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Do Leopard Geckos need heat lamps – Don’t make this mistake

Leopard Gecko

A heat lamp helps replicate the natural environment for your Leopard Gecko, it provides a range of benefits to your Geckos health along with giving them structure to their day.

Yes, a heat lamp is important to have in your Leopard Geckos terrarium, it provides a range of health benefits along with providing them with a structured day/night routine that will best replicate their natural environment. It also allows you to regulate the temperature to their specific requirements.

In order to provide the best environment for your Leopard Gecko to thrive I have answered a number of questions you may have about finding the right heat lamp for your Leopard Gecko and how to set it up.

Where should my heat lamp be placed?

It is important to create varied temperatures within your Geckos terrarium this is important to allow them to self regulate their own body heat, due to this reason any sources of heat should be placed on one side to create a hot side and a cool side. The heat lamp should be placed at the top of the terrarium and angled towards the back, this allows your Gecko the option to still stay on the warm side but have the option as to whether they want to bask in the light or not, it is a good idea to put some shelter in this spot for your Gecko as whilst it is important that they have the option to lie under the heat lamp they will not spend as much of their time there compared to other reptiles.

What temperature should my heat lamp be?

A heat lamp shouldn’t be used as the sole source of heat for your terrarium, whilst it does aid in regulating the temperature throughout you won’t find them sold as you might expect based on temperature. You will find a range of heat lamps which will likely range from 15-150 watts, the suitable lamps for your Leopard Gecko will be those in the 100-150 watt range. A further consideration to be made when purchasing a heat lamp relates to the is the amount of UV emitted, whilst UVB is important to a Geckos development this should be provided by a special UVB bulb and you will therefore want to purchase a heat lamp with minimal UV output. Below is a list of benefits your heat lamp provides to your Gecko.

  • Recreates a natural day/night cycle
  • Creates an area for them to bask in to increase body temperature for night-time
  • Helps provide varied heat throughout the terrarium to allow your Gecko to heat/cool itself

Do I need other lamps for my terrarium?

Whilst a heat lamp is the most important lamp for your Leopard Gecko it has been proven in recent years that they also require UVB lights, this provides them with additional vitamin D which they could become deficient in without. It is to be noted that a number of Leopard Geckos do live full healthy lives without this but a study carried out in the Netherlands compared Leopard Geckos exposed to a low level of UVB light for 2 hours daily vs Leopard Geckos who weren’t exposed across the first 6 months of their lives. They found the following

Vitamin D3 Concentration (nmol/L)
Leopard Geckos exposed to UVB61+20
Leopard Geckos not exposed to UVB38+8

As you can see they found the levels of vitamin D3 in the Geckos blood to be much higher when exposed to UVB, I would recommend that you look for a light which is 2-7% and when this is place in the terrarium it is placed on the hot side with the light facing one side so your Gecko has the option to take in more rays when necessary.

Do I need a heat lamp if I live in a warm climate?

You will still require heat even if your climate is warm. For example, if your tank is located in a bedroom of your home, you won’t be able fully simulate the day-night cycle. It is important to monitor the temperature in your tank. It is possible for leopard geckos to heat up in warmer climates. The temperature gradient in the tank is important because it keeps your leopard gecko cool. Changes in the air pressure can also cause a room to become uncomfortable. This can cause drafts of air to form, which may be lower than the ambient temperature. If there is a large drop in temperature your Gecko could still become sick.

Do I need a heat mat as well as a heat lamp?

Yes, it’s important to also have a heat mat for your Gecko, we are mainly looking to use the heat lamp to replicate the day/night cycle and also to give it the option to bask in the heat if it needs to raise it’s core temperature quickly, add this to the benefits of the UVB light and you can see they are performing different functions. The heat mat should not be placed under the whole terrarium but should be placed on the same side as the heat lamp in the hot zone. The heat mat is also important to use overnight as you will be setting the heat lamp to turn off overnight as to simulate night time for your Gecko.

How long should I leave my heat lamp on for?

I would not suggest that you follow the natural seasons of where you live unless you live fairly close to the equator as this replicates the natural seasons for a Leopard Gecko, as day length can vary hugely dependent on how far away you are from the equator I would look to follow this table below.

Day (hours)Night (hours)
Summer1410
Winter1014

It is important to note that you should not drastically alter these time settings in one go as this would disorientate your Gecko and would not simulate their natural environment. I would suggest adjusting the time by 15 minutes every week in the lead up to both summer and winter as this will make the adjustment much more natural for your gecko.

Summary

In summary I suggest that you buy a heat lamp between 100-150 watts along with a UVB light of between 2-7%, these should be placed on the hot side of the Terrarium and angled slightly towards the back to ensure your Gecko can escape the lights and still be on the hot side. The lamp should be used in partnership with a heat mat which will be your main source for controlling the temperature through the day and the main source at night, you should also look to simulate the natural seasons by adjusting the length of time your lamp is on.

If you have any questions then let us know below, a member of our team will be happy to try and help.

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