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.
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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