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Reptile Basking Bulbs... Useless or Necessary?

Discussion in 'Habitat Lighting' started by HollyS, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    Okay, so since reptile basking bulbs have no UVB or anything in them, are they really necessary for our herps? Or would a standard "kitchen bulb" do the same job, provided that you are using it in conjunction with an appropriate UVB light?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated, as I spend a fortune on Exo-Terra basking bulbs and would love to switch to something cheaper as long as it won't harm my lizards. Thanks!
  2. Vers

    Vers Elite Member

    Some reptile oriented heat lamps do produce UV, both UVA and UVB--Mercury vapor and metal halide are two types of these lamps. With that said, standard household bulbs/lamps can and will suffice as heat sources. For basking species, outdoor rated halogen flood lamps are very good options when used in conjunction with D3 supplements OR another form of UVB lighting (linear fluorescent). I would highly recommend using these lamps with a dimmer or rheostat to better control heat output. What species are you keeping?
  3. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your response! I have a Sudan Plated Lizard and a Brown Anole. (Separate terrariums, of course!)

    Regrettably good reptile supplies are not easy to come by where I live. None of the pet supply stores around here carry heat lamps that produce any type of UV. :\
  4. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, the "problem" with normal household incandescent bulbs is that they are o.k for the ambient (air) temps, but not much use as "basking" bulbs because they direct the heat all around rather than downwards.
    I wouldn`t buy "reptile" bulbs from a petshop unless it was absolutely necessary, because they`re usually much more expensive.
    Which type are you currently using?
  5. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    Currently I am buying Exo-Terra basking bulbs. But I found that when one of them blew out and I had to substitute a household bulb for a few days, it maintained the same basking temp in my Plated's terrarium as the expensive bulb did.
  6. Runningmom

    Runningmom Elite Member

    You can get exo terra online. But I don't know if they are any more or less expense. But you definitely need the UVB since they need "sun" to keep them healthy.
  7. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Can I ask what type of thermometer you use to measure surface temps, and also what`s the temp range you provide and size of enclosure, and the wattages and distances the "proper" basking bulb and household incandescent were set at? Thanks!
  8. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, I usually get mine on Ebay and they`re often much less expensive, even if it`s exacly the same make and wattage as the ones from the petshops.
  9. Runningmom

    Runningmom Elite Member

    Interesting ^. Didn't know eBay had reptile stuff.
  10. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    Ok, let me see... Mac's terrarium is 18" x 18" x 48". I'm just using a couple of "strip" thermometres (the kind that you peel and stick onto the glass) to measure temps. I sit his heat lamp on the top of his enclosure, so it'd be a little higher than 18" away from his basking surface. I maintain his basking temp at around 90-95F at one end of the terrarium and keep the opposite end at about 75-80F. Both the reptile basking bulb and the household bulb used were 100 watts.
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi again, thanks for the details. The analogue strip thermometers are measuring the surface temp of the glass, not the ambient (air) or surface at the basking site. The analogue`s can also be very inaccurate (as much as 15%). You need a digital thermometer with a probe, and the probe must actually touch the surface of the object the lizard basks on (you could also use a digital "Temp-gun"). I believe the digital therms. with probes can be bought for around $12 from Walmart (or again, try Ebay). At this time you/we have no idea what the temps are, so it`s extremely important you get the digital thermometer/hygrometer asap (can you do that)?
    You need to know only two temps; the coolest ambient (air) at approx 24 to 27c (75 to 80f), then the surface temp at the basking site of approx 40c to 43c (105 to 110f), no other temp matters.
    Edit: Can you put a few photos up of the enclosure and lizard?
  12. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    You can use the regular household bulbs for day time heat sources and they work just fine.
  13. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    Gah! I knew that the strip thermometres weren't the best, but had no idea that they were so inaccurate. :\ Thanks for the info. I've obtained a couple of digital thermometres w/ external probes and set them up in my lizards' basking areas. (There were only two left at the store, so I couldn't get any to measure the coolest temperatures. That will have to wait for next week, I'm afraid.) They got WAY different reading from the strip thermometres. Looks like my basking temp is definitely too low for my Plated. :\ (The Anole's seems about right, though.)

    Yes, I can post them later today.
  14. DragonsKeepers

    DragonsKeepers Subscribed User Premium Member

    I cut my energy usage way down when I switched from 'reptile basking bulbs' to a lower wattage outdoor floodlamp (par38 I believe). I use them on a dimmer to control the temp perfectly.
  15. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    The dimmer idea is brilliant. I will definitely look for one. Thanks!

    Okay, here's terrarium #1 for Wally the Brown Anole:


    This terrarium is 30cm x 30cm x 45cm. As it turns out, after leaving the new thermometre in there for a while, I've discovered that his basking temperature is WAY too warm at 101.3°F! O_O I've sent my father to get a lower-wattage bulb and will be changing it as soon as he gets home. (Can't believe that the strip thermometre said it was only 92°F!)

    Here's a couple photos of Wally:

    wally21.jpg wally15.jpg

    He may look a touch thin. When I rescued him from the middle of a Wal-Mart store a week ago he was VERY skinny, but he has improved a lot!

    You can see more photos of Wally on my public Facebook album here:

    I'll need a few minutes to find photos of my Sudan Plated Lizard's terrarium.
  16. Vers

    Vers Elite Member

    Haha I guess you didn't read my first post well enough ;) In any case, you need to ensure the bulbs you use with a dimmer are dimmable. If they aren't you will experience flickering, buzzing and a shorter bulb life.
  17. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    Actually I did; I just forgot to comment on what a great idea it is, lol. Thank you!

    Okay, apparently I don't have any up-to-date photos of my Plated's terrarium. I thought that I did, but I can't find any. So I will have to take one later. Sorry! Here's a couple of photos of Machida himself:

    mac45.jpg mac57.jpg

    I've had him since I was a teenager, back in July of 1997. You can view more photos of him here:
  18. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi again, if you`ve had him since 1997 how long have you been using the analogue thermometer (hygrometer?) for measuring the temps, etc (he looks quite healthy)!?
  19. HollyS

    HollyS Well-Known Member

    I am terribly ashamed to say that up until a few years ago, I didn't even have a thermometre in there!! I've been a pretty stupid reptile owner up until recently. (And it still seems that I have much to learn!) Machida got really sick a few years back and a reptile vet helped me set things right. Poor Mac; I felt SO terrible. I was doing EVERYTHING wrong. He sure is a trooper!! I had to change his substrate, diet, and basking temp to get him healthy again. He's doing quite well now!

    For Machida, I do not currently have a hygrometer. :\ Wally does have one, as I know he needs much higher humidity than we have in our home. I'm currently having one heck of a time keeping the moisture levels stable in Wally's terrarium and am looking into some kind of misting system for the little guy.
  20. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    It looks as if the Anole`s enclosure is screen topped, there`s no way you can control either temps or humidity that way, you need to cover it as completely as possible. You can use either a piece of plywood (sealed with several coats of polyurethane varnish) or plexiglass/similar (with a hole just large enough for the heat bulb/s, as I notice they`re on the outside).

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