The desert habitat involves both extreme heat and brightness. Unlike in the rain forest, there is nothing to stop the light reaching right down to the ground. The animals only have stones or scarce plants and woody growths to withdraw under. UV light is essential but it can also be many dwellers’ greatest enemy. That’s why it’s important to establish a balance in the terrarium’s between sufficient heat, the UV supply and some cooler areas to retreat into.
Diurnal desert dwellers mostly need a lot of light, heat and UV. Crepuscular and nocturnal desert dwellers, on the other hand, require less UV (or even no UV), less lighting and less heat.
We have explained how to structure a terrarium correctly in the article The Desert Terrarium – Part 1 . Now we would like to talk about the lighting in greater detail. Because of the increased demand for UV light, you need to make sure you have a sufficient UVA and UVB supply when setting up a terrarium.
For this you can use full-spectrum tubes, metal-halide lamps and self-ballasted mercury lamps or energy-saving lamps.
To allow the animals to benefit from the UV light, it is essential to install the UV lighting inside the terrarium, without the intervention of a glass pane between spotlight and animals. To protect the animals from burns, a protection shade with steel mash, such as JBL TempProtect light can be helpful.
Depending on the installation until now an additional heat emission may be required. Here we differentiate between permanent lighting with UV, which does not heat, and permanent lighting with UV, which also heats.
Below we introduce you to the various product options:
Permanent lighting with UV which does not heat
Fluorescent tubes and energy-saving lamps provide the intense UV light which is suited to a flat desert terrarium. This type of lighting with its high UV proportion and its relatively little light in the visible range doesn’t get very hot.
- T8 socket: high UVB proportion (8.0 %), UVA proportion 36.0 %
- T5 socket: high UVB proportion (12.0 %), UVA proportion 63 %
- JBL ReptilDesert UV 300 = 300 µW/cm2 in a distance of 5 cm, 220 µW/cm2 = in a distance of 7.5 cm (corresponds to the value in nature).
- JBL ReptilDesert UV 480 = 480 µW/cm2 in a distance of 5 c, 200 µW/cm2 in a distance of 10 cm (corresponds to the value in nature).
But remember: Not every desert dweller needs UV light. For some invertebrates, such as spiders and scorpions, it can even be harmful. In this case JBL ReptilDesert Daylight (24 W) is the best choice (energy-saving lamp without UV).
Permantent lighting with UV which also heats
Metal-halide lamps and self-ballasted mercury lamps, which produce UV radiation and heat along with visible light, are even better than fluorescent tubes.
- 35 W: 1500 lumen, 170 µw/cm2, for a terrarium height of 40-80 cm.
- 50 W: 2200 lumen, 200 µw/cm2, for a terrarium height of 40-100 cm.
- 70 W: 3200 lumen, 260 µw/cm2, for a terrarium height of 60-150 cm.
7 % UVB, 38 % UVA