If you have recently set up a new enclosure for your Leopard Gecko, you might be wondering if you nailed the heating. A bad temperature setup can cause a variety of health issues in your reptile, both from overheating and freezing. As these geckos are cold-blooded, they rely on external heat sources and will suffer with too little or too much external heating. In this article, we’ll go over some common symptoms and how to fix your setup to keep your gecko healthy and happy!
Symptoms when your gecko is too hot
Getting the Leopard Gecko temperature requirements right is critical to their health. If the heat is too much, look out for the following symptoms:
Leopard Geckos need sleep to survive, but excessive heat can prevent healthy sleep for them. Around 12-13 hours of sleep is what you can expect for a healthy Leopard Gecko – if you notice significantly less sleeping time, pay attention to temperature! Around 68°F (20°C) is a great setting to aim for, but a few degrees higher are okay, too. Make sure to never top lower than around 60°F (16°C) though! Keep in mind that Leopard Geckos go to sleep once the sun is up and get active again when the sun starts setting.
Leopard Geckos can get dehydrated from high temperature over a longer period of time, as they get up to 60% of moisture from their food and can’t simply drink more like humans do. If you notice dry skin that starts sagging or peeling, check the temperature in the tank and make sure your pet has enough cool places to chill out in! Also, make sure they have a fresh water source at all times.
Dehydration can also be caused by low humidity – make sure to keep an eye on those levels as well. More on that topic in our humidity guide here.
Excessive heat can cause your Leopard Gecko to become lethargic and unresponsive, including lack of appetite. If you notice that type of behavior, high temperature may be a problem. However, impaction can also lead to similar symptoms. In you aren’t sure what’s wrong, a visit to the vet is never a wrong choice.
Symptoms when your gecko is too cold
If you notice your Leopard Gecko shivering, it is most likely too cold. It may also hide in a corner to preserve heat.
In low temperatures, geckos also tend to become less and less active. They may lie flat on the ground and stop eating or drinking, as eating and digesting both requires energy they can’t expend. That can lead to weight loss and dehydration.
As Leopard Geckos need heat for well-functioning digestion, lack of heat can lead to digestive problems like impaction. This can also quickly lead to lethargy, as they can’t eat more. However, impaction is even more dangerous, as it can quickly become dangerous or even fatal if not treated. Symptoms of impaction, beyond lethargy and barely eating, are dark spots on the gecko’s belly that feel solid, like a clump. If you notice such symptoms, immediately visit a vet.
How to provide the perfect temperature 24/7
To keep your Leopard Gecko healthy and happy, a good tank setup is required. You will need one hot side in the tank and one cold side. This enables your reptile to self-regulate their temperature. If they get cool, they can move towards the hot side and vice versa. A basking spot can help to quickly warm up, too.
Having thermometers in your tank (one on each side) make it easy to check the overall (air) temperature quickly. Additionally, an infrared thermometer gun lets you check the temperature at various spots that your Leo hangs out in – mainly dedicated resting places or caves, the water place, and the feeding bowl.
All of the actual temperature control should be automatic – managed by one or two thermostats, regulating heat sources like a heating lamp or a heating pad. This way, you can make sure the temperatures never top too low or get too high – no matter the outside conditions. This alone should keep the temperature in a healthy range.
Use the following products if you don’t know where to start:
Even though Leopard Gecko temperature management may seem overwhelming to a new gecko owner, it’s mainly a one-time research and set-up effort. A good tank setup should require minimal effort to keep the temperatures in a good spot. And as long as there are two zones, your gecko can always self-regulate.
To make sure you get it right, don’t forget to read our comprehensive guide on temperature management for leopard geckos!