Reptile lighting is one of the most crucial elements in your successful setup of a reptile habitat. While the lighting is going to help you see your pet, it is not the primary function.
The core function of reptile lighting is to provide heat for your reptiles. Being cold blooded creatures they cannot produce or regulate their own body heat. It is all done by carefully balancing the amount of light they absorb to heat their bodies properly.
The reptile lighting systems must carefully balance providing enough light for heating their bodies, but not too much heat where you dry out the environment leaving your reptiles dehydrated.
The most common fixture used in reptile lighting systems is the round clamp light. A commonly used size is the 5.5” clamp light. A clamp light is great since it can easily be mounted on the tank, or other structure within the reptile aquarium.
Your reptile lighting system does not use standard incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. You will be using specialty lights to provide the proper light spectrum and balanced heating. There are several types of common lights used for reptiles, let us take a look at each one.
The first is the basking spotlight. This is a general purpose spotlight which provides a full white spectrum of light and plentiful heat for your reptiles. The bright light is intended to mimic the light of the sun providing not only physical benefits, but to help your reptiles feel they are in a natural environment with bright daylight.
The second essential light is for the night. At night your reptiles still need heat, but they need darkness, too. The nocturnal light fits in a the same style of round clamp light fixture but is an infrared heat lamp. With the lower spectrum of light you still provide the reptile with adequate heat, but give the feeling of the evening and nighttime hours to allow proper rest for your reptile.
While the round clamp lights are the most commonly used fixtures, you can buy fluorescent fixtures which work great, also. These use specialty bulbs which provide the same benefits as the spotlight and infrared bulbs but provide a wider area coverage in a large reptile aquarium.
While these few fixtures cover your most basic needs you will quickly discover there are many other types of reptile lights which you may wish to have. One of these specialty bulbs is the night glow. It simulates the lighting of the moon and is often considered essential in breeding efforts. Many reptiles base their mating times off of changes in temperature, humidity, and lighting. By using the proper types of lighting systems to mimic the moonlight can help aid in starting the cycle.
As you can quickly see, reptile lighting takes a little thought and planning. Once you get the right balance of lights and heat you are set for many months. The bulbs are long lasting, but need to be regularly monitored, since they do lose efficiency over time. Provide your reptiles with the proper lighting and you are well on your way to having healthy pets.