Wondering what are the suitable temperatures for a Leopard Gecko? This guide is for you!
Leopard geckos are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
While the right temperatures can make this reptile flourish, the wrong tank temperatures can make life a living hell for your little friend.
So, what are the best tank temperatures for leopard geckos?
A leopard gecko tank should have two sets of temperatures, one for the warm side and the other for the cooler side of the enclosure. The warmer side of the tank should be 280 C – 340 C (820F – 940 F), while the cooler side should be 240 C – 260 C (750 F – 780 F). Nighttime tank temperatures should be 200C – 230C (680F – 730F).
It’s imperative that you constantly monitor the tank temperatures to ensure they remain within the acceptable range. Consider investing in good-quality thermometers and thermostats to help you with this.
Why You Should Monitor Your Leopard Gecko’s Tank Temperatures
Being lizards, leopard geckos are cold-blooded and depend on external heat sources to carry out their bodily functions.
A simple function like digestion would be impossible without the correct tank temperatures. But, unfortunately, these little reptiles cannot produce their own heat; they rely on the heat you provide to stay warm.
Leopard geckos in the wild go into brumation if the temperatures fall too low. They shut down most of their bodily functions and rest to conserve energy.
This makes sense because they use less energy when they slow down their metabolic rate. This is how wild leopard geckos survive the winter.
Your leopard gecko does not have to go into brumation because you can maintain a constant temperature throughout the year.
However, some experts opine that brumation is an important phase of your leo’s life, and should be induced.
Only experienced leopard gecko keepers can induce brumation in a home setting. By purposefully dropping the temperatures to about 100 C (500 F), the leopard gecko instinctively feels winter has come.
It is believed that leos that experience brumation are healthier and live more vibrant lives.
It’s crucial that you closely monitor the tank temperatures because this is your pet’s lifeline. Temperatures that keep fluctuating will adversely affect your leo’s life.
His health and comfort will be disrupted, and he’ll end up living a short, miserable life.
Why Is Heat Important to a Leopard Gecko?
To understand why you should keep your eyes on the heat gauge, you should know the origin of this reptile.
Leopard geckos originate from the hot deserts of the Middle East. Here, they stay hidden from the soaring day temperatures only to come out at night when the temperatures have fallen.
For this reason, leopard geckos are crepuscular – they are most active at twilight and dawn.
Because of their genetic makeup, leopard geckos are averse to cold. As a result, they experience all kinds of health issues when exposed to cold temperatures.
This is why you should never allow tank temperatures to fall below 160 C (610 F), even on a bad day. Your leopard gecko cannot carry out bowel movements under low temperatures. This leads to impaction, which comes with its own set of health complications.
High temperatures enable your leopard gecko to perform digestion and other internal functions. This is not to say; however, that leopard geckos tolerate high temperatures.
Keeping your leopard gecko in extremely high temperatures is an invitation for trouble. High temperatures cause heat stroke, which is fatal.
What’s the Best Leopard Gecko Temperature Gradient?
A temperature gradient is a difference between the tank’s warmer and cooler sides.
Your leopard gecko needs a warm or hot zone for quasi-basking. He goes to this place when he wants heat to digest food.
Also, the leopard gecko needs cooler temperatures in the hides. So he goes here when he wants to cool down.
Both warm and cool temperatures and important for your pet’s growth and overall health. Maintaining the right tank temperatures gives your pet a chance to live a long, healthy, and happy life.
To create the right temperature gradient, there should be temperature differentiation. For example, the warmer side of the tank should be 280 C (820 F).
You should also create a hot zone with slightly higher temperatures of about 340 C (940 F). This zone provides your leopard gecko with the heat he needs for quasi-basking.
Although leopard geckos don’t bask per se, they visit the warmest part of the enclosure for heat to digest food.
This is known as quasi-basking.
Also, in the enclosure should be the dry and moist hide. The dry hide should have a temperature slightly lower than the warm side of the tank.
A dry hide with about 260 C (790 F) is okay. Your leopard gecko goes here when he wants some privacy.
The dry hide provides a safe haven when he feels stressed, threatened, or just wants to be alone.
Temperatures in the moist hide should be lower – about 240 C (750 F). So your leopard gecko comes here when he wants to cool down.
The cool hide also provides your pet with the right conditions during shedding. Of course, your leo wants to stay cool and moist during this process, and the moist hide comes in handy.
Take care that the temperature gradient in the enclosure is not too high. Your leopard gecko does not need very high or low temperatures.
As the owner, you must maintain the temperature gradient within the acceptable range.
What’s the Ideal Nighttime Temperature for a Leopard Gecko?
Being crepuscular, leopard geckos are most active at dusk and dawn. Therefore, the nighttime temperatures you create for this lizard must simulate what they enjoy in the wild.
In the hot Afghan and Iran deserts, dusk and dawn temperatures range between 180 C and 210 C (640 F and 700 F).
This is what you need to simulate as nighttime temperatures in the enclosure. These temperatures are comfortable enough for your leopard gecko to hunt and rest overnight.
It’s common for leopard geckos to rest after the flurry of activities they conduct at twilight. They don’t sleep as such during the night – they just rest as they digest the food they have captured.
Their nighttime life may be disrupted if the temperatures are either too high or too low. However, if the temperatures remain too high, your pet cannot rest.
If the temperatures are too low, this lizard will be susceptible to respiratory infections. As such, you need some external heat source to stabilize the nighttime temperatures.
A heat mat or a ceramic heat emitter should do the trick. Remember, you can use lights as a heat source at night as this would disrupt your pet’s day-night cycle.
How to Achieve the Ideal Tank Temperatures
A new leopard gecko keeper may be at a loss on the best heat source for their leopard gecko enclosure.
The best heat source for the tank includes light, heat mats, and ceramic heat emitters. Let’s have a look at each in more detail.
Leopard Gecko’s Light Needs
Do leopard geckos need lighting at night? This question has split opinions among keepers, with some believing that leos don’t need light because they are active at night.
Well, this is debatable, considering the leopard geckos are most active at twilight and dawn. They mostly rest and digest their food in the hours between dusk and dawn.
Experts opine that leopard geckos need like as it helps them maintain a circadian rhythm. Light enables your little reptile friend to differentiate between day and night.
Since you keep your leopard gecko in a room, he needs light during the day to know it is daytime. The lights should be off at night to alert him it is nighttime.
Ideally, your leopard gecko should have 12 hours of daylight and 12 of nighttime. You can achieve this by controlling the lighting appropriately.
Of course, these hours may change slightly during winter. 10 hours of daylight in winter would suffice.
The correct lighting setup can heat the tank enclosure during the day.
Why Is UVB lighting Important for My Leopard Gecko?
A mercury vapor UVB provides both heat and light for your leopard gecko. But, a UVB bulb is not just a source of light and heat.
UVB bulbs emit light rays that enable your leopard gecko to metabolize Vitamin D into D3.
This is an important process as it allows your pet to absorb calcium, an important component of keeping metabolic bone disease at bay.
Metabolic bone disease is a debilitating condition that leads to death. However, your leopard gecko with the right UVB setup will be safe from this condition.
However, UVB should be provided in the right wattage. A high UVB emission can irritate your leopard gecko’s eyes and skin.
The best choice for your leopard gecko’s enclosure is a 5% UVB bulb. Anything higher than 10% will damage your penetrate your pet’s thin skin and damage his eyes.
At the same time, remember to change the UVB bulb every six months. Unfortunately, these bulbs take around this period to degrade, becoming less effective.
Using Heat Mats
These mats are placed on the floor on the warm side of the enclosure. Heat mats give your leopard gecko the heat he needs for digestion and other bodily functions.
It’s important that you control the heat emitted by a heat mat to prevent the enclosure from getting too hot.
Also, if the heat mat gets too hot, your leopard gecko will be burned.
This calls on you to invest in a good-quality thermostat. This gadget should be placed above the heat mat to turn off the temperatures when they reach a certain level.
The heat mat should be big enough to cover up to a ½ of the enclosure. For example, an 8-watt mat of appropriate size can be used on a 20 – 30 gallon tank.
You need a large heat mat with a higher wattage for the really big tanks. A good quality heat mat allows for air circulation underneath it.
Avoid moving the heat mat too often, as this could damage its heating element.
Using Ceramic Heat Emitters (CHEs)
This is one of the best heat sources you can use at night because it does not produce light. A good ceramic heat emitter for your leopard gecko’s enclosure should range between 100 and 500 watts.
Because ceramic heat emitters can get very hot, they are suitable for larger tanks where heat mats may not work well.
Position this heater above the cage where your pet cannot reach it. This minimizes the chances of your leopard gecko getting burned.
What’s the Function of a Thermostat in a Leopard Gecko Tank?
A thermostat is a gadget to control the temperature in your leopard gecko tank. This device turns on the heating system to prevent temperatures from falling below the acceptable lower range.
It turns off the heating system when the temperatures reach the upper limit. This way, your leopard gecko enclosure stays within the correct range whether you are there.
If well maintained, you can expect a thermostat to serve you for years. Ensure the thermostat you install can work well with the heat source you use for the tank.
To prevent any mishaps, purchase the thermostat as you shop for the heating device.
How to Take Proper Leopard gecko Tank Temperature Reading
The best way to go about this is to use a thermometer. This device should be installed alongside a thermostat.
The temperature readings on both devices should be calibrated to show the same reading. The thermometer will tell you if the thermostat is functioning properly.
If there’s a difference in reading between the two, adjust the thermostat.
The best thermometer is the one that sticks to the side of the enclosure. Install two of these: one for the warm side and the other for the cooler side of the tank.
This will always give you the correct gradient temperature in the tank.
Some keepers prefer to use digital laser temperature guns. This is the latest technology in temperature monitoring.
The digital laser temperature gun is best suited for checking surface temperatures rather than air temperatures.
This means you’ll still have to use a thermometer even if you’ve installed the laser gun.
External Factors Affecting Temperatures in a Leopard Gecko Tank
As earlier noted, a negative change in tank temperatures adversely affects your leopard gecko. In many cases, this change does not come from within the tank.
It is instigated by external factors. For this reason, you need to be very deliberate about where you place the leopard gecko’s enclosure.
Is the room well-aerated? Is it in the direct line of sunlight and your home heaters? The heaters and air conditioning in your home can greatly influence the temperatures in the enclosure.
As such, you need to space them to avoid creating an unfavorable environment for your pet.
At the same time, the leopard gecko’s tank temperatures may be influenced by the seasonal fluctuation of temperatures.
You’ll have to adjust the temperatures in the tank depending on whether it is summer or winter.
Placing the leopard gecko tank in a drafty location will keep pushing the temperatures down. On the other hand, placing the tank close to the window will push the temperature up.
Consider all these factors as you set up your leopard gecko’s tank.
Keeping Your Leopard Gecko Warm in a Power Blackout
Always have a backup plan in case of a power outage. Your leopard geckos need heat, and they won’t understand that you can’t take care of them because there’s no power.
Plus, your leopard gecko’s health deteriorates pretty fast in the cold.
The most reliable power source in a blackout is a generator or a power station. Therefore, a generator should be on standby and readily connected to the tank set up to provide emergency power.
Generators depend on fuel (solar, diesel, etc.) for power. As such, you must ensure that the fuel is readily available.
There are two types of power stations: fixed ones and portable ones. The fixed power station is attached to the enclosure, ready to be turned on in an emergency.
A portable power station can be carried from one place to another. This is an appropriate heat source if you’re taking your leopard gecko on vacation with you.
It will be your emergency power backup plan should you find yourself in darkness. Remember, power stations have to be regularly charged to remain useful.
Other ways of keeping your pet warm in a blackout include:
- Take your leo to a friend, relative, or neighbor with power.
- Take your pet inside a running car with enough gas.
- Cover the tank with insulators to conserve warmth.
- Snuggle your leopard gecko.
- Use heat packs to keep your pet warm.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Should I Do If the Leopard Gecko Enclosure is too Hot?
First of all, remove the leopard gecko from this environment and keep him in a more conducive place. Then, find out the cause of the hot temperatures.
Ensure that the thermostat and thermometer are working properly. If the temperatures are caused by external factors, deal with them before bringing the leopard gecko back.
What Should I Do If the Leopard Gecko Enclosure is too Cold?
Cold temperatures greatly threaten your leopard gecko’s health and wellbeing. If the situation is not resolved immediately, it can cause lethargy, coma, and death.
Check the thermostat and heaters to establish whether they’re working properly. Then, adjust the temperatures accordingly to attain the optimal temperature for your pet.
If the cold is caused by draught, close all open doors, windows, fans, and air conditioning. You may move the pet to a different room if this does not work.
Can I Use Sunlight on My Leopard Gecko Enclosure?
Placing the leopard gecko tank near the window is dangerous. This is because you’re not able to regulate the amount of heat the sunlight brings into the enclosure.
It’s very easy for the tank to overheat. Also, the window blocks out beneficial UVB, and your pet won’t be able to synthesize and absorb enough calcium.
Are Heat Rocks Safe for My Leopard Gecko?
Heat rocks are prone to overheating, especially if they have a cheap or faulty thermostat. According to many seasoned leopard gecko keepers, heat rocks are not the best option for heating the enclosure.
They are also to cause severe burns on your pet.
The leopard gecko originates from the hot deserts of the Middle East and Asia. In these regions, daytime temperatures soar and plummet during the night.
As such, leopard geckos tend to be active during dusk and dawn when the temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold.
You need to recreate this environment in your leopard gecko tank for comfort and good health.