Shedding Light on LEDs

According to Rita Zarate, vice president of sales and marketing for Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., LED lighting provides functional benefits to terrariums and value to the owners of herptile pets.


Pet Business: What are some of the benefits of utilizing LED lighting in a terrarium setup? How has LED technology improved upon previous technology?
Rita Zarate:
LED lighting has some very unique benefits for terrarium lighting applications. LEDs are very efficient and use very little energy, making them inexpensive to operate. They also have very long life ratings and can last up to five years before maintenance is required. Another great feature is that they generate little to no heat. For many species of reptiles and amphibians, this is especially important. Some species, like crested geckos and many amphibians, are very sensitive to high temperatures. LED technology allows us to provide bright, beautiful light for these animals without increasing terrarium temperatures. Also, unlike fluorescent lighting, LEDs are mercury free and better for the environment.

LEDs are also available in a variety of colors, which serve different purposes in the terrarium. All of Zoo Med’s ReptiSun LED fixtures come with three different colored diodes to provide a variety of benefits for a reptile or amphibian’s habitat. Previously, multiple fixtures would be needed to provide for bright visible light, plant growth and nighttime lighting. This can now be achieved with one low-profile fixture.

The 6500K white LEDs provide brilliant white daylight to illuminate the terrarium for both its inhabitants, as well as its viewers. This light closely replicates the sun’s natural visible light, allowing animals to see things as they would appear in nature and promoting natural behaviors, such as feeding and breeding behaviors.

The 620 nm red LEDs provide beneficial wavelengths for photosynthesis, which is necessary for terrarium plant growth. Live plants in a terrarium serve many purposes, such as increasing beneficial humidity, providing natural climbing and hiding opportunities, creating ideal nesting areas and helping to create a naturalistic habitat for many species. Some plant species have specific lighting requirements, and our new LED technology makes keeping these plants in a terrarium possible and even easy.

Finally, the 460 nm blue LEDs provide low levels of nighttime lighting, simulating a lunar lighting effect. This light is perfect for nighttime viewing of pets and for providing low lighting for nocturnal pets’ nighttime activities.

PB: How popular is LED lighting in the herptile category?
As LEDs have become more popular in traditional lighting applications like homes and automobiles, it makes perfect sense to the consumer that they would be beneficial for pets as well. Zoo Med was the first company to bring complete LED lighting systems to market for reptiles and amphibians. We fully expect this technology to experience a rapid growth in popularity, alongside the growth in household LED lighting. As we learn more about the benefits of LED technology for reptiles, its popularity grows. LEDs are a relatively new idea for reptile-specific lighting, but awareness is increasing, and reptile keepers are beginning to look forward to and appreciate the advances made in this technology.

PB: Which species can benefit greatly from LED lighting and the technological advances in this area?
LEDs can provide visible light that is unmatched by other technology and can really increase the beauty of virtually any terrarium. It is especially beneficial for animals that thrive in cooler conditions, as it does not increase terrarium temperature. Temperate species, such as Jackson’s chameleons, crested geckos, and other New Caledonian species, can greatly benefit from these lights. Additionally, those species that would naturally be exposed to very bright visible light, such as bearded dragons, Uromastyx and other desert animals, will benefit from the natural, bright light provided. Amphibians such as dart frogs and mantellas, among others, will thrive under the conditions provided by this new technology.

PB: What are some of the factors that retailers should consider when selecting LED lighting to offer their herp-hobbyist customers?
Retailers should use the products and understand the benefits provided. Having a variety of sizes available and displaying them on terrariums will help retailers and consumers choose the right product for their needs.

PB: What makes Zoo Med LED lighting stand out from the competition?
Zoo Med was first to market with reptile LED lighting and currently stands alone in this category. One great feature is the modular design with replaceable LED modules. Individual modules can be replaced at the end of their useful life, extending the life of the fixture indefinitely. Other fixtures must be discarded at the end of the LEDs life, or if one diode fails. Additionally, these LED fixtures have been designed specifically for reptile and amphibian use, instead of simply being adapted from other industries.

PB: What guidance should retailers be prepared to offer customers who are shopping for LED lighting?
Retailers should help customers understand the value of LEDs in that they outlast other lighting sources by several years, making them a great value. Their value is further enhanced by their energy efficiency which reduces energy bills and is good for the environment. Finally, LEDs are unmatched in their ability to provide truly naturalistic lighting, both in terms of color and intensity.

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