Leopard geckos are more active at twilight and dusk and are known as crepuscular reptiles. They absorb more UVB in low light than other reptiles which helps them in bone growth. The geckos bask in the few hours before sunrise and absorb the UV that they require.
Do leopard geckos need UVB?
In captivity, leopard geckos become vulnerable when their diet is lacking in Vitamin D or if they are not exposed to UVB. The geckos will struggle to produce enough D3 to synthesize and utilize the calcium in their diet. Calcium deficiency in reptiles normally leads to metabolic bone diseases and the skeleton in the leopard gecko will not develop. This condition makes it hard for the gecko to support its own weight which leads to pain when moving.
The geckos benefit from UVB and are exposed to it in the wild, they are cold blooded reptiles and depend on their environment to regulate their body temperature. It is important to provide a thermogradient in the vivarium.
As a breeder, when buying a UV lamp ensure it has the right light intensity for your gecko. Too bright UVB lamps could be harmful to your leopard gecko.
Benefits of UVB for leopard geckos
Leopard geckos need UVB to help their bodies produce Vitamin D3 which is important for bone density and development. The UVB light also provides a replica of their natural habitat.
Other benefits of UVB include:
- UVB acts as an effective disinfectant killing viruses, bacteria and fungi on the skin surface of geckos
- Natural cholesterol found in the skin is converted to pre-vitamin D3 by the UVB light
- Calcium in the diet of the geckos is utilized and absorbed by the help of UVB, this is important for bone development
- The UVB light helps in increasing pigment formation and modulation of the gecko’s skins immune response
- The light stimulates beta endorphins production giving the gecko a feel-good factor
- The UVB induces nitric oxide production which gives protective effects on skin cells.
Leopard gecko UVB light schedule
It is important to be consistent with the timing of the UVB schedule and try to mimic the sunrise and sunset. Geckos benefit from UVB light as it acts as a disinfectant that keeps bacteria and fungi off their skin and also help in utilizing calcium in their diet. During this time, the geckos will bask and absorb the heat needed for their bodies.
Leopard geckos need 14 hours of daytime during summer and 10 hours of night time and during winter, 10 hours of day time and 12 hours of night time.
However, if your house is cold with temperature below 15C, you should constantly provide a heat light to keep the temperature inside the vivarium above 15C.
What watt UVB bulb is good for leopard geckos?
A range of 60-100 watts bulbs are okay for leopard gecko in their vivarium. The reptiles depend on their external environment to regulate their body temperature. They use the heat provided to digest food and absorb calcium in their diet. Geckos require 90°F for digestion to take place and if the heat exceeds, the reptile will suffer a heatstroke.
Infared bulbs are more energy-sufficient, they put out a good amount of heat and are longlasting. They are more costly than other bulbs, but the price is offset by how long the bulbs last.
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Best UVB lamps for leopard geckos
Choosing a UVB lamp for your gecko goes hand in hand with choosing a suitable lighting set-up. Lighting and heating should always be planned together when creating a thermal gradient. The best UVB lamps to get your leopard geckos are:
- Zoo Med ReptiSun UVB
Zoo med bulbs are incandescent which is good for leopard geckos because the bulbs do not give out too much heat the bulbs are 75W and are sustainable for heating the air. The Zoo Med is bought in a combo pack with red and blue bulbs.
The blue bulb is used during the daylight in the vivarium as it provides a soft and clear color that is very gentle in the reptile’s eyes. The red bulb is normally used at night, the leopard geckos are not very active at night and the red bulbs don’t blast out light but provide the heat required.
Pros for using the Zoo Med ReptiSun UVB:
- They give out the required heat for the leopard gecko
- The bulbs last for a while
- The blue color is gentle on the gecko’s eyes
- The red bulb used at night may be enjoyable for the owner to watch the gecko in the vivarium
- The Zoo med lamps might not be able to provide enough heat for a 20-gallon or larger tank.
- Exo Terra Repti-Glo 5.0
This is a lamp with many features at an affordable price, the incandescent light comes in different wattages amounts; 25W, 50W, 75W, 100W and 150W. For leopard geckos, the 75W-100wW is suitable for leopard geckos The bulbs are bright and produce a good amount of heat which heats the air in the vivarium. At the downside, the Exo terra lamp has a shorter life span than other bulbs. Leopard geckos respond well to a variety of temperatures, the Exo terra lamp provides heat by the light and it is cooler away from the lamp. This will give the leopard geckos a choice of a place to regulate their body temperature.
Pros of using the Exo Terra Repti-Glo 5.0:
- The lamps come at an affordable price
- They provide heat
- The Exo terra lights up the tank like the sun
- The lamps do not last very long
- The Exo terra might heat up on spot too much
How long can leopard geckos go without light?
Leopard geckos originate from dry and arid regions and their bodies are used to hot weather. The geckos are cold-blooded reptiles and depend on their environment to regulate their body temperature. Since they cannot generate their own body heat, the reptile uses external heat to digest food therefore making it hard for them to go for a long time without light. The geckos can go for a month without light but will have a hard time feeding due to slowed digestion.
When leopard geckos go for a long time without heat, they enter the brumation period. Brumation in leopard geckos is equivalent to hibernation some mammals experience during the winter months.
Brumation helps the leopard geckos to slow down, reserve fat and use very little energy so that they can survive until the temperature rises again.
As long as the temperature is above 15°C, the leopard gecko will survive for a month.
When a leopard gecko gets too cold it develops complications such as:
- The leopard gecko will stop feeding since they are unable to digest food properly.
- The leopard gecko may develop the Sick tail disease. Since they are unable to digest their food well, the geckos use the fats stored in their tails which if goes on for some time will lead to thinning of the tail and rapid weight loss.
- Exposure to cold temperatures may cause respiratory infection in the geckos.
Can I use a regular light bulb for my leopard gecko?
Bulbs with high watt or mercury bulbs are dangerous to use for leopard geckos because they give off a lot of heat. The best lights to use for the reptiles at home are daylight fluorescent LEDs. The bulb should be spread even to give a comfortable temperature to your gecko.
The lamp should mimic daylight while generating UVB to help increase bone growth in your leopard gecko and help with calcium absorption.
Incandescent-tungsten or halogen bulbs are the standard light bulbs pet owners use, they do well as the primary source of heat and light. Always ensure the temperature is okay both day and night and check regularly with a thermometer.
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