Different Lighting Types For Reptiles


Lighting in reptile tanks can serve three different purposes.

Firstly the obvious need for the reptile to see and also be seen. Secondly, lighting such as spot bulbs are used as a heat source giving the animal a basking area. The last use is for reptiles that require ultraviolet light to survive. This is essential for some, but not all species.

As a necessary word of warning, most of the equipment below is not only electrical it also generates substantial heat, combined with its proximity to water great care must be taken. If in doubt consult your local supplier or a qualified electrician.

Spot Light

Spot Light

The spot light has been used successfully for many years as a means of creating a basking area.

Make sure that the wattage of the bulb is suitable, too low and you will not be providing enough heat and too high you risk overheating the tank.

In the enclosed area spot lights produce considerable heat and they will often damage the light fitting which may have to be replaced periodically. Also, you should make sure that you have spare bulbs at hand as they will eventually blow.

It is also essential that the light is placed the right distance above the basking area, if it is too low you run the very real risk of the animal suffering from burns.

Light Guard

Light Cage

It is a very good idea to enclose your light with a guard. This will stop your animal touching or resting on the bulb and suffering burns.

Care however should be taken that the cage itself does not get too hot, as some reptiles snakes in particular may well decide to take up residence on them!

Ultraviolet Strip Light

Ultraviolet Strip Light

The most common way to provide the ultraviolet light that is essential from some reptiles is by using a strip light.

These should be securely attached to avoid the potential disaster of the light and its fittings falling down potentially into the water bowl.

The light's ultraviolet output decreases overtime and they should be replaced at regular intervals. It is a good idea to keep a note of when the light was fitted and when it should next be replaced.

Strip Light Starter Unit

Strip Light Starter Unit

If your vivarium is going to house an ultraviolet strip light you will need to buy a starter unit, otherwise it quite simply not work.

These reside outside of the vivarium, and it is a good idea to make sure they are mounted securely as they are moderately heavy and could potentially do some damage or be damaged if they fell.

Ultraviolet Bulb

Ultraviolet Bulb

Another way to provide your reptile with ultraviolet light is via an ultraviolet bulb. These also give out heat so are a replacement for both the spot light and the strip light.

These bulbs are a comparatively new addition to the hobby and have been generally well received. They are expensive, but their projected lifespan is longer than that of a strip light, they also do not require a starter unit.

If you decide to use an ultraviolet bulb make sure that it is just that, bulbs that are labeled as full-spectrum do not in fact give off ultraviolet light.



To increase the light and the heat directed towards the basking spot, you can use a reflector.

One of the most common types of reflectors available also includes a guard, which is an ideal solution if you need to incorporate both.

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