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:
- Warm dry (hottest)
- Warm humid (less hot)
- 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 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%.
- Keep tabs on ambient temps and humidity with a Zilla digital thermometer-hygrometer.
- Pinpoint your temperature gradient with a temperature gun like the Etekcity Lasergrip 774. They’re the most precise option on the market, plus fun to use!