What Lights Do Leopard Geckos Need?

Leopard geckos are one of the most popular lizard species due to their charismatic looks and easy-to-handle nature.

These lizards are beginner friendly as they are mostly inactive, do not require huge space requirements, and eat frequently. Leopard geckos are also genetically beautiful with their patterned skin!

Like most reptiles, leopard geckos need an appropriate amount of light to function properly. They utilize two different types of light: ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation.

UV light is what helps them identify where their prey is and hunt for it. IR light keeps them warm and cozy during the night hours when the temperature drops.

When housing a male and female together, it is important to have enough UV and IR lights to keep both sexes happy and healthy. Over time, lack of these lights can lead to health problems such as metabolic bone disease or infection.

Incandescent bulbs

what lights do leopard geckos need

While these are a common light bulb choice, they are not ideal for leopard geckos. Incandescent bulbs produce a lot of heat, which is not desirable in the tank.

Leopard geckos are very unique reptiles in that they are active during the day. They do not have a day and night cycle like we as humans do, but rather a periodic cycle of light and dark.

During the light cycle, they hunt for food and explore their surroundings to find places to hide and sleep. In their natural habitat, this is when the sun is out, so this is when they would be most active.

Because these bulbs produce such high heat production, it can cause problems with the humidity level in the tank. This can lead to dry skin and possibly death.

What wattage is best?

what lights do leopard geckos need

When choosing what wattage leopard gecko bulbs you need, you want to make sure they are the correct temperature. Too hot can cause burns or death, and too cold can cause lack of activity and health issues.

The optimal temperature range for leopard geckos is eighty to ninety degrees Fahrenheit, so a bulb around one hundred watts would be ideal. This would cost slightly more per month, but your leopard gecko will be much healthier because of it!

Some cheaper bulbs claim to be suitable for reptiles, but many of them have a higher temperature range which is not acceptable for lizards like leopard geckos. Make sure to buy reptile friendly bulbs that are within the correct temperature range!

Leopard geckos do not need any special lighting besides a daylight bulb so that they can bask in the light.

Which colors work best?

When choosing colors for your leopard gecko habitat, stick to warm colors like reds, oranges, and warm pinks. Cool colors like blues and greens tend to reflect less heat, which is not what you want in a habitat that is designed to be warm.

Some decorative pieces may include cool colors, but the main habitat should only contain warm colors. This is because the plastic or acrylic the decorations are made of may be warmer than the lizard’s skin.

Would you want to walk across a floor that was cold when you were warm? No, so do not let your gecko do this!

Also, avoid using very bright or dark colors like black or navy blue. While they may look nice, they do not transmit any warmth so they are not helpful in this case. Stick to softer shades like light gray or soft blue for some aesthetic appeal.

Should I use daytime lights?

what lights do leopard geckos need

Leopard geckos do not need daytime lights as they are nocturnal. You will not need to have lights on in the cage to monitor the gecko activity or for the gecko to hunt for food.

Many keepers choose to use a light in the cage to help with heat. A heat pad needs to be monitored and tested against warmth depending on the season. A light helps with this as it provides a constant source of warmth.

Some keepers choose to use a light at night time as well. This may be because they use creams or powders on the gecko that need to be rubbed in, or they just like having some activity at night.

Should I use UV lights?


While it is important to provide some light for your leopard gecko, you do not want to use ultraviolet light. A normal white light is all that is needed!

Paraphrasing the above quote, Dr. Ghazali says: “UV lights are not required for calcium metabolism or vitamin D synthesis. In fact, excessive exposure to UVA and UVB can be quite harmful.”

Too much ultraviolet light can lead to skin damage and even skin cancer in leopard geckos. Since they are desert animals, they do not need exposure to UV light to metabolize nutrients.

Because of this, Dr. Ghazali advises that you turn off any automatic lights and keep your leopard gecko on a plain white lamp for twelve hours a day. This will be enough lighting for them to hunt and digest their food.

What should I look for in a light?

what lights do leopard geckos need

When choosing a light for your leopard gecko, there are a few things to look for. The first is the temperature that the light produces.

Heat is one of the biggest threats to a leopard gecko. If they are too warm, they will go into hibernation and not come out until spring!

Because leopard geckos are from warm climates, they need exposure to ultraviolet light in order to synthesize vitamin D. This helps them digest food and calcium uptake.

A general rule of thumb is that the light should not produce any heat. This can be difficult to find, but there are some quality LED lights that do not produce heat.

How many should I have?


When choosing how many lights you need, the number of leopard geckos you have in the tank is a big factor. If you have three or more geckos in the tank, then you will need two lights.

One light for cycling temperature and one light for brightness may be enough. More geckos in the tank means more space to move around and more space needs more light.

The bigger your terrarium is, the more light it will need. A twenty-gallon tank needs at least two lights, one for each side of the terrarium. A forty-gallon tank needs four lights, two on each side.

You can either buy cheap lamps at your local store or buy specialized reptile lamps.

Where should I put them?

what lights do leopard geckos need

When choosing where to put your leopard gecko, consider if you want it to be an active or passive pet. If you want it to be an active pet, then a terrarium with a sliding lid is ideal so it can go out and explore the world at night!

If you want it to be a more passive pet that just hangs out in its home, then a glass tank with a lid is best. These can be customized with decorations and hiding spots which your gecko will love.

Either way, leopard geckos need an warm environment so they are not suited for outdoor habitats. They also need some shelter so they can feel safe and hidden when needed. Provide some caves or boxes for this effect!

The general rule of thumb is one inch of cage per inch of gecko. This means a one foot long gecko needs a twelve inch cage to move around in.

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