Leopard Geckos

Do Leopard Geckos Need A Heat Lamp – Temperatures, Problems And Brumations

Leopard geckos are thought to be very hardy little reptiles. They can survive through a wide range of temperature gradients. So it’s no wonder you may be wondering “Do leopard geckos need a heat lamp”. Through this article I will delve into answering this question will all the information you need to know. 

Leopard geckos, like all reptiles, need some kind of temperature gradient within their enclosure. Ideally leopard geckos need a hot and cool end of their enclosure for optimal health. So yes, leopard geckos do need a heat lamp.

(Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to find ‘Other related articles you might like’, once you are done reading).

What are the heat lamp temperature gradients you should know…

So there are three main temperature gradients which all leopard gecko owners should be aware of. These gradients are, Basking temperature, Hot end temperature and Cool end temperature. These three different temperature gradients each contribute to the best health and living conditions for a pet leopard gecko.

Basking End Temperature: 94-97 Fahrenheit, or 34-36 Degrees Centigrade.

Warm End Temperature: 90-92 Fahrenheit, or 32-33 Degrees Centigrade.

Cool End Temperature: 70-77 Fahrenheit, or 21-25 Degrees Centigrade.

You may be thinking that the basking temperature and the warm end temperature isn’t that different from one another. And you’re right, it’s not. However, only a couple of degrees variant is all that is needed for optimal basking temperatures. The slight increase in temperature is all that is needed to fully heat the body.

You may think that getting a variant temperature in an enclosure which has a difference by 10 Fahrenheit would be hard, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. Occasionally, your leopard gecko just needs to get out the direct heat. So providing some shelter form the heat lamp will be more than enough to create a “cool end” of the enclosure.

Having large rocks, or hides which offer some protection of the direct heat source will be more than enough to drop the temperature down in the cool end. What you are trying to achieve is somewhere your leopard gecko can relax and unwind, specially through the shedding stage.

Commonly through the shedding stage a leopard gecko will spend more time basking than it usually would. Because of this, they will naturally become over heated and need to be able to cool themselves. Offering a space where your leopard gecko can evade the direct heat will no doubt keep your gecko in a healthy state. 

Can you use a heat mat instead?

You might be thinking, do leopard geckos need a heat lamp, but what about a heat mat? Reptile heat mats are great. They offer an added means of temperature control with your leopard geckos enclosure. Heat mats shouldn’t really be used as the main source of heat as it is hard to regulate, simply due to the positioning of the mat (Underneath the substrate). Also, heat mats do not offer any means to bask, so this is something you should keep in mind.

Heat mats are commonly used by gecko owners to keep a constant temperature level throughout the night. Mats are placed inside the enclosure, but beneath the substrate. The heat will rise up through the substrate, causing the flooring to warm. Some substrates don’t hold heat as well as others, so a heat mat is the perfect way to make sure your gecko won’t get too cold at nights.

In the wild, leopard geckos usually sleep on hidden rocky areas. Throughout the day these rocks will be heated by the sun, and will stay warm for the majority of the night. This makes these areas a perfect place to rest for the night. 

Can the heat drop too low at night?

Like any reptile pet, replicating a geckos natural habitat as closely as possible will undoubtably lead to a healthier living reptile, and this includes the varying temperature drops at night. Some studies believe that the nightly drop to a low temperature is healthier than a warm night temperature.

However the nightly temperature should never really drop below 60 Fahrenheit or 16-18 Degrees centigrade.  The cold temperatures at night can cause your leopard gecko to become very lethargic, and can sometimes struggle to regain the heat they need to function properly through the day. 

Problems which can occur from having an enclosure which get to cold at night:
  • Will struggle to regain body heat in the morning
  • May cause lack of appetite 
  • Can cause an early or unwanted Brumation process 
  • May cause gecko to bask more, which will cause premature shedding 

Lets take a look into these heat lamp factors in a bit more depth…

Will struggle to regain heat in the morning

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if your leopard gecko gets too cold, it will take longer to regain the heat in the morning. Now this isn’t the worst thing in the world, however it may cause your leopard gecko to become slightly lethargic. 

Leopard geckos usually become most active at dusk and dawn, just as the sun is coming up, or going down. This is also usually the time they will feed. During the day is simply too hot, and usually too dangerous also.

May cause a lack of appetite

If your leopard gecko can’t heat its body temperature enough in the early mornings, then it may not want to feed. This again isn’t too much to worry about every so often, but after time you will see a big reduction in their energy levels. 

A leopard gecko which isn’t feeding in a usual manner may amass some potentially life threatening health problems. A lack in nutrients can reduce a leopard geckos immune system, which in turn makes them more vulnerable to disease and infections.

Can cause an early or unwanted Brumation process

Brumation is kind if like hibernation. It’s a process which occurs through the colder months. But unlike hibernation, where an animal won’t eat for a few months (and be in a sleeping state), Brumation is simply a process which slows down the body to save energy.

This process should only take place in the colder months. For it to be effective, you have to monitor the temperatures and enclosure conditions very carefully throughout this time. The brumation process is very stressful for a leopard gecko and generally thought not to be very healthy for an individual. The unnecessary stress this can cause on any reptile could be fatal if exposed too often to this process.

May cause gecko to bask more

Leopard geckos will bask until they are warm enough to function properly. They need their core body temperature to be at least 86 Fahrenheit, or 30 Degrees Celsius, to be able to fully function. By this I don’t mean the ability to move their limbs. I mean all their internal systems, for example, the directive system. 

A leopard geckos digestive system also has an optimal temperature in which it works best. Any temperature below this and they may have some trouble digesting and breaking down food. This can cause foods to become stuck and cause some damage internally. This temperature it thought to range between 90-90 Fahrenheit once a day at its peak. NOT CONSTANT.

Conclusion

To conclude this article, the answer to this question is yes. Leopard geckos do need a heat lamp. In fact, they also need a heat mat too. Having both of these heat sources will provide a temperature gradient which is easiest to control, both at night time and day time.

Remember that you will need a Warm temperature end, Cool temperature end, and a Basking Temperature all within the same enclosure. Follow guidance of these temperatures and you should be fine. 

Finally, if you have any problems with temperature control and feel your leopard gecko isn’t acting themselves, then please seek further advise from a veterinarian. Be sure to check your thermometers regularly, to make sure they’re in full working order. Always have an area which is protected from the direct heat, and always have water available to prevent dehydration.

After searching and testing many different products, we have come up with our list of “Must Have” items for recommendations for both price, and durability for the best enclosure accessories.

Bathing Water Bowl – Click Here

Heat Mat – Click Here

Heat Lamp and Guard – Click Here

Reliable Thermometer – Click Here

Vivarium/Enclosure – Click Here

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