Do Crested Geckos Need UVB to Survive and Thrive?

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handling a crested gecko

Do crested geckos need UV bars or is it another fad that’s wasting your time? If your crested gecko is in a bioactive terrarium the answer is a hard yes. For your enclosed environment to thrive, your plants and therefore you crested gecko need a UV light source during the day. However, if your vivarium setup isn’t bioactive, some keepers feel you don’t need UV light. But I’m not one of them. Wild cresties in New Caledonia are crepuscular, so they are awake and hunting at dawn and dusk. Therefore they would spend some time in the sunlight. They also don’t always sleep during the day in enclosed hides, often choosing to hang upside down on the glass or a bit of decor in the light. Many reptiles use UV to produce Vitamin D3. Today I’m going to share what we know for sure about UVB for crested geckos, where to put your bulb and ways to avoid the dangers of improper UV use. I’ll show you video and pictures of my crested gecko setup, and help you to decide whether you want to invest in a UV light for your tank.

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This is a controversial issue at the moment, because reptile keeping is still pretty fringe and those of us in the hobby want to think we’re doing the best for our pets. Here’s my opinion based on a well established reptile obsession, science nerd status, years as a pet care author and experience as a crestie keeper.

Do crested geckos need UVB?

Technically you can keep a crested gecko vivarium without UV. And your gecko will probably live in that setup for a fair few months or even years without it.

What type of UV is best for cresties?

The best UV for a crested gecko is a UVB bar that is around the length of the width of the top end of your vivarium. Arcadia and Exo Terra are the most popular brands right now, but there are several others available.

bioactive crested gecko setup with UV

Where should I put my crested gecko UVB light?

Your crestie is likely to be living in a tank 18x18x24 inches with a mesh lid. Place your UV bulb on top of the screen lid, so that it illuminates at least half the tank. I have my heat bulb at the back, with a thermostat a few inches underneath it, and the UVB bulb at the front.

Positioning your UV light at one end of the tank to give your gecko the ability to escape from it if they want to. You should always make sure there is plenty of decor or foliage in your vivarium for your shy friend to hide in.

Do crested geckos need UVB at night?

It’s fine to keep your UV light on a timer switch, or to just turn it off when you go to bed. Crested geckos are most active during the hours of darkness, and all animals are happiest when you mimic their natural environment as closely as possible. Minus the predators!

bioactive crested gecko setup with UV

How often do you need to replace UV bulbs?

UV bulbs shine a light for a lot longer than they produce UV. Depending on the brand, you’ll need to swap out your UV bulb every six months or every year. Whenever you put a new UV bulb over your reptile’s cage, set a reminder in your phone. That way you’ll never risk unknowingly having no UV, or replacing them more frequently than you need to.

Can UVB hurt your crested gecko?

Badly placed or overly bright UV lights can potentially damage your crested gecko’s eyes, skin and health. However, this is true of a lot of things we provide for our pets. A reptile safe UVB light, properly placed and turned off at night will not hurt your gecko.

Do Crested Geckos Need UVB?

When I decided to move from mammals and fish into reptile keeping I did literally years of research. I didn’t want to just bring home a lizard and have it live a basic, boring life. I wanted to create a home for them which would be beneficial for my new pet as well as me.

I don’t need a home and backyard filled with animals of every variety under the sun to survive. I don’t need my diet to be hugely varied, or to wear clothes that fit particularly well. But these things make me comfortable, bring me joy, and without them I’d feel sadder. Regardless of every other sensible and rational thing I’ve written here today, this is my takeaway point. I think your crested gecko will be happier with a UV bar above their tank. So why not give them one?

bioactive crested gecko setup with UV

More About Geckos

Scientific Evidence For Crested Geckos and UVB

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