How much UVB does my reptile need? The UV-Tool, a guide to the selection of UV lighting for reptiles and amphibians in captivity.


  • Frances Marian Baines UV Guide UK
  • Joe Chattell Dominica Forestry Wildlife and Parks Division, Commonwealth of Dominica
  • James Dale Chester Zoo
  • Dan Garrick Marwell Zoo
  • Iri Gill Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park
  • Matt Goetz Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
  • Tim Skelton Bristol Zoo Gardens
  • Matt Swatman Chester Zoo



Guidance is almost non-existent as to suitable levels of UV lighting for reptiles and amphibians, or how to achieve satisfactory UV gradients using artificial lighting. The UV-Tool is a working document that seeks to address this problem, by considering the range of UV experienced by each species in the wild. The UV-Tool contains an editable and expanding database of the microhabitat requirements and basking behaviour of reptile and amphibian species, as derived from field studies, or inferred from observed behaviour in captivity. Since an animal’s UV-B exposure is determined by its behaviour within its native microhabitat, estimation of its natural range of daily UV-B exposure is then possible. The current version of the UV-Tool assigns 254 species to each of four ‘zones’ of UV-B exposure (Ferguson zones) based upon UV-index measurements. Once the likely UV requirement of any species of reptile or amphibian is ascertained, the next step is to plan safe but effective UV gradients within the captive environment. To do this requires knowledge of the UV spectrum and output of the lamps to be used. The UV-Tool therefore includes test reports and UV-index gradient maps for commercially available UV-B lighting products, and a guide to selection of appropriate lamps for use in vivaria and in larger zoo enclosures. There are reports on 24 different products in the current version of the UV-Tool. This document has been compiled by members of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) Reptile and Amphibian Working Group (RAWG) with contributions from zookeepers and herpetologists from the UK and abroad. Further input is welcome and encouraged.

Author Biography

Frances Marian Baines, UV Guide UK



Additional Files



How to Cite

Baines, F. M., Chattell, J., Dale, J., Garrick, D., Gill, I., Goetz, M., … Swatman, M. (2016). How much UVB does my reptile need? The UV-Tool, a guide to the selection of UV lighting for reptiles and amphibians in captivity. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 4(1), 42–63.



Evidence Based Practice