Lighting is essential to the health of your exotic animal. It is one of the most important factors to your exotic animal’s setup and almost always the biggest failure of most reptile keepers that we see at our rescue. All uvb lighting was not created equally and some brands are very harmful to your reptiles. It’s imperative you understand that. Placement is equally important as well. There are several links provided below with lots of lighting information. Please read all of the links.
Some key points on lighting:
-Do not use compact fluorescent uvb lighting as they have inherently flawed technology for this type of use as they produce a very small area of exposure directly below the bulb and quickly taper off outside that little area. They also typically have a poor output, especially of UVA and UVB. That is why the long, tube style fluorescents are often recommended since they give a good broad area of exposure. The tube style fluorescent bulbs also give a much higher output of UVB than the compacts do. You will find a link below regarding the dangers of compact fluorescent lighting.
-Always place your uvb light on the side of the enclosure where your basking bulb is located.
-Do not purchase many of the brands of tube lighting that you will commonly find in your local pet store. They are very harmful to your reptiles regardless of what the staff may tell you. Arcadia and Reptisun 10.0 tube style bulbs are the best brands and styles of bulbs you can purchase. You can purchase mercury vapor bulbs as well but they should be used only for specific species. It’s important to understand which species to use what bulbs for.
-The uvb will dissipate over time and the bulb will need to be replaced. Follow the directions pertaining to when to replace those bulbs and you can get a solar meter to determine your bulbs output and when it’s time for replacing as well. You can find solar meters at www.lightyourreptiles.com
-UVB cannot pass through glass or plexi and a screen will block out 30-50% of the UVB rays.
-Full spectrum lighting, aquarium lighting and plant lighting is not UVB lighting.
-As far as heating, yes reptiles do need heat but most importantly they need a temperature gradient in their enclosures. They need to be able to cool off as well as warm themselves up. Do not center heat sources and do not make your enclosure a hot box. Too much heat is equally as dangerous as no heat. Follow the guidelines for each specific species as to what their cool side temperatures, warm side temperatures and basking spots should be. They are from different areas of the world and have different temperature requirements.
Great information on lighting and how all the different types of lights work. PLEASE READ THIS!!! http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Reptile-Health/Habitats-Care/Reptile-Lighting-Information/
Here's a video that will explain the differences between compact fluorescent (do not use compact fluorescent!), tube lighting, and mercury vapor bulbs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AUu24MNO2Ho#!
Great information on the affects and dangers of compact fluorescent uvb bulbs and certain tube style bulbs (Desert Series). http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor.htm
Information on colored heat bulbs and whether or not they are seen by your reptile. http://reptileapartment.com/colored-lights-reptiles-myths-the-pet-store-told-me/
Some information on the T8 Reptisun 10.0 bulbs. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B83Jvd2GQWR4aGVpZDRRczFqSjQ/edit
This link will take you directly to Arcadia’s lighting guide. It will give you visuals of how to setup basking lights and uvb light, which ones to use and the importance of a photo gradient. You can also click on the tabs for each group of reptiles, find your specific species and get detailed information on which lights you need. You can apply that information to any brand lighting but make sure you stick with the top notch brands like Arcadia, Reptisun and Megaray etc.
A great video by Arcadia on the importance of good quality uvb lighting and why it's essential for the health of your critters! https://vimeo.com/132929989
A great article on the D3 Cycle. http://www.arcadia-reptile.com/the-d3-cycle/
US based business where you can purchase Arcadia products. They offer some of the best lighting available for our exotic animals. www.lightyourreptiles.com
Here is a very lengthy scientific article mapping out uvb lighting and their advice on which bulb to use for which reptile. Get yourself a beverage and snack though as it’s a bit overwhelming and long. I’m a fan of providing high output uvb for exotic animals and offering shady areas for them to retreat to rather than using weaker output bulbs for the animals that don’t necessarily bask mid day as this article suggests. The artificial lighting that we have to provide uvb for our reptiles doesn’t hold a candle to the sun. http://www.jzar.org/jzar/article/view/150/89