What animals make the best tank mates for a leopard gecko? Leopard geckos are known to be very territorial and reclusive animals. These lizards can thrive alone. Yet, others believe these geckos can live successfully with certain species.
In most cases, female leopard geckos take to being housed together better than males, which should never be kept together. Certain herbivorous tortoises may make compatible companions if the enclosures are large. But the majority of reptiles and amphibians are not suitable tank mates.
The question of cohabitation regarding leopard geckos, even with its own kind, has always been controversial. This article discusses whether or not leopard geckos should live with certain animals in one enclosure and how this arrangement can work.
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The Best Tank Mates For Leopard Geckos
A leopard gecko could live in relative harmony with certain reptiles under the right conditions.
The candidates for best tank mates are on a rather short list. They are:
- Female leopard geckos
Many online articles advocate the compatibility of leopard geckos and frogs, such as:
- Poison dart frogs
- Tree frogs
- Mantella frogs
But looking at their humidity requirements, leopard geckos and frogs should live in separate enclosures.
Remember: One adult leopard gecko needs a 20-gallon tank to live healthily.
Adding a tank mate to the mix would require additional enclosure space to meet the needs of the second animal.
Leopard Geckos With Leopard Geckos: Gender Matters
Leopard geckos can live with another of their kind as long as their genders are compatible. Still, “cohabbing” should be done with caution.
Note: If you’re looking to keep a second leo, the rule of thumb is to add another 10 gallons per gecko. But we encourage homing them in bigger tanks.
A tank between 40 and 50 gallons would be just about right for two leos.
Male with Male
Male leopard geckos are inherently more territorial and dominant than females.
Males will fight to the death over space, food, hides, and other resources.
Male leopard geckos continuously battle each other when trapped in the same enclosure. One of them will most likely die. But there could be a lot of stress and injuries for both lizards before that happens.
So, never allow two males to live together, even if they are clutch mates, young, or seemingly peaceful for a while. Violence is inevitable in this disastrous mix.
Male and Female
You can keep male and female leopard geckos together if you intend to breed them. But breeding can be stressful for females, so leaving that to very experienced owners is best.
This arrangement, though, will work only for a short period.
Males will constantly want to mate, so the females can get excessively stressed from continual harassment from a male’s effort to breed.
A male can start acting aggressively toward the female when it’s in the mood and ready to mate. It will start biting the tail and progress to biting the neck, where it will begin the mating process.
No wonder mating can stress a female out when done repeatedly.
It is best to separate them when breeding time is over.
Moreover, males may still compete with females over food, hides, and other tank resources.
You will know an overly stressed female when you find her:
- Has low appetite
- Tail dropped
A stressed-out female who’s had enough of mating can also turn aggressive toward her mate.
Female and Female
The female and female leopard gecko combo is the most likely to succeed, though there are no guarantees.
Females are significantly less inclined to fight but occasionally clash over resources.
The typically larger female leopard gecko may bully the smaller one by obstructing the other’s access to food and warmth. So, it’s best to ensure that both geckos have access to many resources.
However, individual personalities can differ within species. Just because two leopard geckos are female doesn’t mean they will always get along.
Note: Things can get sour at any moment, even when leos have been cohabiting without issues for years. It is best to have a 20-gallon tank stored at the ready in case you need to separate tank mates. More on keeping leos with other leos here!
Leopard Geckos With Other Geckos And Lizards: Maybe Not
Leopard geckos won’t make good tank mates for other types of geckos and lizards.
Crested and day geckos, for instance, can make the list of worst tank mates for leopard geckos.
Both species have requirements that are totally at odds with those of a leopard gecko.
These lizards come from a semi-tropical environment, while a leopard gecko comes from a drier one. Both gecko species are also arboreal and would thrive in a vertical enclosure. Leos are terrestrial and would need wide ground space to suit their activities.
It will be impossible to balance humidity, temperature, and other environmental requirements in one tank to keep them healthy.
This scenario will result in compromising the health and very lives of all inhabitants in the tank.
Contrary to many articles online, forcing a leo to room with a bearded dragon is a bad idea.
Even though people assert that beardies are docile and have comparable habitat needs, these lizards will make a quick meal out of leos.
Moreover, bearded dragons carry parasites that can cause stick tail infection in leos.
A leopard gecko is better off paired with another female leo than any other lizard or gecko species. Learn more: Why Bearded Dragons Can’t Live With Leopard Geckos
Leopard Geckos And Tortoises: Is It Worth It?
Frequently, leopard geckos and many other reptiles get along with tortoises.
A leopard gecko can live with a tortoise as long as it is a true herbivore. A tortoise’s all-plant diet won’t compete with a leopard gecko’s insect diet.
But here’s the thing. Not all tortoises are vegetarian. Many are omnivores and even carnivorous.
There is a very real chance that a sizeable omnivorous tortoise can eat or harm a leopard gecko!
Even if a tortoise is active during the day and a leo is awake during twilight and evening hours, there is still a possibility for both to encounter each other.
Watch how a red-footed tortoise enjoys a lizard for lunch.
Another big problem is that many tortoises can grow very big, which means they need a much bigger home than a leopard gecko would need.
For a leopard gecko, an overly huge tank may not be better. In such vivariums, geckos may struggle to locate their food, hides, and hiding places. This will make them feel lost.
As we’ve also mentioned, you’ll need to care for your tortoise’s husbandry needs, which may be typically different from those of a leopard gecko.
So, if you insist on pairing a leopard gecko and a tortoise, do so with caution and lots of research. You may find it not worth the cost, effort, or even the risk (no matter how remote as others believe) of an injured or dead leo.
Leopard Geckos And Frogs: Really?
Many articles on the net point out that certain small frogs can coexist peacefully with a leopard gecko.
Mantella frogs, poison dart frogs, and tree frogs are active during the day when the leopard gecko is sleeping or resting. So there are fewer chances of them encountering each other.
Unlike horned frogs, bullfrogs, and giant toads, these frogs don’t see leopard geckos as prey.
At first glance, these frogs seem to be better tank mate choices than a tortoise.
But the massive problem with the frog-leo pairing is environmental incompatibility.
Leopard geckos are natives of dry environments and need their humidity levels kept quite low, between 30% and 40%.
The frogs touted as compatible tank mates to leopard geckos are from vastly humid regions. Dart poison frogs, for instance, require higher humidity of at least 75% in their habitats. Some frog keepers advocate going as high as 100%.
Finding a middle ground for the humidity in a vivarium could hurt both animals in a big way.
After this discussion on possible tank mates, it seems like a leopard gecko will live a happier, healthier life if housed alone in its tank.
Here are more reasons that drive home the point.
5 Reasons Why Leopard Geckos Should Live Solo
When you enjoy keeping a lizard, like a leopard gecko, you tend to want to add a companion to double the pleasure.
We get it because we’ve done it too.
But there are strong reasons why leopard geckos and other reptiles don’t do well in mixed enclosures.
However, housing them with others is not an absolute “no.” On the other hand, finding tank mates for a leopard gecko may be a task best left to more experienced reptile keepers.
Let’s dive into five good reasons why leopard geckos should live alone.
1. Leopard Geckos Are Naturally Antisocial
The leopard gecko’s reclusive nature makes it need its own space.
They are endemic to desert habitats in some parts of Asia and the Middle East, namely Nepal, India, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The desert can sometimes be unforgiving, so competition for food and water can be challenging. That’s why the instinct of these lizards is to view other animals as competition.
With such a “world view,” it’s no wonder that having company just equates to stress for a leopard gecko.
Sharing a tank, unless solely for mating, may only heighten a leo’s strong urge to defend this territory.
2. Leopard Geckos Have Different Needs
Finding tank mates with the exact environmental requirements of a leopard gecko may be challenging.
For example, leopard geckos have minimal humidity requirements, ranging between 30% and 40%. But other geckos coming from tropical places need a humid tank. Even desert creatures such as bearded dragons thrive in higher humidity levels of 40%–60%.
3. Leopard Geckos Can Eat or Be Eaten
Leopard geckos are smaller than most other reptiles, so larger animals like toads and bearded dragons often regard them as prey.
Conversely, a leo can become a predator if its tank mate is a smaller anole.
Leopard geckos can even turn cannibalistic and eat smaller leos or even their own hatchlings!
So, be careful what you co-hab your leo with!
4. Leopard Geckos Can Turn Temperamental Suddenly
Even if your leopard gecko and its tank buddy appear to get along for quite some time, things can change quickly.
Sometimes, it takes a split second for the situation to become fatal, depending on the species involved.
Fighting may not always end in death, but it frequently results in lost toes, damaged tails, and expensive vet bills—another great reason why leopard geckos should not be housed with other animals.
5. Leopard Geckos Are Less Aggressive Predators
As more opportunistic than aggressive predators, leos sometimes opt to wait for their food to come to them rather than to hunt it.
A more aggressive tank mate could devour insects quickly before the leopard gecko can, leaving almost nothing to spare.
Unless you monitor feedings, you may not know your leopard gecko isn’t getting enough nutrition to maintain its health.
Food For Thought
As we keep learning about reptiles, we find new information that may shift our paradigms.
Consider this. A few leopard gecko keepers believe that keeping a leo alone may not be as beneficial as popularly known. They argue that it may be suitable to home a male gecko with a colony of females under the right conditions!
According to a study, solitary confinement could negatively affect a leopard gecko’s physiology. It may be inferred that it could jeopardize the lizard mentally as well.
Leopard geckos may be more social than we thought.
The study found that the social experiences of a leopard gecko have long-lasting effects on its behavior and body. Leopard geckos exposed to other leos have increased androgens, promoting bone muscle development and healthy metabolism in vertebrates.
Watch this thought-provoking video and tell us what you think.
The best tank mate for a leopard gecko is possibly just itself or a female leo. However, some herpetologists believe a male leopard gecko can live harmoniously with a colony of females.
Herbivorous tortoises make an iffy second-best candidate because of the size of the enclosure requirements.
Other geckos, lizards, and frogs don’t make compatible tank mates because their habitat requirements, sizes, temperaments, and diets pose roadblocks to cohabitation.