Best Lights For Blue Tongue Skinks – plus Buyer Guide

Light is an important aspect of every living thing be it plants or animals. The sun being the main source of light in nature does not only provide a source of heat but also a key source of ultraviolet radiation in a wide range known as UVB.

This spectrum of light called the UVB is the type of wavelength (radiation) that plays a significant role in keeping your pet blue tongue skinks and any plants in the terrarium alive and healthy.

For one, it helps your captive skinks in the natural production of vitamin D3 which is needed in their body for calcium absorption. So your responsibility as a good skink owner is to match your pets’ captive environment to what their counterparts in the wild are exposed to.

Now, that you understand why light is needed in your pets’ enclosures, what are the best lights for captive blue tongue skinks and how much lighting is enough, let’s help you unravel that in this article.

Your knowledge of different kinds of lighting and the perfect types for the growth, health, and development of your skinks is crucial.

In this article, you’ll be exposed to the different kinds of lighting for captive blue tongue skinks and the best light for skinks, and go further to answering all questions circling around providing lighting for skinks.

Cute Reptiles as Pets x
Cute Reptiles as Pets

Buyer’s Guide – What To Look For In A Good Light For Blue Tongue Skinks

What To Look For In A Good Light For Blue Tongue Skinks
What To Look For In A Good Light For Blue Tongue Skinks

UV is simply the wavelength of light below or shorter than violet on the spectrum that the eyes can see. The UVB is just one of the three types of UV emitted by the sun in nature and in captivity, blue tongue skinks need both UVA which is the heated part of UV and UVB for healthy living.

They need it to produce vitamin D3 in their bones which will aid in calcium absorption from their diet and without the UVB in sufficient amounts captive blue tongue skinks are predisposed to contracting a disease called metabolic bone disease, mouth rot, and other illnesses. 

That being said, the question: what to look for in a good light for blue tongue skinks depends on some variables such as your pets’ natural behavior, location of enclosures, size of enclosures, and your goals as a breeder.

Animals’ Natural Behavior

A less active skink or a skink that is reluctant to eat will require a higher amount of UVB during the day to stimulate it into activity. While an already active skink will need a less amount of UVB.

Size And Location Of Enclosures

The size of your pets’ enclosures will also determine how much UVB you should provide and what type you should buy. If the distance between the bulb and your skink is too much it’ll affect the amount of UVB that gets to the skin of your skink.

Too much of terrarium decorations will obstruct the wavelength. So if your pets’ enclosures have lots of plants, it’ll reduce the amount of light getting to your skink at the bottom.

In this case, you’ll need a light bulb with much capacity to penetrate down to the bottom of the enclosures. Moreover, an enclosure located outside the house where there’s exposure to natural sunlight will need no supplemental UVB bulbs.

If your enclosure is situated somewhere within the house with little or no filtered light, your skinks and the plants in the enclosure will need a good light bulb to thrive.

So, while there’s a debate on whether or not blue tongue skinks should be given UVB through lighting; note that skinks as diurnal desert animals require 10.0 strength of UVB to thrive and remain in health. This amount of UVB requirement cannot be suffice only from their diet. 

Review Of Best Lights For Blue Tongue Skinks

Review Of Best Lights For Blue Tongue Skinks
Review Of Best Lights For Blue Tongue Skinks

All UVB bulbs available in the market can be grouped into different categories which are the linear bulbs, the compact fluorescent bulbs, and the Mercury vapor bulbs.

The UVB bulbs all have specialized components that allow the Mercury in the bulbs to be charged on its own to a point at which it produces waves. Let’s delve into each category in detail.

New to blue tongue skink? Check out the blue tongue skink care sheet now! We had listed out all the things you need to know about blue tongue skinks as pets. Check it now!

The Linear Bulbs

Linear bulbs are designed to provide a steady and equal amount of UVB across a broad lighted range and within this category are two other types- the T8, and the T5 high output.

The T8 high output is wider in diameter and produces a less consistent and weaker UVB than the narrow T5 bulb. In this category our top picks are:

Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 UVB T5 HO Lamp, 24 Watts

Last update on 2020-08-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Zoo Med has an impeccable reputation for quality reptile products including the ReptiSun UVB bulb, this bulb is designed to supply unwavering UVA and UVB wavelengths and helps to stimulate appetite in skinks that are reluctant to eat.

Its ability to emit full-spectrum lights (10% UVB) ensures that your skinks can produce the needed vitamin D3 for calcium absorption and also encourage activity during the day.


  • 10.0 UVB strength T5 Ho high output.
  • Emits 29/51cm full spectrum UVB from the surface of the bulb.
  • Suitable for treatment of metabolic bone disease.
  • Suitable for use in large enclosures.


  • Stimulates activity in skinks.
  • Promote appetite.
  • Emits full-spectrum UVB that aids in vitamin D3 production and calcium metabolism.
  • Can help reverse metabolic bone disease in skinks.


  • No issues reported by users of this product.

Arcadia Desert D3+ 12% UVB T5 Bulb 22″

Last update on 2020-08-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Arcadia D3+ Reptile T5 lamp for desert species of reptiles is a quality light bulb designed to emit a strong spectrum UVB capable of penetrating down to the bottom of enclosures even without a reflector.


  • Can emit 12% UVB for proper vitamin D3 production.
  • Emits 30% UVA.
  • Gives out 100% more visible light than its equivalent D3+ T8 bulb.
  • Supply quality UV-A and UV-B more than CFL bulbs.


  • Smaller in diameter and emits a narrower spectrum UVB.
  • Efficient and energy-saving.
  • Flicker-free.
  • Self-ballasted


  • So far we haven’t experienced any issues using this product.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

The Compact Flurescent type of bulbs are designed to provide a specific area of the enclosure with stronger and narrower UVB rays similar to a sun parch coming through the trees in nature.

Since compact fluorescent bulbs are not broad in range, they are best used to light a focused area like the basking spot. Our top pick in this category is the reputable Exo Terra Repti-Glo.

Exo Terra Repti-Glo 10.0 Compact Fluorescent Desert Terrarium Lamp

Last update on 2020-07-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In nature, blue tongue skinks especially the Australian species are exposed to a very high amount of UVB. The Exo Terra Repti Glo 10.0 is the equivalent of such UV output for captive skinks.

It produces 10% of UVB (UVB in its highest radiation) your skinks would need for vitamin D3 synthesis and calcium metabolism. This bulb comes in two wattage capacities – 13W and 26W.


  • Emits higher UVB and less light.
  • Designed to simulate the natural environment.
  • Perfect for Australian skinks.
  • Self-ballasted up to 20 inches and can penetrate down to the bottom of the enclosure.


  • It’s unique shape and size allow for both horizontal and vertical mounting without any effect to the UVB output.
  • Self-ballasted
  • Efficient and cost-effective. Sold at Amazon for $11.99.


  • Emits dangerous UVC
  • Burns out fast. Do not serve the purpose and time.
  • Poor customer service: damage products take too much time to be replaced.

Mercury Vapor Bulbs

In terms of quality, the Mercury vapor bulbs are stronger and much broader than the compact fluorescent bulbs; but not as broad as the linear.

Mercury Vapor Bulbs are designed to emit heat that can be used as heater to set up the basking spot and as a UVB source. Top of our list in this category are:

AIICIOO Mercury Vapor Bulb Reptile Bulbs- 100W Reptile UVB Light

Last update on 2020-08-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re considering getting an all in one bulb for your skinks, then think of this super-power Mercury vapor bulb by Aiicioo, this bulb is one of the best UVA and UVB bulbs in the market and is designed to supply the highest levels of UVB necessary for healthy skinks.

The bulb features an auto shut off technology that ensures that the enclosure isn’t overheated to prevent burns. Its self ballasted full spectrum light also ensures that skinks are always active, willing to eat, and able to produce vitamin D3 for calcium absorption.


  • Self-ballasted UVA/UVB.
  • Auto shut off temperature control.
  • Multi-purpose bulb- can supply both visual light to increase activity levels and heat for basking.


  • Excellent output
  • Great value for the price
  • Self-ballasted.
  • Emits high amount of UVB


  • You will need to be careful with the UVB output because it can increase to a much higher amount.

New to blue tongue skink? Check out the blue tongue skink care sheet now! We had listed out all the things you need to know about blue tongue skinks as pets. Check it now!

Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb

Last update on 2020-08-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb is another quality heating and lighting multipurpose bulb for captive blue tongue skinks and other cold-blooded reptiles. They emit strong wavelengths of UVA and UVB and come in various wattage capacities.

This self-ballasted vapor bulb can emit approximately 900-1200uw/cm2 microwatts per square centimeter of UVA and 150-200uw/cm2 of UVB over 20 inches distance.

An output enough to aid in the treatment of metabolic bone disease, improve appetite, and promote digestion.


  • Self-ballasted strong enough to simulate the sun and aid in vitamin D3 production.
  • Emits both visible light (UVB) and infrared heat (UVA).
  • It’s durable and easy to install.
  • Its 100 Watts requires 120V.


  • Excellent customer service.
  • Emit both UV-A and UV-B light.
  • Very effective and efficient.
  • Comes in various sizes for various sizes of enclosure.
  • 6-month warranty


  • Can terribly burn your skinks if temperatures are left unmonitored.
  • They are quite expensive compared to similar products. It’s sold at Amazon for $48.95.

Best Light For Blue Tongue Skinks Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs)

Best Light For Blue Tongue Skinks Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs)
Best Light For Blue Tongue Skinks Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs)

Do Blue Tongue Skinks Need UVB?

Aside from exposure to the sun or UVB bulbs, blue tongue skinks get vitamin D3 from their diet. However, UVB remains the most primary and natural way vitamin D3 is produced in your pet animals.

Since you can’t tell for sure how much vitamin D3 your skinks are getting from their diet, it is better to provide them UVB through lighting than never.

The plants in your pets’ enclosures also need UVB to thrive. This table is a handy chart on what species of reptiles need or need not UVB and how much.

Can I Keep My Pets’ Enclosures Next To The Window During Summer?

Whether you’re keeping it next to the window to save electricity or to reduce the cost of acquiring heating and lighting bulbs; the fact is that it is not ideal and you’ll end up spending more or even losing your skinks should they get sick.

If your objective of doing so is to provide them UV light, you can just go ahead to keep their enclosures outside the house where a good deal of sunlight can be obtained or you get UVB bulbs for them indoors.

The reason is that keeping their enclosures next to the window will not improve their health rather it’ll deteriorate it. Because the materials used in making most windows will filter out 95% of the UV (both UVA and UVB) from the sun.

On the other hand, your enclosures if made of glass will also filter any UV rays from getting in. This will leave your skinks with absolutely nothing to falter on. Moreover, keep in mind that your pets’ enclosures must not be heated all around, there should be a cool side and the hot side.

Keeping their enclosures next to the window will not ensure that kind of temperature rather it’ll heat up the entire enclosures.

What Is The Difference Between 5.0 And 10.0 T5 or T8?

As stated earlier, the major difference between the T5 and T8 bulbs is that the T8 bulbs were the first to be invented and they are much wider in diameter than the T5 bulbs. They also are incapable of emitting a stronger and consistent UVB like the T5 bulbs.

So in essence, the T5 bulbs are backed by a chrome reflector technology to efficiently provide steady and consistent UVB. What the chrome reflector does is to maximize the UVB and direct it down the bottom of the enclosure and to your skinks.

The 5.0 or 10.0 markings on the bulbs simply mean that 5%  or 10% of the light emitted is UVB respectively. The higher the number the higher the amount of UVB emitted.

Manufacturers of these bulbs use a special blend of phosphorus which is the white coating on the glass to filter the UVB wavelength.

The thicker the coating on the glass, the less UVB can pass through it. At a distance of about 12″, both the 5.0 and 10.0 bulbs will emit 100 microwatts and 200 microwatts respectively.

How Often Should A UVB Bulb Be Replaced?

All UVB lighting fixtures degrade overtime. As the bulbs degrade, the light it gives out decreases. If the distance between the bulb and your skinks is much the usable UVB radiation decreases rapidly as the bulb degrades.

The T5 high output 10.0 or any other T5 high output lamp will last for 12 months before losing 35% of the UVB output.

At this time you can change it or make adjustments to the distance from the bulb to your skink to 15 inches to gain back some of the lost UVB. Ideally, every UVB light bulb should be replaced after every 6 months of use or at most once a year if you aren’t using it every day.

Final Note

Your pet blue tongue skinks deserve the best husbandry, and that includes providing the best heating and lighting lamps powerful enough to emit sufficient heat and visible light.

Since your skinks will be living in an environment away from their natural habitat, it’s your responsibility to provide them a home that matches what they have in the wild.

This would mean providing them a suitable place to bask in, a humid place to cool off, some earth (in this case substrates) to burrow in, etc.

In a nutshell, this article has delivered on its promise of keeping you informed on the best lights from which you can choose the one that’ll be suitable for your skink and budget.

Keep in mind that diligence is a must-have virtue to be a successful skink breeder. Without proper husbandry, even the best heaters and light bulbs can endanger your skinks. 

That being said, to know the actual amount of UVB your bulb is supplying to your skinks, ensure that you have a good solar meter to take daily or weekly recordings and save the same for future purposes. This video will guide you on how to take accurate UVB readings.

For optimum results, I would recommend Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 UVB T5 HO Lamp, 24 Watts for use in a normal size 36″L x 36″W x 12″H enclosure. However, all light bulbs reviewed in this article are great and any of them will suffice for your skinks.

Healthy Lighting (UVB) for Blue Tongue Skinks

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