My leopard geckos, in general, are pretty low maintenance pets - especially compared to my high energy dogs! That doesn't mean, though, that I don't get a lot of enjoyment out of keeping them. One of my favorite things about keeping reptiles is that I really enjoy setting up their tanks.
Back before the holidays I purchased a few bags of excavator clay. It's an interesting sub-straight to work with. It comes packaged in plastic bags and at first glance seems just like regular sand. The magic happens when you get it wet. When wet, you can use it to sculpt things like caves and borrows. Once it dries out again it becomes very hard, almost like cement. Because it dries this way, as long as you wait for the clay to dry fully before introducing it to your reptile, it shouldn't present the same impaction risks that regular sand can. You can get the natural look of sand without having to worry about the risks associated with using actual sand!
An awesome thing about it is that even after it's fully dry, unlike cement, you can pour water on it and it will soften up again. Perfect for when you need to spot clean an area in your tank, or if you get sick of your current design and want to start over!
That was my first attempt at using excavator clay in Aurora's tank. The whole process took me longer than I had originally anticipated, but I'm pretty happy with the final result. My original plan was to redesign both Aurora's and Miyuki's tanks before Christmas as my holiday gift to them. It took me so long to complete Aurora's tank that I haven't even started on Miyuki's yet. I think a large part of that was due to the fact that this was my first time working with the clay and it involved quite a bit of trial and error. Now that I'm more experienced working with it, things should go a lot smoother the next time around.
The real test, of course, was whether or not Aurora liked her new setup. She certainly seems too! Our house has been on the cool side so her favorite place to hang out is under the warm hide, but I've seen her spend quite a bit of time inside the other hides, as well as just exploring.
Sometime soon I'll have to get started on redesigning Miyuki's tank. Aurora's I'll most likely keep how it is for awhile, although I'm sure that every once in awhile I'll want to change things up all over again. Like I said above, redesigning/setting up my reptile's tanks is one of my favorite things about owning them!