As anyone who has ever kept a leopard gecko will tell you, these little reptiles need heat to thrive. But what happens when unexpected outages and other unavoidable circumstances cut your leopard gecko’s heat? How long can they survive without it?
Leopard geckos can survive without heat for up to 90 days, as long as the temperatures don’t get lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They will be okay for the first few days, but if the lack of heat persists, they will enter into Brumation and live off their fat reservoirs.
Why do leopard geckos need heat?
Leopard geckos are ectothermic – they need to absorb heat from their environment to regulate their body temperature and perform bodily functions like digestion and walking.
That’s why their tanks should have a temperature gradient and even a basking spot. These are usually provided using a heat lamp, heat mat, or a combination of both.
Generally, you should maintain your leopard gecko tank’s daytime temperature between 78 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The nighttime temperature should be around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The tank should have a basking spot with a temperature of 86 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
What happens when there’s no heat source in our leopard gecko’s tank?
When temperatures reduce but remain above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, your leopard gecko will get by for a few days before going into Brumation.
Brumation is a type of hibernation that happens when ectothermic animals are exposed to cold temperatures. It is characterized by the slow-down of an animal’s metabolic process, but not its shutdown.
During Brumation, your leopard gecko will depend solely on its fat reservoirs and won’t digest any more food. As such, it won’t poop as much and will spend a lot of time sleeping – even its movement will be slow.
However, your leopard gecko will slowly get back to its usual active self when temperatures get back to normal.
If temperatures stay low indefinitely or drop lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit for long, though, your leopard gecko will become sick and could even die.
Your leopard gecko could get impacted, catch stick tail disease or even get respiratory infections like pneumonia.
If the lack of heat is not so severe, your leopard gecko may sploot for extended periods of time. This is the action of laying flat to absorb as much heat as possible from the sun.
What can you do to protect your leopard gecko from heating interruptions?
Beyond installing a heat mat and/or heat lamp, you need to keep track of your gecko’s tank temperatures. For this, you can either use a pen and book or a spreadsheet.
While doing this may feel like overkill, it is the only way you’ll have an understanding of your pet’s heat situation and notice when temperatures start to subtly drop due to an equipment failure or any other factors. This allows for early intervention.
Also, it’s important to keep an eye out for any announcements on upcoming storms or scheduled power outages in the area. This way, you can figure out a heating plan for your leopard gecko before everything goes south.
If you are going on a trip, you can always take your leopard gecko with you. If you decide to do this, its fairly easy to keep them heated.
What should you do to help your leopard gecko during power outages?
When your power suddenly goes out, figuring out how to solve your leopard gecko’s heat problem can be tricky. Fortunately, we have some tips that can help you out:
1. Use power stations/generators
If you live in an area that has frequent power outages, consider getting a generator or power station. These will keep your gecko’s heating setup working through a blackout.
What’s more? Small generators are affordable and readily available at a lot of retail stores. And using them is easy. All you have to do is to follow all the manufacturer’s instructions.
Power stations are an even safer than generators because you don’t need any gas to operate them – you can even place them indoors. You just have to remember to always keep them charged in case of emergency.
The portable ones are particularly useful because you can even carry them with you on camping trips. You can even use solar panels and an inverter to charge them using solar power.
2. Use heat packs
Heat packs can effectively heat your leopard gecko for up to 72 hours, especially those that are designed for transporting reptiles. Also, they are cheap. So you can easily buy a lot of them and use them until your power comes back on.
Just ensure your leopard gecko isn’t in direct contact with the heat packs – this can cause burns.
Instead, wrap the heat packs with washcloths or any other insulating materials before using them. Also, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
3. Use kerosene heaters
While kerosene heaters aren’t the most sustainable or effective heating option for your leopard gecko, they can be a temporary solution in an emergency.
4. House them somewhere else
If you have a friend or family member who currently has electricity and is willing to house your leopard gecko for a while, you can ask them to do so as you get your situation sorted out.
5. Take your leopard gecko to your car
If you have a running car with gas, you can use it to temporarily keep your leopard gecko warm.
Just place your reptile in a portable carrier, place it in the car and then let the car run. However, keep in mind that your car may run out of gas before the power comes back.
As silly as it may seem, snuggling with your leopard gecko can help keep them warm during a blackout.
But for this to be a viable option, your leopard gecko has to be comfortable with handling.
If they are, all you need to do is wrap them in a piece of cloth and hold them close to your body.
Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling your leopard gecko, and remember not to get any of your fingers in your mouth during the snuggling. These reptiles can harbor nasty germs that can make you sick if they make it into your body.
7. Cover your leopard gecko’s tank
To retain the heat present in your leopard gecko’s tank, you can cover it with a blanket or a towel. Don’t make it airtight though – your gecko still needs to breathe.
8. Stop feeding your leopard gecko
Since leopard geckos need heat to digest their food, feeding them when there’s no way to heat them is not advisable.
If the heat loss persists for a long time, your leopard gecko may enter into Brumation and the food left in their stomach will just stay there undigested.
In time, it can even begin to rot and cause health problems. That’s why some experts even advise that you stop feeding your leopard gecko 24 hours before an expected outage or storm.
Ultimately, leopard geckos can’t survive longer than three months without heat, especially when temperatures dip to below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prolonged exposure to such harsh conditions can make them sick or even kill them. So always ensure that your leopard gecko has a stable heat source and you have an emergency plan in case of power outages.
This can actually make the difference between your leopard gecko dying and thriving.