health issues. For our complete guide about caring for mourning geckos, click here. (It’s free!)

Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team