LIGHTS IN A TERRARIUM :
if youturnitoffyoudontseeshitanymore :-)
a true enlightening story by Gijs van Waversveld
last upload : 06-10-2002
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So, you want the scoop on lightening ?? well, I can tell you this :
EVERYTHING IS OUT OF MY OWN EXPERIENCE !!
I found out that if you put your mind to it, eg love those pets, you wanna learn all about how to nurture them in a safe and good way :-). This is my lights chapter....
Lights in a terrarium or an enclosure have 2 main goals..., 1 is to warm a spot and the cage up, 2 is to provide vitamins ( via UV rays ) and 3 is that you and others can see the reptiles... There are a lotta things to take into consideration when looking for a bulb. What wattage do I need, is it a day or nightlight ? All things added up, it's not so easy to make a selection. I made up a list of things that you might wanna remember, when out buying a new lamp..
1 ) Size of the enclosure against wattage of the bulb
2 ) temperature gradient ??
3 ) UV or not to UV ?
4 ) Day or nightlight ?
5 ) heat generated by the lamp itself ( eg can you fry an egg on the surface when on ?? )
I'll do my best to deepen it further out below :
1 ) size versus wattage
As you can imagine, a huge 20000 W lamp, is a little overdone for that small tank on the table... The lamp must generate enough light to see something in there, whilst the temperature below it, and generally in the tank, must not exceed the limits of your inhabitants :-) That means TRIAL AND ERROR !!! I prefer to work by the KISS system ( Keep it simple stupid ! ) witch in this case means that you have to try your lights before adding ANYTHING BUT A THERMOMETER !!! A digital one preferably. I have one that records max and minus temp, AND humidity... something going hand in hand with the temperature... A very nifty little thing, witch should be bought with a reptile, at any time :-) So insert the bulb, wait and measure for 48 hours ( in a 12/12 cycle ) See what it does, and adjust when needed. But NEVER take out the heat by VENTILATION !!! eg create a draft like hell in there... I saw people that had too much lights, and thus heat, and had huge blowers on the cages.... Hmmm pneumonia is very fast with reptiles you know... Better a smaller bulb than more ventilation. ( although they do need it ) If you have the correct wattage sorted out ( remember that a 20 W halogen has a different temp than a 20 W spotlight ) buy another one SPARE !!! so the animals do not have to wait a day or so, for you to get that special light !@!
2 ) temperature gradient
All lightsources have a different spread of the rays and thus their heat. There are 2 ways of the heat getting to your reptile...
1 ) Radiation --> invisible Heat waves "radiate" from the source to the area below ( think of that hot day when the end of the road seems to shake... that's heat radiating from the asphalt. same idea, different source.
2 ) direct contact with a heated surface ; the rocks below the light source capture the warmth of the light, and when the air cools at night they give it off to what ever's on it.. like your snake :-)
So there's a good think trough needed on where to place the bulb, and where to point it at..., that alone brings on a million other things like : can my pet reach it ?? does it pose a burning risk ? And find the best height to hang it on, so that there's a spot of warmth, getting cooler further away.
I suggest in a long enclosure the main heat/light source at 1/3ds of the length of the enclosure. That way you have a spot, and a cool place, with minor hassle ( KISS ) I DO NOT USE HEATED ROCKS, THEY SCARE ME, I ONLY HAVE A HEATED FLOOR MAT, WITCH IS WATERPROOFED AND SAFELY TUGGED AWAY BETWEEN GLASS SHEETS. THERE IS NO WAY CONTACT POSSIBLE BETWEEN THE MAT AND MY ANIMALS... !!!
UV or not UV !!
Well, I use it, but very VERY carefully ( and only because my snakes go outdoors a lot also and are used a bit more to UV ). UV rays are emitted by the sun, and cause us humans to get a tan. BUT it also CAN cause burns, and even cancer. In the reptiles world it gives vitamins to the skin, eg ; UV a/b ( UV c is the bad one )regulates their vitamin A and D3 needs. I DO NOT support UV lights in small cages, due to the simple fact that they are quit sensitive to the amount they get of the lights. eg ; If I replace a year old bulb ( UV a/b light, on and off at a 12/12 cycle ) with a brand new one, the rays emitted by the new one have much more strength than the old ones ... Thus implementing a huge sunburn IF I am not careful enough ... Nope, I take the snakes out doors WHENEVER possible. I have to give up a lotta stuff to do so, but what's better than the real thing ??? I mean, from may till late September the temperatures are in Holland that OK that if I seek a quit little place, in the sun, out of the wind.... PERFECT !!! and in the winter period they have the 120 W UV a/b light source in the tank... but also ENOUGH space to get rid of the light at ALL times !!! But I have quite a huge enclosure, and huge snakes.... so.....
People be careful with UV bulbs, better take your snake outdoors, in the real sun, but that also needs to be done with common sense.... like all things, don't they.... and better a smaller wattage to start with... you cannot go basking in the desert sun for 12 hours without protection, now do you ?? And did you know that the halogen lamps with NO cover also emit UV rays, in fewer quantities, but that's only safe is it !!
Day or Nightlight ??
You can do a nightlight, but that's only for you.... the animals have enough with the pitch black night. Take a red or deep blue one, they do not see it as we do, thus they don't see that at all ! REMEMBER that a nightlight in a small enclosure also EMITS HEAT, and the temperatures have to drop a bit in the night !!!
FRY AN EGG ??
DO NOT hang your bulb at a spot where your animal can reach it.. If the lights are about to come on, and your cold blooded ! animal is vast asleep on it.... go figure !
DO NOT hang bulbs above water, rocks or plastic decoration... This also with an eye on safety. If the lamp falls in the water, on the rocks or into your deco.... go figure !
DO NOT replace your 300 W , 3 year old UV bulb with a new one... and leave it at the same settings... it's like you bare naked in the desert for 12 hours.... go figure !
Updates will follow....