Lighting 101: All You Need To Know About Reptile Lighting


We know that lighting is EXTREMELY important, but we also know lighting can be confusing! So we wanted to make a helpful guide all in one spot where you can navigate through finding the best reptile lighting for your species' enclosure. This guide was created with all of YOU in mind, not only do we provide a place you can find the best lighting, we also wanted to help with the knowledge behind it!

Here at Blackthorn Dragons’ we advocate for reptiles to have lives where they are thriving over just surviving. The four basic reptile husbandry needs are temperature, lighting, diet, and refuge. Not providing your reptiles these needs “are indicticative for poor welfare and captivity stress…these animals at best are in a state of controlled deprivation” (Azevedo, 2021) Simply put, this is a very poor way to live!

A GREAT way ensure a happy life for your reptile is to know your lighting requirements. Most reptiles need some form of UVB lighting and some form of basking, all others SHOULD have access to UVB lighting as it is proven that there are many benefits to include “Body temperature, thermoregulation, as well as Vitamin D photoregulation are influenced through exposure to UVB.” (Ferguson, 2009) 



Dr. Gary Ferguson did a lot of the hard work for us and measured many species of reptiles’ daily basking sites and exposure times. This gives us reptile keepers a good indication of which reptiles natural UV requirements! He divided the species into 4 different sun exposure groups, called “Ferguson Zones” and these measurements can be taken with a Solar Meter, which we recommend to every keeper! 

We have made it easy for you to find out what UVB requirements your reptile species needs and what type of bulb will offer the best to your animal! Find the Ferguson Zone your reptile belongs to and find the correct lighting suggestion! It's that easy! 


Reptiles thrive when they are given a thermal gradient– a hot side and a cool side! They regulate their own temperatures by moving towards the light when they feel colder and moving away when they want to cool off. Your basking area will need to be placed in generally the same location of your UVB so that your reptile can receive their UVB needs while basking. 

Basking light wattage will vary depending on your location geographically, your house temperatures, and the humidity levels in your reptile area. It’s best to use a thermogun to adjust the basking light accordingly to ensure you are getting the correct temperatures. 

Select a reptile category to learn more about preferred basking temps and heat gradient:


Azevedo A, Guimarães L, Ferraz J, Whiting M, Magalhães-Sant’Ana M. Pet Reptiles—Are We Meeting Their Needs? Animals. 2021; 11(10):2964.

Ferguson, G.W.; Brinker, A.M.; Gehrmann, W.H.; Bucklin, S.E.; Baines, F.M.; Mackin, S.J. Voluntary Exposure of Some Western- Hemisphere Snake and Lizard Species to Ultraviolet-B Radiation in the Field: How Much Ultraviolet-B Should a Lizard or Snake Receive in Captivity? Zoo Biol. 2009



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