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Do Leopard Geckos Require UVB? What You Need To Know!

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

June 18, 2021

Leopard geckos are cute, interesting, and easy to take care of, especially compared to pets such as cats and dogs. These things make this reptile the perfect option for children and first-time pet owners. In addition to knowing what to feed your pet leopard gecko and how to set up their habitat, you should know the importance of UVB light to these small, fragile pets. Here is everything that you need to know about leopard geckos and UVB light exposure.

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Why Leopard Geckos Should Be Provided With Supplemental UVB Lighting

Leopard geckos cannot produce their own vitamin D3 without the help of UVB rays. They need to produce vitamin D3 so their bodies can properly absorb calcium. In nature, these geckos would be able to easily absorb UVB rays from the sun. However, when they are living in captivity indoors, they have no exposure to crucial UVB rays unless it is supplemented through artificial lighting.

close up leopard gecko in person's hand
Image Credit: Svetlanistaya, Shutterstock

What Could Happen If Leopard Geckos Are Not Exposed to UVB

If a leopard gecko does not have access to daily UVB exposure, they will not get the vitamin D3 that they need in order to absorb calcium and thrive. By not being able to assimilate the calcium that they consume, they could end up suffering from serious health problems and even die as a result. One of the most common problems that calcium deficiency causes in leopard geckos is metabolic bone disease.

Symptoms of metabolic bone disease include lethargy, appetite loss, a soft jawbone, leg deformation, and an inability to easily move around. If calcium deficiency is diagnosed early enough, supplementation and other treatments can help save a leopard gecko’s life. The best way to avoid calcium deficiency and the risk of metabolic bone disease overall is to make sure that your leopard gecko has access to artificial UVB lighting daily.

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How to Provide Your Leopard Gecko With UVB Exposure

There are four types of UVB lighting that you can invest in for your beloved pet leopard gecko. The option you choose will depend on things such as your pet’s setup and your home’s natural lighting features.

Compact Fluorescent UVB Lighting

Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0 UVB Mini Compact Fluorescent

Pros
  • It consumes a low amount of power, is inexpensive, and fits into most light sockets.
Cons
  • It is not as efficient as other options, it has a short lifespan, and its reach is narrow.

Linear Fluorescent UVB Lighting

Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb 18 inch

Pros
  • It is affordable and easy to use and has a far lighting reach compared to other available options.
Cons
  • UVB output is not optimal, and the lights must be replaced every few months to ensure efficient UVB exposure for your gecko.

Metal Halide UVB Lighting

Zoo Med PowerSun H.I.D Metal Halide UVB Lamp & Lamp Fixture

Pros
  • It produces high amounts of both UVB light and heat, has a long lifespan, and requires little electricity to operate.
Cons
  • It requires a specialty fixture to operate and comes with a higher price tag than the other options here.

Mercury Vapor UVB Lighting

Lucky Herp Reptile UVA UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb

Pros
  • Bulbs can last up to a year before requiring replacement, lighting reach is optimal, and the bulb produces some heat.
Cons
  • It requires more power to operate than other options, is not budget-friendly, is not suitable for small habitats.

The lighting should be placed above the area where your leopard gecko predominantly lays out and relaxes during the day, as this is their way of sunbathing. Lighting should be offered throughout the day, but it can be turned off at night, when the sun would typically go down. If your leopard gecko relies on the lamp for heat, you will need to leave the light on 24 hours a day or provide them with another source of heat at night.

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Final Thoughts

Now that you know that your pet leopard gecko requires exposure to UVB light to stay happy and healthy, it is time to figure out what type of lighting to get and where you want to set it up. Do you already have a plan for setting up your new UVB lighting system? If so, share your ideas with our community in the comments section!


Featured Image Credit: DWI YULIANTO, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.