Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cage Temperatures-What Should They be?

A Leopard Gecko is Cold Blooded.
FIRST-what is a cold blooded animal---"Cold-blooded creatures take on the temperature of their surroundings. They are hot when their environment is hot and cold when their environment is cold. In hot environments, cold-blooded animals can have blood that is much warmer than warm-blooded animals. Cold-blooded animals are much more active in warm environments and are very sluggish in cold environments. This is because their muscle activity depends on chemical reactions which run quickly when it is hot and slowly when it is cold. A cold-blooded animal can convert much more of its food into body mass compared with a warm-blooded animal.
....... Cold-blooded animals often like to bask in the sun to warm up and increase their metabolism. While basking, reptiles will lie perpendicular to the direction of the sun to maximize the amount of sunlight falling on their skin. They will also expand their rib cage to increase their surface area and will darken their skin to absorb more heat. When a reptile is too hot, it will lie parallel to the sun's rays, go into a shady area, open its mouth wide, lighten its skin color or burrow into cool soil. (Geckos in their native environment spend a lot of the day in shady areas to avoid the too hot sun)
Being cold-blooded does have advantages....Cold-blooded animals require much less energy to survive than warm-blooded animals do.... Since cold-blooded animals do not have to burn a lot of food to maintain a constant body temperature, they are more energy efficient and can survive longer periods without food. Many cold-blooded animals will try to keep their body temperatures as low as possible when food is scarce.....
SECOND-SO, what should your cage temps be???
To reiterate, geckos are cold blooded, This means that they're hot in a hot environment and cold in a cold environment, and can't regulate their temperatures internally like a bird or a mammal. When they feel like they need to be a different temperature, they regulate it by moving to a different spot in the cage. Leopard geckos are more active when warm, and can be very sluggish when cold. Even their digestion slows down!
The warm end should ideally be around ninety degrees Fahrenheit, with the cooler end around eighty. An under tank heater is one of the best ways to accomplish this. Heat tape is another popular choice for keeping the cage at the correct temperature.
Don't be tempted to choose a heat rock - an artificial stone with a heater built in - as these often get hotter than appropriate, and some lizards can actually bask themselves to death on one. You can also choose to provide a basking light instead of an under tank heater. Once again, a temperature of about ninety degrees is best, and temperatures over ninety-two can be quite dangerous.
At night, allow the tank to cool to the low seventies, with an under tank pad providing a hot spot. Don't allow the night temperature to sink below sixty-eight degrees, since this can also be bad for your reptiles.

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