Temperature Gradients & Humidity Levels


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

  • Warm end: 88-91°F (31-33°C)
  • Ambient: 75-85°F (23-29°C)
  • Cool end: no lower than 70°F (21°C)

Do not let temps rise above 92°F/33°C! Even though leopard geckos are perceived as desert animals, they are not tolerant of extreme heat and can die of heat stroke if they do not have a cool place to escape.

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 and VE-200 are high quality thermostats with built-in failsafes. However, they do run on the pricier side, so if you only have 1-2 reptiles that require a heat mat, the Jumpstart thermostat also works well.

Leopard geckos prefer to hide in warm shelters during the daytime, using their warmth to “charge” themselves for nighttime activity. Ideally a leopard gecko should have minimum 3 hides placed at different spots around the enclosure to facilitate thermoregulation:

  1. Warm dry (hottest)
  2. Warm humid (less hot)
  3. Cool dry

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 regulated by using a lamp dimmer or thermostat.

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 30%-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. The humid hide should provide humidity levels between 70-80%.

Additional Tips

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