Best reptile and amphibian habitat lighting

Fish & Reptile Supplies

Reptiles and amphibians require exposure to special light spectrums to stay healthy.

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Which reptile and amphibian habitat lighting is best?

Reptiles and amphibians are cold-blooded animals that regulate their body temperature by moving in and out of hot or cool environments as needed. They do this most frequently by basking in the sun. Aside from warmth, natural sunlight also provides these animals with the ultraviolet rays they need to maintain their health.

Because pet reptiles and amphibians live indoors, it’s up to their owners to provide them with the special lighting they need to survive. The Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb – 100 Watts (120V) allows you to easily and efficiently expose your pet to ultraviolet light while providing a heat source for basking.

What to know before you buy reptile and amphibian habitat lighting

There is a wide range of reptile and amphibian habitat lighting designed specifically for use with reptiles and amphibians.

Why do reptiles and amphibians need special lighting?

Reptiles and amphibians require the ultraviolet UVB rays the sun provides to manufacture vitamin D and properly absorb calcium. Animals that are deprived of this light spectrum develop metabolic bone disease. This illness is often fatal and can be prevented by installing the necessary lighting in your pet’s habitat.

UVB bulb types

Tube bulbs are in the familiar cylindrical shape of a common fluorescent light. They are good for lighting large enclosures, but you need to replace them every six months as they grow dim and produce less of the rays your pet needs. They do not produce any heat.

Mercury vapor bulbs are efficient, producing UV rays as well as heat. However, special consideration is needed with these bulbs. If you place a mercury vapor bulb too close to your pet, its rays can be too intense and lead to cellular damage. Install these bulbs no closer than 12 inches from your pet. They are considerably more expensive than other bulb types.

Coil bulbs are compact and inexpensive. They don’t produce any heat and are safe to touch. For animals that naturally live in extremely sunny habitats, however, just one of these bulbs may not provide an adequate amount of UVB radiation.

Your pet’s requirements

Carefully research and consider your species of reptile or amphibian to ensure you provide it with the right amount of UVB light. Nocturnal animals, for example, rarely experience prolonged sun exposure in the wild. This means their UVB requirements are significantly less than a desert lizard that spends its days basking in direct sunlight.

Light placement

Place the light on the top of the enclosure as opposed to the side. UVB rays can be filtered by glass and it’s important your pet experiences direct exposure to the bulb’s output. Keep the light out of your pet’s reach to ensure it will not be burned by any direct contact, and install the light at the appropriate distance from your animal’s basking area.

What to look for in quality reptile and amphibian habitat lighting

UVB output

Select a bulb that produces the UVB output your pet requires. Research your pet’s needs and pay close attention to the manufacturer’s description on any light you are considering.

Heat output

A bulb that produces heat as well as UVB rays help provide for your pet in an efficient manner. Be sure you have a fixture that can safely accept a bulb that will output significant heat to avoid the possibility of fire.


If you already own light fixtures for your habitat, avoid purchasing new accessories by selecting a bulb that is compatible with what you have.

How much you can expect to spend on reptile and amphibian habitat lighting

Reptile and amphibian habitat lights can cost as little as $15 for small coil bulbs all the way up to $50 or more for mercury vapor lights.

Reptile and amphibian habitat lighting FAQ

Can you just use a regular lightbulb for your pet reptile?

A. No. To maintain proper health, reptiles require lightbulbs that produce UVB radiation. These bulbs are only found in pet stores and can’t be purchased at traditional hardware or grocery retailers.

Can you install a UVB lamp inside your pet reptile or amphibian’s terrarium?

A. Yes. While most people choose to install their lighting outside of their pet’s habitat, bulbs can be safely installed inside large enclosures that house animals that are unable to reach them. Tortoises, for example, are unable to climb or jump. This means their owners can place their light fixtures directly inside their enclosures if they wish.

What happens if you don’t use a UVB lamp with your pet reptile or amphibian?

A. Reptiles and amphibians that do not receive adequate UVB radiation will develop potentially fatal bone disease and vitamin D deficiency. Proper lighting allows these animals to build strong bones and maintain a healthy appetite.

What’s the best reptile and amphibian habitat lighting to buy?

Top reptile and amphibian habitat lighting

Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb - 100 Watts (120V)

Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb – 100 Watts (120V)

What you need to know: This mercury vapor bulb provides UV rays as well as warmth.

What you’ll love: Because this bulb creates a good deal of heat along with your pet’s required UVB radiation, it allows you to efficiently warm and light your terrarium using one appliance.

What you should consider: It is expensive and potentially hazardous if not used correctly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top reptile and amphibian habitat lighting for the money

Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb

Zilla UVB Fluorescent Bulb

What you need to know: This tube bulb provides bright UVB lighting over a large area.

What you’ll love: Zilla, a well-known manufacturer of reptile and amphibian accessories, makes this full-spectrum lamp that is ideal for desert-dwelling creatures.

What you should consider: This model does not fit standard threaded light fixtures and requires a hood compatible with tube bulbs. It does not produce heat.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Worth checking out

MyComfyPets UVB Light and UVA 2-in-1 Reptile Bulb

MyComfyPets UVB Light and UVA 2-in-1 Reptile Bulb

What you need to know: It provides heat as well as UVB radiation to keep your pet warm and healthy.

What you’ll love: It easily fits into traditional light fixtures. This bulb’s UVB output is specifically designed for optimum reptile and amphibian health.

What you should consider: Mercury vapor bulbs require special consideration when it comes to safe placement and installation.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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