How To Set Up The Perfect Leopard Gecko Lighting
Leopard Geckos can be found in Western India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. As you might know, those countries are sunny places most of the time and you probably know that you need some kind of lighting for your leopard gecko if you want to keep it in a tank.
The problem with that is, that there is so much misinformation on the internet when it comes to Leopard Gecko Lighting (and reptile info in general.) That is why I created this website. I want to help people who are confused by all the information about reptiles they found on the internet.
So if you are frustrated and exhausted from reading tons of information about lighting for Leopard geckos and just want the right answer right now, don´t worry! In this article I will show you exactly which bulbs you need to create the perfect environment to keep your Gecko healthy and happy.
Do Leopard Geckos Need Light?
That´s a good question! Leopard geckos are active at twilight/ nocturnal. That means that they sleep during the day and almost see little to no sun at all. However they actually do need light and that for 12 hours per day. As soon as they wake up, they need to get their body on temperature and that requires a basking spot.
I have seen some people on Youtube who do not use any lighting at all for their Leopard geckos and use only heat mats instead. This will hurt your Leopard gecko in the long term. Even though they are nocturnal, you will see them very often during the day heating up their body under the basking spot. Not simulating a normal day with lighting most probably will let your Leopard gecko go in a "half dormant state". That means it might be awake sometimes, but it is never fully active like a normal Leopard gecko should be. Please keep that in mind. I wrote a more detailed article on heat pads for leopard geckos here.
And does a Leopard gecko need UVB light? Well, that´s a different question and I will come to that later in this post.
Leopard Gecko Lighting and Heating
Lighting for most reptiles are seperated in three sections: Light, Heat and UVB.
Light and heat is actually pretty easy. I know that you most probably heard everywhere, that you should get one of those very expensive reptile basking bulbs, to create a good basking spot. While it is true, that Leopard geckos need a basking spot, by no means you have to buy one of those very expensive reptile bulbs for that.
The problem with those reptile basking lights of the most common manufacturers in the reptile scene is that most of them burn out really quickly. I tested a lot of those bulbs and it was really frustrating to sometimes buy new basking bulbs every two weeks.
I recommend this bulb. It is cheap and it definitely does the job. It provides a good light and it provides the right temperature for the basking spot and the rest of the tank.
In fact, this setup containing the mentioned bulb, this lighting fixture and this thermometer is all you really need for the right lighting for your gecko. I bet you did not think that lighting can be so inexpensive, right? However there is definitely more you should know about lighting for your habitat. Which leads us to the next point: Temperature!
Simple And Cheap Leopard Gecko Lighting Setup
The Right Leopard Gecko Temperature
I remember when I started with reptiles, lighting and temperature and all that stuff was my biggest obstacle. Since most people say that most reptiles need a couple of different "temperature zones", I always asked myself how I could reach the exact temperatures.
You know there is the temperature under the basking spot and you need to have a cooler zone and all that. It was really confusing. Most probably you are confused as well. I am going to tell you something that most probably nobody told you before: Don´t worry too much about it. - I mean, don´t get me wrong, your gecko needs a basking spot and you need to have the right temperature, but if you get, let´s say this 60W basking bulb and you have a 20 or a 30 Gallon tank, everything falls in place. If you don´t have a tank yet, get this tank right now! It is absolutely perfect for leopard geckos.
However, for all of you who want to know the exact temperatures you should reach, I created the chart on the right.
The Leopard Gecko Hot Spot
Ask Leopard gecko owners what their basking spot temperature is and you will receive tons of different answers. The truth is, that Leopard geckos are okay with very high temperatures when it comes to the hot spot. They just need the hot spot to get their body on temperature. As soon as they reach the right temperature, they will leave the spot.
95 - 100 °F is definitely okay for a hot spot. Some people even have higher Leopard gecko hot spot temperatures and that is okay as well ... as long as the overall temperature in the terrarium does not get too high, which leads us to the next zone.
Around The Hot Spot ( Warm Side)
As you have seen, the hot spot temperature can be a little bit higher, it won´t hurt your Leopard gecko at all. However the temperature around the hot spot, which is also called "the warm side" should not be above 94 °F. This is simply too warm for Leopard geckos and your pet would probably be in the cooler zone in its moist hide the whole day.
The Cool Zone
To regulate their body temperature, Leopard geckos also need a zone with lower temperatures. The temperature in the cool zone should be between 74 - 80 °F. You will also need a moist hide in the cool zone. Of course, I have written a guide on how to create a moist hide as well. You can read it here - the article will open in another window, so you can continue to read here after reading the guide.
Temperature At Night
I never had any problems reaching the right temperature at night, which sould be between 70 - 75 °F. With my lighting setup I simlate a normal day, so it is very natural. Due to this my tank is always warm enough, even during the night, as rocks and substrate were heated up during the day.
Best Undertank Heater
If you have problems with keeping the right temperature during the night, an under tank heater will definitely help you. The bestseller Repti Therm Under Tank Heater is the right choice for that!
However some people who do not use any light at all for their Leopard geckos (not recommended as you have read above) and due to this they have bigger temperature drops at night in their terrarium and need some additional tools to keep their terrarium temperature in the right zone. For this, I recommend getting heat mats / under tank heaters for Leopard geckos.
Most of the time, I do not really use those tools, however Leopard geckos sleep on warm stones in the wild, so getting a heat mat / under tank heater here would contribute to a natural Leopard gecko habitat, especially when you decide to take no lighting at all. Please keep in mind that it will hurt your Leopard gecko in the long term if you use no lighting at all.
Do Leopard Geckos Need UVB?
Here we have it! The question of the question. I have seen tons of posts in forums about this topic. Some people say that they kept their geckos for years without UVB and just dusted their food with Vitamin D3. Other people say that their geckos developed brighter colors, because they got some of that good UVB light.
If you are a beginner and you are asking yourself, what UVB is for, I am going to explain it really quickly and understandable for you. The body of reptiles is able to produce Vitamin D3 through UVB light. Further reptiles need that to process calcium which they need to keep their bones strong.
If a reptile is not able to produce Vitamin D3, their bones will get soft and that will ultimately lead to deformity and without medical treatment to death.
They Need Vitamin D3
Is a Leopard Gecko UVB light necessary? There is no real answer to that. I think it depends on your beliefs. Personally, I like to create my habitats as natural as possible and that includes UVB light. However you do not have to do that. Many people keep their geckos without any UVB source, however they use a Vitamin D3 supplement to keep their geckos healthy.
This supplement is one of the best and of course, a supplement is a way cheaper option than buying a UVB light.
Why I Think That UVB Light Is Necessary
As I already said, Leopard geckos are active at twilight/ nocturnal. However that does not mean that they sleep the whole day. In fact my Leopard geckos taking sunbaths throughout the day and I know that not only my geckos do this. You can find tons of videos on Youtube of geckos which are active during the day.
When I realised that my geckos were pretty active during the day, I started to use UVB lights and my geckos were even more active and had a higher appetite. This proved to me that UVB lights have a positive effect on my geckos, so I stick with it. (I never noticed brighter colors though.)
If you want to create a more natural habitat as well and are thinking about getting a UVB light, I have a recommendation. I use this bulb for a very long time now, not only for Leopard geckos, but also for my Bearded dragons and I have to say that this is one of the best bulbs I´ve ever used.
I never had any problems with burned out bulbs. Further it also comes with a fixture which makes it easy to install. Simply place it on the screencover of your tank - that´s it.
When Do Leopard Geckos Need Light? - The Right Time To Switch Lights On
I was alway a little bit unsure about the right lighting time for my geckos when I got my first geckos. As you know Leopard geckos are active at twilight/ nocturnal, however that does not mean that you should keep your lights on during the night. You just have to simulate a normal day in your terrarium. Sun goes up and shines for 12 hours a day and then you switch it off. So let´s say you switch the lights on at 10 AM, then you would have to switch it off at 10 PM.
Do not switch the lights on and off whenever you want. If you decide that you want to turn on the lights from 10 AM to 10 PM, you should stick with it. Turning the lights on and off whenever you want would disturb their circadian rhythm, whitch will result in health issues.
Switching lights on and off manually at the exact same time every day is annyoing and sometimes impossible. There will always be days when you won´t be at home at the right time. To stick with a light rhythm I recommend to get a time switch here.
Do You Have a Gecko With Red Eyes Or Albinism? Be Careful!
Those geckos have very sensitive eyes and light which is too bright could hurt their eyes. If you have a gecko with red eyes and it is blinking all the time or is hiding the whole day, it might be a sign that your bulbs are too bright. You should definitely switch bulbs then. I never had problems with the bulbs I recommend above.
Creating the best Leopard gecko lighting is not hard at all as you have seen. Just decide yourself if you want to use UVB or not. Now there is no reason to be confused anymore. However if you have any questions, just leave me a message in the comment section below and I will help you asap. I always get back to my readers 🙂
What do you think? Is UVB light for Leopard geckos necessary or is it just a myth? Do you use it? Let´s talk about it in the comment section below!
Wanna learn more about Leopard Geckos? Read My Leopard Gecko Care Guide!
About the Author
Hey! I am Pierre. I own bearded dragons and many other reptiles for a very long time. I know from experience that it can be very hard to find the right information about a specific reptile, since there is so much misinformation out there.That´s why I created this website. To help other people to have the best time with their reptiles.