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What’s the Ideal Temperature for Crested Geckos? (2023 Guide)

A crested gecko resting on a leaf

Introduction

It’s a common belief that reptiles like heat and prefer warm to hot climates because they’re ectothermic, or cold-blooded, animals. While reptiles do use external temperatures to regulate their own body temperature, they don’t all need a lot of heat.

The Crested Gecko is an example of a reptile that needs milder temperatures in its enclosure. The climate of this species’ natural habitat is quite temperate, so it actually doesn’t do well with extremely hot weather. The ideal temperature range for pet Crested Geckos is 72°F-75°F. Anything above 80°F can lead to fatal consequences.

It’s important to note that while Crested Geckos have an ideal temperature range, they still do best with having a heat gradient in their tank. Since the right heat gradient is vital for maintaining bodily functioning, we’ll review everything you need to know to ensure that your Crested Gecko’s home has the perfect setup.

new gecko dividerIdeal Temperature Levels for Crested Geckos

The Crested Gecko’s natural habitat is New Caledonia, which is a tropical island about 750 miles east of Australia. New Caledonia’s climate is subtropical and has a temperature range of 63°F-90°F.

When caring for a pet Crested Gecko, it’s important to do your best to mimic their natural habitat. While Crested Geckos are generally hardy reptiles, they still need a heat gradient to avoid overheating or getting too cold.

Giving Crested Geckos options to regulate their body temperature on their own keeps them active and allows them to optimize their bodily functioning. Temperature can affect vital parts of the Crested Gecko’s daily life, such as its activity level, digestion, skin health, and growth and development.

In general, Crested Geckos have three key needs in their temperature gradient:
  • Basking area
  • Cooling area
  • Nighttime temperature
Halloween Crested Gecko on leaf
Image Credit: Jeff McGraw, Shutterstock

Ideal Temperature for Crested Gecko’s Basking Area

The basking area is a spot where Crested Geckos can consistently go to when they need to raise their body temperature. The ideal temperature range for their basking area is 82°F-85°F. Make sure that the basking area doesn’t go above 85°F. This can lead to burning or overheating. An overheated Crested Gecko can go into a heatstroke, which is extremely dangerous and can quickly become fatal.

Ideal Temperature for Crested Gecko’s Cooling Area

Crested Geckos also need a nice cooling area to help with body temperature regulation. Temperatures in cooling areas should be between 70°F-75°F. The best way to set up a distinct basking area and cooling area is to have the basking area near the top of the enclosure and the cooling area at the bottom.

Ideal Temperature for Crested Gecko’s Nighttime Temperature

Since it’s natural for nighttime temperatures to drop, it’s alright if your Crested Gecko’s nighttime temperature lowers to 65°F-72°F. Crested Geckos can survive if the temperature reaches 50°F, but they’ll need the opportunity to warm up. However, this arrangement isn’t ideal. It’s best not to have extreme or wildly fluctuating temperature changes as this can cause immense stress on Crested Geckos.

What Causes Temperature Changes in Crested Gecko’s Enclosure?

Multiple factors affect temperature. One of the main contributors to temperature change is the sun. Since Crested Geckos live in tanks, the sun can have a significant effect on raising the temperature. Glass enclosures will take on the greenhouse effect and trap heat.

Like cars on a cold, sunny day, the internal temperature of glass enclosures can get pretty hot, even if the external temperature is relatively cold. So, it’s best not to set up an enclosure right by a window.

Your own climate also affects temperatures in an enclosure. People living in climates with more drastic temperature changes as the seasons change will have to put more effort into regulating their Crested Gecko’s enclosure.

Lastly, the equipment that you use inside the enclosure contributes to temperature changes. Obvious tools, like heat lamps and heating pads, have a significant impact on raising the temperature. Using a lot of greenery can lower the temperature by creating shade. Installing live plants can raise humidity levels while lowering the tank’s temperature.

The type of tank also influences temperature. Glass tanks are the most popular and ideal tanks for Crested Geckos because they can retain heat and humidity. Wooden tanks and mesh enclosures are also popular choices and have a more natural look. However, it’s more difficult to maintain a consistent temperature with these enclosures, so it’s best to reserve them for more experienced pet owners and people who live in more temperate climates.

harlequin crested gecko on person's hand
Image Credit: Marlonneke Willemsen, Shutterstock

How to Adjust Temperature for Crested Geckos

There are multiple ways to adjust the temperature in your Crested Gecko’s enclosure. Here are some things you can do to maintain optimal temperature levels and heat gradients.

1. Add a Heat and Light Source

All enclosures should have a heat and light source. The main types of heat sources are lamps and mats. A heating lamp provides both light and warmth inside an enclosure. A lamp that uses an incandescent bulb will mimic natural sunlight. A 25-watt bulb should suffice for a Crested Gecko.


2. Install Greenery and Hiding Spots

pinstripe crested gecko
Image Credit: Eaknarong Nonthapha, Shutterstock

Greenery can help lower temperatures by creating shadows and shade for Crested Geckos to rest underneath. Crested Geckos will also appreciate hollows and crevices that they can hide inside.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can install live plants to increase humidity and decrease temperatures. Just keep in mind that the soil should be covered with a substantial layer of substrate that’s safe for Crested Geckos so that they don’t accidentally ingest any soil.


3. Adjust Airflow Inside Enclosure

Airflow and circulation can help lower temperatures. If you live in a warmer climate and are struggling with high temperatures in the enclosure, you may want to try finding a tank that increases airflow, like a mesh habitat. Just keep in mind that these types of enclosures don’t trap humidity well, and the holes should be small enough to prevent escape.


4. Relocate the Enclosure

Harlequin crested gecko
Image Credit: Marlonneke Willemsen, Shutterstock

Sometimes, relocating your Crested Gecko’s enclosure to a different room may help you maintain optimal temperatures. If you’re dealing with high temperatures, try moving the enclosure to a room that receives less sunlight. If the issue is cold temperatures, place the enclosure in a room with a larger window or set it a little closer to a window. Just make sure not to relocate it right next to a window as the sunlight may be too strong and overheat the enclosure too quickly.


Heat Lamp vs Heat Mats

When it comes to heat sources, heat lamps are the most ideal for Crested Geckos. While heat mats are great for warming up a reptile’s underbelly, Crested Geckos don’t need too much heat. They’ll do much better with a heat lamp situated at a corner at the top of the enclosure. A heat lamp will provide both sufficient light and warmth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Crested Geckos Good Pets for Beginners?

Yes, Crested Geckos are good pets for beginners. They’re hardy and have less rigorous care requirements than other reptiles. While they’re relatively low maintenance, they still need specific care to stay healthy. Along with having a stable heat gradient, Crested Geckos need the right kinds of substrate lining their enclosure and plenty of branches and other items they can climb on and use to hide.

Crested Geckos are omnivores that usually eat insects and fruit. Most Crested Geckos kept as pets eat a diet of live insects and commercially prepared reptile pellets.

dalmatian crested gecko
Image Credit: Noah Moralis, Shutterstock

Should Heat Lamps Be Kept on at Night?

No, heat lamps shouldn’t be kept on at night. Having a heat lamp on at nighttime can confuse a Crested Gecko and affect their activity and stress levels. Crested Geckos are naturally active during twilight hours and don’t need sunlight to go about any nocturnal activity.

How Can I Keep Terrariums Warm at Night?

If you’re struggling to keep a terrarium warm at night, you can try installing a heating pad and turning it on after you turn off the heat lamp. You can also use a ceramic heat emitter (CHE), which acts like a heat lamp, but it doesn’t use any light. Many CHEs can also fit on regular reptile light fixtures.

divider- geckoA Quick Reference Guide

Settings Ideal Temperature Levels
General Temperature Preference 72°F-75°F
Basking Area 20°F-85°F
Cooling Area 70°F-75°F
Nighttime Temperature 65°F-72°F

new gecko dividerConclusion

While Crested Geckos are relatively low-maintenance pets, they still need enclosures with heat gradients set at the right temperature. Most Crested Geckos will be content with average temperatures that range from 72°F-75°F. Their enclosures shouldn’t go below 60°F or above 85°F. This ensures that they can regulate their temperature without experiencing stress and increases their longevity and overall well-being.


Featured Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

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