Learning About Rodent Pets

Factors That Affect Which Light Your Terrarium Will Need

by Neil Turner

Some requirements for reptile lighting are fairly universal. For instance, reptiles generally need UVA light to see by and UVB light to help them produce vitamin D3. But some need more UVB than others, and some may require higher temperatures than others as well. Here are a few factors that can affect the reptile lighting you'll need in your terrarium. 

1. How many reptiles you have

Keeping multiple reptiles of different species in one habitat may not be the norm, but some people do it (although it's not recommended for beginners). If you have multiple species in your terrarium either now or in the future, you'll need to be extra careful to provide the right lighting for each species. This could mean you need multiple lights, or a terrarium that's partially shaded with dense foliage so your pets can choose their level of lighting.

2. Where your reptiles come from

A reptile whose ancestors are from a hot, bright, desert climate (such as chuckwallas and bearded dragons) may require a stronger light with higher UVB production. On the other end of the spectrum, reptiles whose ancestors preferred to live in trees (such as crested geckos) may have lower UVB needs. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, though, so be sure to check the UVB needs of your reptile before choosing a bulb.

3. How big the terrarium is

You don't want to create a terrarium environment that's mostly cold, dark habitat with a tiny spot of heat, or conversely a habitat with a bulb so strong that the entire enclosure is hot all the time. So you'll have to size your lighting fixture and bulb (or bulbs) according to the habitat size in order to create a good balance. 

4. Whether your reptiles are diurnal, nocturnal, or crepuscular

Even if they live in a desert region, some reptiles have behavior patterns that prevent them from receiving much sunlight throughout the day. For instance, crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn) species such as leopard geckoes won't receive much exposure to sun since they hide away during the hot hours in their desert habitat. So these types of reptiles don't have high UVB needs like other desert species. 

5. How much supplemental heat you have

Some light bulbs provide both UV light and heat. If you have an independent heat source in the terrarium (such as a ceramic heater), you may be able to choose a reptile light that only produces UV light rather than one that functions as a heat lamp as well.

These are just some of the factors that can affect which lights you'll need to choose for your reptile terrarium. With the correct lighting setup, you can create the ideal environment for your new reptile pet.

To learn more, contact an experienced reptile lighting expert.