Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Black Lights

©1996 Melissa Kaplan


Just as the meaning of the term "full spectrum lights" has been perverted by lighting manufacturers (using them to refer to both UVB-producing fluorescents as well as non-UV-producing incandescent bulbs), the term "black light" is causing confusion. There are the real black lights (the BL and BLB fluorescents, the former of which is safe for reptile use for providing UVB and A, the latter the so-called "poster lights" which cause eye damage), and the incandescent "black lights" which include poster/Halloween type lights that cause white clothing to glow purple-ish, and the "black phosphor" reptile lights designed for nocturnal reptile heating, and the dark, but not dark enough for nighttime reptile heating, neodymium lights.

BL fluorescents may be used to provide UV for reptiles during the day - but you still need bright white light to promote basking, so you might as well stick to using a Vita-Lite or one of the other white-light-&-UV-producing fluorescents. In the days before the higher UVB lights were made, some herpers who kept lizards who in the wild would get higher UV (tropical, montane and desert fauna), used BL lights in addition to the Vita-Lites to provide higher levels of UV for their lizards. With the new higher UV lights, this is no longer necessary.

Never provide UV at night. Just as the sun doesn't shine at night, so too should we be providing a comparable UV- and light-free periods for our animals, be they nocturnal, diurnal,or crespuscular. If you need to provide heat at night, use the nocturnal reptile incandescent light bulb, a high enough wattage dark red, blue or green light bulb (not the so-called "party lights" that produce bright colored light), or a ceramic heating element. During some parts of the year, a people heating pad in or under the tank may provide sufficient heat in the enclosure for the reptile if heat is prevented from escaping from the top of the enclosure.

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