Why Is Lighting So Important For Your Reptile?
Knowing why lighting is so important for reptiles is crucial in keeping them as a pet. Sunlight is important for all creatures both physically and physiologically.
Being in the sun can make you feel warm and happy and also provide necessary vitamins for good health. Sunlight can also help to determine schedules and daily routines. Reptiles don’t know how to read the time, so they rely on lighting to tell them when meal time is, and when it’s time to sleep. Without it, they would stress and have a negative affect on their health.
What type of lighting is important?
Reptiles & amphibians need both UVB and UVA light to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These are both types of UV (ultraviolet) light.
UVA: often correlated with activity of reptiles – helps regulate behaviours such as feeding, mating and similar activities.
UVB: allows the synthesis of vitamin D3. UVB is extremely important in calcium metabolism and bone development / maintenance
Different reptiles have different UV needs. Amphibians, pythons and geckos for example are shade dwellers. So in captivity fluorescent tubes (which mimic outdoor shade) would be a suitable supply of UV.
Blue Tongued Lizards and Bearded Dragons on the other hand are more likely to bask in the open sun, therefore are require UV lights in captivity to mimic the conditions in the wild. Both species have different UVB requirements so setting the right UVB% is important.
UV doesn’t travel through glass, and UV radiation reduces rapidly as distance from the source increases. So it is important to ensure reptiles are exposed to adequate UV in their basking spot. UV meters are available to determine levels.
Over time UV output will diminish, even if visible light is still being emitted from the bulb. Therefore we recommend replacement of UV globes every 6-12 months (depending on brand) to ensure adequate levels of UV are still being produced.
Despite artificial lighting being very effective, it is still important to give your reptile the opportunity to spend time in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour every week.
Overexposure to UV can be harmful so it is important to monitor the amount your reptile receives. Ensure that visible lights are housed overhead like the sun - to stop damage to the eyes.
Choosing the right Lighting / Heat fixture
There are bulbs that provide different purposes; bulbs that provide heat, bulbs that provide light and bulbs that provide both.
UVB Bulbs are ideal for pets that require higher amounts of UVB (such as bearded dragons & turtles). However all reptiles and amphibians benefit from UVB and it should be provided. Ensure UVB bulbs are used during the day and turned off at night to replicate conditions in the wild (daytime / night-time).
There should still be a nightime heat source to keep your pet comfortable while they rest. Ideal bulbs for nightime use are black or red bulbs OR a ceramic heat emitter.
Every reptile has their own specific needs so it is important to do your research. The experienced team in our Reptile Department are always happy to answer an questions you may have. Please call us or hit the button at the bottom of the page.
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