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Reptile Lighting

Reptile lighting that is appropriate for the species of your pet is critical. In order to thrive, your reptile needs not only the right kind of light, but the right kind of light for the right periods of time each day. Appropriate reptile lighting will ensure your pet gets what he needs.

Many reptiles are from desert or tropical environments. In captivity, they need heat and lighting that simulate these conditions. This requires full-spectrum reptile lighting, to best emulate the natural sunlight of their native regions. Full-spectrum lights provide both UVA and UVB rays of ultraviolet light. But since their natural habitats do not include 24 hours a day of light, reptile lighting must also take into account normal daily patterns of light and darkness.

Some reptiles have lower needs for specific reptile lighting than others. Many species are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and are active at night. Because these animals are not exposed to sunlight in their natural habitats, special reptile lighting that simulates sunlight is unnecessary. Simply providing light that separates “day” from “night” will suffice. Automatic timers attached to your reptile lighting can be used to assist in maintaining these cycles.

UVB rays are important for helping animals build bone. The process of building bones depends on calcium, which normally requires vitamin D, which is provided by UVB rays. Some reptiles, such as snakes, eat whole prey. Since they are ingesting calcium in their meals, they are not as dependent on UVB rays for calcium assimilation. Most other reptiles, however, require reptile lighting that exposes them to UVB rays to build healthy skeletal systems (and, in the case of turtles and tortoises, strong shells).

UVA rays help reptiles see their world much more clearly. UVA light enhances colors, helping your reptile better identify prey and making his food look more appealing. UVA light also makes it easier for your reptile to track movement in his environment, including that of mates or predators. Without this, your reptile has a hard time interacting with his environment, which can be very stressful. Reptile lighting that provides UVA rays helps your reptile assimilate in his environment.

Be sure to use the type of reptile lighting that is recommended for your particular breed. Install the reptile lighting properly, placing it close to your reptile’s enclosure. Ideally, the light source should be no more than 12-18” from your reptile’s tank or cage. You do not, however, want it so close that the animal could accidentally come into contact with the bulb or fixture, since this could result in burns.


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