Body temperature regulation, restful sleep and overall happiness are dependent on sufficient heat and appropriate lighting in a leopard gecko's habitat. For a healthy lifestyle, a gecko's tank must maintain temperatures ranging from 23.8 to 32.2 degrees C. The use of heated rocks, under-tank heat pads and various bulbs help maintain the warm temperatures leopard geckos are accustomed to in their native desert habits of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and India.
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Leopard geckos cannot produce their own body heat. As ectothermic reptiles, they absorb heat from their environment. Proper heating and lighting are essential for the survival of leopard geckos kept as pets. The pet will move about in his tank to regulate his body temperature, making it essential to provide warmer and cooler areas in the tank.
Types of Heat
Using electrically-heated rocks with built-in thermostats prevents overheating and hot spots, according to veterinarian Margaret A. Wissman on the Reptile Channel. The specially created "hot rocks" are made from resin that evenly distributes heat, reducing the chances of reptile injuries.
Under-tank heating pads and strips create a desert terrarium environment by gently warming the substrate. Adult leopard geckos enjoy burrowing into warmed sand to elevate their body temperature.
Types of Lighting
Create a warming area in the leopard gecko's tank by placing a clamp-on lamp fixture on one end of his tank. Use a reflective metal light fixture with a 40- to 60-watt incandescent bulb to provide heat during the night. A red heat bulb can be used to provide heat during the daytime hours when the nocturnal lizard is sleeping. Since the gecko doesn't detect the red light, it will not disturb his sleep cycles.
Full spectrum ultraviolet UVB lighting is not necessary if a vitamin supplement containing vitamin D3 is fed to the lizard. If an additional heat source is needed to maintain desert temperatures in the tank, the UVB lighting might be a good choice, as it emits heat and aids in the production of vitamins. UVA bulbs can also be used in a leopard gecko's habitat. This spectrum of light improves the reptile's well-being, according to California Zoological Supply. For safety reasons, all lighting fixtures should be on the exterior of the leopard gecko's tank.
Attach thermometers inside the leopard gecko's tank to ensure the desired internal temperature of the habitat is maintained. Consider placing one on each end of the tank and one in the centre. Save space in the leopard gecko's tank by using a combination thermometer/hygrometer to monitor both temperature and humidity.
Light sources for a leopard gecko can be put on a timer system. Maintaining a day-night cycle is important for the reptile. Leopard geckos habitats should have eight to10 hours of light followed by 14 to 16 hours of darkness or red bulb light.
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