What Kinds of light bulbs are there for reptiles and amphibians?
In general, lighting products can be categorized into 3 basic groups : UV lighting products, ambient lighting products, and heating products that produce light. Most UV and heat/basking bulbs produce visible light. Additionally, several products exist on the market that fit into more than one of these groups.
UV bulbs – UVB lighting will provide much needed UVA and UVB for your reptile or amphibian pet. UVA aids in your reptile's vision, and your pet will show an increase in appetite and natural behaviors. UVB facilitates your pet's ability to utilize dietary calcium. There are several types of UV bulbs on the market. Linear fluorescent bulbs are an old standby, and come in a variety of sizes that will fit in shop lights, aquarium hoods, etc. Generally, the animal should be able to bask within 12-18” of the bulb, and the bulb should be replaced every 6 months. Compact Fluorescent bulbs share many characteristics of the linear fluorescent bulbs, but can be utilized in a screw-in incandescent socket, such as that found in most dome clamp lamps. Mercury Vapor bulbs use a screw-in incandescent socket as well, and produce both UV and heat. They should be used with a wire clamp lamp, and replaced once a year. Metal Halide bulbs require a special fixture, but they produce some of the best quality UV light available (next to the sun, of course!). Metal halide bulbs also produce heat and high quality 6500K visible light, and only need to be replaced every 2 years! While shopping for UVB bulbs, you'll notice many brands place a number after the name of the bulb (ie 2.0, 5.0, 10.0, etc). The number simply reflects the amount of UVB produced by the bulb. The higher the number, the more UVB produced.
Basking bulbs – Most basking bulbs on the market today produce some UVA as well, and are often called 'full spectrum' bulbs. Basking bulbs are a great source of heat and ambient light for your reptiles. Some amphibians, such as White's Tree Frogs, will benefit from a basking light, as well. A temperature gradient is needed by ectotherms (commonly called 'cold blooded' animals, including reptiles and amphibians) in order to regulate their internal body temperature. Many different kinds of basking bulbs are available on the market. Incandescent basking bulbs are your basic screw-in bulbs, and come in both globe/showcase (your typical round lightbulb) form, as well as a 'spot' or 'tight beam' type with a built in reflector. Incandescent basking bulbs typically last about 3-4 months. Halogen basking bulbs are more efficient at producing heat than standard incandescent types, and generally last about 6 months. Red (Infrared) or Moonlight bulbs provide very little light, but do provide heat. These bulbs are great for providing a heat source for nocturnal species of reptiles, such as leopard geckos or ball pythons, or for increasing the ambient temperature of a habitat. Red (Infrared) and moonlight bulbs typically last 3-6 months, depending on how many hours a day they are used. Ceramic heat emitters produce no light and are a more diffuse heat source. Under the proper conditions (mounted socket so the bulb is not moved when hot, wire fixture), ceramic heat emitters can last years.
Ambient/visible lighting sources abound lately, and there seems to be more available every day. Largely due to increased popularity of vivaria and aquaria, visible light sources (as discussed here) do not emit heat or UV, but instead provide ambient light to an enclosure. Visible lighting sources can be used to establish a photoperiod (a regular day/night cycle, vital for the wellbeing of all reptiles and amphibians. Generally, visible lighting sources in the 65-6700K range are best. Fluorescent and Compact Fluorescent bulbs are a popular choice, and widely available at many home improvement stores. More costly but much more efficient, HOT5 or LED lighting, which produce more light for the wattage.