I play games with my gecko at night. Can geckos see in the dark?
I’ll let you know what I do with him at the end of this article. What makes gecko vision so incredible?
Find out how well they see and why this is so. Scan through this article about gecko eye sight and night vision and you will be amazed.
Can Geckos See in the Dark?
Yes. Geckos have excellent night vision and can even distinguish colors compared to us humans who cannot. These unique reptiles hunt at night and need exceptional vision in the dark to trail their prey and escape harm’s way.
Geckos have incredible vision due to their eyes:
- Containing metallic hues
- Consisting of sensitive retinas.
- Packed with delicate sensors
- Able to see colors at night
Geckos can block damaging rays during the day with their vertical eye slits closing and their color vision at night makes them the best night vision creatures in the world.
How Can Geckos See Color at Night?
We are color blind in the dark. We see gray, black and white, but geckos can see much more.
Their sensitive light and color receptors with glittering flecks and intricate patterns in their retinas equip these reptiles with night vision.
How Geckos Evolved To Seeing in the Dark
The evolution occurred when geckos broke free of the diurnal sleeping patterns exemplified by most other lizards. With less light at night, these crepuscular geckos gained an advantage.
They increased their activity at night with their photoreceptor cones growing and advancing to where they can see colors in the dark.
Geckos have three photopigments to see lights that are:
With a key advantage over their predators, these agile lizards are survivors and thrive in outdoor and indoor environments.
Do Geckos Need Light at Night?
No. Even when geckos are active at night, they still need a regular mimicking patterns of daylight and darkness at regular intervals.
We don’t change the way nature works and we aim to copy it in our ecosystems with our enclosures, vivariums or tanks.
Cover your gecko’s cage if there is too much light around the room at night. Allow them to maintain their natural circadian rhythm.
What if your leopard gecko is shedding? Does this change things? See why I needed a separate article to explain it.
Do Leopard Geckos Have Better Night Vision Than Crested Geckos?
Yes. Leopard geckos have 20-25% more rods in their eyes. Their photoreceptor cells are more sensitive to light than crested geckos.
There is more research needed to figure out just how much better leopard geckos can see compared to crested geckos when they are active at night.
Leopard geckos have:
- Larger eyes
- More light sensitive cells
- More rods
These advantages give leopard geckos an evolutionary advantage to seeing in the dark.
Do Geckos See Better In The Dark?
With 350 times better night vision than humans, geckos can see better than us at night. They can still utilize the light in the daytime when they are vulnerable during their rest.
Their vertical eye slits to keep out damaging rays while they are inactive during the day. A gecko can see better with ambient light, UV light or sunlight compared to seeing in the dark.
The adaptation to seeing in the dark is a huge advantage, but forcing a gecko to live in pure darkness would hurt their overall vision as they need light during the day to maintain their circadian rhythm.
Does this help geckos hide better? See common and uncommon hiding spots here.
Do Geckos Have Thermal Vision?
No. Geckos do not have the ability to see thermal wavelengths. They would need additional proteins to add onto their receptors for the capability of recognizing thermal wavelengths.
Their vertically slit eyes however, gives them more range in the dark even if thermal wavelengths remain invisible.
Why Leopard Geckos See Colors In The Dark
Geckos can tell the difference between various colors in pitch black darkness including:
- Dark blue
These lighting conditions were tested on geckos in controlled settings and they passed with flying colors.
Compared to humans who would bump into objects and only see very close to their face, geckos have much more range and depth to see further away.
Do Geckos Have Good Eyesight?
Yes. The rods and cones we have on our eyes are fairly balanced. Rods help with scotopic vision for seeing at night. Cones aid us to see:
The cones are separated into 3 types:
- S-cones (short-wavelength sensitive cones)
- M-cones (middle-wavelength sensitive cones)
- L-cones (long-wavelength sensitive cones)
Geckos are actually deprived of cones and contain transmutated rods in their simple retinas. In the case of geckos, their retinas are simple and contain only rods. They can use their rods to see light and color better than we do.
Why Do Geckos Need To See In The Dark?
Geckos are crepuscular and need to hunt at night. This is their active period. They adapted and evolved to become more opportunistic hunters when their prey least expect it.
Since other smaller creatures cannot see as well as they can in the dark, geckos stand to gain a huge advantage in the dark.
They will capture:
- Small insects
- Small mammals
Even though their prey may have camouflage abilities, these geckos can use light receptors and color discerning to make out their shapes and hunt them down.
Can I Play with My Gecko During the Day?
You have to be attentive to your gecko during the day when they choose to rest. If you are constantly making noise and changing the lighting, you can confuse these lizards into thinking it’s time for them to wake up.
Many geckos are stressed when they are being asked to interact with their owners during the day. They could end up with health problems when they cannot follow their crepuscular lifestyle.
If you want to enjoy your gecko during the day you can place them in a location that isn’t bothered by too much light or noise. There are specific low light UV bulbs with blue or red filters to reduce the overall brightness.
Can Crested Geckos See in the Dark?
Yes. Crested geckos can see very well at night and in pitch black situations. The controlled tests prove their excellent night vision when:
- evading predators
- capturing prey
Because they are nocturnal (or crepuscular), crested geckos hunt at night and investigate their surroundings. They widen their pupils at night to see better.
It is said that their eyes are 350 times more sensitive to light than humans. The crested gecko can distinguish between blues, greens, browns and grays in the dark without much problem.
More research is needed to find out all the colors they can see.
Lighting For Geckos
- Do not place their enclosure under direct sunlight.
- Let dim light be present around them.
- Natural light is fine, low light bulbs with red or blue filters work well too.
- There is no need to darken the room.
- Indirect light works great for geckos who need clues to figure out that it’s still daytime.
They naturally hide in the shade or under a covered shelter during the day, but when they see that night has fully arrived, they will wake up and return to activity.
How Do Geckos See the World?
- Geckos see the world in many colors. They can discriminate between colors in moonlight and pitch black darkness. Humans are color blind in these situations, but geckos are not.
- Human cone vision at the color vision threshold is 350 lower than geckos. Even at low light intensities, geckos utilize their large cones for higher resolution and color discernment.
- Their multifocal optical system and intraspecific variation is large. Geckos have super sensitive photoreceptors.
When my gecko sees me at night, he runs to the front of the glass and knows that food is on the way. I try to hide, tip-toe or quietly creep up on him to catch him off guard. It never works.
He’s always first to the glass and ready for his meal. Night vision, sensitivity to sounds and movements make these creatures exceptional and awesome to care for.
Thank you for visiting PocketPetCentral.com for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.