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 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.
- 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!