Plasticity of thermoregulatory behavior in leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius, Blyth 1954)

Zoo Biol. 2017 Jul;36(4):273-277. doi: 10.1002/zoo.21374. Epub 2017 Jun 20.


Studies on thermoregulation in nocturnal lizards have shown that their thermal regimes are similar to those of diurnal lizards, even though they hide during the daytime and are active mostly at night, when heat sources are very scarce. As a result, nocturnal lizards display an active thermoregulatory behavior consisting of seeking warm shelters to hide during the daytime, using accumulated heat for the nocturnal activity. Based on this information, we hypothesize that when leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius, Blyth 1954) are presented with the choice of safety in cool shelters or vulnerability in heated open areas, suitable temperature will prevail in importance, i.e. they will trade the advantages provided by the shelter for an exposed, but physiologically necessary heat source. Data on the time juvenile E. macularius spent in shelters, and in open areas along a thermal gradient and under a 12/12 hr photoperiod, from eight individuals confirmed our hypothesis. We found that, not only did they select heat sources over shelters, but, along with the light/dark cycle, temperature may also represent a cue for activity. Additionally we found that substrate moisture plays an important role in shelter preference.

Keywords: nocturnal lizards; reptile husbandry; thermal gradient.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Animals, Zoo
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Housing, Animal
  • Lizards / physiology*