What Kind of Light Do Pet Reptiles Need?

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Reptiles are ectotherms, meaning that they need an external source of heat to regulate their body temperature. Many reptiles also need an external source of lighting to assist in their overall health and basic bodily functions. It’s also important to understand just what these forms of light are for, how to properly/safely use them, and how they can impact your reptile’s health and behaviors.

UVA/UVB Lighting

Reptiles are incapable of metabolizing certain nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium on their own. Much like humans, they need a certain level of exposure to lighting on the ultraviolet spectrum (UV). To assist in acquiring these, many reptiles need to spend hours basking in the sun. In captivity, keepers will utilize specialty reptile lights to ensure their pets get what they need. These lights will typically emit UVB light in the range of 290-320 nanometers (nm) and UVA 320 – 400nm.

To ensure that your reptile has proper access and level of exposure to their UVA/UVB lights, be sure to hang your lamp over an area that isn’t obstructed by any other materials in the cage. This will create a “basking area” for your pet. To prevent your reptile from overheating or unnecessary expenditure of electricity, you will want to keep a reptile thermometer in its enclosure and turn your lamp off at night.

UVA VS UVB

UVA lighting is more useful for regulating your reptile’s metabolism and energy levels. This is also important in stimulating mating behaviors and healthy procreation.

UVB lighting, on the other hand, is necessary for the absorption of the aforementioned nutrients. This is necessary for a well-developed immune system and maintaining your pet’s overall health. Without proper exposure to both of these forms of light, your reptile can develop severe, life-threatening illness and chronic health issues.

Can You Use Regular Lights for Reptiles?

No, you can and should never use regular light bulbs for reptiles. Even if they seem to fit your enclosure properly or have the proper wattage. These lights do not provide the appropriate level of UV exposure and are not properly fitted for terrariums. These bulbs are not only useless in giving your reptile what it needs but can be a fire hazard. This is due to the fact that they simply can’t be properly set up on a reptile terrarium.

Final Thoughts

While not every reptile needs specialty lighting to survive, they can all benefit from it. Regardless of which reptile you acquire, proper lighting is going to be an incredibly important part of its husbandry. Fortnightly, reptile lights are accessible and easy to acquire. They are often sold along with various reptile kits. You won’t have to play guess work as to if a particular bulb is safe for your setup and can be secure in knowing your pet is getting what it needs out of its basking sessions. To help setup go smoothly, we would recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions and calling their support line if it’s giving you trouble.

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