lighting help!


New Member
Hi everyone. New to the forums. I'm trying to make it through all the lighting threads, so I apologize if this is already a thread somewhere, if so, direct me that way :) I just purchased my first Chameleon (Veiled) yesterday, but have raised him since he was a baby. I own quite a few reptiles and was going through the forums the other day and read about people buying light bulbs (heat, UVA and UVB) from hardware stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) versus pet stores. So I went up to my favorite store Lowes (because our Menards hasn't opened yet) and saw lots of bulbs, but was unfamiliar with what I was looking for. Therefore, I thought that I would list the animals I need lighting for (we are moving and I would like to update all my lighting, since all my herps will be moving into the basement, besides the Veil which will be in my office) and someone could give me names of the products I could use or what I need to look for on the boxes, ie. Halogen, 45w, etc, etc.

2 bearded dragons (x1 in 40 gallon glass, x1 180 gallon wood)
veiled chameleon (33 inches tall, 17 inches wide, wire cage)
Chinese water dragon (40 gallon glass)
Uromastyx (100 gallon wood tank)
Blue tongue skink (75 gallon glass)
red foot tortoise (80 gallon tote)

If anyone wants to walk me through the baby steps of lighting, I am here to listen. Want to learn as much as I can. Thanks so much!

Hi and welcome!

Unfortunately, you can only get a UVB bulb from a reptile brand, as normal bulbs are not made for UV radiation. I find mine on Amazon and get a great deal on them.

But heat/basking bulbs (which will produce your heat and a good amount of UVA) you definitely can find at any home improvement/hardware store.

For the reptiles that need UVB lighting (which might be all of the ones you own), I prefer the linear fluorescent lights (either brands Reptisun 5.0 or 10.0 (I use the 10.0, personally) or Arcadia 6% or 12%.) They distribute UVB lighting across a wider range and don't force the animal to sit under the basking spot to get UV exposure. However, always provide shady areas in any cage, so the animal can escape all the lighting if they want to.

And as for heat, halogen bulbs last longer but normal incandescent bulbs work just fine. I prefer buying ones that lean towards bright white, that way the cages are brighter and it simulates the sun a little more. The wattage will depent on what temperatures you're looking to achieve. I buy mine at Lowe's so they're either Phillips or GE brand.

Hope that helps!

Edit - And just a note on why I choose the stronger of the two UVB bulbs. UVB is cut down significantly by most screen (especially the smaller the holes are), so when buying a 5.0, for example, you're providing a lot less UV than you think. In addition, they may only be potent within the top 12" of the cage, and they will continue to diminish in strength as time goes on. So I prefer getting the stronger of the two to counteract these points, and the UVB readings are still well within safe levels.
Hi, all of the reptiles you mentioned need UVB. Temps needed, Depth/overall size of cage and type of reptile will determine which type of bulb would be best suitable.

I would recommend checking out two different types of bulbs.

1. A Mercury vapor lamp. This will be suitable for large cages. This type of bulb puts out a good amount of heat.

2. T8 or T5 Lamps. These will be the most versatile. You can buy them in strengths 10.0 and 5.0 and at different lengths. These produce very little heat and will need to be accompanied by a regular house hold bulb. flood or halogen for heat and extra lumens.
Oh, everyone has the appropriate lighting currently. That's not the problem. I just want to replace all the heating and UVB lights once we get into the new house. I get a 15% off discount at my place of work, but if I replace everything, even with my discount, its going to cost me nearly $300 in lighting. Therefore, why would I spend all that money when I could spent half at a hardware store getting literally the same things.

I know how the boxes are labeled in the pet stores, everything sold in there is for reptiles. This is not the case in the hardware stores.
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