I received some feedback this week from one of my followers who has recently switched her impacted leopard gecko from sand substrate to vinyl substrate, and I wanted to share her email to everyone else who comes across my blog.
But first, I wanted to acknowledge that knowing which substrate to use for leopard geckos is very confusing for many new and existing leopard gecko owners – and it’s really no wonder!
There are plenty of “expert” pet stores claiming sand is safe for leopard geckos, and yet the internet is full of cases which have proven that sand (and other forms of loose substrate) cause serious digestion problems in these small reptiles.
See: Does sand/ loose substrate cause impaction in leopard geckos?
I can anticipate you asking why would pet stores claim this is ok? I also asked the same when I was being pushed to buy the “safe” calci-sand for my own geckos. The only logical explanation is that when you are changing sand frequently, it means you will be a return customer for the store, and they can make more money from you. I find this really sad.
See: Which is the best substrate for leopard geckos? / Vinyl substrate for leopard geckos: Review / Does sphagnum moss cause impaction?
A bit of background on Maria’s gecko; she was suffering with classic signs of impaction after being housed on calci-sand; wasn’t eating well and was struggling to poop. Maria purchased some vinyl and here’s how her gecko’s health dramatically changed.
Full disclaimer – I do sell vinyl/ lino substrate on my blog, but this is because I had to purchase a minimum order meaning I have been left with a big roll of it, and because the vinyl lasts so well and cleans so nicely, I have way more than I could ever use. I genuinely think this is the best substrate I have tried therefore I am happy to sell some if other owners discover my blog and would like some too.
Maria Breil-Hensen @mariabreilhansen:
It is so good!! So easy to clean and so pretty in both kind of lights (we have UV and natural)! Really happy! Like you said, it was so easy to adjust and install.
When we first got our gecko we were recommended calcium sand from a gecko expert on a Danish website. It’s not expensive, looked pretty and we thought “hey calcium, if she ingests it she only gets some good stuff for her body!”.
We were awfully wrong! It’s difficult to clean, makes a mess on the floor, gets stuck in the slot where the terrarium doors slide so they become noisy, doesn’t absorb bad smell, cockroaches hide beneath it and now she’s been constipated! The only good thing is that it’s easy to heat up.
We found out two days ago that she hadn’t eaten any of her locusts and only taken a small bite of a cockroach. Normally she takes her time and eats them over a few days.
It’s not normal that after a couple of days all of them are still alive, and we heard her make some heartbreaking sounds when she tried to poop. We’ve bathed her and massaged her belly, and luckily your substrate arrived yesterday, so we made the new terrarium ready as fast as we could. It was so easy to adjust the size, I hadn’t considered the terrarium background which follows, but it turned out amazing.
The first thing she did in the new terrarium was a poop on the heating mat area. Because of the lino it was SO easy to see and properly clean up, like spotless clean! Not only that, I could see the size, shape, color, and what it was made of (almost only calcium sand!)
In the calcium sand we could never get all of it and I had no chance to see it to examine it. She looks like she doesn’t have any problems walking on the lino. Thank you! She found her darkest, safest hide and has slept ever since. I think she finally can relax.
So, your lino:
- Pretty in all light
- Easy to heat up
- Easy to clean, but most importantly the poop is clear so it can be examined and sickness more easily discovered
- Easily adjustable, even with a terrarium background
- Cockroaches will not hide under it
- Goes with all hides and stones in different colors (we have brown and grey)
- She looks like she likes it, like “I can rest now dear human, thank you.”
Feedback like this honestly makes my day – I’m so glad that another leopard gecko has been taken off harmful sand and is returning to full health.
Thank you to Maria for contributing your feedback, which has created the main bulk of this post – I didn’t expect to receive such a lovely email but I am so thankful!
Also, all photos used in this post have been kindly sent to me by Maria of her new setup and beautiful gecko 🙂