Crested Geckos, Geckos, Habitat and Enclosures

5 Best Substrates For Crested Geckos (Baby, Juvenile, And Adult) In 2022

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by The Pet Engineers


The substrate forms an integral part of the enclosure of a crested gecko. You need to be very careful when making a choice for the substrate.

The substrate should not be too fine, or it can cause respiratory problems.

It should be easily digestible and nontoxic so that if the crested gecko accidentally eats some, it doesn’t get harmed.

When deciding which substrate to buy, you should put your researching hats on and make an informed choice.

  • Top Pick
    Zoo Med Forest Floor Substrate

    Zoo Med Forest Floor Substrate

    100% natural cypress mulch
    and all-natural ” Green” Product

  • Premium Pick
    zoo med eco earth

    Zoo Med Ecoearth Substrate

    Ideal for naturalistic terrarium-type set-ups incorporating reptiles, amphibians, or invertebrates

  • Best Value

    Reptibark Substrate

    Reusable bark can be refreshed for up to a year!

5 Best Substrates For Crested Geckos

A list of 5 well-known substrates has been given below to help you form a more informed choice.

Top Pick
Zoo Med Forest Floor Substrate

Zoo Med Forest Floor Substrate

  • 100% natural cypress mulch
  • All-natural ” Green” Product

This substrate is made of cypress mulch.

Why it’s great for crested geckos?

  1. The major USP of this substrate is that it is 100% cypress mulch. That is literally the only ingredient. This means that the substrate is free from all toxic chemicals and potentially harmful substances.
  2. It is not dusty so you can rest assured that your crested gecko will not develop any irritations in its respiratory tract.

Zoo Med Ecoearth Substrate

zoo med eco earth
  • Ideal for naturalistic terrarium-type set-ups incorporating reptiles, amphibians, or invertebrates
  • Use it damp for tropical species as it naturally absorbs and breaks down odor and waste products

The Eco Earth substrate by Zoo Med is another great product.

It is made of coconut fiber, which makes it a naturalistic choice for crested gecko tanks.

Why it’s great for crested geckos?

  1. It comes in compact bricks so it is easy to store and transport.
  2. Being made of coconut fiber, this substrate is digestible and won’t cause impaction to crested geckos.
  3. This substrate helps keep odor in check and retains appropriate levels of moisture without waterlogging the tank.

Reptibark Substrate

  • Healthy bark floor covering for high-humidity-loving reptiles
  • All-natural reptile substrate is made of real fir tree bark
  • Reusable bark can be refreshed for up to a year!

ReptiBark is another naturalistic substrate that consists of the bark of fir trees.

The particle sizes of ReptiBark are pretty small, despite the ingredient being the bark of trees. So, it won’t cause an impaction risk.

Why it’s great for crested geckos?

  1. It retains moisture and makes the enclosure smell good.
  2. It contains 100% small size pieces of the bark of fir trees. It has no toxic or harmful chemicals.
  3. It can be used in combination with Eco Earth.

Zilla Terrarium Liner Substrate

zilla terrarium liner substrate
  • A low maintenance bedding for reptile terrariums, cut to size as needed.
  • Safe because it cannot be digested like other substrates, a good alternative especially for juvenile reptiles.

This is a kind of reptile carpet that can act as an excellent substrate for your crested gecko tank.

It won’t have a naturalistic appearance. But apart from that, it is a pretty hassle-free substrate.

Why it’s great for crested geckos?

  1. It will have no risk of impaction at all.
  2. It is easy to spot clean, replace, and maintain.
  3. It has a coating of a biodegradable enzyme that reduces odor.

Reptichip Premium Coconut Reptile Substrate

reptichip coconut substrate
  • 72-Quart compressed brick
  • Odor absorbing
  • 100% Organic coco chips are highly sustainable and earth-friendly.

It is a premium brand for coconut fiber substrates.

Why it’s great for crested geckos?

  1. It is dust-free and dirt-free.
  2. Overall, as a coconut fiber substrate, it reduces odor, retains moisture, and is non-toxic. However, due to the larger particle size, it is more suitable for pythons and iguanas.
  3. It can pose a risk of impaction for your crested gecko.

Why Do Crested Geckos Need Substrate?

In the simplest terms, a crested gecko tank needs a substrate to mimic its natural habitat and promote natural behavior.

A substrate serves the following purposes in a crested gecko tank:

  • It retains moisture and thus helps maintain the humidity levels of the tank.
  • It provides means for the crested gecko to thermoregulate when it gets too hot.
  • It provides means for crested geckos to lay down during shedding.
  • It provides a safe and comfortable spot for gravid female crested geckos to lay their eggs.
  • It promotes natural behavior and makes the crested gecko feel at ease in the tank.

Are Substrates Necessary In Crested Gecko’s Tank?

Yes, substrates are necessary for the crested gecko tank. When you keep any animal as your pet, you need to provide an environment that promotes its natural behavior.

This is essential for the physical, mental, and behavioral health of the animal.

The same logic holds true for crested geckos as well. And a substrate plays an integral role in maintaining the natural environment of a crested gecko.

It also retains moisture and maintains the humidity level in the tank.

Things To Consider When Picking The Best Substrate

Some important points to take care of when buying substrate are given below.

Tank Size

The quantity of substrate you need will depend on the size of your crested gecko tank. Inside the tank, the entire floor should be covered with the substrate.

The depth of the substrate layer should be approximately 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) inside the tank.

Moisture and Humidity

The substrate that you use should have the ability to retain moisture without getting drenched.

The substrate should not cause waterlogging either.

Any imbalance in the moisture content of the substrate can impact the humidity of the tank and make your crested gecko uneasy.


Spot cleaning should be possible with whatever substrate you use.

Hygiene is very important and you should not use any substrate that will hinder your ability to clean the tank.

Moreover, the substrate itself should be such that it does not rot or decompose.

Cleaning and Maintenance

The tank of a crested gecko needs spot cleaning every day and deep cleaning at least once a month.

When you choose a substrate, ensure that it is something like a paper towel, coconut husk, or sphagnum moss.

Such a substrate is easy to clean and maintain without the risk of rot or decomposition.

Substrates To Avoid

Some substrates that you should absolutely avoid are:

  • Bark and wood chips. These have impaction risks in case your crested gecko accidentally ingests them.
  • Substrates based on pine or cedar. These substrates excrete oils that can cause neurological problems in the crested gecko.
  • Sand or sandy soil. Won’t retain moisture. Moreover, if your crested gecko gets a mouthful accidentally, it can lead to impaction.

Is Reptisoil Good For Crested Geckos?

Reptisoil has its pros and cons for crested gecko tanks. Its benefits are that it retains moisture pretty well and is pretty safe for adult crested geckos.

In fact, it also provides a comfortable surface for gravid female crested geckos to lay eggs.

The one problem with ReptiSoil is that it cannot be used with juvenile or baby crested geckos.

They will be at risk of impaction if they get a mouthful of this substrate accidentally.

Is Reptile Carpet Good For Crested Geckos?

Reptile carpet may or may not work for your crested gecko.

There isn’t any hazard associated with reptile carpets.

In fact, they are easy to clean and maintain and they don’t interfere with the humidity levels of the enclosure.

But, some crested gecko owners have reported discomfort experienced by their pets due to the fibers of the carpet irritating the setae or microscopic hair on their feet.

As long as you buy good-quality reptile carpets, you should be good to go.

Should You Get Paper Towel Substrates For Crested Gecko Or Not?

Paper towel substrates are a great choice for crested gecko tanks. They work especially well for baby and juvenile crested geckos.

There is no risk of impaction with paper towel substrates and they are easy to spot clean and replace.

Bioactive Vs Non-Bioactive Substrate

Bioactive substrates contain microfauna, isopods, and an active biome inside them.

This mimics the natural bioactive cycle of rainforests. So, when you use a bioactive substrate, you will get benefits such as:

  • Cleanliness of the substrate by decomposition and use of fecal matter as nutrition for enclosure plants
  • No need of replacing bioactive bedding for years if used with proper microfauna
  • Maintaining humidity levels and simultaneously supporting the natural environment of the enclosure
  • Promoting the natural behavior of crested geckos

Non-bioactive substrates are materials like sphagnum moss or coconut fiber – non-living parts of organic matter that act as bedding for your crested gecko tank.

The major advantage of non-bioactive substrates is that they are cheaper and you can make your DIY substrates easily.


A substrate forms an integral part of your crested gecko enclosure.

To ensure your crested gecko is comfortable, healthy, and safe, you should be careful about the substrate you choose.

A good quality substrate will retain an appropriate amount of moisture without waterlogging.

It will also be digestible, nontoxic, and free from harmful chemicals. And lastly, a good substrate should be easy to clean, maintain, and replace.

The Pet Engineers

A team of pet lovers. We have owned various pets over their years. From dogs to reptiles, etc. Our love of pets, strive to us to create up-to-date and accurate helpful guides on pets.

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