Why Isn’t My Leopard Gecko Active?

If you’re experiencing trouble with a lack of activity from your lizard then trust me, I know how you feel.  Looking into their tank every day to find that they’re not moving around as much as you’d expect them to can be very worrisome.  Fortunately, though, there are simple things to check for and keep in mind in order to find the culprit behind their behavior.  Here they are.

Why isn’t my leopard gecko active?  There are a few reasons why your leopard gecko isn’t active.  But, some of the common reasons for this behavior could include illness, stress, cold tank temperatures, a small enclosure, or maybe even the fact that they’re just more active at night.

It’s hard to really pinpoint exactly what’s causing your leopard gecko to behave this way.  But, most of the issues that I’ve listed can be fixed fairly easily and shouldn’t be anything that should cause you too much concern unless they’re showing physical symptoms that may be indicating towards something a little more serious.  To learn how to resolve each “issue” though, I suggest reading on.

They’re Crepuscular

Some of you may know this and some of you may not, but because leopard geckos are crepuscular, this means that they are mostly active between the hours of dusk and dawn.  Dusk is around 8:00 PM while dawn is around 6:00 AM, so for a lot of people, leopard geckos are not up and moving around until the day is ending and it’s time to wind down, relax, and get ready for bed.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot us owners can do about this seeing as they need all the sleep they can get just like we do so that their bodies are staying healthy and that they aren’t heavily stressed out from a lack of sleep from being woken up.

But, having the knowledge of when they are awake can help us know what the best times to spend time with them are and when we can find them being the most active.  Leopard geckos are awesome to own, but this is one downfall that I’m sure a lot of owners can agree is very annoying to deal with.

Unless you’re a night owl and have a habit of regularly staying up all night, finding the time to hang out with your leopard gecko can sometimes be very difficult.

Because leopard geckos have been known to wake up during the day though to catch a little heat from their heat lights or heat mats or to soak up a little D3 to help break down their calcium intake, you might see them up and active for a short amount of time while you are before they go back to sleep until it’s time for their day to start.

Cold Enclosure

Just like us, leopard geckos need to live in an environment with a certain amount of heat and a certain amount of coldness in order to be comfortable.  When there’s too much of one, it can cause harm to their health and make them become uncomfortable, stressed out, and in certain temperatures, inactive.

To fix this issue, you’ll need a device that will regulate the temperatures within your tank to make sure they’re not getting too high or too low.

Overly high temperatures will cause your leopard gecko to frantically try and find the coolest spot in the tank or escape it while an overly cold tank will cause them to become very slow, sluggish, and overall very inactive in order to retain their body heat for doing more important activities, like eating.

The reason for this is that because they’re cold-blooded creatures, their bodies adapt to whatever temperature that they’re exposed to.  So when it’s too cold, their body temperatures drops and as a result, their digestive system slows down a bit as well.

By slowing their bodies down, they preserve heat so that when they get hungry, their bodies aren’t straining to digest the food that they’ve just eaten.  In fact, if it’s too cold, they can even become impacted by insects, like mealworms for example, that normally wouldn’t cause them issues.

Because having the right temperatures in your tank is so important, I suggest checking out this article here that I wrote that tells you exactly what temperatures you should have it at along with all the equipment you need in order to avoid having any issues with your leopard gecko and a lot of other information including other symptoms that they might experience if they’re subjected to temperatures that aren’t necessarily safe for them as well.

Too Small of an Enclosure

There are many different enclosures that an owner can choose from when deciding which one they want to have their lizard in for the good majority of their life.  But keep in mind that not all enclosures are meant for every leopard gecko and will need to be chosen based on not only their size but also on how many you want to have in the enclosure as well.

With that said, if you have your leopard gecko in an enclosure or tank that is too small for them, then this may stress them out simply for the fact that they don’t have adequate amounts of space to comfortably walk around and as a result, it may even cause them to become inactive.

Leopard geckos in the wild are used to having all the space in the world to freely roam around and even though most captively owned leos have never been in the wild, their brains are hardwired to having the need to live in a certain environment so that they can feel as comfortable and safe as possible.

With small enclosures, they not only feel stressed as I’ve already mentioned but they also feel very vulnerable and cramped up as well.  Moving around the tank can become very difficult and because of this, they are going to try to limit their movements as much as possible.

If your leopard gecko is a baby and you have them in a 10-gallon tank then that’s more than enough space for them to comfortably walk around in.  But, if you have an adult or juvenile leopard gecko in a 10-gallon tank then that’s when things can become a little too much for your gecko to handle.

To resolve this issue, you’ll need a larger tank.  Some owners buy 10-gallon tanks for babies out of fear that anything larger will be too intimidating for them but what they don’t know is that leopard geckos are used to living in a habitat that is way larger than any tank that anyone could ever buy.

So, getting something bigger is definitely not a problem and is actually the smarter thing to do in not only the short term but the long term as well.  If you’d like to know the tank I currently have my leopard gecko in, then check it out here over on Amazon.

10-gallon tanks will provide you and your leopard gecko with the space that they need for the first 2-3 months of them being birthed.  But after that, they will need to be put in a tank that’s at least 20 gallons large in order to comfortably accommodate them for their size.

20-gallon tanks are good-sized tanks for not only adult and juvenile leopard geckos, but babies as well.  Although 10-gallon tanks work, they are not necessary.

Potential Illness

Facing or even thinking about our leopard geckos having an illness is not something that any gecko owner wants to go experience but unfortunately, it happens.  They can become ill from impaction, poor husbandry, stress, or even from extremely deadly parasitical infections.

While some causes of the illnesses they’re subjected to can be prevented and treated, some can’t.  For example, lowering stress by not doing anything that could cause your leopard gecko fear or turmoil is pretty easy to do and doesn’t require any special attention in order to achieve that.

But, impaction and parasites are a whole different story and more than likely will require a visit to a veterinarian.  There are some things that can be done at home to relieve or even get rid of impaction such as belly rubs and warm baths, but if doing these two things doesn’t give your leopard gecko relief, then it’s a must that they are seen right away.

As far as parasites go, there’s nothing any owner can really do about them and you WILL need to go to the vet for the best advice on what to do from that point on.

You may already be familiar with this particular parasite, but there’s one that’s commonly known and it’s called crypto.  Unfortunately, there are no cures for this deadly infection yet.  But, there are treatments that could prolong their life until they eventually meet their inevitable demise.

For more information on this parasite, click on this article here and scroll down to the section called “CRYPTO” where I go into a little more detail on what this parasitical infection is capable of doing and what you can and should do if you suspect that your leopard gecko may have it.


There are quite a few reasons for why a leopard gecko could be inactive, but if you’re good at taking care of them and making sure everything within their tank is set right and that there’s nothing in it that could harm them, then you should have nothing to worry about.

It’s hard to tell exactly what could be causing them to act in such an odd way, but with a method of elimination, you should be able to get down to the bottom of this behavior once and for all.

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...