Wondering how long leopard geckos can go without heat? This guide is for you!
Of the things a leopard gecko cannot do without, proper heating is right up there at the top of the list.
But, as it sometimes happens, the heating system in the enclosure may fail due to unavoidable circumstances.
How long do you think your gecko can survive without heat? Not for long, especially if the temperatures dip too low.
A leopard gecko can live for up to 90 days without heat, as long as the temperatures don’t go below 160 C (600 F). So your pet may be okay for the first week or so. However, if the situation is not rectified, this reptile enters brumation and feeds off its fat reserves.
This is a dire situation and will eventually lead to death if it is not taken care of.
How Long Can Leopard Geckos Live Without Heat?
To know why leopard geckos cannot survive without heat for long, you need to understand this animal’s origins.
Although leopard geckos are nowadays found in many homes in Western countries, they originally come from dry arid areas.
In the wild, leopard geckos get heat from rocks that have stored warmth from the sun.
This means that they are genetically wired to thrive in hot weather. However, being cold-blooded, you need to provide your little pet with external heating.
As such, heating should be a major consideration when setting up your leo’s enclosure. Some of the best heat sources for leos in captivity include UVB lights and heat mats.
These devices work by imitating the natural environment under which your leopard gecko would thrive.
Suppose the leopard gecko finds itself in a temperature region. In that case, it will likely go into brumation from the onset of winter.
In this situation, the leos internal systems slow down, and this reptile becomes inactive. The leo starts feeding off the fat reserves stored in its tail.
If the temperatures keep dropping, your leo stands the very real risk of death.
Effect of Keeping Your Leopard Gecko is Low Temperatures
Exposing your leopard gecko to leo to low temperatures for long is dangerous. Your little pet will be susceptible to myriad health issues and untold suffering.
Here’s a look at the potential health risk to your leopard gecko due to low temperatures:
This happens when your leo’s stomach is obstructed. Impaction means that food cannot pass properly through the stomach and intestines.
In other words, your pet’s digestive system is compromised.
Exposing your leopard gecko consistently too low temperatures means that he won’t be able to feed and poop normally.
If left untreated, this problem turns fatal. Talk to your vet about the possible remedies for this problem.
They may advise you to give your pet a warm bath belly message. You could also use mineral oil or olive drops to alleviate the problem.
Stick Tail Disease
Ordinarily, your leopard gecko stores all its fat in the tail. This is why your gecko’s tail looks chubby when he’s well taken care of.
Subjecting your leopard gecko to low temperatures makes him lose weight, and his tail looks stick-like.
This is a serious condition that requires immediate professional intervention. First, take some blood and fecal samples to the vet to determine the cause of the problem.
Your pet’s immunity is compromised when he’s consistently exposed to low temperatures. As such, opportunistic respiratory infection takes hold.
You’ll realize your leo has respiratory complications by the way he changes his behavior. For example, he’ll have clogged nostrils, and to compensate for lack of air, he’ll sit with his mouth open.
Other signs and symptoms include lethargy, bubbly saliva, and loss of appetite.
What to Do in Unexpected Power Loss
It is common for the heating system to fail when you least expect it. As such, you need an emergency plan to mitigate such situations.
This is more so if you live in an area prone to power outages. Having a contingency plan shows you have your leo’s best interests at heart.
Leopard geckos react poorly if exposed to low temperatures for long. However, you don’t have to be overly concerned if the outage is temporary.
As noted earlier, your leo can survive for quite a while in low temperatures – as long as they don’t fall below 160 C (600 F).
Here are some measures you can take in the event of unexpected power loss:
#1 – Use a Standby Power Generator
It is prudent for every responsible leo keeper to have a standby generator or power station. This comes in handy in case of unexpected power loss.
A good generator will power up the enclosure and keep your leopard gecko warm during the outage. The good thing about this backup system is that it is not complicated.
Generators are easy to use, and they are also quite affordable. So, of course, you just need a small generator that will cater to your leopard gecko’s needs.
Be keen to follow the manufacturer’s manual in installing and using the generator.
A good number of keepers prefer to use power stations instead of generators for several reasons. For example, a generator is quieter and safer.
As long as you keep the power stations well charged, they will serve you well in an emergency.
#2 – Use Heat Packs
Although heat packs are designed for use during transportation, you can use them in the leo’s enclosure in an emergency.
Heat packs can be effective for up to 72 hours. This means they’ll hold the forte until the power comes back on – unless the outage is caused by a significant problem that would take days to rectify.
Heat packs are advantageous because they are cheap, unlike power stations and generators.
The only downside to using heat packs is that they cause burns if not properly used. As such, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions before placing the heat packs in the enclosure.
A good way of ensuring safety is wrapping the heat pack with suitable insulating material.
#3 – Use Kerosene Heaters
This is another option you can employ for your leopard gecko’s emergency heating needs.
While this heating system is not as effective as the two discussed above, it can provide a temporary solution in an emergency.
#4 – Cover the Tank
You can prevent heat loss from the tank during a power outage by covering the tank with an insulating material.
A suitable material should not be airtight. Instead, it should retain the heat without making it hard for your pet to breathe.
#5 – Relocate the Leopard Gecko
If you don’t know how long the blackout will last, you may want to relocate your leopard gecko(s) to a place with electricity.
Consider taking it to a friend or relative who appreciates the value of such a pet. Your leo should be safe there until the situation stabilizes.
#6 – Snuggle Your Pet
Any good leo keeper will tell you that snuggling your pet does wonders in a blackout. This entails wrapping the leo in a comfortable cloth and keeping him close to your body.
However, remember you’re dealing with an animal that may harbor dangerous pathogens on its skin. As such, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after the snuggling exercise.
Also, avoid handling food or putting your fingers into your mouth as you snuggle your pet.
Snuggling your leopard gecko will only work if he is not averse to handling.
#7 – Take the Leo to Your Car
This temporary solution is not viable if the outage lasts long. So instead, put the pet in a carrier bag and take him to your running car.
Hopefully, the gas will last long enough and keep your leo warm until the power is back on.
#8 – Stop Feeding Your Leo
Stop feeding your leopard gecko without a suitable heat source until the power resumes. You see, animals need heat to digest and process food.
Feeding your leopard gecko when it doesn’t have enough heat means the food will stay in the stomach, undigested.
This is dangerous, as the food is likely to decay and cause health complications. If the power outage is scheduled, it would be wise to stop feeding your pet 24 hours before the planned blackout.
What to Do at the Onset of the Outage
- Turn off all electrical devices, gadgets, and appliances in the enclosure (and the house). This will prevent potential problems caused by a power surge when the power comes back on.
- Retain heat in the leo’s cage by placing blankets and towels over it.
- The cage and the animal will cool down after the first 12 hours. Don’t panic; this is expected.
- Keep providing water to your leopard gecko 12 hours after the outage.
- If the blackout lasts as long as 3 days, check on your leo regularly to ensure he’s okay.
- If by the 5th day, electricity has not been restored, look for ways to provide the enclosure with a secondary source of heat.
- When the power resumes, switch on the electrical devices and help your pet to get warmed up.
- Gradually introduce feeding as your leopard gecko resumes its routine life.
Because they are cold-blooded animals, leopard geckos need an external heat source to survive.
However, in the absence of heat, your leo can live for several days, provided the temperatures do not drop below 160 C (600 F).
The good news is that there’s something you can do to keep your leo safe and healthy until the heat is restored.
We hope the points we’ve discussed above help.