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Iguana Lighting

Heat and UVB Lights for Pet Iguanas


iguana photo


Lianne McLeod

Pet iguanas have been popular for many years but the recommended care of them has evolved quite a bit since the first books about them were written. Over time it was discovered that iguanas need specific kinds of lighting to stay healthy, grow, and live a long life.

Heat Lights for Pet Iguanas

Green iguanas are tropical reptiles who require high environmental temperatures. Heat lights are the best way to provide the right temperatures for your pet iguana.

There are a few different kinds of heat lights that are available.

  • Ceramic heat emitters only give off heat. They are ideal for an already well lit enclosure or one that needs extra heat at night without the light, are long lasting, and durable.
  • Mercury vapor bulbs are a dual purpose heat light. In addition to providing heat and visible light, they also emit invisible UVB rays. These bulbs are great for large enclosures or entire rooms that are used as a home for your iguana. These are only to be used during the day since iguanas can see the white light the bulbs give off.
  • Infrared and blue/purple heat lights are great for supplemental heat during the day in well lit enclosures and also at night. Iguanas cannot see the red or blue/purple light the bulbs give off so they are great for evening heat.
  • White light heat bulbs are the classic heat light. These look like regular light bulbs but give off heat. These are to be used during the daytime.
  • There are also different wattages for the bulbs. Higher wattage bulbs emit more heat and vice versa. Therefore if you have a large enclosure you'll need a higher wattage bulb and if you have a smaller enclosure (for a juvenile iguana) you won't need as high a wattage bulb to get the same temperature. A thermometer should be placed on the basking side and the cooler side of the enclosure to properly monitor your thermal gradient and temperatures. You may have to experiment with different watt bulbs to get your ideal basking temperature between 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit while still making sure the cool side and nighttime temperatures don't drop below 75.

    UVB Lights for Pet Iguanas

    Iguanas require UVB lighting to properly metabolize calcium and Vitamin D. Without these essential elements, iguanas will not grow properly and eventually develop metabolic bone disease.

    UVB lights are special bulbs for reptiles that emit visible white light in addition to invisible UVB rays. They come in the form of fluorescent tube strip lights, compact fluorescent bulbs, and as previously mentioned, mercury vapor bulbs that also emit heat. Regular UVB lights should be kept 10-12 inches away from your iguana and the mercury vapor bulbs should follow the manufacturer's recommendations but are typically kept a few feet away due to how strong they are.

    If your iguana is ever lethargic or not eating well, make sure your temperatures are appropriate, your UVB light hasn't expired and call your exotics vet. By providing appropriate lighting for your iguana, you can help assure him a long and healthy life.

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