Do Geckos Need a Water Dish?

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If you are setting up a new tank for your gecko, you may be wondering whether you need to get a water dish to complete the setup.

The answer is a resounding “yes”! Your gecko needs a water dish for consumption and hydration.

However, do you know how to choose the best water dish for your geckos? Read on to find out more!


Should I Give My Gecko a Water Dish?

Although some gecko breeds originate from desert regions, they need to drink water too. 

However, a water dish’s purpose isn’t solely to provide drinking water. 

Geckos can use the extra hydration or assistance when shedding, and having a water dish can be a helpful tool if your gecko has stuck shed. Water helps by loosening the shed up slightly, allowing the gecko to get it off much easier. 

Keeping standing water in your tank will also aid with humidity levels for our reptile friends that require humidity in the air.

Crested Geckos

A Crested gecko comes from a more tropical climate and has an ideal humidity level about twice that of a leopard gecko. They will likely be required to be misted twice a day. 

You want to aim for 60-80% humidity. Paired with regular misting, you should have no problems keeping your crestie hydrated and happy.

gecko drinking water in the wild

While Crested Geckos are happy to drink droplets of water from leaves and branches, that water source is completely reliant upon available water droplets, which is not a water source that you can count on. Water should be refreshed every few days or whenever you give them fresh food.

Leopard Geckos

As for leopard geckos, being from a dry desert climate, they get most of their daily required moisture from the bodies of the insects that they eat. 

They can go without drinking fresh water for a few days, but this should never be your go-to, as you can never be sure that they are receiving enough hydration from the insects they eat. Plus, giving your leopard gecko access to a water dish can help them shed or cool off if needed.


How Big Should My Gecko’s Water Dish Be?

There is no sure-fire size for either gecko, but there are a few general guidelines that you can use to find the best fit for your enclosure. 

Leopard Gecko Guidelines

If you have a leopard gecko, the water dish should be wide enough for it to climb inside it but not so deep that it is completely submerged. 

Crested Gecko Guidelines

For a crested gecko, you need a water dish that easily fits and sits well higher up in the tank as they like to climb and enjoy being high up in the tank on branches or leaves. You can keep the basic plastic water dishes in a temporary enclosure and build something more permanent for the tank when you have something built out, but either is fine and will work well. 

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Recommended Water Dishes for Geckos

Below are several good options for water dishes to think about while you’re putting your enclosure together. The dishes listed should tick off all of your boxes for appropriate sizing and meeting accessibility needs for each type of gecko. 

suction cup feeder for gecko

Both recommendations should be easily accessible (and affordable) through Amazon or your local pet supplies store.  If you want to build something more custom, the necessary materials and guidelines for that scenario are listed below as well.

Leopard Gecko Recommendations

We recommend the 11″x 8″x 2.4″ reptile water bowl by REPTIZOO.

These are highly rated and recommended water dishes for leopard geckos. Notice that they are wide enough for your gecko to relax in, if needed, and give great access to clean water.

Crested Gecko Recommendations 

For our cresties, we recommend the suction cup feeder by SLSON.

These are also great options made specifically for crested geckos. Notice that these have either a suction cup backing or a magnet backing to keep the water dishes at an elevated level.

Some first-time crested gecko owners can be a bit put off by a magnetized backing to a water dish, and while they are considered safe, some would say that you have more stability and reliability with a suction cup backing. It really is up to the owner to make the best decision for their gecko.

How to Build Your Own Water Dish

Some people may prefer to build out their enclosure, making it look more natural and closer to their gecko’s environment. If you want to build your own water dish, you’ll need silicone, a silicone gun, polyacrylic, brushes for the polyacrylic, and a heat gun.

Linked here is a very informative and easy-to-follow video to help you create a safe and sealed water dish for your enclosure. This is not necessary for the health of your gecko, but it could be fun or even a cathartic project if you want a more natural aesthetic.


Can Geckos Drink Bottled Water?

Geckos were not born with the systems we have that will allow them to process the hard water most of us have in the tap nowadays. Using water from your fridge, from bottles, or from a filter to give them the best options for drinking water

Leopard Geckos

If you don’t have any other option but to give tap water, leopard geckos have been known to do just fine, but preferably, they should be given spring or distilled water. Bottled water would be fine for them as well. Just try to avoid tap water if at all possible.

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Crested Geckos

Crested Geckos, on the other hand, must be given water with no chlorine. Chlorine can be detrimental to their health and should only be given purified or distilled water.

This also applies to the water being used to mist their tanks. As always, it is better to err on the safe side when it comes to your reptile’s health. 


What Happens If I Don’t Provide My Gecko With a Water Dish?

Leopard and Crested geckos alike can experience a plethora of negative health conditions without a water dish. Dehydration is a gateway to a wide variety of medical issues. By not giving that accessibility to water, your pet is more likely to get dehydrated and get very sick. 

Signs of dehydration:

  • Wrinkly skin/Skin has a puckered appearance
  • Skin loses its elasticity
  • Abnormal Lethargy and weakness
  • Trouble Shedding
  • Constipation or infrequent defecation. 
  • Noticeably not drinking

If you notice any of these signs, it is likely that your pet is dehydrated and should be given more water accessibility, and an appointment with a vet should be made at the earliest convenience. 


Help! My Gecko is Laying in Their Water Dish! Why Are They Doing That?

My Gecko is Laying in Their Water Dish

If you notice your gecko exhibiting some odd behavior and sitting in their water dish for fun, let me ease your mind a bit. While there can be concerning reasons for your gecko to be hanging out in their water dish, such as parasites or a mite infestation, those reasons are far down on the list. It is much more often that your gecko just enjoys the water.

Leopard Geckos

If you are a leopard gecko owner, this behavior is totally normal! Leopard geckos originate from a dry desert-type environment.

They could be using the water bowl as a way to cool off, or they really could just enjoy being in the water. There is nothing to be concerned about if you ever notice this behavior in your leopard gecko. Sometimes they just exhibit weird behaviors that just end up being fun personality quirks. 

Crested Geckos

The same can go for cresties! While this is much less common for a crested gecko as their water dishes tend to be much smaller than a leopard gecko, you may see it from time to time. It’s not really a cause for concern. 


Conclusion

Simply enough, providing your gecko with a water dish is an easy and cheap way to prevent many health complications. It can aid with shedding and also helps keep the humidity levels where they need to be. Be sure to provide fresh water at least every other day, and your gecko should have no problem staying happy and hydrated.

As always, if you suspect that your pet is showing signs of becoming dehydrated, call and make an appointment with your exotic vet for evaluation as soon as possible.