I thought today I will discuss two reptile products that arrived earlier this month for Dallas’ vivarium; the UV Flood and the Deep Heat Projection (DHP) Lamp, both from Arcadia.
With only 25% of pet reptiles surviving past their first year, masses of reptiles die prematurely in captivity.
The main cause of health problems in captive reptiles is related to problems with their husbandry which accounts for up to 90% of reptiles seen by vets. These statistics highlight the huge numbers of reptiles suffering from inadequate housing or housing which doesn’t meet their vast and complex requirements.
I personally own three reptiles, two Leopard Geckos (Leo and Darwin) and a Crested Gecko (Dallas or Dal for short). I rehomed Leo, along with another Leopard Gecko, Bam six years ago. Bam passed away eighteen months later at the age of 12years from Liver failure. When I lost Bam I bought Dal and later Darwin.
Throughout their time with me, I’ve made multiple adaptations to their husbandry to ensure their care is the best I can provide and meets current research. All three now have UVB bulbs and heat which, compared to four years ago my Leopard Geckos just had a heat mat and normal fluorescent light tubes.
Previous viv Set-UP
Over the past two years, Dal has been thriving with a combination of one or two UVB coiled tubes over the back of his viv and a 150W ceramic heat lamp at the front creating a hot spot of 28-30C for an average of 12hours per day (I have it on a timer but the times in on alters with the seasons).
Having a hot spot was both recommended by current research and discussions with a reptile veterinary surgeon. Since adding both the heat lamp and the UVB Dal has become noticeably more active.
Away from the heat lamp in the day, his viv is approximately 20-22C giving a good thermal gradient and allowing him to escape the heat if he wishes.
At the backend of last year, Dallas’ heat lamp and holder fell on the floor and became damaged. I purchased replacements but, unfortunately, the replacement ceramic bulb was faulty. Instead, I used a spare 60W ceramic bulb which wasn’t strong enough, producing an inadequate hot spot of just 24C.
I reached out to Arcadia regarding both my frustrations with the heat bulb and UV units. Arcadia, a company specialising mainly in lighting for Reptiles, Amphibians, Parrots and Aquatics. I had a long email exchange with John who introduced me to two products, the DHP lamp, and the UV Flood. After doing some research, sums and assessing my post-Christmas finances, later that evening my mind had been converted, I decided to buy them in the sales.
Arcadia D3+ 12% UV Flood (55W)
The UV Flood is a fluorescent tube and reflector which stays over the mesh lid for Dal’s viv. It can also be used on a stand for Parrots or screwed into the wall of a wooden viv.
UV Flood units produce large amounts of UVB and should only be used in vivariums/ terrariums with a depth greater than 45cm and plenty of shade so the geckos can get away from the light rays. Crepuscular geckos (those awake most at dusk and dawn) may have damage to their skin or eyes if UVB intensity is too high; similar to people becoming sunburnt so require this shade.
In severe cases, too much UVB light can cause blindness.
The set up I bought contains a 12% fluorescent tube and is designed for desert species. Being kept above a mesh lid, regardless of the reflector, is an important factor. Mesh stops 50% of UV rays from passing through meaning Dallas will be exposed to only around 6% UVB when stood at 10cm below the light, a safe level.
The light is also supposed to not flicker. Since I’ve had it I confirm that I haven’t seen it flicker at all; great for those sensitive reptiles.
Being a Crested Gecko, they need approximately 5-10% UVB so what he receives from the light fits perfectly into his requirements and with it only placed over the back 1/3 of his viv he has plenty of space to move away from it.
The UV Flood is different to what I thought though. I thought it would be a long tube, similar to the Arcadia T5 tubes I have for my Leopard Geckos but instead, is two thin tubes connected together at each end and only plugged in at one side. This does, however, mean it’s more compact and double the amount of light is released at any point.
One thing I don’t like about this light is that it is very blue. Though I have got used to it, I was hoping the light would be warmer like the lights in my leopard gecko vivariums but, over time, I have got used to it.
Having added both the UV Flood and DHP lamp at the same time, it is difficult to say whether this light alone has altered Dal’s behaviour. Since I installed the light he has been more active in the evenings as well as firing up (becoming a darker colour) more frequently and vividly. However, this may not be due to the light at all and, instead, could be due to the change in heating.
50W DHP Lamp
Having been researching new Crested Gecko Diets, I had been on Arcadia’s website and noted the new DHP lamp. I also discussed this in further detail with John at Arcadia. My initial thought was; “Dallas has done really well since I introduced a heat lamp to his viv two years ago, why change it now?” but the more I saw and heard, alongside knowing he needed a new lamp, I decided to get him one.
The DHP Lamp is similar to some conventional Infrared heat lamps (eg Ceramic bulbs) in the fashion that it gives out no or virtually no visible waves of light.
This is important.
Though it was initially believed that red and blue heat lights are fine for reptiles because it was believed they don’t see those colours, this has been shown to be incorrect. Reptiles not only visualise red and blue but the presence of these lights disturbs their sleep:wake cycle and alters their behaviour, often causing them to be less active at night.
One difference is that this light, though only 50W, emits more heat than a standard 150W Ceramic Heat lamp.
Alongside the lack of visual light, unlike any other current heat lamp I am aware of on the market right now, the DHP Lamp gives out infrared-B (IF-B) in addition to the IF-A rays given out by ceramic bulbs. This combination is closer to what the sun produces.
Like sun rays, IF-B penetrates the muscle tissue rather than just the skin surface like IF-A. The DHP lamp also leaves a tingly feeling on your skin similar to what you’ll feel when outside in the hot sun.
When this lamp is connected to Dal’s HabiStat Pulse Proportionate thermostat, it gives out a very consistent level of heat throughout the day, only varying by 0.2C. The ceramic bulb, on the other hand, was less consistent with temperatures throughout the day varying by up to 2C either side of the desired temperature.
As the same thermostat was used with both lamps the logical explanation is this difference in temperature consistency is due to the lamp. Potentially the DHP lamp alters quicker to the changes in current received from the thermostat with less heat being released with no current supplied.
With the DHP lamp gives out no visible light, some reptiles may not directly recognise the area it covers as a basking spot its use is best when combined with a nearby light source ensuring your lizards use the area for basking.
NOTE; Always only use heat sources if they are connected to reliable thermostats set at the correct temperature (which is checked with another thermometer). The use of heat mats or lights without thermostats can cause your animal to become overheated, burnt or even risk a fire starting.
What Have I Found
Since having the two products in Dal’s viv he tends to be fired up more in the evenings.
(Fired up means a Crested Gecko is a brighter or more vivid colour. Crested Geckos have cells which change colour slightly, similar to what is seen with Chemeleons. Unlike Chemeloens though they just change more or less vivid rather than their colour changing completely. Crested Geckos can come more fired up when stressed, excited or more alert.)
During the day Dallas spends most of the time underneath the heat lamp whereas previously he didn’t.
One dramatic difference over the last few weeks is his energy levels. Though he is still quiet and often asleep during the day (natural for Crested Geckos) he is much more active and interested in his surroundings around the time his DHP lamp and UV Flood turn off. He is no longer spending as much of the evening stood still and he’s climbing and jumping more. Dal’s also faster than he was previously if he wants to get something.
So, overall, the only thing I dislike about these products is the blue tinge to the UV Flood. I feel the DHP lamp is really working well with both its consistency and the effect it, in combination with the UV Flood, appears to be having on Dallas.
Would I recommend these products… yes and I would definitely buy them again in the right circumstances. The UV flood has too high a UVB rating for my leopard geckos though and they are kept on heating mats but with an appropriate lizard, or even a Parrot in the case of the UV Flood, I’d definitely get one.