Imagine your leopard gecko is cut off from his heat supply—all due to a power failure caused by a really bad storm. Guess what, the power failure lasts for a couple of days and temperatures are starting to drop. You are left wondering…How long can leopard geckos go without heat?
How long CAN leopard geckos go without heat? Leopard geckos can survive without heat for a few days, but only if the room temperature stays above 60°F. Leos can tolerate temperatures at a minimum of 60°F. Leos are at risk of ill health, even death, if exposed to temperatures lower than 60°F for a prolonged period of time.
Leos need heat for survival, and its best to avoid a situation where your leopard gecko is without heat. Extreme temperatures are harmful to leopard geckos, and it will definitely not lead to positive outcomes.
Keep reading to learn more about the temperature your leo can tolerate and what you can do in an emergency.
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How Long Can Leopard Geckos Go Without Heat?
Leopard geckos originate from dry, arid areas and are accustomed to very hot weather.
Leopard geckos are cold-blooded, little creatures who absorb heat from their external surroundings. Their bodies depend on heat provided from external sources.
In the wild, leos absorb heat from the sun-warmed rocks. In a cage, leos obtain heat from heat mats, CHE’s and UVB light bulbs. The use of all of these devices simulates your leo’s natural environment.
Leopard geckos in nature, sometimes slow down during winter months and enter brumation. Brumation, in leopard geckos and other reptiles, in particular, is the equivalent of hibernation in mammals.
When the temperature drops for a long period, leopard geckos will slow down, experience brumation, and they survive off fat stored in their tails.
Leopard geckos may be able to survive for at least one month without heat. They survive with their tail fat reserves provided that temperatures are kept within the normal range of 60°F.
Obviously, you shouldn’t test this theory! Furthermore, extremely low temperatures could result in dire consequences for your leo.
Potential Health Risks
If your leopard gecko is exposed to cold temperatures for too long, then suffering from the following health risks are probable:
1. Stick Tail Disease
This disease refers to rapid weight loss in leopard geckos, which can be caused by low temperatures, amongst others. Fat stores within their tails are diminished to the vertebrae until they resemble stick-like tails.
The help of a professional must be sought immediately with rapid weight loss in geckos to determine the cause and the necessary treatment. Be prepared to allow for fecal and blood samples to be taken from your leo to determine the cause.
Impaction occurs when an obstruction in a leopard gecko’s stomach or intestines cannot be passed, and his digestive system is not functioning properly. Leos consistently exposed to cold will have issues with their digestive systems.
Impaction can be treated with a warm bath and by gently massaging your leo’s belly. A drop of olive oil or mineral oil can also be orally administered to help. A visit to the vet is mandatory if the obstruction does not clear, and surgery may even be required to save the life of the leo.
3. Respiratory Infection
If your leo is exposed to cold temperatures for an extended time period, he is at risk of respiratory infection. If your leo seems lethargic, is breathing with an open mouth, and has clogged nostrils, he may have a respiratory infection.
Weight loss, loss of appetite, and bubbly saliva are other symptoms.
You should seek immediate help from a vet as respiratory infections are bacterial infections that require antibiotics as well as a probiotic to clear. Leos recovering from respiratory infections may require additional hydration and assistance with feeding.
These health risks are very likely if your leopard gecko is subjected to cold temperatures for prolonged periods.
Any keeper of a leopard gecko should have a contingency plan in place, especially if you live in extremely cold weather conditions and are prone to experiencing power outages. You will have your leo’s best interest in mind by developing a suitable plan.
Leopard geckos do not respond to cold temperatures very well. You might notice that their bodies are slow-moving and sluggish, they may move less, their appetites are decreased, they don’t drink any water, and they tend to sleep more until temperatures start to rise again.
There are a few actions that you can take to secure heat for your leo in the event of extended power outages.
A generator, as an additional power source, should definitely be considered. Backup generators are a fantastic option and one of the best things you can implement for your leo.
If you power outages are common occurrences or your leos are housed separately in a stand-alone house, generators are obligatory!
You don’t have to be too concerned about hypothermia in a short-term power outage. Hypothermia in leos is relatively uncommon. Sleepiness and normal brumation is quite normal in your leo when temperatures are low.
If your leo is responding to touch, then he is doing ok. On the other hand, you would need to be a bit worried if your leo is not responding to stimulus. Loss of climbing and clinging ability or a disoriented gecko is concerning, and professional help should be sought.
Actions to Avoid in Your Emergency Plan
Heat packs or hand warmers should be avoided as your leo could suffer terrible burns and even die if he comes into direct contact with these.
Fireplaces should be avoided as this could potentially crack your leo’s cage, expose him to extreme heat, causing him to burn and suffer from extreme heat stress.
Plastic bottles filled with warm water is a common piece of advice that should not be followed. The risk of respiratory infection is, in fact, increased as the bottle could spill in the cage and douse the bedding.
Expected Power Loss
You can prepare for an expected power outage as follows:
1. Discontinue Feeding
You should avoid feeding your leopard gecko 24 hours before an expected power loss.
2. Clean And Replenish Bowls With Water
Clean water should be provided. Enough water should be bottled and reserved for a few weeks as pipes could freeze up and burst, the water supply could also be contaminated during a flood. Tap water should not be used during a power outage.
3. Additional Bedding
You can add more substrate to the cage to facilitate heat retention and keep the cage warmer just a little bit longer. You leo will also be able to burrow in order to better thermoregulate as opposed to remaining uncovered.
4. Move The Cage To A Confined Space
Shifting the cage to a more confined space like a wardrobe or bathroom will retain heat longer than a larger space.
5. Increase Thermostat
Increasing the temperature on the thermostat by 1 to 3 degrees before the power outage and removing the programmed temperature decrease will keep the cage warm for a longer period of time once the power outage occurs. You can also leave lamps on overnight for additional heat.
6. Use A Candle Space Heater
You can create a candle space heater in special cases where your leopard gecko is sensitive to temperature, is not feeling well or when the temperature is below freezing point.
Candle space heaters should be set out in an enclosed room which children and other pets do not have access to. It is the safest means of maintaining heat during a power outage but should only be used when necessary.
Onset of Power Outage
Immediately after a power outage comes into effect, you should turn off all electrical devices to prevent the potential explosion of bulbs due to a power surge when electricity is restored.
You can place towels or blankets over your cage to retain heat after lights have been put aside.
For the first 12 hours of a power outage, your leopard gecko should cool down, but you should steer clear of doing anything and avoid uncovering the cage to retain heat.
After 12 hours to 3 days of a power outage, there is no cause for concern, and you can replenish water once a day, check for wet substrate, and also check up on your leo to make sure he is fine.
Do this as quickly as possible to prevent more heat from escaping and creating a stressful environment.
After more than 3 days or if your leo is a bit stressed, you can use body heat, lukewarm water, indirect heat from a fireplace, or car heat to warm him up.
After the power returns, you can switch on all heat sources and gradually warm up your leo if he experienced extreme cold.
You should also observe your leo to see if he displays any symptoms of a respiratory infection and seek immediate care if it is apparent.
Leopard geckos can survive without heat for a few days, provided the temperature stays constant at 60°F.
Make sure to avoid extremely cold temperatures as this could be detrimental to your leo’s health and even cause death. Luckily there are things you can do to retain heat if you are stuck in a cold catastrophe.