Do Crested Geckos Need Heat Lamp?

It’s already common knowledge that crested geckos require specific environmental conditions to thrive. These include temperature, humidity, overall layout with climbing places, moisture-retaining substrate, etc.

In this article, we will discuss temperature management and whether heat lamps are necessary.

When Does Crested Gecko Need a Heat Lamp?

First, I should mention that crested geckos do not require a heat lamp. Their temperature needs aren’t as drastic to the point where a heat lamp would be absolutely necessary. This being said, there are some instances where the heat lamp would be a welcomed addition.

These include:

  • The enclosure is too large – If the terrarium is too big, conventional light bulbs may not cut it. In this case, the heat lamp can work wonders in providing concentrated heat to create the much-needed basking spot. In some cases, you may even require multiple heat sources, depending on the terrarium’s size and whether you have more than one gecko.
  • Geographical position – Heat lamps are also necessary if you live in a colder geographical region, making it difficult to preserve the terrarium’s ideal temperature range.

Other than that, the standard UV bulb is generally enough to create the ideal basking spot and temperature gradient you need. Especially in a 20-30-gallon setup where the space doesn’t warrant the use of a heat lamp.

How to Use a Heat Lamp On Crested Gecko?

The use of the heat lamp itself isn’t that much different than the light bulb. You simply find the proper place for the lamp, and that’s about it. However, you should be careful about the spot you choose for your lamp.

As the crested gecko’s habitat is vertical (or, at least, it should be), the heat lamp should be placed above the gecko. That will create the basking spot that the gecko needs, although you need to mind the heat intensity. Most importantly, ensure that the lamp isn’t close to wood structures like branches, other decorative elements, or plants. The heat can ignite them and cause a fire.

Pros & Cons of Heat Lamp for Crested Geckos

Heat lamps are both useful and detrimental, depending on the situation. Here’s what I mean by that:

– Pros

  • Adjustable values – You can easily adjust the lamp’s intensity to the desired value for optimal heat output. This means you can use the lamp in different habitats, varying in size and heat requirements.
  • Good heat output – Heat lamps are great at creating basking spots, providing the gecko with optimal temperature values.
  • Ease of use – They’re just as easy to use as light bulbs, which is why many people choose them over the latter.

– Cons

  • The risk of overheating – Even if they’re adjustable, heat lamps deliver a more drastic heat output compared to conventional light bulbs. This is why they’re only used in larger ecosystems where normal bulbs cannot reach the necessary output. This means that using heat lamps in smaller setups increases the risk of disrupting the temperature gradient. So, the gecko can overheat, dehydrate, and die as a result. We’ve already mentioned the risk of fire.
  • Can’t use it 24/7 – Heat lamps emit more light than your geckos need for their own comfort. Geckos require a steady day/night cycle, and heat lamps don’t allow for that.

Heat lamps also consume much more electricity than light bulbs, which can be a problem if you care about that.

Choosing a Heat Lamp for Crested Gecko

If you’ve decided that your gecko could use a heat lamp, consider the following metric when looking for the best piece:

  • Material – You want to opt for a high-end piece that provides the lamp with durability and security. I advise avoiding plastic, wood, and even metal. The first two increase the risk of fire, while the metal can overheat, increasing environmental temperature. I recommend ceramic, even if the price is higher. You cannot put a price on safety.
  • Adjustable feature – You should never even consider buying a non-adjustable heat lamp. There’s little chance you can get a heat lamp with the ideal heat output for your ecosystem. Also, there are cases where you may need to increase or decrease the lamp’s output, depending on your gecko’s requirements.
  • Wattage – Always mind the lamp’s wattage, as this expresses the unit’s output power. You need to find a piece that matches the ecosystem’s requirements.

Heat Lamp vs Heat Mat – What is Best for Crested Geckos?

If I were forced to pick between these two, I would go for a heat mat for several reasons, such as:

  • It is highly customizable, with different sizes and heat output
  • You can place it anywhere, whether it’s on the substrate or the size of the terrarium
  • It only produces heat in the immediate vicinity, so geckos can leave if the temperature gets too high in that area
  • It won’t overheat the tank if you leave it on 24/7
  • There is no risk of fire anymore

In other words, heat mats are safer and more effective, I would argue, far from optimal. The main issue is that heating mats, although adjustable, deliver a more uniform heat output. The temperature is increased over a larger surface instead of one concentrated point. This can create a too-large basking area that eventually increases the terrarium’s overall temperature with time.

I would still go for light bulbs, especially if you have a smaller ecosystem that would do just fine with a standard UVB emitter.


Crested geckos require a stable temperature gradient that would provide them with heat comfort and different comfort zones. The typical UVB light bulb achieves that perfectly in a small-to-medium ecosystem. Heat lamps and heat mats can also work, but only if we’re talking about larger setups.

avatar William
William is a respected pet enthusiast with expertise in reptiles and birds. With extensive experience caring for these animals, he shares his knowledge through engaging and informative articles in various publications. He is an active member of pet-related organizations, volunteering regularly at shelters and promoting animal welfare and conservation. read more...

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