Leaf-Tailed Gecko Temperatures & Lighting Requirements


According to data from Antananarivo, Madagascar, leaf-tailed geckos have evolved alongside an annual sunrise-sunrise cycle of approximately 13 hours/day during summer and 11 hours/day during winter. The exact numbers aren’t as important as the fact that there is a significant seasonal flux in the amount of daylight vs night. Simulating these rhythms in captivity allows for normal hormonal cycling in reptiles, which in turn improves their circadian rhythms, seasonal cycling, as well as general activity, appetite, and overall health.

The easiest way to accomplish this is with a digital programmable timer —  I prefer to use a smart power strip such as this one by Kasa for convenience. Plus, it allows me to automatically sync the lamps to my local sunrise/sunset times.


Although leaf-tailed geckos are classified as crepuscular, they tend to sleep out in the open during the day in the wild, naturally exposing themselves to small amounts of sunlight. Breeders and collectors generally agree that UVB is strongly recommended for leaf-tailed geckos’ health. The type of UVB bulb you will need to use generally depends on the height of the enclosure you are using. Here are some options, based on the enclosure’s height:

If you would like to be more precise about how much UVB your leaf-tailed gecko receives, invest in or borrow a Solarmeter Model 6.5. Aim for a maximum UVI reading of 1.0-2.0 at basking height. If you can’t afford a Solarmeter, here’s a rough estimate of the distancing you will need:

  • Zoo Med Compact Coil Reptisun 5.0, 26w — 4-6″ / 15-20cm
  • Zoo Med T8 Reptisun 5.0 — 4-6″ / 15-20cm
  • Arcadia T5 SO ShadeDweller 7% — 8-10″ / 20-25cm

(Recommendations are provided assuming the use of an Arcadia or Vivarium Electronics fixture for T5 lamps, and a Zoo Med fixture for T8 and compact coil bulbs. Using a different fixture than recommended is likely to change the bulb’s expected output.)

Note: Bark mimics like the Fimbriatus, Lineatus, and Alluaudi groups are likely to naturally receive more UVB than leaf mimics (Ebenaui group) due to their choice of microhabitat. These are the latest observations by herpetologist Mark D. Schertz.

General Illumination

Given that leaf-tailed geckos are primarily active around nighttime, their eyes are highly sensitive to light — it doesn’t take much to stimulate their day-night cycle, so if the UVB lamp is the only source of illumination in your enclosure, you’ll be okay. However, if you plan to use shade-tolerant live plants as part of your setup (which is extremely helpful for stabilizing higher humidity levels and a necessity of bioactive setups), then you will need a ~6500K T5 HO or LED plant grow light as well to nourish the plants.

By brand, I prefer the Arcadia JungleDawn LED Bar, but just about any ~6500K T5 HO fluorescent plant grow light in a reflective fixture can also do the job. LED grow lamps should be at least half the length of the gecko’s enclosure, and fluorescent grow lamps must be roughly the full length of the enclosure due to dimmer output.

Uroplatus Temperatures & Heating

Although some may try to tell you that leaf-tailed geckos can be “happily” kept at room temperature, the fact of the matter is that these geckos are still poikilothermic like other reptiles, which means that they need adequate opportunity to thermoregulate according to their needs. Furthermore, different species evolved to thrive at slightly different temperatures, depending on what part of the island they inhabit. All seem to benefit from a temperature drop at night, which also helps promote air circulation in glass enclosures.

The below temperature recommendations are sourced from Leaf-tailed Geckos — The Complete Uroplatus by Philip-Sebastian Gehring (2020).

  • alluaudi
    • Day — 68-77°F / 20-25°C
    • Night —  64-68°F / 18-20°C
    • Basking — 79°F / 26°C
  • ebenaui
    • Day — 75-82°F / 24-28°C
    • Night —  68°F / 20°C
  • fetsy
    • Day — 77-81°F / 25-27°C
    • Night —  72°F / 22°C
    • Basking — 91°F / 33°C
  • fiera
    • Day — 75-79°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  68°F / 20°C
  • fimbriatus
    • Day — 77-81°F / 25-27°C
    • Night —  72°F / 22°C
  • finaritra
    • Day — 75-79°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  64-68°F / 18-20°C
  • finiavana
    • Day — 75-79°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  68°F / 20°C
  • fotsivava
    • Day — 75-79°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  59°F / 15°C
  • giganteus
    • Day — 75-79°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  72°F / 22°C
  • guentheri
    • Day — 77-82°F / 25-28°C
    • Night —  68-73°F / 20-23°C
    • Basking — 95°F / 35°C
  • henkeli
    • Day — 77-81°F / 25-27°C
    • Night —  72°F / 22°C
    • Basking — 92°F / 33°C
  • kelirambo
    • Day — 75°F / 24°C
    • Night —  55°F / 13°C
    • Basking spot recommended
  • lineatus
    • Day — 75-79°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  no data
    • Basking — 82-86°F / 28-30°C
  • malahelo
    • Day — 75-82°F / 24-28°C
    • Night —  68°F / 20°C
  • malama
    • Day — 75-82°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  64-72°F / 18-22°C
  • phantasticus
    • Day — 75-82°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  64-72°F / 18-22°C
  • pietschmanni
    • Day — 75-82°F / 24-26°C
    • Night —  68°F / 20°C
    • Basking — 82°F / 28°C
  • sameiti
    • Day — 25-28°C
    • Night —  24-26°C
    • Basking — 30°C
  • sikorae
    • Day — 77-82°F / 22-25°C
    • Night —  64-68°F / 18-20°C

How to Heat Your Leaf-Tailed Gecko Terrarium

The best heat source for a leaf-tailed gecko is a heat lamp. White or clear low-wattage incandescent/halogen bulbs work very nicely for daytime heating. Ceramic heaters and heat projectors are less optimal, and colored bulbs should be avoided entirely.

In implementing the above recommended temperatures in your leaf-tailed gecko terrarium, your heat lamp should create an area of warmth that is roughly equal to the maximum daytime temperature specified by these numbers (unless a higher basking spot temperature is indicated as optimal). This will help create the ideal temperature gradient for your gecko to thermoregulate with. 

  • A basking spot should only be implemented if it will not raise overall terrarium temperatures to dangerous levels. Leaf-tailed geckos overheat easily — this means that providing a basking area may not be safe in enclosures that are too small to accommodate an appropriate thermal gradient!!

Heat Lamp Recommendations

If you are using a small terrarium hood like the Zoo Med Naturalistic Terrarium Hood to house your lights, I recommend the Exo Terra Daytime Heat Lamp. The exact wattage you need will depend on enclosure size, design, room temperature, and other factors, but start with the 25w and go up or down from there depending on your needs.

If you are using a small 5.5″ dome lamp like Zoo Med’s for your heat bulb, then I recommend starting with the 25w Zoo Med Repti Basking Spot Lamp

Temperature Monitoring

Track your terrarium’s temperatures by using at least one digital probe thermometer with the probe placed in the basking area. Another thermometer should be placed in the shade in the middle of the setup to make sure your ambient temps are staying within the safe range.

For additional help with controlling your temperatures, rheostats and proportional thermostats are very handy for preventing overheating. Rheostats (lamp dimmers) are more hands-on than thermostats, which make adjustments automatically.

If you are struggling with low daytime temperatures in your enclosure, you will need to add another heat bulb or switch to a higher-wattage bulb.

Current Weather in Uroplatus Habitat

Do leaf-tailed geckos really live at the abovementioned temperatures?

Yes! Check out these nifty live weather reports/forecasts from areas where Uroplatus geckos have been recorded on iNaturalist:

Fianarantsoa, Madagascar (southeast)

Moramanga, Madagascar (east central)

Ambanja, Madagascar (north)

This page contains affiliate links.