Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Reptiles > Do Leopard Geckos Need a Heat Lamp? Tips & Benefits

Do Leopard Geckos Need a Heat Lamp? Tips & Benefits

Albino leopard gecko in the dirt

Leopard geckos are cute little guys and make popular pets because of their calm demeanor and independent personalities. But owning one of these requires a bit of work on your part, particularly when it comes to setting up your leopard gecko’s tank. Gecko tanks need a certain size, humidity, and temperature, so you’ll need to be careful to get everything correct.

When it comes to the temperature in a gecko tank, one side needs to be warmer, and one side cooler. Many people put a heating mat in the tank for the warmer side, but this isn’t always the best idea. Though heating mats provide good supplemental warmth in the winter, a heat lamp is best for your leopard gecko.

Why is that? Keep reading to find out!

divider- gecko

Why Leopard Geckos Need a Heat Lamp

Leopard geckos come from arid desert areas in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and specific locations in India, and their habitat in your home needs to reflect their natural habitat. Because they’re cold-blooded, geckos use the environment around them to help regulate body temperature¹ (which is why you need a hot zone and a cool zone in your gecko’s tank). Being cold-blooded, or ectothermic¹, also means your gecko won’t be able to tolerate the cold very well or create heat with their body (hence why they use the surrounding environment to regulate their body temperature). So, leopard geckos need to be getting extra heat from somewhere.

A heat mat will undoubtedly provide some heat, but a heat lamp will provide more and better heat. Plus, and equally important, is the fact that a heat lamp will mimic the cycle of day and night in your leopard gecko’s tank, which is needed for your pet to stay healthy.

Leopard gecko
Image By: Reinhold-Leitner, Shutterstock

Benefits of Heat Lamps

Heat lamps also provide a couple of other benefits to your leopard gecko, other than just keeping it warm. One great benefit of heat lamps is that they help keep your gecko’s tank dry, which helps prevent the growth of mold¹. Because of the humidity in a gecko’s tank, the habitats are prone to mold, which is bad for your leopard gecko’s health. Mold can cause respiratory issues in your pet, just as it does with humans. Mold can also result in your gecko becoming ill with aspergillosis, resulting in wheezing, coughing, and fever.

The other main benefit of heat lamps is that they provide UVB rays; UVB rays are essential in producing vitamin D3¹ for your pet. Without enough vitamin D3, your leopard gecko can end up with a metabolic bone disease¹, which can lead to bowed legs, softening of the lower jaw, limping, and more. These results come about because, without enough vitamin D3, your pet can’t properly utilize the calcium it receives from its diet, as D3 absorbs calcium into the bloodstream.

new gecko divider

How to Choose & Set Up a Heat Lamp

If you choose to go with a heat lamp for your leopard gecko’s tank, there are a few things you should know so you can choose the right one and set it up correctly.

  • For 20-gallon tanks, 50- to 75-watt bulbs are best.
  • Get a “daytime bulb”, as it will offer both light and heat. But do your research on which bulb will last longest, as some bulbs are prone to burning out rather quickly.
  • Don’t place the heat lamp in the middle; instead, put it on one side of the mesh part.
  • Ensure your leopard gecko absolutely is not able to reach the heat lamp! These lamps can be incredibly hot and could burn your pet if touched.
  • Install an automatic timer so your heat lamp goes on and off at the correct times of day to mimic the sun.
hypo leopard gecko
Image By: Leroy Dickson Pixabay


new gecko divider

Final Thoughts

Though many leopard gecko owners put a heating mat into their pet’s tank, getting your gecko a heat lamp is ideal. Heat lamps not only keep your pet warm enough but also help prevent the growth of mold and can provide UVB rays that produce vitamin D3 (important in preventing metabolic bone disease). They also mimic the cycle of the sun, which your leopard gecko needs for optimal health. Finding a suitable heat lamp shouldn’t be difficult; the main concern is getting the most suitable bulb.

Owning a leopard gecko is a bit of work, but these adorable guys are worth it!

Featured Image Credit: torstensimon, Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets