Enrichment, when it comes to pet reptiles, can mean many different things. There’s an entire spectrum of needs when it comes to reptile enrichment. Today we’re going to be reviewing some of the things you can do to provide an enriching environment for your gecko to live in. This is generally something you don’t need to worry about until you’ve got all your basic parameters like (temperature and humidity) completely dialed in and your geckos are well adjusted to their enclosure. Enrichment is also something each of us should take the time to consider when we’re thinking about keeping healthy, happy geckos.
An enriching addition to your gecko’s enclosure may be something as simple as plant to hide in and hunt prey from or the addition of a waterfall leading to a small pool of water. There’s many different directions you can go here and many different needs depending on your gecko, its enclosure and setup, and your budget.
First things first
The first thing I like to do to increase the enriching value of an enclosure is to make it look more natural. A basic enclosure could always use more hides and hiding places. Add a new dimension to the enclosure by placing a hide in a way that requires climbing. Hammocks and nets made of hemp or a similar fiber have steadily gained in popularity and I like to use these to give my geckos a place to climb up and change their view a little bit. If you haven’t already, check out our article on Building a Naturalistic Terrarium. Adding a simple ledge like this Zilla Mushroom Ledge is an easy way to add another dimension for arboreal geckos.
You may be saying “but my whole theme is the skull and pirate motif, not naturalistic!” – no problem! The point here is to make sure your gecko has more than just the basics. Use your terrarium decor to create shadows, dark caves, pseudo-hides, and other interesting areas for your gecko to explore. Add some fluffed up sheets of moss to give your gecko another dimension and texture to experience. All these things help give the enclosure enrichment points.
When feeding and watering
An easy, but sometimes expensive, way to easily add an enriching element to your enclosure is to purchase a misting system. Mist King is the industry standard here but other units can be had from Zilla or Zoo Med for considerably less.
A super easy way to add an enriching behavior to your gecko’s routine is to regularly place his or her food in a new location within the enclosure. Changing the location of the food bowl or the place where the dubia roaches are dumped will force your gecko to take a new approach to hunting that day. Sometimes you can even elevate the food bowl so your lizard is looking UP to feed, as shown by this Zoo Med Mealworm Feeder.
Other terrarium elements
You could even add mood lighting to help enrich your gecko’s enclosure. Put the lights on an automatically timed dimmer that simulates sunrise and sunset. Maybe even add a small LED array that mimics moonlight at night.
If your gecko likes to make audible calls, croaks, or other sounds, you could enrich his environment by playing recordings of his species. This would give him something to call and respond to. It may be a fun, enriching addition to your gecko’s night.
Don’t forget to also think about enrichment as a temporary addition to your gecko’s life. You could save up some clean paper towel rolls and add them all to the enclosure for a couple days. This would stimulate the gecko while not stressing him out too much.
There are many things you can do to enrich the environment your gecko lives in. These are good things to consider once you have all your basic care parameters dialed in and your gecko is living its best life.
What are some fun things you do to enrich your gecko’s life? What does she or he respond to the most? Anything that doesn’t work in your experience?