How to Keep Crested Geckos Warm in Winter?
If you’ve never owned and cared for a reptile before, you will have a lot of differences to consider when comparing geckos to any other pets. Temperature is one of them.
As reptiles, geckos are cold-blooded animals, so they cannot regulate their internal temperatures. Instead, they rely on their environment for that.
In the wild, geckos will actively seek for sunlight to remain warm when necessary and go into the shade when they’ve had their fill. But they can’t do that in a home terrarium since that’s a close environment.
This is where you come in. It’s your duty to provide the gecko with all the comfort it needs to thrive and remain healthy and happy.
Temperature plays a major role in that aspect, and temperature is relatively easy to tweak during the warm season.
The problem comes with the winter when you no longer have the luxury of the sun’s natural warming light. What then?
6 Ways to Keep Crested Geckos Warm in Winter
Keeping your crested geckos warm during the cold season is key to their long-term well-being.
If geckos cannot regulate their temperature, their immune system will drop and will face difficulties during shedding, among other things.
Fortunately, providing geckos with optimal temperatures is quite easy, provided you know what to do.
Here are the 6 most important strategies to consider:
1. Cover and Insulate the Tank
This is the most obvious solution since geckos will live in a close environment that you can manipulate to your lizard’s liking.
Insulating the tank properly will reduce the heat loss, keeping the temperatures more stable in the long run.
However, be careful how you approach this point. Sealing the gecko’s terrarium completely will lead to the accumulation of carbon dioxide which is deadly in high-enough concentrations.
It will also cause a spike in humidity which will lead to mold formation and cause a variety of additional problems along the way.
The goal is to insulate the tank while maintaining a healthy air circulation to prevent mold formation and ensure adequate oxygenation.
A lid with breathing holes in it will help in this sense.
Just remember – crested geckos are apt climbers thanks to their padded toes. Expect them to reach heights only a crested gecko will be able to conquer.
So, a tank lid is necessary to prevent your geckos from climbing out of the terrarium.
2. Increase Room Temperature
Crested geckos thrive at temperatures around 72 to 75 °F, which are room temperatures by most standards.
However, your room temperature might differ quite substantially at times, depending on your home’s layout, your geographical area, how circulated the room is, etc.
All these factors can make the temperature fluctuate quite extensively, which isn’t ideal.
You can solve the problem by increasing the room temperature to bring it within the ideal range. I know that it sounds easy in theory, but that may differ in practice.
In general, it’s not such a big deal if you can’t keep the room temperature pinpointed accurately. You will have other ways of adjusting the terrarium’s temperature anyway.
But it’s worth knowing that the overall room temperature is also important to some extent.
3. Use a Heat Lamp
A heat lamp is a shortcut toward achieving your temperature goals with minimal effort. However, this is only useful during the daytime since crested geckos need a healthy day/night cycle.
This means that the heat lamp won’t be available during nighttime, which is also when the gecko is the most active.
As you know, heat lamps create both light and heat, so their usefulness is circumstantial at best.
Then there’s another problem to consider. You can’t keep your heat lamp outside of the tank since the heat output will be suboptimal.
So, you need to place it inside the reptile’s terrarium, which naturally comes with several logistics problems. One of them is the fact that the gecko can climb the lamp and get burned in the process.
Depending on its placement, the lamp will also disperse the light and heat unevenly, which will lead to hot and colder areas.
Fortunately, geckos are less active during the daytime when the heat lamp is working, so the risk of them getting burned is lower.
I prefer to stay away from heat lamps due to the downsides I’ve mentioned, but you don’t need to take my word for it.
If you find a way to make them work, depending on your terrarium’s size and layout, go for it.
4. Use a Ceramic Heat Emitter
Ceramic heat emitters are opaque heat lamps, to put it bluntly. They even look like lamps, but they emit infrared radiation and no residual light.
This means that ceramic heat emitters can provide your gecko with a sturdy 24-hour heating cycle without disturbing the reptile’s sleep.
You can find a variety of ceramic heat emitters with various specifications and features. I recommend going for ones known to last more than 10,000 hours, are sturdy, easy to install, and heat up fast.
High-end heat emitters will reach the ideal temperature output within minutes after plugging them in.
Just make sure you don’t turn the heat emitters on and off too often. And more importantly, place them at a safe distance from your reptiles.
Otherwise, they might get burned either via direct contact or as a result of the intense heating due to the dangerous proximity.
I recommend avoiding the heat emitter altogether if the reptile’s habitat is too small to accommodate the product safely.
Only use heat lamps and ceramic heat emitters in habitats with sufficient space available.
5. Use a Heat Pad
Heat pads are interesting alternatives to light bulbs and ceramic heaters due to their vastly different profile.
Heat pads provide heat from below and won’t interfere with the environmental lighting. Your geckos won’t even notice their presence.
The only problem you’ll have comes with finding the right heat pad. That’s because different heat pads come with different characteristics.
I suggest looking for pads that come with thermostats included and fit the gecko’s habitat perfectly. You also want to consider the wattage and minimum and maximum temperatures.
There’s no point in getting a pad with a wide temperature range since some pieces come with temperature values between 40 and 95 F.
The ideal pad should fit your terrarium perfectly, display a reliable thermostat, and provide the gecko with stable temperatures throughout the day.
6. Use Deep Substrate
Generally speaking, the thicker the substrate, the warmer and more humid the environment will be.
This, of course, depends on several factors, such as the substrate’s type and ability to hold the moisture.
Then you should also consider the animal that the substrate is meant to accommodate.
This can lead to some logistic issues along the way because soil is great for retaining humidity and warming the environment.
But it’s not so great for geckos in general. You see, geckos are substrate burrowers. They love to dig around the substrate and bury themselves at times when uncomfortable due to the inadequate lighting, temperature, humidity, or being stressed in general.
And soil is a poor choice in this sense because it will get compacted easily, especially in an environment with high humidity levels.
Other types of substrates aren’t really viable either. Sand, for instance, doesn’t retain much moisture, while gravel has large particles that the gecko can choke on if it swallows them by mistake.
So, how do we solve the puzzle?
I suggest mixing soil with elements like orchid bark, coconut husk, or sphagnum moss.
These mixtures will keep the soil aerated and humid and will prevent long-term compaction that plain soil is bound to encounter.
Do Crested Geckos Need Heating?
Yes, they most likely do. You can make it work without a heating system in place, but this requires extra effort on your part to secure a warm and stable habitat.
Geckos are cold-blooded creatures, so they require a good balance of high and lower temperatures to regulate their internal temperatures.
The heating system isn’t absolutely necessary, so long as the gecko’s habitat remains stable between 72 and 75 °F.
At least, this is the official version of the argument. However, I don’t fully buy into that, and I’ll explain why.
If you’ve seen crocodiles and snakes, you may have noticed that they tend to sunbathe for a while, then get into shading when they’ve had their fill. This behavior is common with reptiles, and it applies to geckos as well.
I suggest having a heating system that provides geckos with uneven heating. It sounds bad, but it’s actually not.
The gecko’s terrarium should offer a balanced mix of warm and colder areas so that the gecko can switch between them seamlessly.
I think this is the best system for a crested gecko, so long as the overall temperature is still above 72 °F.
What is the Lowest Temperature for Crested Gecko?
If you’re taking this question on various gecko forums designed to help you care for your pet adequately, the answer will invariably be the same.
Geckos require a minimum temperature of around 72 °F to remain healthy and comfy over the years. However, the truth about crested geckos is more nuanced than that.
These adaptable and hardy lizards can withstand temperatures far lower than that; all the way to 50 °F.
It’s not to say that the gecko will be comfortable at those temperatures, but it can manage them, provided it can warm up later. When it comes to long-term, stable temperatures, aim for a minimum value of 72 °F.
This is necessary to keep the gecko comfortable and free of stress and any health problems in the long run.
What Happens to Crested Gecko if Temperature is Too Low?
If the temperature is inadequately low in your gecko’s habitat, expect your lizard to face a variety of health problems.
The type and severity of these problems vary based on how low the temperature is and for how long. At first, the gecko will experience visible discomfort and will try to warm itself up.
In this case, most geckos will attempt to migrate towards warmer areas, if available, or bury themselves in the substrate to warm up.
If the temperatures remain dangerously low, your gecko will experience a weaker immune system. Shortly, they may struggle with secondary infections, which can put their life at risk.
The lizard’s metabolism and digestive system will also slow down, causing the gecko to become more lethargic and eat less.
All in all, the gecko doesn’t like low temperatures, at least not for extended periods of time.
This is the reason why a reliable heating system is always necessary for your gecko’s enclosure. This will keep the temperatures stable, keep the gecko safe and healthy, and prolong the reptile’s life considerably.
Just remember that the gecko needs a balanced temperature output. So, cold and warm areas are necessary to meet the gecko’s physiological demands.
Your gecko’s well-being depends on several factors, with the temperature being one of the vital ones.
These reptiles demand a stable environment in terms of temperature and humidity to remain healthy over the years.
Fortunately, they thrive at room temperature, so meeting their demands shouldn’t be too difficult.
See what your gecko likes, provide it with a robust heating system, and it won’t ask for much else.