Leopard Gecko UV Light – Does it really need it?
One of the biggest debates for Leopard Gecko keepers is the requirements for UV Lights. Some swear they do not need it, others argue the case. For this reason I will explain these arguments to help you make your choice.
Does a Leopard Gecko need a UV light? Yes, it is better to provide UV light. It is possible to not provide this, but it is risky unless you know how to supplement their diet correctly. This is mainly based on the premise that they are active in low light hours of the day.
|Are these foods dangerous for your Beardie?|
|Avacado? Click here to learn, from this guide, if this food is dangerous|
|Superworms? Click here to learn, from this guide, if this food is dangerous|
Before you make your decision for a great Leopard Gecko UVB light (Click to see reviews on Amazon), you should read this entire article to understand the argument on both sides.
Super Photogenic Leopard Gecko 😁 pic.twitter.com/AUmsbCtBap
— Leo Gecko Community (@LeopardGecko5) July 24, 2014
What is a UV light?
Before we get into explaining if your leopard gecko really needs UV lighting, arguments for and against, etc, it’s important that I explain exactly what UV lighting is. Also how this may affect your leopard gecko.
UV lighting is effectively light radiation which is beyond visible sight, meaning you cannot see this radiation but it does actually heat things up.
It has a higher energy power level than violet light sources, which is why it’s called “Ultra Violet Light”. It also comes in three main forms:
UVA & UVC
This is used to regulate the biological rhythms of your leopard gecko, where as UVC can be damaging and is believed to cause certain cancers in the body. UVB is the main source used for a lizards and is the one I will focus on in this article.
UVB is very important for leopard geckos (Click here to see how to reduce the humidity in a Leo’s tank) and lizards in general. It is important because it allows the lizards body to process calcium. Calcium is important to your lizard because it improves their bone health strength and is very important to their development.
In the wild UVB is naturally provided from the sun. These UVB rays activate vitamin D precursors located in the lizards skin. This then triggers the process of Vitamin D3 being formed, which is known as the active form.
Vitamin D3 is important because it allows the calcium from the gut to be circulated through the bloodstream. It is also believed that vitamin D3 provided in a natural way is better for you than supplementation that is fed to the lizard. Therefore it is important to provide vitamin D3 using this natural method or as close as possible.
In the wild UVB is generated directly from the sun, so it is not even a consideration for a lizard. However, in captivity it cannot be taken for granted. Therefore you need to artificially generate the UVB rays using lighting.
Misconceptions of UVB Lighting
In addition to this, you can not provide UVB lighting directly to your lizard just by positioning it near a sun exposed window. It needs to have the light source directly within the tank for the UVB to do its job. Hence the reason why UVB lighting is an important part of Keeping A lizard.
Why do some people say UVB Lighting is Not Needed for a Leo?
So in this section I’m going to discuss one of the reasons why some people believe that leopard geckos do not require UVB lighting.
One of the biggest debates for leopard geckos is do they require UVB lighting or not? Most people believe they do not need it. This is mainly because of the fact that they believe they are nocturnal animals.
What does Nocturnal have to do with it?
Confirming if they are nocturnal is the key thing to this. Reason being, if they are nocturnal people believe in their active hours there is no sunlight in their natural habitat, therefore they assume it is not required, are you with me?
However there has been recent studies (by John Courtney-Smith) which have proven that leopard geckos are actually “crepuscular”. This means that they are active at Twilight hours and this makes a big difference on their UVB consumption.
It is also understood that during these low light periods they consume more UV than any other type of animal.
To strengthen this case it is also been observed that there have been cases of leopard geckos who have not been exposed to UVB lighting who have had clear health issues as a result of this.
However it is still up for debate, because there have been numbers of leopard gecko keepers who have successfully kept leopard geckos without any issues. And they have been using supplementation instead of UVB lighting to some degree of success.
What are the disadvantages of not using UVB lighting?
As discussed earlier in the wild leopard geckos do not need to be concerned about vitamin D3 production or calcium, because UVB lighting is provided naturally. However, in captivity they are largely reliant on their Keepers doing a good job.
If, in captivity, the lizard is starved of vitamin D3, it will be unable to process the calcium which is provided within their diet.
In extreme cases this can lead to diseases such as MBD or metabolic bone disease which is a known calcium deficiency and is quite a serious issue.
Q. Is there any other lighting, apart from UV lighting that a leopard gecko should have?
The biggest requirement apart, from UVB lighting is the lighting which regulates their heat. As you may or may not know, the lighting that is provided in an enclosure also provides a heat source.
Leopard geckos are from the Middle East, which it is a hot country. Therefore you need to mimic the correct temperatures of their natural habitat in captivity.
Not just the temperature but also the amount of time that they have daylight and also the dark hours as well.
This means that during the summertime, to mimic their natural habitat you should be providing at least 14 hours of lighting. During the Night-Time hours in the summer the remaining 10 hours need to be dark.
In the winter this needs to be a slightly different balance of time. In particular 12 hours daytime and then 12 hours night-time. During the transition period when you’re going from Summer Time hours to winter time hours, it is advisable not to do this switch overnight.
It is better to gradually move the timings in at maybe 30 to 40 minutes intervals. For example, if you were transitioning from 14 hours daylight to 12 hours daylight, rather than doing it overnight on day one maybe you would start with 13 hours and 30 minutes of daylight and then gradually reduce it by 30-minutes day after day until you meet the required 12 hours. Make sense?
Also when it comes to the Night Lights, if you are interested in checking your leopard gecko in the night it is important that you do not provide white lighting. This is because this will not keep them happy and it will mean it would discourage them. It will also not be natural for them.
What you need to do if you really want to see them move around in the night is to provide red or blue lighting which is going to be more comfortable for them and more natural for them.