Are Reptile UV Lights Safe for Humans?

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reptile uv lights

One of the things that comes with owning a pet reptile is providing them with UV light. Reptiles such as crested geckos, bearded dragons and painted turtles need UV light in order to thrive and live healthy lives in captivity. Humans are very different from reptiles; we certainly do not need UV light to live or survive. However, have you ever wondered about the effect of reptile UV light on us? Are reptile UV lights safe for humans? The answer is here.

Reptile UV light can damage the human eye from prolonged exposure. If you don’t expose your eyes to reptile UV light, you shouldn’t have any worries about getting harmed by it. Occasional or little exposure to reptile UV lights won’t harm you.

In this article, we will try to answer many frequently asked questions about reptile UV lights and the safety tips or precautions to take when using them.

What Exactly Is UV Light?

reptile uv lights

UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation generated by the sun and other light sources, such as UV lamps. There are three major types of UV rays, which are categorized by their wavelength. They are UV-A, UV-B and UV-C.

UV-A light has the longest wavelength of all UV-type radiation. It is invisible to humans, but it can be seen by many reptiles like turtles, lizards, etc. Long exposure to UV-A rays can cause premature wrinkles and faster aging of the skin.

UV-B radiation has a shorter wavelength and is responsible for sunburns as well as vitamin D generation in the skin. UVB is invisible to both humans and reptiles.

UV-C rays have the shortest wavelength of all of the UV radiation types. They are emitted by the sun but absorbed by the ozone layer, thereby preventing them from reaching the earth’s surface. UV-C radiation is very harmful to both humans and reptiles; it is not emitted by reptile UV lamps.

What Is Reptile UV Light?

Reptile UV light is a type of light that emits both UVA and UVB rays and is used in reptile enclosures in order to help them stay healthy. Reptiles require both UVB and UVA rays for various purposes. UVA rays are required by reptiles to regulate behaviors such as feeding, diurnal movement, mating and similar activities, while UVB rays help them produce vitamin D3, which is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. In the wild, reptiles often bask in the sun in order to get these rays. In captivity, it is necessary to provide this same radiation, hence the need for reptile UV lights.

Are Reptile UV Lights Safe for Humans?

A lot of people aren’t sure if reptile UV lights are safe for humans, but the truth is that reptile UV lights are typically safe for people. A non-prolonged or occasional exposure to reptile UV light won’t harm you; however, it is very necessary that you take some precautions while handling it.

Extended exposure to UVB radiation may result in skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. However, UVB-radiating reptile lamps are designed to generate considerably lower levels of UVB radiation than the sun, making them safe for both reptiles and people.

How To Use Reptile UV Lights Safely

Here are some necessary precautions to follow when using reptile UV lamps.

  1. Avoid looking straight at the lamp.
    UVB lamps produce UVB rays that can hurt your eyes. Avoid looking directly at the lamp and putting it in a position where it will shine straight into your eyes.
  2. Use lamps with a protective shield.
    Although this might not be necessary, protective shields can be used as extra protection to shield your eyes from direct exposure to UV-B rays. Some reptile UVB lamps include a shield that helps reduce the risk of eye damage. Consider purchasing a shield separately if your light does not come with one.
  3. Make use of the lamp only for its intended purpose.
    Reptile UVB lamps are intended for use in reptile enclosures alone and should not be utilized for anything else. They should not be used to tan or cure skin issues.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
    When using a reptile UVB lamp, always make sure that you adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidance. Replace the lamp when it reaches its expiration date and only use it for the recommended period of time.
  5. Keep the lamp out of the reach of children.
    To avoid accidental exposure, make sure you keep the lamp out of the reach of children.

FAQs on Reptile UV Light

Can reptile UV light cause cancer?

Since reptile UV lamps are less potent than other radioactive devices like X-ray machines, they are unlikely to cause cancer. As we have previously mentioned, we are unable to eliminate the opportunity in the case of prolonged exposure.

Clinical studies have shown that UV radiation causes squamous molecular cancers (SCC) and basal molecular cancers (BCC). These are the malignancies that may develop as a result of skin exposure to UV light.

Too much exposure to UV lights on the skin causes sunburn. When the skin is sunburned, our body will try to counter this by repairing tissues, which it does by growing cells in the sunburnt area. And when these cells grow out of control, melanocytes develop, causing skin cancer, i.e., melanoma.

If you have been tinkering every day with your reptile’s UV light, you might put yourself at risk of getting skin cancer.

Will you get tanned from using reptile UV light?

It is true that our bodies will produce more melanin as a result of exposure to UV radiation. Melanin is responsible for skin darkening and tanning. However, reptile UV lamps can only efficiently target specific parts of the skin at a time, thereby preventing a full-frame tan.

Reptile UV lamps also emit UVB rays, which may have a shorter wavelength and cause more harm to the skin than is healthy. Some people with UV light allergies develop rashes and burn extremely quickly. Therefore, using reptile UV lamps to get tanned might not be the best idea.


In conclusion, you shouldn’t really worry about getting harmed by reptile UVB light if you use it appropriately. Reptile UV lights are generally safe for humans.Although UVB radiation has the potential to cause skin and eye damage, the levels of UV-B radiation emitted by reptile UV lamps are much lower than those emitted by the sun. Despite this, it is necessary to use reptile UV lamps correctly and adhere to the manufacturer’s safety guidelines in order to reduce the risk of injury.

About the Author

reptile uv lights

Dustin Williams

Dustin Williams is a seasoned author who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the world of pet literature. His expertise stems from a lifelong immersion in the fascinating world of animal companionship and care. As a third-generation aquarist, Mr. Williams boasts a deep understanding of aquatic life. His passion began in childhood and [...] Author Details

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