Repti Bark for Leopard Geckos – Is it Safe?

Repti Bark for Leopard Gecko - Is it Safe?

Bringing home your first Leopard Gecko is very exciting, but you will need to set up a good habitat for them first. As a result, you will also be looking for some substrate to place at the bottom of their terrarium. Therefore, many new Leopard Gecko owners will likely be asking: is Repti Bark safe for Leopard Geckos?

Wood chips and shavings like Repti Bark are not recommended substrates for Leopard Geckos for several reasons. Luckily, there are much safer and more practical substrates for Leopard Geckos that are readily available online and in many pet stores.

Here we will be providing you with the pros and cons of using Repti Bark as a substrate for a Leopard Gecko habitat. We will also be describing some safe alternatives to this product.

What do Leopard Geckos Need in Their Tanks?

Before you bring home your first Leopard Gecko, you will need to set up his home. As a result, you will likely need to make a stop at the pet store to pick up some needed supplies. Below is a list of everything a Leopard Gecko needs for his habitat.

  • A terrarium (10 gallons for a single leopard gecko, 20 gallons for a couple is suggested)
  • A terrarium substrate (this goes at the bottom of the tank)
  • Hides (at least one dry and one moist)
  • Food bowl(s) and water bowl(s)
  • Heaters and lights
  • A thermometer and hygrometer (to keep track of temperature and humidity)

This is the bare minimum that you will need for a Leopard Gecko habitat. It is also recommended to have some decorations and plants in your Leopard Gecko terrarium as well. This just makes the terrarium look better over all, and it gives your Leopard Gecko more places to climb and explore.

What Should You Keep in Mind When Choosing a Leopard Gecko Substrate?

There are several different things that you should take into account when choosing a substrate for your Leopard Gecko. We will be listing these things to consider in order of importance.

  1. Your leopard gecko’s health and safety
  2. Practicality (how easy is it to clean and replace)
  3. Price
  4. Appearance

Of course, your Leopard Gecko’s health and safety is the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing their substrate. After this you can also consider things like practicality, price, and the appearance of the substrate.

Keeping this list in mind, we will be giving you the pros and cons of using Repti Bark as a substrate for your Leopard Gecko. We will also do this when suggesting some alternative Leopard Gecko substrates as well.

Pros of Repti Bark

We will start off by listing some of the pros about using Repti Bark. We will start off with appearance and work our way up the list that we provided previously in this article. Here are the pros to using Repti Bark in your terrarium.


Wood chip substrates really give a terrarium that classic look. This is because it is used for a large variety of small animal habitats including various reptiles and small mammals. It also gives a tank that natural, outdoorsy feel.


Repti Bark is a fairly cheap substrate, and it usually costs around $10. This product is also widely available in multiple pet stores and places online.


Repti Bark and other versions of wood chip substrate are pretty easy to replace when keeping terrariums clean.

Cons of Repti Bark

Although Repti Bark is not the safest substrate to use for Leopard Geckos, it is an excellent choice for many other types of reptiles.

That being said, the main con to using Repti Bark as a substrate for Leopard Geckos is that it could pose a health and safety risk for them for a couple of reasons.

The first health concern of using Repti Bark as your Leopard Gecko’s substrate is that these wood chips are commonly eaten by Leopard Geckos. Usually, this occurs when Leopard Geckos are eating their recommended food.

However, Leopard Geckos have also been known to eat loose substrate when they have a calcium deficiency.

Wood chip substrates can also cause skin irritation in Leopard Geckos and harbor unwanted vermin in terrariums such as mites. This can potentially cause illnesses in Leopard Geckos, especially when their tanks are not cleaned frequently.

Safe substitutes to Repti Bark for your Leopard Gecko

Unfortunately, Repti Bark has proven to not be the best substrate for Leopard Gecko terrariums. There are many safer alternatives to wood chips for Leopard Gecko substrates though. Here are the best safe substitutes for Repti Bark.

Clay Burrowing Substrate

This substrate is great for Leopard Geckos. It not only allows them to live in their terrariums safely, but it also allows them to dig and thrive in a more natural environment. Plus this substrate makes terrariums look great. Clay burrowing substrate is also usually very reasonably priced at around $13.

The only downside to using clay burrowing substrate for leopard geckos is that it can be a bit more difficult to clean than some of the other items on this list.

However, all of the benefits that this substrate provides makes this downside easy to overlook for many Leopard Gecko owners.

Reptile Carpet

Reptile carpet is yet another great substrate for Leopard Geckos. It is safe to use and easy to clean. In fact, most reptile carpet is completely washable and reusable. To make things even better, reptile carpet usually doesn’t look out of place inside of terrariums either.

Reptile carpet can be found readily online and in most pet stores. Although they come in a range of prices, reptile carpet is usually very affordable as well.

Non-Slip Tile

Non-slip tile is another reusable Leopard Gecko substrate that is easy to clean. Although this type of substrate doesn’t really give your Leopard Gecko terrarium a natural look, its practicality usually allows Leopard Gecko owners to overlook this potential downside. Non-slip tile is also very affordable, especially when you remember that it is a one-time cost.

This substrate is also great for keeping a Leopard Gecko safe. This is because it contains no small pieces that a Leopard Gecko could mistakenly eat. In addition, this substrate is very easy to clean which is great for a Leopard Gecko’s overall health.

A Paper Towel or Piece of Newspaper

Although a paper towel or a piece of newspaper may not be the most visually appealing substrate in the world, it is completely fine to use for Leopard Geckos.

This is especially true if you just need a temporary substrate. This Leopard Gecko substrate also has the benefit of being extremely cheap and fairly easy to replace when cleaning your terrarium

A wet or moist paper towel could pose some health concerns for Leopard Geckos. Mainly this environment tends to encourage the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in your terrarium.

As a result, you will need to change out this substrate when it gets wet. Although this may not be the best substrate to use, it is still safer than using wood chips in your Leopard Gecko habitat.


Repti Bark is not the best substrate to use in Leopard Gecko terrariums. This is because Leopard Geckos tend to eat these wood chips, and this can be very harmful to them. Using wood chips as a substrate for Leopard Geckos can also cause skin irritation and harbor some unwanted pests such as mites.

Luckily, there are some safe and practical substitutes to Repti Bark for Leopard Geckos.

These include but are not necessarily limited to reptile carpet, non-slip tile, clay burrowing substrate, and a paper towel or newspaper. Of course, Repti Bark can be a great choice for some other types of pets other than Leopard Geckos.

Related Questions

What is the best bedding for leopard geckos?

The best bedding for Leopard Geckos are those that are not loose and cannot be easily eaten by them. Some great beddings for Leopard Geckos include things like reptile carpet, clay burrowing substrate, and non-stick tile.

Do geckos like blankets?

Leopard Geckos enjoy dark places that they can hide in and explore. As a result, many Leopard Geckos enjoy running around in and under blankets. It is important that you keep a close eye on your Leopard Gecko when they are doing this type of exploring to ensure their safety though.

Can leopard geckos have sand in their tank?

Although Leopard Geckos originate from the deserts of the middle east, you really shouldn’t line sand at the bottom of your Leopard Gecko’s tank. Sand could cause impaction when a Leopard Gecko accidentally eats some along with its food. Therefore, it is not the best idea to use this as a substrate for them.

Is repti bark good for leopard geckos?

Repti Bark contains wood chips, and this type of substrate could cause impaction when a Leopard Gecko eats some small pieces along with its food. It also puts your Leopard Gecko at risk for some skin irritation. In addition, this kind of substrate can potentially harbor some things that you do not want there such as mites.


Hi, I'm the owner of Juniper Pets! You can often find me playing fetch with my dogs, working out or cooking up something legendary in the kitchen. Hope you enjoy my blog!

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