Are Leopard Geckos Nocturnal (What It Means For You)


Leopard geckos are some of the most adored and docile pets. If you have a leopard gecko, you will notice that this little companion seems to be sleepy during the day. Does this mean these reptiles are nocturnal? There is usually a massive debate on whether leopard geckos are nocturnal or crepuscular. The two terms are usually used to refer to active animals in the dark hours.

Leopard geckos have the qualities of nocturnal animals. However, unlike nocturnal creatures, these pets sleep both day and night, and you will find them active at dusk and dawn. For this reason, they are classified as crepuscular.

If you have a pet, you need to understand its behavior to provide it with the necessary care. It also helps you figure out if your animal is comfortable or stressed out. In this post, we will look at whether leopard geckos are nocturnal. And how this characteristic affects how you relate and care for the animal.

Time Partitioning in Mammals

Mammal are classified depending on their activity, and there are four categories of animals:

Nocturnal animalsAnimals that are active in the dark
Diurnal animalsAnimals active during the day
CrepuscularAnimals are active during twilight
CathemeralAnimals active during both day and night

What is a Nocturnal?

Nocturnal refers to a class of more active animals at night, meaning the animal hunts mates at night. Consequently, these animals are specially adapted to the nightlife, avoiding predators and excessive heat of the day.

Generally, leopard geckos are active at night while spending most of the daytime hours sleeping or hiding. If you have this pet, you will notice some nocturnal behaviors.

Looking at the unique adaptations of nocturnal is one way of determining whether the leopard gecko is nocturnal. It is also a significant source of confusion since the animal has so many qualities nocturnal characteristics.

Ability to see at night

Nocturnal animals have unique adaptation in their eyes to allow them to see more clearly at night:

  • They have bigger eyes and wider pupils
  • Their retina has reflective cells that reflect back any light passing through to maximize night vision.
  • Their retina is also more light sensitive cells (rod cells) as opposed to color defining cells (cone cells). These rod cells have special adaptation into light collecting lens.

Leopard geckos have a very light-sensitive retina highly, thus being able to see color at night. Their vision in the dark is 350 times better than that of humans.

Advanced sensory organs

Nocturnal animals have advanced senses to enable them to hunt at night:

  • They mostly have large offset highly maneuverable ears to capture the slightest sounds.
  • Additionally, they have a strong sense of smell, thanks to the Jackobson’s organ located at the foot of their mouths. You will notice the animal tends to pull its lips back exposing this organ when picking scents.

Leopard geckos have a very acute sense of sight and hearing, which helps the animal in hunting and protection from predators.

What Sets the Leopard Gecko Apart From Nocturnal Animals?

Leopard geckos are native to arid and semi-arid areas, where vegetation is sparse. You will often find the animals hiding in rocky outcroppings as they avoid sandy areas. This natural environment plays a significant role in the animal’s behavior and features.

Leopard geckos are adapted to living in these regions where the temperatures are scorching during the day and cold during the night.

Therefore, you will find that the animal prefers to creep out of their hideout at dawn and dusk when the temperatures are friendlier. For this reason, the animal is more active at these hours when it begins hunting for food and searching for mates.

Nocturnal animals are known to hibernate during twilight hours, a behavior that differentiates the leopard gecko from nocturnal animals. When the leopard geckos are out and about, other animals, including diurnal and nocturnal, are away hibernating.

How is this an adaptation behavior for the animal?

  • As a result, leopard geckos are able to avoid the scorching heat of the sun.
  • Additionally, they are able to stay off predators such as snakes and foxes.
  • At these hours, most animals are away in their hide outs and there is less competition for food.

Caring for Leopard Geckos as Crepuscular

Since the leopard geckos are active at twilight, they are called crepuscular. The term refers to animals that appear and are active during twilight.

As a result, leopard geckos are inactive and will sleep most day and night. These animals sleep for 12hours a day, during which the animals seem lifeless you may fear the animal is sick.

Time for feeding

Leopard geckos will only feed when they are active. For this reason, you need to provide the animal with a proper feeding schedule. You will notice that your pet friend will eat at twilight. And since the animal spends a lot of time hibernating, it doesn’t require much energy.

Their bodies also store excess fat under the skin, more so in their tails. Consequently, the animal can go for a week without food. Therefore, the animal will eat less at times, which might be mistaken for a sickness.

A baby leopard gecko will feed between five to seven small crickets, and the amount of food you give the animal should increase with the pet’s size.

However, you will need to provide food every day in the early mornings or the evening from 7 to 9 pm. Sluggishness in the animal is a sign of stress or hunger. When hungry, the animal will make a noise or squeak.

Proper lighting

As pets, leopard geckos need the same lighting conditions as their natural habitat. Thus, you don’t need to provide the animal with artificial lighting at night.

Also, as we saw earlier, the animal is adapted to seeing well in the dark, and thus it doesn’t need artificial lighting.

The difference between night and daylight helps the animal adopt a proper sleeping schedule. Whenever you use artificial lighting, the animal is likely to get stressed due to inconsistent sleep patterns.

Home and environment

When preparing a house for leopard geckos, keep in mind the need to hibernate during the day and night. Naturally, the animal hides under rocks, and you need to provide a similar environment.

The hideaways should also be moist, and you can use materials such as sphagnum moss, peat moss, and damp soil. Remember to use non-abrasive substrates which don’t irritate or injure the animal’s skin when shedding.

Interacting with your pet

Since they are active in the early mornings and evenings, this is the best time to play with the animal. Once you have fed it, you can spend some time together. Always keep in mind that the animal might not be good company during the daytime, and it may seem sluggish.

The animal enjoys being touched. And if you are new to each other, you can hold it gently in your hand while working fingers gently under its body. You need to refrain from holding the animal too long or very often, especially if you just brought it in, as it may stress out the animal.

It would be best to introduce it to toys to avoid getting bored whenever you are not around.

Once you have established a good schedule with the animal, you will find it happier. When in a good mood, the animal will show you affection by appearing whenever you are around. The animal will move its tail in communication, which could signify excitement or danger.

FAQ’s about Leopard Gecko

Conclusion on Are Leopard Geckos Nocturnal

Leopard geckos are mostly assumed to be nocturnal due to their habit of sleeping at night, and however, the animal sleeps equally during day and night, active during twilight. If you are rearing this pet, you need to understand its behavior to provide the necessary care.

The animal is docile and easy to care for. However, it would be best to give it a desirable environment that meets its requirements to hibernate, play and bask.

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