Leopard geckos are nocturnal lizards, so they’re active during nighttime and spend their days in hiding, resting, and sleeping. But how much do they sleep per day, and does their sleeping behavior changes under certain conditions?
Today, we’ll discuss the leopard gecko’s sleeping habits so you know how your lizard pet functions within a 24-hour cycle. Let’s get to it!
How Much Sleep do Leopard Geckos Need?
Leopard geckos require around 12 hours of sleep per day. They become more active at dusk when the hunting hours begin. But leopard geckos need to stay in hiding and rest for the day, which is an evolutionary adaptation to its natural habitat. Leopard geckos typically live in arid and desertic conditions, with temperatures soaring up to 105 F. These are far over the lizard’s comfort zone, which forced the animal to adapt.
Part of the adaptation process involves hiding from the sun in shaded and cool areas and sleeping the days off. While leopard geckos don’t face as harsh conditions in captivity, their behavior hasn’t changed one bit. They still need a good hiding area to spend their time during the day and sleep as much as they need to.
Why do Leopard Geckos Sleep So Much?
Leopard geckos tend to sleep up to 12 hours per day, which may seem like a lot. But it makes sense for the lizard’s physiological functioning. Leopard geckos tend to sleep a lot to:
- Conserve energy – These lizards are generally very active during nighttime, patrolling their habitat, hunting, eating, interacting with each other (if you have several), etc. Since they are cold-blooded animals, they don’t have a lot of energy to spend. So, they need more time to recharge their batteries compared to warm-blooded animals.
- Digestion – Reptiles take a long time to digest their food due to their slower metabolic rates and sluggish digestive systems. The same stays true for leopard geckos. Sleeping helps the lizard’s brain focus its entire energy on the digestive process. A gecko that doesn’t get enough sleep can experience digestive problems and nutritional deficiencies.
- Normal behavior – Leopard geckos are simply naturally prone towards sleeping a lot to regulate their physiological processes. If your gecko doesn’t get enough sleep, it will become stressed, irritable, showcase a lower appetite, and even have a weaker immune system.
The last point is particularly important. If your leopard gecko isn’t getting enough sleep during daytime, it may need to compensate by also sleeping during the night. So, you should make sure that your gecko is getting sufficient rest by:
- Creating at least one hiding spot for your gecko to use during the day
- Keeping the lights dimmer to allow for better rest
- Don’t disturb the lizard during its rest time
- Avoid loud noises or sudden light flashes in the tank room, not to disturb the gecko
Where do Leopard Geckos Sleep?
Leopard geckos are ground-dwelling animals, so they won’t sleep elevated. Instead, they will rest at ground level, preferably in hiding. A rocky cave, wood, tunnels, and some branches can provide the lizard with a comfortable and safe layout; perfect for hiding, resting, and exploration.
Leopard geckos don’t like sleeping in the open due to their evolutionary conditioning. Sleeping makes geckos vulnerable, so they need to hide somewhere during their resting session. Their habitat layout should accommodate their natural behavior to keep them well-rested, comfy, and healthy.
Factors that Affect Leopard Gecko Sleep
If your leopard gecko doesn’t seem to sleep as much as it should, consider the following potential explanations:
Sick geckos may either sleep more than necessary or not enough. Only you know your gecko’s biorhythm because not all geckos have the same sleeping pattern. They tend to sleep for approximately 11-13 hours per day, but this may vary slightly between different specimens.
Sick geckos will have their sleeping pattern disrupted significantly. They will either sleep insufficiently with many pauses or too long, on the brink of lethargy. They will also eat considerably less, lose weight, and showcase a variety of other symptoms, depending on the condition plaguing them.
You should always monitor your gecko and assess its health when that happens. Detecting any health problems early on is critical for swift recovery and for preventing additional health issues stemming from them.
Stressed geckos sleep less than calm and comfortable ones. The problem is that geckos can get stressed for a variety of reasons. These include sickness, improper or unstable environmental parameters, improper or overly-frequent handling, unfamiliar habitat, and so on.
The gecko will display a specific behavior when stressed, showcasing irritability and even aggression. Prolonged stress can impact the gecko’s lifestyle, causing it to have a weaker immune system, eat less, not get enough rest, etc. You can tell pretty easily when your gecko is stressed, at which point you need to find solutions to correct the issue.
- Give your gecko time to adapt to its new home; hiding spots are critical in this sense, allowing the gecko to adapt to its surroundings gradually
- Don’t handle or pet your gecko too often or in the wrong moments (when it sheds, when digesting food, when it appears irritable, etc.)
- Environmental parameters like temperature, humidity, and lighting, should always stay within the ideal range
- The gecko should eat enough and have a well-rounded and nutritious diet
- Keep the lizard in a natural-looking habitat with plenty of horizontal space and layout diversity
Also, keep in mind that leopard geckos can also exhibit signs of stress when sick. Contact your vet if you can’t determine why your lizard appears stressed.
If the gecko doesn’t eat enough, it may not sleep enough. Leopard geckos should have 2-3 meals per week and enough food, depending on their size, age, and appetite. The type of food and supplementation they’re getting are also critical for the lizards’ health.
All reptiles are predisposed to calcium deficiency, which they counteract by sunbathing. This helps them metabolize vitamin D3 more effectively, which, in turn, aids with calcium binding. So, to help your gecko receive the necessary dose of calcium:
- Gut-load and dust the feeder insect with calcium and D3 powder for proper nutrient intake
- Manage the phosphorus-calcium ratio (aim for a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio, with calcium being on the higher end)
- Ensure sufficient UV lighting, either from natural or artificial sources; the UV lighting contributes to better D3 synthesis and calcium absorption
A well-fed gecko is one that grows and rests properly; definitely a point to remember.
If the environment is unfit, the gecko won’t be able to rest properly. The leopard gecko’s environmental layout should be horizontal, with both open spaces and hiding areas for resting and sleeping. Aim for at least 20 gallons of space, despite the general recommendation of 10 gallons as a minimum requirement. 10 gallons is not enough to accommodate an adult leopard gecko and create a personalized layout at the same time.
Don’t worry if your leopard gecko seems to sleep a lot. To know whether your lizard’s sleeping pattern is within the normal charts, keep track of its sleeping hours. A healthy adult lizard should sleep around 12 hours with some mild variation, depending on the specimen.
If your gecko sleeps considerably less or more than it should, look into it and consider some of the causes and fixes I’ve mentioned.