You’re going to check on your beloved leopard gecko, and you notice your pet is sleeping a lot more than usual!
Don’t worry. A sleeping leopard gecko is usually nothing to worry about, though there are factors that can influence your pet’s sleeping behaviors.
Though your gecko is most likely tired, the temperature in its enclosure could simply be too cold, or your gecko could be in the process of brumation.
Still worried about your leopard gecko’s sleeping habits? Read on to find out more!
How much should a leopard gecko sleep per day?
Typically, a healthy leopard gecko sleeps, on average, around 12 hours a day. This seems like a lot, but in the wild, they spent most of the day resting to conserve valuable energy from the scorching heat of the desert environment.
Leopard geckos are crepuscular animals, meaning that they’re more active around twilight when temperatures are cooler and fewer predators are out. They also are often more active at night, being nocturnal.
Why your leopard gecko is sleeping a lot more? (3 reasons)
Your gecko is sleepy
Simply put, your gecko is tired. Just like you, your leopard gecko can become exhausted. There isn’t much explanation needed here; tiredness is how your gecko’s body lets it know it needs to rest. Your pet is most likely active as you are asleep at night.
Like most other animals that sleep, leopard geckos require periods of rest to ensure their bodies function properly.
Therefore, it is usually a good thing, after all, to see your pet asleep, especially during the day, as it is displaying a natural behavior.
Very rarely is sleeping abnormal. It is usually caused by its environment. Temperature and lighting are two main causes of a sluggish and lethargic gecko.
Temperatures are too low
Your leopard gecko is a cold-blooded animal, just like all reptiles. Your pet is also a desert animal that requires an external heat source.
Reptiles cannot produce their own body heat and therefore rely on obtaining warmth from their surroundings. If your pet isn’t getting enough warmth, it may cause it to become lethargic.
Your gecko could also become sick if it doesn’t get enough heat since heat helps ensure its body is functioning correctly.
These functions range from immunity to food digestion. It is, therefore, important to maintain proper temperatures for your leopard gecko to thrive in the environment it is living in.
Some leopard geckos will brumate if temperatures cool down. Brumation is when reptiles become almost inactive to save energy, similar to hibernation.
In the wild, leopard geckos often hide deep in burrows or crevices to get by during cooler months.
Some breeders prefer to brumate their geckos to prepare them for breeding. If you’re not breeding your gecko, it is NOT recommended to force your pet into brumation unless you know what you are doing, as any mistakes can cause illness to your gecko.
Keeping your pet on a summer cycle year-round is completely fine and will not negatively affect your leopard gecko in any way.
It is much riskier to brumate your gecko, and there isn’t much reason to do so besides for breeding purposes. Brumation is not necessary for a typical pet in a regular domestic setting.
However, if your pet has decided to brumate on its own (which can happen), be sure to check its temperatures and keep good records of its weight (a simple weighing scale measuring in grams works).
Since your gecko won’t eat, weight loss should be recorded periodically and carefully. This is often a concern during cooler months of the year, which could be mimicking temperature fluctuations in the wild.
What to do for a sleepy gecko? (4 tips)
#1 Take note of any abnormality
If you’re worried that your leopard gecko is sleeping too much for reasons other than being tired, keep an eye on your pet. If it behaves normally when awake, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
There should only be concerns if your pet shows signs of illness or is otherwise behaving very unusually.
As mentioned earlier, your leopard gecko is likely fine and much more active when you’re asleep.
#2 Warm up the enclosure
If you fear that your gecko is still oversleeping, check to make sure that its enclosure is appropriately warm enough for your pet.
Your gecko needs to have heat for around 12 hours a day. This can be achieved by using a heat bulb or heating pad.
The ideal temperature range for a leopard gecko is around 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use a light source, 50 watts is fine enough to sufficiently warm the enclosure.
If a heating pad is installed in its enclosure, be sure to also use a thermostat. Without a thermostat, the pad can overheat the tank, risking burns and other injuries to your pet.
To minimize burn risk, be sure that a layer of substrate separates your gecko from the tank. Paper towels, reptile carpets, and tiles are all appropriate substrates you can use for your pet.
Avoid using loose substrates such as ground walnut shells and calcium sand. If accidentally eaten, they can cause many issues for your gecko.
Never use heat rocks, which are often sold in pet stores. They are difficult to control temperature-wise and can inflict severe burns and other injuries on your leopard gecko. If you already have one, either throw it away or use it for decoration purposes only.
#3 Change lighting times
If a bulb is used to heat your leopard gecko’s enclosure, it should only be on for up to 12 hours a day. The lightbulb, believe it or not, replicates the natural daylight cycle for your pet if properly used.
If consistency worries you, you can purchase a timer to allow the lamp to function automatically. Various types of timers are available; be sure to use one that operates appropriately for the lamp.
It is not recommended to use infrared bulbs. Contrary to popular belief, your gecko can see the red light, and this could disrupt its sleep schedule.
Unless your household is very cold, your pet is fine at night without any lighting or heat. If the cold is still a concern, use a heating pad in conjunction with the lights.
Your room could also either be too bright or too dark. If the room where your gecko’s enclosure is is too dark, use a heat lamp. If it is too bright, your best option is to relocate it to a more shaded area.
Even though the habitats of leopard geckos can be sweltering hot and arid during the day, temperatures can cool down dramatically at night.
#4 Check for signs of illness
If your gecko seems to be oversleeping, it is vital to check for any signs of illness.
Check for mucus around the nostrils and lips, which could indicate an upper respiratory infection. Heavy breathing and gasping for air are symptoms of a respiratory infection, which could be caused by bacteria, fungi, or some other parasitic disease.
Indigestion can also be another factor of illness. Diarrhea and vomiting are serious concerns for your leopard gecko, which, though it could be due to stress, it can also serve as a red flag for disease.
Your gecko may also refuse to eat, but a loss of appetite is often seen in brumating animals; however, if you know for sure your pet isn’t in the process of brumation, then it should be seen as a sign of stress or illness.
Though probably not correlated to oversleeping, it is also good to check for signs of other ailments that your gecko may be suffering.
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is a common yet serious disease that can severely affect your gecko’s well-being if left untreated.
Check for hard, lumpy growths around the joints, lips, and back. Your gecko could also appear to have rubbery, misshapen legs, and dramatic weight loss from a lack of appetite are all important indicators of MBD.
When to bring your sleepy leopard to a vet?
If your gecko shows signs of illness, then veterinary attention should be taken immediately. As with all illnesses, it is crucial to get your gecko in as soon as possible before it’s too late.
Do not self-medicate or try to solve this issue without your veterinarian’s approval. Only they can properly diagnose and set up a proper treatment plan for your leopard gecko.
Be sure to describe your pet’s behavior fully to your veterinarian to the best of your ability to ensure that a proper treatment plan is set up.
Your vet may most likely prescribe your gecko on antibiotics, but surgical procedures may be performed if needed. Follow all instructions carefully to ensure your gecko goes through a speedy recovery.