The crested gecko is one of the most popular reptile pets because of its easy care requirements.
Crested geckos are nocturnal creatures, so they do not have any special lighting requirements.
However, like most reptiles, crested geckos need vitamin D3 for healthy bones.
Reptiles get vitamin D3 from nutritional supplements or UVB lighting.
But does your crested gecko need UVB light to live?
UVB lighting is not required but encouraged for crested geckos. UVB is now understood to be greatly beneficial to their health and well-being. UVB rays allow a crested gecko to absorb vitamin D3, and a consistent lighting schedule also helps a crested gecko maintain its circadian rhythm.
A crested gecko will survive without UVB lighting as long as vitamin supplements are added to its diet, but UVB lighting is always the best option.
Having a UVB light in the enclosure helps to recreate the crested gecko’s natural environment.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of UVB lighting for your crested gecko and the best setup for lighting in the enclosure.
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Why Use UVB Lighting For Your Crested Gecko?
Crested geckos spend much of their day resting in the shade, and they do not typically bask in the sunlight like other reptile species.
Even though your crestie is not very active during the day, it will still benefit from having UVB lighting in the enclosure.
UVB lighting encourages your crested gecko’s natural sleeping and hunting cycles, provides vitamin D3 and helps live plants in the enclosure stay healthy.
Encourage Your Crested Gecko’s Natural Behavior
In the wild, crested geckos sleep underneath the shade of plant leaves when the sun is out.
After dusk, they awaken to hunt for food and explore their surroundings.
If your gecko is in a room with natural light, there is no need for supplemental lighting.
However, UVB rays from the sun will not penetrate the glass enclosure, and your crestie will not get the benefits from the light.
For a crested gecko living in a low-light room, a UVB bulb will provide a day and night cycle the animal needs to maintain its circadian rhythm.
Having a steady light cycle will encourage the crestie to develop a sleeping, hunting, and exploring routine.
Use a light timer to set the UVB light to automatically turn on and off at specified intervals throughout the day.
A light timer is extremely helpful because it prevents you from forgetting to turn the light on and off at the proper times.
Leaving the light on at night will disrupt your gecko’s hunting and sleeping habits, so it is best to avoid the potential for this to happen.
Provide Vitamin D3 for Your Crested Gecko
A low level of UVB lighting will aid in your gecko’s production of vitamin D3 naturally, rather than through supplements.
A crested gecko will absorb vitamin D through the skin from UVB lighting, and then its body will convert it into D3.
Vitamin D3 is essential for calcium absorption, and it is a necessary nutrient for all reptiles.
Without enough calcium, a crested gecko will develop health issues such as metabolic bone disease.
Check out our guide to crested gecko calcium needs and requirements.
Metabolic bone disease is a serious illness with no cure, so preventing your crestie from getting it is very important.
Some symptoms of metabolic bone disease include:
- Spinal Deformities
- Bone Softening
- Inability To Stand
These symptoms may be treated but not reversed, and severe illness will even result in death.
To prevent metabolic bone disease, use a calcium powder supplement in your crestie’s diet.
Most calcium supplements are formulated with vitamin D3 to ensure proper calcium absorption.
If you are using a UVB light in your gecko’s enclosure, you may want to choose a calcium supplement without D3 added.
This will allow you to supplement with a separate D3 powder less often to avoid the potential for a vitamin overdose.
While vitamin D3 overdose is rare, there is still a risk for potential problems if the supplement is used incorrectly.
Too much vitamin D3 will cause issues with the heart and kidneys and impair other vital bodily functions.
Learn more about crested geckos and metabolic bone disease in our article here.
- Highly bio-available source of calcium carbonate
- Free of harmful impurities (not from Oyster Shells)
- Safe levels of Vitamin D3
Promote Plant Growth
To recreate your crested gecko’s natural environment, you may use live plants instead of artificial plants in the enclosure.
Having plenty of real plants in the enclosure gives your crestie a variety of climbing areas and helps maintain humidity levels.
If you have live plants in your gecko’s enclosure, lighting is necessary to help the plants grow and stay healthy.
Plants do not need the UVB rays to grow in the same way your crestie does, but it does not harm them, either.
Research any plants you would like to put in your gecko’s enclosure to ensure you will be able to meet the proper lighting requirements for them.
Does a Crested Gecko Need a Night Light?
There are bulbs on the market which are designed to be used exclusively at night.
These bulbs are available in both infrared and blue spectrums.
It is advisable to only use these types of life for very short periods, either in the early morning or the evening.
Not only do these bulbs produce heat, which is potentially problematic for maintaining enclosure temperatures, but the light will disrupt your crestie’s nighttime behaviors if they are left on all night.
Crested geckos do not need any type of lights at night to see, and these bulbs are strictly for being able to view your gecko at night.
A plain red light bulb is useful if you want to see what your crestie is up to, and it is not as harsh to your lizard’s sensitive eyes.
To avoid causing any stress to your gecko, avoid leaving any type of light on during the night, even those marketed for all-night usage.
UVB Lighting Vs. Dietary Supplements
There is a great debate between crested gecko owners about using UVB lighting or dietary supplements to provide their pets with vitamin D3.
Both methods are beneficial for your crestie, but dietary supplements are not without risk of harm.
There are two distinct categories of vitamins.
Some vitamins are water-soluble, which means they are excreted from your body very quickly and must be consumed daily to avoid a deficiency.
Any excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins are efficiently flushed from the body.
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in body fat, and over time, they will accumulate throughout the body.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and it can build up in your crestie’s body if too much is given to them.
Vitamin D toxicity most commonly affects a gecko’s liver, kidneys, and heart.
This buildup of vitamin D in a crestie will lead to:
- Skeletal Growth Issues
- Kidney Problems
- Fatty Liver
- Overall Weakness
It is also difficult to know exactly how much vitamin D your gecko consumes when you dust its feeder insects.
With UVB lighting, your crested gecko will be able to choose when to be exposed to it.
Giving your crestie the choice of UVB lighting allows the animal to regulate its vitamin D absorption, so it gets the amount needed and nothing more.
If you do not provide your gecko with UVB lighting, vitamin D3 supplementation is necessary.
Choosing a calcium supplement formulated without D3 gives you better control of how much your crestie is getting by allowing you to use a separate D3 supplement once per week.
Best UVB Lights For Crested Geckos
There are two types of UV lights for reptiles, and it is important to choose the best one for your crestie.
The first is a long tube, which spans the entire width of the enclosure.
These UV lights are typically used for larger tanks, but they are not the optimal choice for a crestie’s smaller enclosure.
The other type of UV light is in the form of a compact fluorescent bulb.
A compact fluorescent UV bulb is inexpensive and small enough for a crested gecko enclosure.
UV lighting is also available in different intensities, making sense because the UV light in an open desert area will be much stronger than light filtered through trees and plants in a jungle setting.
For crested geckos, the recommended levels of UVB light range between 2-5 percent.
Stronger 10 percent bulbs are not recommended because they are more suitable for reptiles from sunnier climates.
Crested geckos typically live in low-light settings, and harsh UVB light is harmful to their sensitive eyes and skin.
This 13-watt compact fluorescent UVB bulb is an excellent choice, and it provides a UVB level of five percent.
This low level of UVB provides your crestie with enough light to synthesize vitamin D into D3, preventing the risk of metabolic bone disease and other issues with the skeletal system.
This particular bulb also provides 30% of UVA rays, which increases appetite, activity levels, and reproductive behavior.
A low-level UVB light also does not emit heat, so you do not have to worry about inadvertently raising the temperature levels in the enclosure.
Avoid using a mercury-vapor or halogen bulb in your crestie’s enclosure, as these lights emit too much heat for your gecko.
Setting Up Uvb Lighting In A Crested Gecko Enclosure
It is vital to have the proper setup when installing a UVB light in your crested gecko’s enclosure.
As previously stated, UVB rays will not penetrate glass, so the lighting is best used inside the tank or above a mesh screen top.
There are lighting canopies explicitly made to fit reptile tanks.
All you have to do is choose the correct fixture for your enclosure and screw in the UVB bulb.
These lighting fixtures also have an on and off switch, but it is recommended to purchase a separate light timer for more consistent lighting times.
Compact fluorescent UVB bulbs are inexpensive, but the UV output will degrade over time like any other full-spectrum light.
It is crucial to replace your UVB bulb every six months to ensure your crestie receives the right amount of UV rays to stay healthy.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can crested geckos live without a heat lamp?
Unless you live in a cold climate or the room your crestie is kept cool, you do not need to add a heat lamp to the enclosure.
The optimal temperature for crested geckos is 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C), easily achievable through the ambient room temperature without an additional heat source.
If you need to provide a heat source for your gecko, it is advisable to use a heat mat or ceramic heat emitter instead of a heat bulb.
Crested geckos do not tolerate heat very well, and the temperatures produced by a heat lamp are likely too high for your lizard.
Use a thermostat with any type of heating device to ensure temperatures in the enclosure do not exceed what your gecko can tolerate.
If temperatures in the enclosure are higher than 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) for an extended period, the excess heat may be fatal for your crestie.
The heat will also lower the humidity level, so you will need to mist the enclosure more frequently to keep the humidity stable.
Can crested geckos see in pitch black?
Since crested geckos are nocturnal lizards, their vision has adapted to see well in low-light conditions.
Although they do not see colors the same way we do, geckos can see UV rays and other spectrums of light not visible to humans.
A crested gecko’s eyes are 350 times more sensitive to light than human eyes.
Even in total darkness, a crestie will still be able to hunt and explore effectively.
Crested geckos do not have eyelids, so during the day when they sleep, their eyes will be very narrow vertical slits to let in as little light as possible.
At night, the crestie’s pupils widen, which allows them to have a full range of vision in the darkness.
Are black lights bad for crested geckos?
While a small amount of UVA rays is safe for a crested gecko, black lights produce UVA much higher than recommended.
Cresties have very sensitive eyes and skin, and a high percentage of UVA lighting will cause eye damage and possible skin cancer.