Why Does My Leopard Gecko Feel Cold?

The first thing someone might say whenever someone has this problem is that ” they feel cold because they’re coldblooded “, but being coldblooded doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re cold by nature.  If your leopard gecko is cold, then it is usually due to one very important reason and luckily, this reason is something you can fix fairly easily with the right gear.  But first, here’s your answer.

Why does my leopard gecko feel cold?  It’s likely that they feel cold because the temperatures in your tank are low.  Even though they are coldblooded, their bodies adapt to the temperature in their environment.  So, if it’s cold, they’ll be cold.  If it’s hot, they’ll be hot.

Unlike us, leopard geckos don’t create their own source of heat, so in order to get it, they’ll either lay in the sun if they’re out in the wild or on the heat mat or under the heat lamp if they’re in captivity.  With that said, it’s important that we’re keeping our tank nice and warm so that they don’t get too cold and suffer as a result.  To know how to do that, I suggest reading on.

Creating a Source of Heat

If you have your tank setup, then likely you’ll have a source of heat whether that be from a lamp or a mat, but if not, then you’ll need to get one ASAP.  All pieces of equipment are important and all serve their different purpose, but if I had to choose one piece of equipment that was the most important over all of them, then it would definitely be your source of heat.

Well,  I probably wouldn’t say it’s the most important piece of equipment because all of them are equally as important, but it’s still pretty important.  Without it, your leopard gecko can hardly function, literally.  They won’t be able to eat, poop, or hardly even be able to move if it’s too cold in their tank.

Their body requires warmth and without it, they won’t only be overly cold, but they’ll take a hit to their health as well.  As stated above though, if they don’t have a source of heat, you’ll definitely need to get one.  A heat mat works great and is what I currently use.

If you don’t like heat mats or don’t have a 20-gallon tank, then you can also go with a heat lamp instead.  If you do already have a source of heat, which I’m assuming most leopard gecko owners do, then the next thing you’ll want to do is make sure the temperature on your thermostat is set high enough so that your leopard gecko is getting adequate amounts of heat.

I could give you more information on where you should have your temperature set at and all that good stuff, but because I’ve written a very long and informative post about their temperatures specifically, I highly suggest you check it out here so that you’re in the know.

Body Temperature Differences

As stated above, the body temperature of a leopard gecko will fluctuate depending on what the temperature in their environment is like, so if we apply this same logic to our tanks, then it works the exact same way.

If your leopard gecko is on the hot side, then chances are that they’ll feel a lot warmer than they would be when on the cold side.  If you’re picking your leopard gecko up while they’re on the cold side, then it could very easily seem like they are naturally cold, but really they’re not, they’ve just adjusted to their surroundings.

So before you get worried next time you pick them up and they feel cold, make sure to keep that in mind and also look at the side of the tank they were laying on first before thinking it’s something else.

Your leopard gecko will lay and sleep on either side of the tank, so the temperature their body is at will feel different a lot of the times as they are bound to sleep on either side at any given moment.  But, because they like the feeling of warmth on their stomach and body, you might catch them on the hotter side of the tank just a little bit more often.

Outside Influences

Believe it or not, but what goes on outside of your tank has more of an effect on its temperature more than you think.  These factors could include anything from what season it is, how cold the A/C is in your house, or even what time of day it is.

And even though you have control of how cool it is in your house, you don’t have control over the temperatures that are outside of it.  Heat mats and heat lamps are great for doing what they’re supposed to do for most of the year, but when it gets cold out, it may make the cold side of your tank just a little bit too cold for what your leopard gecko requires.

When that happens, a leopard gecko will usually go into a state of hibernation or more specifically into what the reptile world calls “brumation” and they won’t move much until Spring starts back up in order to conserve heat and energy.

While this is a useful survival mechanism in the wild, it’s pretty useless in captivity.  But because your leopard gecko doesn’t really know the difference between when they’re in the wild and when they’re not, they’ll enter this state anyways until the weather outside gets a little bit warmer again.

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about this because they’re able to detect when the weather has changed even if the temperatures in your tank are set correctly, but because we still don’t want it to be too cold in our tanks as this can cause them to have digestive issues, we’ll want to make sure our rooms are at a temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit because that’s what the cold side of the tank should be at.

In instances where it’s way too cold in your house and you need to raise the temperature in your room I would usually suggest turning on the in-home heater and letting it regulate throughout the house so that you can keep your room’s temperatures consistent, but because everyone doesn’t have central heating and cooling, I recommend getting a space heater.

Heat is a necessity for leopard geckos, and not because they need it just to stay warm, but because their bodies need it in order to function properly, so definitely make sure you have some source of it in your home aside from your heat mat or heat lamp just in case the temperatures in your room get a little bit too cold for their little bodies to handle.

Checking Temperatures

Now that you have your sources of heat, you’ll need to know where your temperatures are at.  And because there’s really no other way to tell where they’re at,  without a thermometer, you’ll need to get a thermometer ASAP.

You can have everything else set up right, but if you have no way of telling how hot or how cold your tank is, then the rest of the equipment is virtually useless.

Having a thermometer for your hot and cold side will give you peace of mind and will let you know whether or not you need to make adjustments to accommodate for your leopard geckos needs.  Also, to be on the safe side, you should have a thermometer hanging somewhere within the room your gecko is kept in as well.

As stated above, the cold side of your tank will be at the temperature of whatever your room is at, so it’s important that you know how hot and cool your room is too so that you can make adjustments there as well.


Because leopard geckos are coldblooded, it’s not unusual for them to be a little colder than usual when on the cold side of their tank.  Also, the average body temperature for a human is about 98 degrees Fahrenheit, so naturally, our leopard geckos will feel slightly cooler to us because their bodies don’t create heat like we do.

They’re kind of like rocks.  They can either be really hot or really cold, but which one they are will greatly depend on the temperature around them.  If you’ve ever picked up a rock in the sun then you know what I’m talking about.

Just like rocks, leopard geckos adapt to the temperature in their environment.  So before you get too worried, make sure to first check the temperatures in your tank, make sure all equipment is working, take into consideration the temperatures outside, and pay attention to what side of the tank they were on before picking them up.

I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...