Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Lighting and heating are important for all living creatures, both physically and psychologically. The daily routine for reptiles is at least partially dictated by the sun. Sunlight not only helps them feel warm and happy, but it also provides the necessary vitamins. This holds true for your favourite reptiles. A bearded dragon, for example, does not have a clock in the terrarium to keep it on schedule, they rely on lighting to help stay on track. Light and heat dictate the circadian rhythm (cycles that follow your internal body clock), which helps your pet know when to eat and when to sleep. Without a proper circadian rhythm, your pet will experience increased stress and their body will respond negatively. Possibly leading to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) were animals pull calcium from their bones and replace it with fibrous tissue, this leads to growth deformities and restricted movement and feeding.
The UV lighting spectrum is broken into 3 spectrums UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC in large enough doses is harmful to most animals. So we will concentrate on UVA and UVB.
UVA – Helps regulate an animal’s behaviours such as feeding, diurnal (daytime) movement and mating.
UVB – Allows the synthesis of vitamin D3 which aids in the absorption of calcium.
UVC - This is NOT required for reptiles, but it can help kill bacteria. It's important to note that at high levels of exposure this light can be harmful to most animals.
UV can be filtered out by glass, plastic, and other materials. So to get the best effects of the UV is to have it in the vivarium so the animal has direct exposure. UV output also diminishes over time. So we would recommend changing your fluorescent bulbs every 1800 hours or 6 months.
10% UVB – Is known as a desert UVB bulb, they are best for Bearded Dragons, Agamids, Uromastyx and certain Skink species. These bulbs provide a strong amount of UVB and some may also provide UVA.
5% UVB - Rainforest UVB as sometimes known, this is perfect for rainforest reptiles or any species not needing the desert UVB level. Such as Water Dragons, Anoles, Day Geckos and Green Iguanas.
2% UVB - Or natural daylight as it is often known. These are great for any animals without a specific UVB need. For instance Royal Pythons, they live their lives in hides and out of sight mainly, but still will soak up some UVB as it bounces off the environment they live in. When using this type of bulb especially with animals that are mostly out of direct light, ensure enough hiding spots should they want to move out of the light.
A lot of the UVB bulbs will also come in different lengths and wattage. Be sure to ask which is best for your animal as too much UV can be as bad as not enough!
Well, we hope that helped navigate that minefield! Any questions please feel free to ask.