As cold blooded reptiles, it’s essential that you keep your Crested Gecko at the right temperature.
The perfect temperature for a Crested Gecko is between 78’F and 82’F.
For UK readers this is between 25’C and 28’C.
The above figures, however, somewhat over-simplify the situation.
You see, reptiles have evolved to move around their environment, seeking out the temperature that suits them best. They may bask in a hotter area, then once warmed up they may venture into cooler areas to search for food.
This means that pet reptiles – including Crested Geckos – should be provided with a “thermal gradient”.
In other words, one part of their cage should be warmer than the rest. We normally call this hotter area a “basking site”.
It is this basking site that should meet the above temperatures. It is fine if other parts of the cage are slightly cooler. It’s also fine if the cage cools down by a few degrees over night.
How to Measure the Temperature of Your Crested Gecko Cage
Guessing whether or not your Crested Gecko tank is warm enough can be a risky venture.
Get it wrong and you could be harming your gecko’s health.
Also be aware that while Crested Geckos can struggle if they get too cold, extreme heat is just as dangerous.
The only real solution is therefore to measure the temperature in your gecko tank to ensure it’s suitable.
There are numerous different thermometers available that you can use for your lizard. Personally I like to use two different thermometers.
Firstly, I use an ambient digital thermometer that has two different probes attached. I fix one in the hottest part of the cage, and the other in the coolest part. That way with just a quick glance I can get a complete view of the temperature.
I also use an infrared “gun” thermometer to take occasional readings when I’m completing routine tank maintance. This allows me to just double-check that the main thermometer is working as intended.
Do Crested Geckos Need Artificial Heating?
A common argument on reptile discussion forums is whether or not Crested Geckos need heating. The honest answer is “it depends”. If your Crested Gecko tank meets the temperature recommendations given earlier then you should be fine without heating.
In most cases, however, there’ll be something to cause problems. Maybe your house gets really cold at night. Maybe the heating turns off while you’re out. In most cases, therefore, I think a heater is a pretty good idea, even if it only very rarely used.
Personally the health of my pets is my number one priority, so by default I install heaters in pretty much all my cages, even if they sit unused for part of the year.
Best Ways to Heat a Crested Gecko Tank
If you’ve decided that some artificial heating would be beneficial then the next obvious question is how best to provide it. While there are numerous options, let’s discuss some of the most popular solutions…
The trusted heat mat is probably the easiest and cheapest option of all. Attach it to the side or the back of your Crested Gecko’s tank, on the outside, and it will gently radiant warmth. Heat mats aren’t just cheap to buy; they’re also really energy efficient so don’t cost much to run.
The downside with reptile heat mats is that they don’t really get very warm. They’re good for raising the temperature by a few degrees, but if you need to take your gecko cage from 70’F to 82’F then most heat mats will struggle.
In particularly cold climates, some reptile keepers use a heat mat to provide “background” warmth and generally increase the temperature within. They then supplement this with an additional heater to provide a basking spot.
400;”>Ceramic bulbs are probably the most suitable heaters of all. They’re reasonably priced and come in a huge range of sizes. They can also produce a LOT of heat, keeping your Crested Gecko toasty even on the coldest winter nights.
Note that ceramic bulbs can get VERY hot, so you need to make sure your gecko can’t come into direct contact with it. The best option is to buy a ceramic bulb holder/reflector, and then place this above some mesh.
This makes vivariums with mesh lids – like Exo Terra terrariums – particularly suitable for Crested Geckos.
A second consideration is that ceramic bulbs must be used with a suitable thermostat. Running one without risks overheating your Crestie and melting your cage!
Be sure to select a thermostat designed specifically for ceramic bulbs. You can learn more about choosing the right reptile thermostat here.
Heat lamps can produce similar heat to a ceramic bulb, but in addition they give off visible light.
The problem with this light is that your Crested Gecko is nocturnal.
You’ll either need to leave the lamp on all night to provide warmth, while causing stress for your gecko, or you’ll leave it on just during the day, when your gecko will be fast asleep. Generally speaking, then, a heat mat and/or ceramic bulb will be far more suitable.
Tips for Maintaining the Correct Temperature
Installing artificial heating in your Crested Gecko cage is a strong first step to providing the optimal temperature, but there are other things you can do too. Here are some elements for you to consider..
Position the Cage Away From Drafts
Windows and external doors can create wafts of cold air in winter. Areas near household heating can rapidly heat up and cool down. Furthermore, as heat rises, cages placed up high tend to get warmer than those lower down. Try investigating your own home to find the most suitable position for your Crestie’s cage.
Keep Out of Direct Sunlight
Direct sunlight shining into a glass vivarium can be a recipe for failure. Try to place your Crestie cage far away from any sunlight to avoid this risk.
Insulate Your Crested Gecko Cage
There are numerous ways to retain warmth within your Crested Gecko cage. For example, I like to place a polystyrene tile underneath the cage.
Similarly, cork or polystyrene can be placed outside the cage, surrounding the walls.
Lastly, of course, you could place the tank into a bookcase with enclosed sides, so that the warmth if trapped pleasantly in colder weather.
Monitor Both Ambient & Basking Heat
It’s important that both the basking spot and the ambient temperature within the vivarium are suitable, so be sure to monitor both on a regular basis. A digital thermometer with two probes can make this very simple indeed.
Compare Different Rooms in Your Home
Rooms can vary significantly in their average temperature based on things like their position (upstairs/downstairs), windows (warming up in the summer) and footfall (doors opening and closing).
Try placing thermometers in a number of rooms around your home, to select the one that has the most suitable ambient temperature.
Provide Multiple Gecko Hides
Lastly, the temperature gradient we’re producing by its very definition means some parts of the cage will be warmer than others. If you only provide your Crested Gecko with a single hide then they simply don’t have the option to choose where they want to sit during the day.
It is therefore a smart idea to install two or more hides (cork bark tubes work well) at different places within the terrarium. Your gecko will then be able to conceal itself with the most suitable temperature for him or her.
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