A moist environment is essential to a leopard gecko’s shedding process, and sphagnum moss is probably the most common and effective method used to achieve an area of suitable humidity within a vivarium.
It is a well-known fact that loose substrate can cause impaction in leopard geckos, and I am very against using it as substrate for the entire floor of vivariums due to the countless instances of leopard geckos becoming impacted from ingesting it.
Sphagnum moss within a moist hide is a small area of loose substrate, therefore carries risks of becoming ingested, especially when a leopard gecko is pulling at it’s skin during their shed.
One of my friends had an experience with their leopard gecko where spagnum moss caused impaction, but luckily, as an experienced reptile keeper, he was able to remedy this himself and the gecko is now happy and healthy.
In my previous post on loose substrate and impaction I included photos, but they’re quite graphic so I won’t include them on this post.
He has switched his geckos onto Eco Earth, which again is a loose substrate, and I assume is less likely to get tangled so large quantities won’t be ingested.
However it is important to note that a small area of loose substrate in a moist hide is vastly different to having an entire floor covered in a loose substrate, so I am not against using it in moist hides.
Just to take extra precautions, I like to dampen some absorbent kitchen towel and lay it on top of the sphagnum moss, which maintains humidity but limits contact with my geckos and the loose substrate.
I tend to use sphagnum moss as I haven’t got along with Eco Earth in the past, and one brick makes SO much and I don’t know where to store it when it’s not being used in my moist hides.
So the bottom line is, yes it can cause impaction, but there are few things as effective at maintaining a moist environment, however the negative impact can be limited as outlined above.
I hope this post was helpful, and if you have any stories about your gecko being impacted, then please do share in the comments below.