Crested geckos are crepuscular and nocturnal animals. They are awake during twilight periods and at night. But do they need a light at night to be able to see their environment?
Crested geckos don’t need light at night. Crested geckos are nocturnal animals and can see in the dark. Although light is not necessary, you can use a nightlight or provide dim light in the room. It will mimic the moonlight in a natural habitat and allows a better view of your crested gecko.
In their natural habitat, crested geckos are active when there is little light. But most of their environment will still be light by moonlight. So for their well-being, it’s important to mimic the natural environment as close as possible.
There are several things you can do to provide your crested gecko with dim light at night. When searching for online information, you can find black, blue, and red lights that can be used at night. Some lights emit heat while others don’t. So which one, if any, do you use?
In this article, you’ll learn why crested geckos need little to no light to be able to navigate their terrarium. You’ll also learn what kind of lights you can use at night.
Crested Gecko Don’t Need Light at Night
Night lighting in the wild
As you can see in the table below, New Caledonia has an average length of daylight between 10 and 14 hours, depending on the season.
Crested geckos are crepuscular animals exposed to natural sunlight during a brief period of the day in the wild. Most of the day, crested geckos will hide and sleep. They will explore their environment and look for food and water under the moon and the stars’ light at night.
Night lighting in captivity
In captivity, crested geckos will also need a natural day and night light cycle to know when they go to sleep and when to wake up. Their circadian rhythm depends on having such a natural light cycle.
During the day, the terrarium should receive indirect light through windows (preferably) or light from suitable daylight lamps. If you also need to heat the terrarium, you can use lamps that provide both heat and light.
At night, only a dim light should illuminate the terrarium. The light should mimic the moonlight and starlight. This kind of light is a lot less bright than sunlight. It allows a crested gecko to explore their terrarium under the cover of darkness.
My recommendation would be to use a hallway light or indirect light from the window to illuminate the terrarium at night. You can also use a nightlight in the room (for example, in a corner) to create a dim light in the room.
Nightlights for Crested Geckos
Although no special light is necessary for crested geckos at night, several types of nightlights are available for reptiles. What types are there, and what are the uses of nightlights? Which nightlights are suitable for crested geckos?
Uses of nightlights
Nightlights can serve three purposes:
- heating the terrarium
- viewing lights for you
- viewing lights for crested gecko
Most crested gecko owners won’t need additional heating during the day or at night. For them, the only use for a nightlight would be to view their crested gecko and to allow the crested gecko to see its environment.
However, crested geckos have perfect night vision and can see very well even in environments we consider to be too dark to see anything. If you can create a dim light in the room, your crested gecko won’t need a nightlight to see.
This leaves us with the most common reason why nightlights are bought for crested geckos: for us to see them better. We can’t see a crested gecko in a dark environment, but nightlights allow us to see them (at least a little bit).
Types of nightlights
It’s important not to use daylight lamps at night. Such lamps emit UVB and are bright, making your crested gecko feel like it’s day and not night. When you’re thinking about getting a nightlight, you can choose between:
- led lighting
- infrared lighting
- halogen lighting
Infrared and halogen lighting are used to heat the terrarium while also providing little light so you can see your crested gecko. When you don’t have any problems with heating the terrarium, you shouldn’t use infrared or halogen lighting.
Colors of nightlights
If you’re looking for nightlights, you’ve got three colors to choose from for reptiles:
- red nightlights
- blue nightlights
- purple or black (moonglow) nightlights
There is a lot of discussion in the crested gecko (and reptile) community on which lights are suitable as nightlights for crested geckos. Most would recommend not using any light as the most popular kind of light (red and blue) could potentially be seen by your crested gecko and cause it to be less active.
It should also be noted that some owners report that their crested gecko is still active with red nightlights on, while others say that their crested gecko stays hidden with red nightlights. Blue nightlights can also be seen but pose fewer problems, as do purple or black (moonglow) nightlights.
Recommended nightlights for crested geckos
If there is natural light in the room where your crested gecko is housed, you don’t need any nightlights. Another alternative to using nightlights is providing a dim light. You can do this by leaving a nightlight on in the corner of the room or leaving a hallway light on that shines dim light into the room.
Your crested gecko is used to living while it’s dark. Maybe you don’t even notice that your crested gecko is active because it comes out only when it’s nearly pitch dark. You can check this by using a night vision camera like the Wyze cam. This camera is also very useful to determine if your crested gecko is eating.
If you notice that it really is too dark and you want to provide some light at night, my recommended nightlight would be the Exo Terra Full Moon. I wouldn’t put it directly on top of the terrarium but further away (mounting on a wall).
Another common nightlight is the Exo Terra Day & Night Led (Small) or Exo Terra Day & Night Led (Large), depending on the size of the terrarium. I didn’t have any success with it, but some crested gecko owners show that their crested gecko is fine with these lights. And even if you don’t use it at night, it can provide light during the day.
Can crested geckos see red lights?
Crested geckos don’t have the photoreceptors to perceive red. Instead, they have cones to see UV, blue, and green wavelengths. However, it’s possible that red bulbs also emit other wavelengths (such as blue or green), which can be seen by crested geckos.
Can crested geckos see blue lights?
Crested geckos have photoreceptors to perceive blue. They should be able to see blue (night) light but don’t seem to be bothered by it as much. It’s possible that the light resembles the natural moonlight.
Want to Learn More?
If you want to learn more about crested geckos as pets, please read the following articles.
Roth, Lina S V & Kelber, Almut. (2005). Nocturnal colour vision in geckos. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society. 271 Suppl 6. S485-7. 10.1098/rsbl.2004.0227.