Reptile UV & Basking Lighting
If you are trying to find the right lighting for your pet reptile, you may want to continue reading. There are various types of reptile lighting products on the market. You have basking lights, compact UV lamps, the fittings, UV lighting, and UV light fittings. There are also halogen bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, and mercury vapour lighting options. Since reptiles live in different habitats you have to find the correct lighting for the reptile you have. The best thing to do is check the care sheet on your pet reptile. It will tell you whether a Glo 5.0 or Glo 10.0 would be better, as an example.
Let’s take a look at what the different lighting options will do for you. UV lighting is essential for your reptile if they will be kept in a curtained or darkened room. Your reptile is naturally in the sun at least part of the day. Without proper lighting your reptile can lose its colour and the skeleton will be affected. UV lighting helps with the formation of Vitamin D3. Without this vitamin calcium cannot be created in the reptile’s body. UV lighting is essential for tortoises, turtles and lizards. For these animals you should have at least 5% UVB, and up to 10% is highly recommended. Snakes, amphibians, and geckos have different requirements for UV. They can subsist on 2 percent UV.
Already you can see that there are differences which require you to be careful in the lighting products you purchase. Too much UV lighting can also harm your reptile. If you intend on leaving the UV lighting on all day you may want to go for a lower powered lamp if you have snakes, geckos, or amphibians. You also have the option of lighting controllers which can turn the light off during the day to avoid over lighting issues.
Basking lamps are for an entirely different purpose. Basking lamps provide a spotlight on a specific area. As the name suggests they are for the reptile to bask under. Reptiles require heat to speed up their metabolism. Desert reptiles are particularly used to having basking areas such as heated rocks. You have two options when it comes to reptile basking. You can purchase heat rocks that appear like the reptile’s natural habitat. Your second option is the basking lamp. The basking lamp has an output of 60W to 150W. These lamps are round and give a beam distance of 35% for heat and light. The lights are also UV from most manufacturers, though you can purchase halogen lights if you decide you want something a little less powerful. The rounded lamps require a different fitting than your other UV lamps as discussed above.
Basking lamps are also very helpful in stimulating natural behaviour such as breeding due to the UVA rays it supplies. Basking lamps should be combined with other lighting options like the Night Glo or Heat Glo to simulate a 24 hour cycle as the reptile would have in their natural habit. See part two of reptile lighting for more information.
UV and basking lamps are just two types of vivarium lighting setup's that you can have for your pet reptile. There is also fluorescent and mercury vapour style vivarium lighting. Each of the reptile lighting options is set up for a specific category of reptile. Some lights are best for snakes, while others work well for lizards.
Before we get to the fluorescent or mercury vapour lighting, we should discuss halogen for a little while. Halogen lamps come in a range of wattage from 35W up to 150W. Halogen bulbs offer incandescent light and the life span of the bulb tends to be longer than your typical light bulb. This type of light will have a higher temperature and a whiter light. It works great for a day bulb if you want to help enhance your pet reptile’s colour. You would want to have a night Glo light with it though to help regulate the inside of the terrarium.
Mercury vapour lamps are shaped like the basking lamps and halogen bulbs in that they are round. There is, however, a difference in how the mercury lamp works. Mercury vapour lamps will run from 125 watts to 160 watts, which is about 10 watts higher than your average basking lamp or halogen bulb. These lights do have the UVB and UVA light emissions to offer the right nutrients to your pet. Reptile lighting with mercury also allows your reptile’s digestion, activity, and skin colour. Mercury lighting is more like natural sunlight than your other lighting options. The light does have to be within 30CM of the reptile though. Lower wattages in the mercury vapour are impossible to find because they are unstable. This also means there are specific reptiles that can use the mercury vapour and that you should avoid putting this style lamp inside a snake terrarium or with similar reptiles.
Under the fluorescent category of reptile vivarium lighting you have numerous options. Fluorescent lights are used as daylights in most terrariums. They offer natural sunlight at a varying amount of wattage like 15 to 40 watts. Most fluorescent lights will come in strip lights. This means they will cover the entire length of the cage. Since these lights do not offer a high wattage they will also not have high heat. They are meant as a source of light over a basking style option.
They are great as tools to provide “sunlight” to your pet reptile, but should not be used for any other means such as heating. Fluorescent lights can also come in other styles such as having a reflector lighting panel instead of plain black. The reflector style reptile light panel allows it to seem like there is more light because the light reflects off the surface. If you want the cage to seem brighter this is one way to go. You can also go with the regular guard style light holder or canopy.
When you choose the reptile vivarium lighting of your choice consider having a day and night controller to help you regulate normal cycles for your pet.