A leopard gecko is one of the most popular pet reptiles due to its docile behavior, rare willingness to bite, and easy care requirements.
One of the questions most owners will ask themselves is: when are leopard geckos most active?
Leopard geckos are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at the beginning and end of daylight hours. Leopard geckos will be active periodically during the rest of the day and night, but primarily during twilight hours.
Keep on reading to learn how leopard geckos are active in captivity vs. in nature and why they are most active when they are.
We’ll also discuss how crepuscular is different than diurnal and nocturnal and more about interacting with your pet.
Table of Contents
Crepuscular Leopard Geckos: What Does It Mean?
A popular belief is that leopard geckos are nocturnal animals, but this isn’t entirely true.
Nocturnal animals are active during the night and typically sleep throughout the day.
On the other hand, diurnal animals are active during daylight hours, the same as most people and many animals.
From sun up to sundown, diurnal animals are most active.
However, leopard geckos are crepuscular lizards, meaning their most active times are the twilight hours.
This includes the first few morning hours when the sun is starting to peak over the horizon and the last few hours of the day when the sun is beginning to set.
Leopard geckos will have some activity outside of these times, especially if they have a reason to be awake.
Instinctually they are opportunistic hunters.
So it is not uncommon to see them eat during the day or hear them moving around through the middle of the night.
Still, naturally, their most active hours are those of twilight.
It is hard to accurately mimic twilight hours with artificial lights. But this is usually not a problem as geckos have adjusted well to domestic light.
Typical indoor lighting will not bother them or mess up their schedules.
Best Times To Interact With Your Leopard Gecko
Just because a leopard gecko’s natural behaviors have them most active at dawn and dusk does not mean there is a bad time to interact with them during the day.
In fact, the more you interact with your gecko, the tamer they will be and a better pet overall.
The best ways to interact with your pet reptile are to encourage natural behaviors from them.
This can include letting them nap on you, as they will be thrilled with your warm body heat, which they seek out naturally.
Leopard geckos do not live a very social life in captivity or in nature.
So for the most part, you won’t see social behaviors from them like a dog or a cat would show, and they are fine to be left alone for long periods.
They are also not anti-social animals and will show a lot of curious behaviors towards you as they get used to being held and pet.
This is part of what makes them such great pets.
If you build a quality care schedule for your gecko, they will get used to it.
You’ll even see their excitement when it is time for feeding or curious behavior when cleaning out the cage.
There is no bad time to interact with your gecko, as they rarely seem upset when they are woken up from a nap.
But they do need some time alone, so make sure to limit the amount of interaction you have to give them per day.
Leopard Geckos In Captivity Vs. The Wild
Wild leopard geckos live very different lives than those in captivity, and as a result, their behaviors will be different.
However, not all instinctual behaviors have been bred out of captive geckos, as they are not truly domesticated reptiles.
One of the physical differences you’ll see in wild leopard geckos is they have a much more limited range of color patterns.
In the desert area between Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iran/India, where leopard geckos are native, their detailed patterns of black and yellow serve as camouflage to help protect them.
Leopard geckos are found in desert scrub habitats and blend in with the color of the ground in those areas.
They are common prey for birds of prey, foxes, and larger reptiles, and their camouflage gives them the best chances for survival.
In captivity, no forces of natural selection have allowed breeders to breed for many different traits resulting in giants, albinos, red-eyed geckos, all-black geckos, and a whole host of other physical traits.
How Much Does A Leopard Gecko Sleep?
For the most part, you’ll see your leopard gecko sleep most of the day.
This will be at least 12-13 hours they are asleep on an average day.
Throughout the night, leopard geckos will be awake and active most of the time.
You’re most likely to see your gecko sleeping curled up in one of their hides, whether a dry or humid hide.
However, sometimes you’ll find them splayed out randomly in the middle of the enclosure, which means they feel safe and comfortable.
However, a sign of some health issues would be a major change in sleeping patterns, especially if they sleep for more than 15 hours a day.
This might be due to a nutrient deficiency, parasites, or something wrong with them.
It is hard to know how active your gecko is at night, so your best bet is to check their behavior during the day and body health.
Leopard geckos are cold-blooded, so if your hours have particularly cold nights, you might need to supplement heat with a space heater in the same room or a ceramic heat emitter above their enclosure.
Just monitor the temperatures to ensure the ambient temperature in the enclosure is not above 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) on the cold side, which may be harmful to them.
Further Reading: Giving your leopard gecko habitat everything it needs