Wondering If You Need A Heat Lamp For A Crested Gecko? This guide is for you!
A heat lamp help regulate the temperature of your pet’s tank in tandem with the day-night cycle.
Heat lamps enable the keeper to maintain a constant temperature of between 680F and 750F at night. During the day, temperatures between 750F and 800 F are ideal.
Are heat lamps really necessary? Your crested gecko does not necessarily need a heat lamp in the enclosure. Unless you live in an area with awfully cold climates, radiant and ambient heat is usually enough. You need a heat lamp only when you want to focus heat on a specific spot in the enclosure.
Ordinarily, a low-wattage heat lamp should suffice in providing your crested gecko with the warm temperatures it needs.
When Do You Need a Heat Lamp?
If You Live in Very Cold Regions
If your area is characterized by low temperatures, you may need a heat lamp. But, even then, you don’t need something fancy.
A heat lamp may become necessary if you have massive gecko tanks and want to concentrate heat on specific spots.
These spots are the warm zones – the areas your crested geckos run to whenever they need to bask. Also, you can use a heat lamp if the other lights are not generating sufficient ambient heat.
This happens when dealing with huge tanks that house many crested geckos.
If you live in really cold areas, you may have trouble maintaining proper temperatures in the tank.
You may have to use heat lamps to create areas in the tank where the heat and light will be constant despite the vagaries of nature.
However, if you have a small tank that houses one or just a couple of crested geckos, it doesn’t make much sense to use a heat lamp.
You may decide to go completely natural by depending on ambient light. Alternatively, you can use low-wattage bulbs to generate the required heat.
If the Room Has No Natural Light
To create ambient heat, the enclosure should be accessible to natural light. The resultant rising air currents heat the tank, and this is the ambient heat your crested gecko receives.
You may have to install a heat lamp if the room that houses your crested gecko does not receive natural light.
This is because, being cold-blooded, cresties need an external source of heat to function normally. However, you can still use light bulbs to achieve the same effect.
If your gecko’s tank is small, adding a heat lamp may create unnecessary temperature distortions.
If You Have the Budget for It
Unlike natural light and low-wattage bulbs, heat lamps are costly to install and maintain. Therefore, only go for this option if you have familiarized yourself with the maintenance needs of a heat lamp.
Also, unlike bulbs, heat lamps consume more energy because they take longer to warm up.
If you opt for the heat lamp, go for the right quality. This should be one that’s made of the best materials.
Such a heat lamp should not take long to heat up and will not spike your power bill unnecessarily.
What’s the Optimum Temperature for a Crested Gecko’s Tank?
Your crested gecko needs temperatures in the range of room temperature. Typically, your pet is okay with temperatures between 750 F and 800 F during the day and 680F and 750F at night.
However, you need to create a hot and cool zone that your crested gecko can run to depending on his individual needs.
The hot zone mirrors the day temperatures, while the cool zone has the night temperatures.
You’ll realize that your crested gecko sometimes wants to experience lower night temperatures during the day.
For example, the new skin is very sensitive to heat when the reptile is shedding. Therefore, the lizard will stay in the cooler part of the enclosure as the new skin gets used to the environment.
Your crested gecko may prefer to be in the hot zone just before or after a meal. However, being a cold-blooded animal, this reptile needs higher temperatures to help in digestion and metabolism.
Generally, you need to create temperatures that mirror the natural day-night cycle. But, of course, you may want to alter the temperatures a bit during the very cold months of winter.
Adjust the temperature in your pet’s enclosure based on its needs. If there’s a significant temperature variance in your locality, ensure this does not affect your pet negatively.
How Long Should the Heat Lamp Be Left On?
If you install a heat lamp, ensure it does not affect the entire tank. The tank should have a cool zone where the crestie can turn if it wants to cool down.
The heat lamp has two crucial components that should be in good working order. The first is the light bulb, which produces the light and heat needed in the tank.
The second is a dome, which focuses the heat on a particular spot in the tank.
At night, the light function of this equipment should be turned off, leaving only the heat and dome functions on.
This is because if you switched on the light, you’d mess up the night cycle of your crested gecko.
The light function can be turned on during the day if the terrarium does not have access to natural light.
In this case, it should be turned at 6 am to mimic dawn and gradually increase as the day progresses. By 10 am, the lamp should be at full light to mimic a typical day.
Start dimming the lamp at 6 pm to mimic the start of dusk. By 10 pm, the lights should be completely off.
Also, how long you leave the heat lamp turned on depends on the prevailing climatic conditions.
If it is too cold, you may have to leave it a little longer to maintain the required temperature for your pet’s good health.
It is advisable that you install a thermometer and a hygrometer to monitor temperature and humidity changes, respectively.
This will put you on top of things, and your crested gecko will not suffer unnecessarily.
Merits of Using a Heat Lamp for a Crested Gecko Tank
- Very easy to use
- Easy to adjust the temperature settings
- It’s durable
- Provides great basking light for your crested gecko
Demerits of Using a Heat Lamp for a Crested Gecko Tank
- Can cause a fire outbreak in the gecko enclosure and house
- Some are made of poor-quality materials
- May overheat the crested gecko
- Uses a lot of energy hence high electricity bills
- It is unsuitable for night settings because the geckos need darkness to go about their night activities.
What Are the Alternatives to Heat Lamps?
You can rely on ambient heat to provide heat for your crested geckos. Ambient heat is found in layers of air close to the ground.
However, ambient heat is only applicable in enclosures that have access to sunlight for some hours during the day.
Also, it cannot be relied upon during the cold winter months when the surrounding is freezing cold.
Some keepers use radiant heat to keep their pet’s enclosures at the proper temperatures. In this case, heat mats are placed underneath the substrate.
The heat mats have radiant heat panels that are safe to use inside the tank. Actually, they don’t feel hot to the touch.
If you live in a region with temperatures suitable for a crested gecko, you don’t need an artificial heat source.
Crested geckos do very well in climates that provide optimized temperatures for them.
What’s the Difference Between Heat Lamps and Heat Mats?
Which is better, a heat mat or a heat lamp? This debate has been raging for some time now, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
Choosing either depends on your crested gecko’s needs. You need to understand how each works to decide what’s best for your pet.
Proponents of the heat lamp say that this piece of equipment replicates the conditions in the wild.
On the other hand, those supporting heat mats say this equipment keeps everything in the enclosure as natural as possible.
What Makes a Good Heat Mat?
It can be placed at the bottom or side of the tank. This means it is convenient to set up and use. Also, a heat mat comes in a variety of sizes and strengths.
You can have a small one suitable for a small enclosure, or a big one for a larger tank. Unfortunately, heat mats do not warm the whole enclosure.
Instead, they target a small section – the hot zone – where the gecko can go in case it needs additional heat.
A heat mat does not incorporate the idea of a basking light. This means that this equipment is unlikely to overheat the crested gecko enclosure.
The risk of a fire starting in the tank and spreading into the rest of the house is non-existent if you use a heat mat.
The heat mat keeps everything natural; it doesn’t offer complex lighting and temperature solutions like the heat lamp.
What Makes a Good Heat Lamp?
If you are determined to get a heat lamp for your crested gecko’s tank, here are some things you should consider:
The Right Material
Heat lamps constructed with poor material will be faulty and fail to deliver at some point. Their failure can have a catastrophic impact on your crested gecko.
Heat lamps made of wood or plastic are not the best as they will not serve for long. Also, these materials are highly flammable, and the enclosure will not stand a chance in a fire outbreak.
A good heat lamp should be made of ceramic. This material can withstand extreme heat and is unlikely to overheat and cause a fire outbreak.
You should be able to calibrate the heat settings in a good heat lamp. If a heat lamp’s temperature settings are not adjustable, that equipment is a disaster waiting to happen.
Some heat lamps come equipped with a thermometer. This enables you to tell the enclosure’s temperature at any given time.
A heat lamp that is not adjustable can cause chaos in the tank by disrupting the temperatures. If you have this kind of heat lamp, you need to replace it as soon as possible.
In the meantime, you should keep checking on it every now and then to ensure it is still working correctly.
A heat lamp without temperature regulation will not be able to maintain proper temperature.
This could significantly mess up your pet’s biological processes, such as metabolism, brumation, and shedding.
Good heat lamps have an automatic switch that turns the heat off when it reaches a pre-set level.
A good heat lamp should have the correct wattage rating (such as 60W) and made to work in moist or wet environments.
The size and wattage of the heat lamp you settle on depend on the size of your gecko’s enclosure. Bear in mind that heat lamps with higher wattage ratings provide higher temperatures.
This is to say that a 100W heat lamp will provide higher temperatures than a 60W one. Therefore, be careful if you choose a piece of equipment with a higher wattage rating.
The best thing would be to check on the enclosure frequently to ensure the temperatures have stayed the same.
It is worth noting that heat lamps with higher energy ratings consume more power. So get ready to foot the high electricity bills these equipment use.
Although heat lamps with very low wattage ratings will consume less energy, they are likely less efficient.
They may not heat your crested gecko’s enclosure to the right temperature. A heat lamp of about 50W to 70W would be a good starting point as it is neither too high nor too low.
How to Protect Your Crested Gecko from a Heat Lamp
Shield your crested gecko from the high temperatures of the heat lamp by providing him with a cool zone in the enclosure.
The cool zone is a spot away from the glare of lights and high temperatures that your pet can turn to when he needs to cool down.
Since your crested gecko enjoys climbing, do not put the heat lamp where the pet can reach it. The best you can do is to place the heat lamp outside and above the enclosure.
This way, no matter how high the reptile climbs, it won’t touch the lamp.
Also, turn on the heat lamp only when it is absolutely necessary. You will realize that this equipment needs to be off for most of the time during the day.
You only need to turn it on at night if there’s an emergency.
Your crested gecko can do just fine without a heat lamp. However, this is not a must-have piece of equipment to keep your pet safe and healthy.
However, in some cases, it’s crucial you have a heat lamp to protect your beloved gecko from the vagaries of nature.
If it comes to this, ensure you go for nothing less but the best quality heat lamp – one made of the right materials.
It should also have adjustable temperature settings that enable you to calibrate the temperature per your crested gecko’s needs.