Advances in Reptile Lighting

A resource for all reptile keepers

what's all this about?
find out about UV light
the vitamin D story..
the meters we are using in our tests
all about sunlight
the UV requirements of different species
UV transmission tests
UV lighting for reptiles
Introduction to the 2005 Lighting Survey
fluorescent tubes on test
compact fluorescents on test
mercury vapours on test
merc vapours for large enclosures
more info soon..
further reading
related websites
meet the team



An Introduction to our Project



Why is Ultraviolet Light Important?
All living things evolved on a sunlit world and the benefits of sunlight include heat (infra-red radiation), visible light and ultraviolet (UV) light. To find out about this, visit our page:
What is UV light?

Most reptile keepers choose to supply ultraviolet light to all diurnal lizards that are known to bask in sunlight in the wild. It was discovered many years ago that UV light enables reptiles, like many other creatures, to synthesise vitamin D in their skin. This is very important for their health, in particular, for the metabolism of calcium.

There is much more to ultraviolet light than this, however. To find out more, have a look at our feature:
Sunlight and Vitamin D.

Over the last decade, increasingly sophisticated light sources have become available to the hobbyist needing to supply captive reptiles with a source of UVB indoors. Today, in the UK there are numerous brands of fluorescent tubes and compact lamps available in a range of shapes and sizes, mercury vapour bulbs, and even UVB-transmitting metal halides designed to produce even higher levels of UVB.

The Problem
The biggest problem hobbyists face when using these lights is that there is no easy way for us to know how much UVB radiation a device is emitting, or how this compares with the amount of ultraviolet light needed by the species of reptile we are keeping. For many years, we have simply had to trust the manufacturers' claims and recommendations regarding the output of their product, its suitable placement within the vivarium, and the average useful lifespan of the lamp or tube. As a result, all sorts of folklore has arisen as to which products are better than others, how long tubes really last, and how close reptiles need to be to each type of lamp.

The Solution
This is all set to change with the availability of simple hand-held UVB radiometers which can be used to measure the output of the UVB lights in our own vivaria. Several years ago, we were able to obtain the first of these meters from the United States, and we are currently using these, as well as newer models, and more recently, a spectrometer to study the UVB output of a wide range of reptile lighting products. We are also working with a group of meter owners worldwide, collecting data on natural solar UVB levels in different parts of the world throughout the year, to investigate the ultraviolet light to which wild reptiles are exposed in their native habitat. Details of our meters are found in our section:
Using the UVB Meter.

Our Project
The first part of our study looks at UV light in nature. We report on our own recordings, and those of the internet group UVB_Meter_Owners with whom we are working.

Next, we consider the current research on what UV light reptiles need in captivity.

We summarise the types of lighting available to reptile keepers in a simple chart:
UV in the vivarium.

Survey of Ultraviolet Lighting for Reptiles
A major part of our website is devoted to the results of our survey, begun in 2004 and still under way.

We have now tested samples of all major brands and models of UV-emitting lamps sold for reptiles in the United Kingdom. We have taken measurements from brand new lamps on our own simple test rigs, and also from lamps of all ages in working vivaria. We are monitoring the output of a range of lamps on long-term testing programmes. We are continuing to test new products as they come on the scene, and intend to update our reports regularly.

The results are grouped according to the type of lighting; there is an introduction to the Survey and then individual sections for fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps and mercury vapour lamps. New sections will be added for additional lamps tested as the project progresses.

In each section we have also considered, where appropriate, the effects upon UV output which are caused by using the lamps behing wire mesh and wire guards, or with reflectors, and other fixtures and fittings.



Your contributions and observations are welcomed!
We welcome input from you, the reptile keeper. Please consider joining the UVB_Meter_Owners group where your observations and your questions may be posted freely.

Alternatively, contact us - although due to our many other commitments (we don't do this for a living!) we may not be able to give you an immediate reply.


 © 2009 UVGuide.co.uk