If it is your first time to set up a crested gecko enclosure, you might be a bit intimidated. Of course, you would not want to fry your crested gecko as well as let him freeze.
This scenario can make you go overboard and you are left with a bunch of bulbs and heat lamps that you no longer know what to do with them.
This may lead you to ask if heat lamps are necessary. Are they essential or optional?
Heat lamps are not necessary for your crested gecko’s tank. It is also tricky to pick a heat lamp with the right material. If your main concern is maintaining the right temperature and lighting, then there are other better means to do so. There are also certain limitations in using a heat lamp.
If you are unsure whether or not to add a heat lamp in your crested gecko’s enclosure, the information that we are going to share with you can help you make a decision. We are also going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using heat lamps.
So keep on reading to see how you can arrange the best lighting for your crested gecko!
When Do You Need Heat Lamps?
Heat lamps are great to be used when you want to concentrate heat or light on a specific spot. This is the reason why other owners who have massive tanks make use of heat lamps.
They either have numerous basking spots or they want to regulate the temperature as the other lights are not enough to reach a certain temperature.
For those who live in colder areas, where the temperature inside the tank cannot be maintained easily, the use of a heat lamp is beneficial. In this way, there will always be a spot in the tank where the light and heat are consistent.
On the other hand, if you just have a basic tank with maybe one crested gecko or two, then it is okay to not use a heat lamp. Bulbs are enough and it is completely okay to go natural.
As you can see, it is a matter of knowing if the heat and lighting in the tank can be maintained. It also depends on the room as well as the size of the tank. You have to ask the following questions:
- Does the room has access to natural light?
- Are the current lights enough for apt heat and lighting that is proportional to the size of the tank?
- Will the heat lamp add unnecessary temperature distortion?
These questions do not only dictate if you need a heat lamp, but they will also let you know if you can handle the maintenance of having a heat lamp.
How Long Should The Heat Lamp Be Turned On?
Keep in mind that if you are going to use a heat lamp, there should be a place in the tank where it is cooler so that your crested gecko can cool down. The way that the heat lamp works is that the bulb produces the light and heat, while the dome concentrates the heat in a particular area.
This gives you a clue as to how long it should be left on, and the answer is not too long. First off, the heat lamp should be turned off at night time so as not to disrupt the night activities of your crested gecko.
Second, when it is on during the day, you can only leave it on for at least one to three hours.
The reason behind this is that the concentrated heat in a specific area will eventually change the temperature of the entire tank, even the cooler areas in the tank. More than that, if the heat lamp is used for the basking spot, your crested gecko might overheat.
A lot of owners have reported that even though their crested gecko knows that their body heat is too high, they only move to the cooler areas when their body temperature is already extreme. This behavior will affect the health of the crested gecko in the long run.
Another thing to think about is the level of humidity in the tank. The more heat that is concentrated on one spot, the easier for that area as well as the surrounding area to dry out. This will lead you to mist the tank more often compared to the time when you were not using a heat lamp.
Advantages Of Using A Heat Lamp
- Easy to calibrate the temperature
- A breeze to use
- Great as a basking light
- Lasts a long time
Disadvantages Of Using A Heat Lamp
- A fire risk
- Can overheat gecko
- Quality depends on the material
- Cannot be used in multiple purposes (cannot be used during the night)
- Consumes a lot of power leading to a higher electric bill
Heat Lamps vs. Heat Mats: The Differences
There is still an ongoing and even heated debate as to which one is better, heat mat or a heat lamp.
Heat lamp advocators push for complexity with the conditions inside the tank that highly replicates what happens in the wild, even though some of those conditions may be pushed to the extremes.
On the other hand, those who choose to stick with heat mats favor the thought that everything should be kept natural. In this debate, we are not going to take any side based on the tank conditions rather, we should always base it on the needs of your crested gecko.
For this benefit alone, it is safe to say that your crested gecko does not really need any special lights. It is best to keep a set up that is natural but at the same time, provide proper heat and lighting. When you have a small tank and you use an incandescent bulb, then it can be too hot.
The same goes for CFL bulbs that generate a lot of heat.
Further, relying on a sunny window can also be dangerous as there can be a buildup of heat. Moreover, the glass in the tank tends to filter out the UVB rays of the sunlight which is where your crested gecko gets his Vitamin D3.
Heat mat features:
- Adheres at the bottom or the side of the tank
- Comes in heating strength and sizes
- Warms a specific area in the tank where your crested gecko can easily go to if he needs to keep himself warm
- Can be left on for 24 hours and will not distort the temperature in the tank
- Omits the idea of having a basking light
On that note, we understand why the use of heat mat is much better. You can provide heat, and there will be no immediate dangers of overheating.
As for using heat lamps, it is like you are creating another environment for your crested gecko that is different from the environment outside his tank (ie. lighting and temperature).
This can really be beneficial if you are setting up an enclosure that is complex and reaches the point of “natural wild mimicry” but at what expense? You need to keep a close eye on the tank and be prepared to pay a tiny bit more for your electric bill.
Also read our article on heat mats here for more information!
What Makes A Good Heat Lamp?
If you are set in getting a heat lamp for your crested gecko’s enclosure, here are the important factors to be on the lookout for.
This is the most important thing to look for in a heat lamp. There are different materials used for heat lamps such as plastic, metal, wood, etc. What you should be on the lookout for is one that is made of ceramic or at least its base is ceramic.
The reason behind this is that it reduces fire hazards. At the same time, as it will limit extreme heat, it is more likely that the overheating risk will be low. Further, this material is much more durable than the other ones.
Here is a good heat lamp (60W) that is made of ceramic. This heat lamp is also great for crested geckos as it is suited for wet environments. So all of that misting will not affect this heat lamp.
Never get a heat lamp that does not have a feature where you can easily adjust the heat. In the event that you do so, you are risking the temperature in your tank.
When you do not have any means to adjust the temperature of your heat lamp, you always need to check the temperature in a tank via a thermometer.
This does not only prove to be a hassle, but it also runs the risk of disrupting the right temperature in the tank. When you first turn it on, of course, it will not reach its optimum heating capacity. You should let it stay on for a while before you can check again if the temperature is right.
Even after that, you are not sure if it can maintain the right temperature. Therefore, it is best to have a heat lamp where you can set the temperature from the get-go.
Further, there are heat lamps in the market where there is an automatic shut off feature when the temperature gets too high.
A good heat lamp that comes with a temperature regulator is the one from Zacro, you can take a look here.
This is easy to remember, the higher the wattage, the higher the temperature. With that in mind, you can gauge if you want to get a smaller or bigger wattage. Of course, this will also depend on the size of your tank as well as the number of crested geckos inside it.
But most importantly, pick a wattage that you absolutely know that you can keep your eye on. If you choose a higher wattage, you should be sure that you can always drop by the tank and check the temperature.
On the other hand, if you choose a lower wattage, you should be able to check if it has reached the right temperature.
You can check out this heat lamp that has 60 watts. This wattage is a safe starting point if you are just starting out in trying out a heat lamp in your tank.