Do Leopard Geckos Need A Heat Lamp?

Wondering if your Leopard Geckos Need A Heat Lamp? This guide is for you!

To carry out their many activities, leopard geckos need heat to stay active. This is where a heat lamp comes in.

Leopard geckos need a heat lamp to help regulate internal temperature and metabolism. Because they are cold-blooded, these animals cannot generate internal heat to produce energy. Therefore, they need an external heat source, mainly in captivity, where they may not come into contact with sunlight.

You can install a stand-alone heat unit in your pet’s enclosure or incorporate a lighting and heating system into one unit.

Many keepers use the lighting in the reptile’s tank as a source of heat.

Do Leopard Geckos Need a Heat Lamp?

leopard gecko heat lamp

Like all lizards, leopard geckos are ectothermic. This means they depend on external heat sources to generate energy.

Unlike humans and other mammals, leopard geckos cannot tolerate colder climates. As a result, they become inactive and may even die if the weather becomes too cold for too long.

If your pet doesn’t have an external heat source, his behavior becomes erratic – to signify he’s getting unwell.

A heat lamp helps to make life more comfortable for your pet. This is why creating a hot zone within your leopard gecko’s enclosure is essential.

Try to make this enclosure mimic the gecko’s natural environment as closely as possible. Leopard geckos in the wild experience both cool and warm temperatures in the night and day cycle.

Light from the heat lamp stimulates the night and day cycle your pet would be exposed to were he living in the wild.

To make your leopard gecko strong, healthy, and happy, try to recreate the temperature differences it would encounter in the natural world.

Does My Leopard Gecko Need Light?

Some people think that since leopard geckos can see clearly at night, they don’t need an external light source.

This is a misconception we wish to debunk.

True: leopard geckos spend most of their daytime sleeping or asleep. Also true: these reptiles see very well at night.

They are better equipped to handle darkness than most other animals.

However, they still need lighting in their enclosure. Giving your pet light lets it tell the difference between day and night.

This is important because your gecko has to keep the natural rhythm of life. They need to know when it is daytime so that they can snooze off.

You should also create lighting conditions that stimulate dawn and dusk, the periods of the day when your pet is most active.

Without an external light source to guide him, your pet’s internal clock would go haywire. As a result, they would be unable to maintain a lifestyle that promotes their health and growth.

What’s the Best Source of Light and Heat for My Leopard Gecko?

Because they are beautiful and easy to handle, leopard geckos quickly become popular as pets.

However, many first—time keepers depend on myths and misconceptions in tending to the gecko’s needs.

Your leopard gecko needs an external source of light and heat to maintain a healthy and comfortable lifestyle in the enclosure.

There are a couple of mix-and-match options you can choose from for your gecko’s lighting and heating needs.

#1 – Use UVB Light Bulbs + 24-Hour Heat Source

These bulbs help your leopard gecko recognize when it is daytime. As such, they are switched on at dawn and switched off at night.

On their own, full-spectrum Ultra Violet Bulbs do not provide heat. So, unfortunately, you need to pair them with an external heat source.

While the UV bulbs stay in during the day only, the heat source can remain active for 24 hours. Some first-time leopard gecko keepers prefer this setup because it is easy to operate.

Only the light bulbs need to be switched on and off depending on the time of day.

#2 – Light + Heat Lamp Combination

This option uses basking or daylight bulbs combined with a heat lamp. This combination provides your gecko with both light and heat during the day.

At night, the light switches off. However, the heat bulb remains to warm the enclosure. The best heat lamp uses a thermostat to keep the temperatures within the tank at a constant range.

This way, the enclosure does not get too hot or too cold.

You may use a heat mat or a ceramic bulb to heat your gecko’s enclosure at night. Connect the entire system to an automatic timer that does the following:

  • Switches on a blue light to mimic dawn at 5am.
  • Switches on the basking light to indicate daytime at 10am
  • Switches on a blue light to mimic dusk at 6pm
  • Switches off the light at 10pm to indicate nighttime

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Leopard Geckos

Leopard Geckos Are Nocturnal

Although leopard geckos sleep most of the day and become active at night, this does not qualify them as nocturnal animals.

Nocturnal animals are active when the sun has set, and the world is in darkness, save for the light from the stars and moon.

Geckos are most active when the sun rises (dawn) and when it is setting (dusk). These kinds of animals are referred to as crepuscular.

They prefer to start their day at dusk and continue through dawn.

Leopard Geckos Don’t Need Daytime Lighting

Leopard geckos in captivity need daytime lighting because this is what they’d get if they were in the wild.

As a prudent keeper, you need to mimic your pet’s natural world as closely as possible. Your leopard gecko relaxes, sleeps, and rests during the day.

Natural light triggers your gecko’s relaxing mode. They need this mode to bask, digest food, and sleep. Without daytime lighting, your pet’s internal clock would be messed up.

Leopard Gecko Don’t Need UVB Lighting

Ordinarily, a leopard gecko gets UV light from sunshine. You need to get a substitute for this when the leopard gecko is in captivity.

UV light helps this reptile process food and convert calcium into vitamin D3. Without this light, your pet risks contracting the metabolic bone disease.

Its body structure also becomes weak and prone to injuries and fractures. UVB lighting helps mitigate all these risks, making life more comfortable for your pet.

Can I Use Natural Light to Heat My Leopard Gecko’s Tank?

Although natural light is a good source of heat, it wouldn’t be wise to expose your pet’s tank to direct sunlight.

This is because direct sunlight may overheat your pet’s enclosure. Even a few hours of summer sunlight is likely to make living conditions in the tank untenable.

Worse, sunlight that filters through the windows will not contain the beneficial UV rays. The windows block these rays, only admitting light and heat.

What Are the Best Heating Setups for My Leopard Gecko?

Heating Setup for Daytime

With the rise in demand for reptile pets, many innovative lighting options have sprung up.

However, with the proliferation of all kinds of contraptions, you must know precisely what you need for your pet’s lighting and heating needs.

The right equipment should give you the correct heat and light for your daytime needs.

Remember, if your leopard gecko was in its natural habitat, it would experience consistent temperatures throughout the day.

You must replicate this in the enclosure to ensure your pet retains its circadian rhythm.

Heating Setup at Night

Your leopard does not need light at night. However, it needs heat to maintain the right internal temperature and generate energy for its nighttime activities.

It’s noteworthy that your pet needs less heat at night than during the day. Therefore, you should choose a heat source operating on a temperature gradient.

Heating Setup for Both Daytime at Nighttime

Some keepers find it convenient to have two separate sources of light and heat. This makes sense since your pet requires light during the day and not at night.

At the same time, these arrangements factor in the different heat needs for day and night.

This would mean having a UVB lighting system that can be switched off at night, and a heating pad for use during the day and night.

You could also invest in an electronic timer that turns on the light at dawn and turns it off at night. Such a system is sound because it keeps things running even when you’re away for some time.

How Do Temperature Gradients for My Leopard Gecko Work?

Your pet has different temperature requirements throughout the day. As such, it would be a mistake to install a heat lamp without a temperature gauge.

The temperature gradient is the difference between the hottest part, the enclosure, and the coolest.

Your gecko will keep moving between these two parts of the enclosure, depending on the time of day and its temperature needs.

The leopard gecko moves to the hot area to warm its body. Once it has attained the optimum heat level, your pet will gladly move around, hunting or scurrying.

Your pet will move to the cooler part of the tank when he doesn’t need much heat.

A proper heat lamp provides your pet with a suitable temperature gradient. Moving to a hotter area increases metabolism by raising internal temperature.

Your gecko goes to the cooler parts of the tank to hide from the heat.

Without the right heat lamp, the temperature in the enclosure may be too hot or too cold. This could mess up your pet’s growth and progress.

How Long Can My Leopard Gecko Survive Without a Heat Lamp?

Your leopard gecko needs an external source of heat to stimulate internal temperatures. Without this, your pet cannot produce energy and become active.

A leopard gecko can live without a heat lamp, albeit with lots of challenges, for up to a month. However, this time could be shorter if other challenges come into play.

These include illness, old age, poor diet, constant fights with other geckos or reptiles, and improper adherence to the circadian cycle.

You should not allow the temperature in your pet’s enclosure to drop below 15.50 C or 60F.

Is a Heat Lamp Essential in a Warm Climate?

A heat source is essential to your pet’s enclosure, whether you live in a warm climate or not.

This equipment enables you to simulate the day-night cycle that keeps your pet’s circadian cycle intact.

A lot of factors can affect the conditions in the room, and you need a heat lamp to create stability. For example, the room is hit by an unexpected air draft.

This will likely lower the temperatures in the enclosure and adversely affect your pet. In addition, poor temperatures in the tank can make your pet sick.

In the worst-case scenario, your leopard gecko can die.

Being in a warm climate, you must have the right heat lamp. It monitors and controls the rise and fall of temperature, preventing your pet from overheating.

All the same, remember to create a cool zone in your tank where your leopard gecko can hide when the temperatures rise too high.

By keeping an eye on the temperature gradient, you’ll know when your intervention becomes necessary.

A suitable heat lamp is a good idea in hot climates as it creates safe temperatures for your pet at night.

Using a Lamp to Heat My Leopard Gecko Tank

Use the right heat lamp to mimic the temperatures in your leopard gecko’s natural habitat. A well-heated enclosure has the correct temperature gradient.

A heat lamp helps you sustain the correct day-night cycle for your pet.

During the day, the hottest part of the enclosure should be between 280 C and 350 C (82.4F and 95F). Conversely, the coolest sections should be between 240 C and 260 C (75.2F and 78.8F).

The temperature in both the hot and cold sections should be no lower than 180 C (64.4F).

What Happens If My Leopard Gecko is Deprived of Heat?

If your leopard gecko goes for long without a heat source, it risks death. Depending on other factors, this may happen within a few days or weeks.

Also your pet may also suffer if the heat lamp is faulty. Say, for example, it is off by a couple of degrees. This may cause too much heat that may disadvantage your pet.

As such, regularly check the calibrations on this equipment to ensure it is functioning optimally.

If your leopard gecko is experiencing heat-related problems, it will let you know. You can look for the following signs to know your gecko is deprived of warmth:

  • Poor feeding and drinking habits
  • Lethargy
  • Behavior change
  • Droopy eyes
  • Hiding most of the time

Spotting these signs is your cue to immediately take your leopard gecko to see a vet.


Like all cold-blooded animals, your leopard gecko cannot generate heat alone. Instead, he requires an external heat source to create the energy to carry out his daily activities.

Since your pet may have little access to sunlight (being in captivity), you must install a heat lamp in the enclosure.

This will give your pet the heat to stay comfortable and active regardless of outside circumstances.

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