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Keeping your leopard gecko healthy is high on your priority list, and the fact that you’re reading this article shows that you know that lighting is essential. Current technologies make it possible to provide reptiles with the light they require – both invisible to the human eye: infrared and ultraviolet.
Reptiles need ultraviolet light to aid in essential calcium synthesis and infrared light as a heat source in colder climates. Both spectrums are invisible to the human eye and are paired with other light for our convenience.
We want to provide our pet leopard gecko with a home reminiscent of its native habitat. Remember, it’s in that natural habitat where your squamate developed its set of survival skills, including its unique coloring. This article explores the main features that lights can replicate to help our leopard gecko feel right at home.
The Leopard Gecko’s Natural Habitat
The leopard gecko is essentially nocturnal and acclimatized to sleep in the day and hunt at night. In nature, your Leo’s exceptional olfactory nerves, sight, and hearing abilities help them perform as excellent hunters and avoid becoming prey.
Their native habitat includes desert and grassland regions in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. To help you contextualize their natural climates, see the table below:
|Season||Month||Min Temp (°F)||Max Temp (°F)||Mean temp (°F)|
June the 22nd is that region’s longest day, with 14 hours of sunlight, and winter solstice is on December the 22nd with 10 hours of sunlight. Seasonal and day/night cycles, also known as circadian cycles, form the basis for many physiological and psychological responses in every living organism’s life.
From microorganisms to giant trees, season cycles are markers for cellular pruning and regeneration. Your leopard gecko deserves the same respect, seasonally and daily, with varying temperatures, UV-B exposure, and light cycles. Fortunately, there is a simple solution – lights.
UV-B Lights For Your Leopard Gecko’s Health
Ultraviolet, that spectrum just beyond visible violet light, is essential for maintaining your reptile’s health and allowing it to develop optimally. Many diseases seen by veterinarians in leopard geckos are attributed to insufficient calcium; see my article Best Calcium Supplement for Leopard Geckos for more information.
As you can see from the image above, Infrared, which is also invisible to the human eye, is on the opposite edge of the visible spectrum.
While studies have shown that leopard geckos can get all the Vitamin D3 they need from supplements, many critics disagree. Most breeders argue that the minimal cost of UV-B lights hardly justifies the swop. I agree with them – why mess with what has worked for millions of years?
Reptiles need full-spectrum light to absorb calcium, and it’s essential for the health of the heart, gut, and bones. Full-spectrum lightbulbs mimic the UV rays of the Sun. It’s important to note that the light you see is not the light that is needed.
UV bulbs have limited usable shelf-life, and their general best-before date expires about six months after the first use.
The Sun naturally provides the full spectrum of ultraviolet radiation, commonly subdivided into UV-A, -B, and -C. UV-C rays are the most harmful and are almost entirely absorbed by our atmosphere. UV-B rays are essential for Vitamin D3 production needed to aid calcium synthesis, but extended exposure can cause sunburn. Extended exposure to UV-B rays increases the risk of damaging cells in living organisms.
Ideally, you want to expose your leopard gecko to the visible light spectrum to match the length of the day, inserting a three to four-hour additional UV-B dose every day. You want to limit night light that may interfere with Leo’s circadian clock.
- UV light is only effective when it directly hits a microbial cell
- Clean your lamp by wiping it with an alcohol swab every two weeks.
- Lights need to be replaced periodically. The length of time a lamp will be effective depends on the number of hours it’s in use. Typically, UV lamps need to be replaced every six months.
- UV light does not penetrate cracks or seams, so it will not befit Leo unless it shines directly on them.
- Due to mercury content, UV lights need to be disposed of as hazardous waste.
- Be aware that UV light accelerates the decomposition of plastic and polystyrene (Styrofoam).
Infrared Light For Your Leopard Gecko’s Health.
The red, invisible wavelength is infrared on the opposite end of the visible light spectrum. If you are concerned your leopard gecko’s home may be too cold, use infrared light to warm one side of the tank during the day.
That way, your reptile can move between the two temperatures during the cooler nights, self-regulating their cold-blooded body temperature.
An alternative is to use a seedling germination mat under the tank. These mats maintain a temperature of 70 °F, the ideal germination temperature for most plants. If temperatures in your area are shallow during the night, use an infrared heat lamp overnight.
The infrared spectrum does not affect nocturnal animals, as it’s invisible to them.
Minimally, I advise you to invest in an electronic thermometer. Ideally, an intelligent system that automatically regulates light time cycles manages temperatures and excellent UV-B light timing. Temperatures too high or too low can cause digestion problems and severe health issues. It’s essential not to have significant fluctuations in temperatures caused to direct sunlight and night breezes.
Generally, the basking area will be the hot side of the tank, and this area should be somewhere between 87 and 90°F. If you are breeding, remember that temperature directly affect the gender of the offsprings. Higher temperatures also aid the leopard gecko’s digestive processes.
The tank’s cool side should be between 74 and 80 °F. Maintain a maximum temperature of no higher than 94 °F; anything above is unhealthy for your leopard gecko.
Leopard geckos are cold-blooded and generate body heat by absorbing the latent heat accumulated in solid surfaces. In nature, the rocks baked in the Sun during the day become a heat source throughout the night. Your Leo must have the same resources in captivity.
Allow the temperature throughout the tank to drop between 70 and 75 °F at night, but provide an area or warmed rock. Alternatively, direct an infrared lamp to a tank section where Leo can lie and warm up if needed.
The Five Best lights For Good Leopard Gecko Health
|Buddypuppy Reptile Heat Lamp, UVA UVB Reptile Light with 360° Rotatable Hose and Timed, Heating Lamp with 2 Bulbs Suitable for Bearded Dragon Reptiles Turtle Lizard Snake||91%||214|
|Fischuel Reptile Heat Lamp, Heating Lamp with Clamp, Adjustable Habitat Basking Heat Lamp, UVA/UVB Light Lamp 360° Rotatable Clip and Dimmable Switch for Aquarium(Bulb Included) (E27,110V)||84%||780|
|TEKIZOO UVA UVB Sun Lamp High-Intensity Self-Ballasted Heat Basking Lamp/Light/Bulb for Reptile and Amphibian (125W)||82%||726|
|ECOSI Reptile Heat Lamp, Basking Spot Lamp with Holder & Switch, UVA UVB Reptile Lamp with Fixture for Lizard Turtle Snake Amphibian & Aquarium(with 2 Bulbs)||82%||55|
|UVA UVB Reptile Light, UVB 10.0 LED Bulb, UVA UVB for Bearded Dragon, Full Spectrum Light Bulb for Lizards, Turtles, Spiders, etc.||80%||97|
A reptile heat lamp with UVA/UVB simulates sunlight where the heating effect is influenced by bulb wattage, lighting time, brightness, and distance. The UVA light is for its appetite & digestion, mood regulation, and reproduction. The UVB rays can promote calcium absorption and natural bone growth.
UVA/UVB heating lamps can simulate sunlight’s full-spectrum irradiation, provide daily ultraviolet intake for reptiles, stimulate appetite, accelerate vitamin synthesis, help calcium absorption, and promote growth.
3. TEKIZOO UVA UVB Sun Lamp High-Intensity Self-Ballasted Heat Basking Lamp/Light/Bulb for Reptile and Amphibian (125W)
Tekizoo provides two kinds of bulbs as part of the package – 25W & 50W UV bulbs. Depending on the wattage of the globe, the radiation strength may vary for temperature alternatives.
It comes with two UV bulbs to simulate sunlight to provide daily UVA & UVB intake for your pet.
This UVA/UVB heating lamp can simulate sunlight’s full-spectrum radiation, provide daily ultraviolet intake for reptiles, stimulate appetite, accelerate vitamin synthesis, help calcium absorption, and promote growth.
FAQ’s about Leopard Geckos
Conclusion on Best lights For Good Leopard Gecko Health
Light plays an essential role in the health and wellbeing of your leopard gecko. I suggest you take the time to explore the options above and find what suits your and your Leo’s needs best.
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