Why UV Light is Important to Geckos


Why UV Light is Important to Geckos

Are you searching for the right type of light that will suit the enclosure of your geckos? Then, this is the right article for you! 

Here, we will discuss the benefits which our geckos can get from UVB and UVA and how they regulate the functions of the organs as well as the behaviors of your geckos.

Why Geckos need light

Your geckos need light because of the warmth and health benefits it provides! Choosing the right kind of light source for your geckos is crucial to their development. Although geckos are nocturnal animals, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need light. Just like other animals, geckos have a body clock and this makes them well aware of nights and days. Their awareness of time is essential for their health and survival.

Benefits of light 

It is general knowledge that geckos are nocturnal animals. However, recent studies have shown that there are geckos which is crepuscular in nature, like leopard geckos. Crepuscular species are animals which generally active during twilight. Hence they need light in order to do their activities. 

Whether nocturnal or crepuscular in nature, light is needed in order to survive. Geckos can modify or change their behavior with the changes in light from daytime to nighttime. When the light disappears, nocturnal gecko starts to be active, hunt for food and do other activities relevant to their existence. The same thing goes during the daytime when the light starts to pop up, they are stimulated to hide. These behaviors are directly connected with the light.

Aside from behavior, light can also affect the growth, coloration and reproduction of geckos. It is also responsible for promoting sleep or rest which is essential in making them alert during the night or dawn.

Importance of UVA and UVB light

There are  different sources of light that must be included in the enclosure. The necessity for these products is not only brought by the need for light and heat to regulate their body temperature but also, the same serves several purposes. 

Ultraviolet radiation is light emitted by the sun and it has different wavelengths. The UVB has a shorter wavelength which ranges between 280nm to 320nm. UVA, on the other hand, is in a longer wavelength, that is between 320 to 400 nm and this is visible for most reptiles.

UVB

UVB is essential for their body functioning. Although this is invisible to most reptiles, it helps process or synthesizes Vitamin D3 and optimize the functions of the organs. Based on studies, UVB and warmth from infrared light help convert cholesterol  in the skin to vitamin D3. 

How does it help produce vitamin D3?

Vitamin D3 boosts the liver and optimizes the function of the organs such as the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and pancreas which in effect strengthens the bones and guts. Vitamin D3 is also significant for a healthy reproductive system. 

D3 will also boost the immune system of your reptiles. This will help them fight and destroy viruses and bacteria in the body. It also affects skin pigmentation and strengthens the functions of the skin. Lastly, it stimulates the body in the reproduction of endorphins which is a feel-good hormone everyone likes.

How long should I expose my geckos to UVB light?

UVB should be given 12 hours each day. Also, make sure that the light directly hits the geckos so that they can benefit from its rays. This can be artificially provided by fluorescent sunlamps. Note however that the light source must not be too close to your pet. You should provide enough distance in setting your light source. 

UVA

UVA, just like UVB, also plays an important role in your gecko’s lighting requirement. This light will help your geckos regulate their behavior when it comes to feeding and mating or their sexual behaviors.

How does UVA help stimulate feeding?

UVA is not visible for humans but it is for most reptiles. For humans, we see dark or grey colors at night but for geckos, they see a variety of colours because of their excellent vision. That is why they are active during the dark. 

According to research, their eyes are 350 times more sensitive to coloration at night compared to humans.  Thus, they can vividly see their prey and hunt. Providing UVA makes your gecko have more appetite and will make them healthier and stronger.

How does UVA stimulate mating behavior?

Gecko’s sensitivity to ultraviolet rays can also affect their sexual behaviors. By their vision, they are able to identify and determine other species as well as their prominent features and skin coloration which comprise UVA colors. 

Due to this light, they are able to see the unique features and coloration of their counterpart. This can  greatly affect their communication when it comes to mating behaviors.

How long should I expose my geckos to UVA light?

Basically, UVB lamps release UVA. Hence, 12 hours is enough exposure. This can be provided by metal halide bulbs which greatly copy the light emitted by the sunlight. Regular lamps such as colored LED do not emit UVA. This is not a good source of light for your enclosure.

Pros and Cons of Using UVB and UVA

Pros  Cons 
UV help strengthen the bones and prevent diseases such as metabolic bone disease(MBD).
UV also increases their appetite and cures lethargy. 
Too much exposure to UV resulting in eye and skin problems especially if the UV light is too close to your geckos.
Too much light also increases the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.

Frequently Asked Question

Do geckos need UVB or UVA?

Yes, geckos need both UVB and UVA for their survival. These lights from the wavelength of the light spectrum help in regulating their behaviors. The former is responsible for D3 synthesis while the latter regulates feeding and sexual behaviors.

Do leopard geckos need D3 and UVB?

Leopard geckos need UVB to process the skin cholesterol into vitamin D3. Without UVB it would be difficult for the geckos to produce such vitamins. However, if there is no UVB lighting in the enclosure, Vitamin  D3 can be taken from supplements or vitamins enriched with D3. 

Is a basking light UVB or UVA?

There are varieties of basking lights available in the market. However, these materials only emit UVB and heat. The best way is to choose a lamp which emits both UVA and UVB at the same time.

Is 7% UVB okay for leopard geckos?

In choosing UV light for your leopard geckos, it is recommended that you use light specifically designed  to emit UV. This product emits a controlled amount of UV radiation. Usually, UV bulbs can release UVB. 5-6% UVB is enough for your leopard geckos.

Final Thoughts 

Ultraviolet rays are important to your gecko’s development. It has a primary role in regulating the function of the body, boosting the immune system as well as improving their appetite and sexual capacity. It can also prevent metabolic bone diseases as well as lethargy and loss of appetite.

On the other hand, it must be bear in mind that UV must be used in regulation since it can also cause health issues when used in excess. As discussed above, too much exposure to UVB and UVA may cause skin diseases such as premature aging or even cancer. It can also result in eye damage.

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