Temperature Gradients & Humidity Levels


Leopard geckos, like all reptiles, need a temperature gradient in their terrarium for best health.

  • Cool end: no lower than 70°F (21°C)
  • Warm end: 85-90°F (30-33°C)
  • Ambient: 75-80°F (23-27°C)

Do not let temps rise above 90°F/33°C. Even though leopard geckos are desert animals, they are not tolerant of extreme heat and can die of heat stroke.

Because leopard geckos are crepuscular/nocturnal, using a heat lamp to create a basking spot will most likely not be used. Instead, use a thermostat-controlled heat mat. Heat rocks and non-thermostat-controlled heat mats run the risk of burning your gecko, so don’t risk it. The Herpstat Intro, Herpstat1, and VE-200 are all high quality thermostats with built-in failsafes. They may be expensive, but cheaper thermostats are less reliable and may accidentally “cook” your pet.

If you’re having trouble maintaining ambient temps, consider installing a radiant heat panel instead of a heat meat. They’re more expensive, but they’re super high quality and preferred by many experienced reptile keepers. A less expensive option is a CHE (ceramic heat emitter), and they can be temperature-controlled by using a dimmer.

leopard gecko temperatures maintained by a heat mat

Don’t forget to use spacers to lift the tank .5″ off the ground, which will help prevent malfunctions. Source: OnlineGeckos.com.

leopard gecko temperature too high - scorch marks from heat mat

This scorch mark was caused by a heat mat. Always use a thermostat!!! Source: ReptileForums.net.


Leopard geckos are desert animals, so they need a fairly dry environment to stay healthy. Ideal humidity will be between 20%-40%, which should match the humidity naturally in your home. Housing your gecko in a terrarium with a screen top or equivalent ventilation will help keep it dry.

That being said, leos do need higher humidity for shedding. Instead of bumping up humidity in the whole enclosure, provide a humid hide stuffed full of moist sphagnum moss and placed on the warm side of the tank.

Additional Tips

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