Sometimes discussing a “controversy” reveals that there is just more than one way to do things, as you’ll see from the comments below. Interestingly, several people report using a glass/rack “hybrid” system Enjoy the comments and watch for next month’s Controversy.
Sally Martin: Like a lot of ours, I started with glass tanks. As my collection increased reluctantly, I switched to racks. At first, I felt like a bad mommy. But, it turns out they actually seemed to gain weight, and look healthier. I think it was due to less stress during the day. At night, they are peering out the front bins and watching what is going on. It is not like they are in a closed drawer. They still get daylight in the front, but can retreat to the back to sleep.
Maurice Pudlo: Interestingly enough we use a hybrid of both systems for our ground dwelling geckos, leopard geckos for example are housed in 1/2 height 29 gallon glass enclosures that are housed in a rack type system.
This provides both visibility and functionality at a cost that is higher per enclosure than a plastic tub type rack and similar to full sized aquarium type enclosures.
Our arboreal geckos are housed in a combination of front opening and standard top opening aquariums, we prefer the front opening type much more.
Rafael Gomsz: I keep my geckos in a rack system. I used to use glass but switched when I started to keep more leopard geckos. I found glass tanks were too bulky and required individual heat pads where as tubs in racks less space and heat tape could heat several tubs. I really found no difference in the health of my leopard geckos since switching to a rack system. My geckos still come to the front of the tubs to see out especially when I am feeding. It may not be as clear a view as a glass tank but they still look out. Hatchlings are housed individually in 6 qt tubes, sub-adults and adults in 15 qt tubs, and if I house 2-3 geckos together I use 32 qt tubs. Glass tanks are heavier and break easily. Tubs are light weight, easy to clean, and can be stacked for storage. Overall, tubs have been a life saver for me as my collection has grown.
Justin Tressler I tend to go with front opening stackable enclosures. They are opaque on every surface but the front, where it’s translucent plexiglass. I use that style of enclosure for everything from my leos through my cresties , and even my tokay. I feel like the animals can see out into the world through the front, but aren’t overwhelmed from all angles, like glass enclosures. As for convenience of the keeper versus ideal conditions for the occupant, they should be weighted toward the ideal conditions. Convenience only comes into play as a bonus for the keeper, and should never compromise the conditions.
Kendyl Ellison: I enjoy keeping my geckos in plastic drawer housing because not only is it convenient for me regarding space and ease of opening, but it also benefits the animals by having all but one wall covered decreasing the opportunity of stress from traffic passing by the rack. I have kept geckos in glass tanks before, and while esthetically pleasing it simply does not function well unless you have an unlimited amount of space for such things. Not only is space saved, but money is as well. It is all too well known how pricy glass enclosures can become once one accumulates more and more animals that require the same housing. Glass can be great for someone who keeps perhaps two or three geckos, but for those who have growing collections that are for breeding purposes the rack system is without a doubt more efficient and cost effective.
Cricket: Aside from a larger gradient, space for activity, not treating your reptiles as commodities, there are so many more deaths in geckos housed in racks than in glass tanks due to the following reasons:
Easier to escape (never found again or found dead)
Overheating (not much space to escape)
Chris D.: I keep my 3 geckos in glass enclosures because the geckos I own are pets.
But I don’t see a problem with breeders who use racks and provide their animals with all the necessities to have a quality life while they are there, before they are sold to good homes.
As far as keeping “pets” in racks, I don’t think they have as high of a quality life as being in a Terrarium setting… but i’m sure they can be kept in a rack system and remain healthy.
kristie: How do you keep your geckos?
My geckos (only 2 leopard geckos) are both in their own glass enclosures. they both have 3 hides (warm, cold, and moist), and other things. (feed dish, water dish, extra calcium, heating requirements)
Do you prefer racks or glass and why?
I prefer glass, only because I like seeing what’s going on inside the encloure clearly at all times. just in case something needs to be adjusted, and for my personal preference.
If I owned many more than two, I can see how a rack system would be beneficial, given the space required for multiple glass enclosures.
Is either system of a particular benefit or detriment to the geckos?
Not that I am aware. Both seem to fit the basic needs (as long as all needs are being met). I think it’s more for the preference of the keeper, not the gecko.
Is the method of housing species-dependent?
Not entirely sure.
How should the values of convenience for the keeper and ideal conditions for the gecko be weighted relative to each other?
Ideal conditions for the gecko should always be held with more importance. If those conditions are met, with ease for the keeper then it is a plus side. A gecko should not have to miss out on a basic necessity due to the laziness or ease of the keeper.
Aliza Arzt: I’ve heard enough opinions from people I trust to feel that there are compelling reasons, from the perspective of reptile comfort, to use either a rack or a “glass” system. Consequently, for me it comes down to a sense of my own aesthetics. For me, the idea of keeping my reptiles in drawers which I open to see them (like a butterfly collection) violates my personal aesthetic. I really do see this as a personal opinion, not a universal concept. That said, I do have a 16-tub rack with 6 quart tubs which I use for overflow leopard gecko hatchlings and also for my African fat tail and SW banded gecko (Coleonyx) hatchlings since I find it easier to feed small crickets in a closed tub set-up. I’m always hoping to “upgrade” these geckos out of the tubs whenever I sell a bunch at a show. I guess I do also have what you could call a “modified rack” system, consisting of shelves with front-opening glass tanks, which can be divided into compartments for small hatchlings.