|Click image to enlarge|
A UV-transmitting skylight helps light the Komodo dragon enclosure at ZSL London Zoo in the U.K.
Lamp Position - All light sources should be above a reptile’s head — not to the side.
Does this look safe to you? The temperature of the substrate under this basking lamp might be perfect, but the tortoise’s carapace is nearly 10 inches closer than this to the lamp. Take into account your reptile’s height when checking temperatures.
In every ecological niche, different species have evolved behaviors and bodily characteristics enabling them to use full-spectrum light from the sun in the most efficient way.
Many reptiles benefit from outdoor enclosures whenever ambient temperatures are suitable. Whether or not they require direct sunlight depends upon the species, but all species require access to full shade and shelter.
Sometimes aspects of outdoor lighting can be brought indoors. Room-sized enclosures can be equipped with skylights and windows glazed with special UV-transmitting acrylic or glass. Trade names for such UV-transmitting products include Perspex, Plexiglas and Lucite (acrylics), and Starphire (low-iron glass), all of which must be special ordered. Even then, supplementary UVB may be required. Heat built up by direct sunlight through glass must never be ignored, either.
Unfortunately, comparatively few reptiles in captivity experience truly natural lighting. Most are housed indoors and behind glass, and they rely upon artificial light to make their day. Adequate light in captivity is best provided by emulating the reptile’s natural environment, including a temperature gradient as found in the species’ microhabitat. These provisions allow the reptile to decide how much heat, visible light and UV radiation it experiences each day.
Artificial Sunlight Options
Most lizards and chelonians, and many snakes, need high levels of full-spectrum lighting, which must include UVB and UVA. Herpkeepers must aim to to use the lamps available to provide pets with their specific lighting needs.
Incandescents (A), “daylight” fluorescents (B), UVB fluorescent tubes (C), mercury vapor lamps (D) and UVB metal halide lamps (E) are among the bulbs used in reptile husbandry.