Product Review: Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser

ReptiFiles received a free Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser in exchange for an honest review, whether positive or negative. The review below is my honest, unbiased opinion. However, because Custom Reptile Habitats is a ReptiFiles sponsor, this article contains some paid links. For details on why ReptiFiles uses paid links and sponsorships, click here.

UVB light provision is one of the most complicated (and therefore misunderstood) aspects of keeping reptiles. If only it was as simple as picking out a replacement bulb for your reading lamp! Instead, there’s (what feels like) a million different considerations you need to make as you attempt to figure out UVB:

  • Which brand of bulb are you using?
  • What’s the strength rating for the bulb?
  • Is the bulb T8, T5 SO, or T5 HO?
  • Which fixture is the bulb housed in?
  • What’s the distance between the bulb and the basking spot?
  • Is there mesh obstruction?
  • How old is the bulb?
  • What species is your reptile?
  • Does your pet have more or less pigmentation than the wild type?

And of course, the stakes are quite high for getting UVB right — if you don’t, your reptile might die of metabolic bone disease. Or it could get severe skin/scale damage. Or it could go blind and/or die of cancer. Oh, and apparently there’s only one device (the Solarmeter 6.5) that accurately measures UVB exposure in a useful way. That’s fine…except for the fact that Solarmeters are prohibitively expensive for the average keeper, so it comes down to either borrowing one or making an educated guess based on available resources like manufacturer recommendations and independent readings taken by other reptile keepers.

Do you have a headache yet?

Ah well, c’est la vie… I never did claim that reptiles are easy pets, did I? (For the record, all ReptiFiles reptile care manuals and care sheets contain specific instructions for UVB provision based on Solarmeter 6.5 readings taken with the bulbs and fixtures being recommended.)

Today we’re focusing on distance, because believe it or not, the strength of a UVB bulb’s output (its UVI) varies depending on how far you are from the bulb itself. As you get farther away from the bulb, UVI decreases. In other words, if your reptile’s basking branch/platform is too far away from the UVB lamp, your fancy lamp might actually be ineffective. Conversely, if the basking branch/platform is too close to the UVB lamp, your fancy lamp might actually harm your pet long-term.

This is usually within your control: simply adjust the height of the basking branch/platform, and your pet is safe! (Usually.) The exception occurs when the reptile in question is capable of spending significant amounts of time closer to the UVB lamp than intended…for example, if you have a gecko or lizard species that likes to hang out on the underside of your terrarium mesh.

What do you do then??

Meet the Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser

Custom Reptile Habitats’ new product, the UVB Riser, is designed to address that exact problem. This is a reptile lamp stand created specifically for increasing the distance between a fluorescent or hood lamp fixture and the terrarium mesh below, so you can still achieve a safe UVB exposure distance and optimal basking UVI even if your pet has a penchant for being upside-down.

Another function of the Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser is that it allows you to safely use more of your enclosure’s available vertical space without endangering your pet. In theory, this should also work for dome heat lamps, increasing the size of the basking area and promoting gentler, more even heating to reduce the risk of burns.

That’s the theory of it, anyway. Let’s take a closer look!

Product Specs

  • Assembled dimensions of each bracket: 19″L x 8″W
  • Adjustable from 2″ to 8″ above the screen top
  • Fits most UVB and other reptile light fixtures
  • Made from flame-retardant recycled PVC material
  • Rated to resist up to 350°F without melting
  • Included: screws for assembly
  • Color: black
  • $39.95 USD*

*as of the date of this review


Unboxing & Assembly

Out of the box, the Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser isn’t complicated as a reptile lamp stand. It comes in four pieces wrapped in bubble wrap, plus a small bag of matching screws.

Unfortunately, the package that I received did not include instructions for assembly. The good news is that it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how it goes together, especially if you have a product picture for reference. Still, a simple print or digital diagram for guidance would have been nice to have.

I also had to clear some manufacturing debris (PVC dust) out of the peg-holes before putting the UVB Riser together. This was done easily enough with a toothpick, or at least to the point where the riser could be fitted together.

uvb riser manufacturing debris

Aside from the above, assembly was very easy. Screws are included with the product, but I found them to be not particularly necessary, as the pieces fit together pretty snugly on their own. However, they are nice to have in case I want a little extra reinforcement in the future. No tools are included with this product, so if you want to use the screws, you will need your own Philips screwdriver, or better yet, a drill.

Design/Functionality Notes

For the purposes of this review, I decided to test the Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser by installing it above my 18”L x 18”W x 24”H mourning gecko terrarium. Mourning geckos are microgeckos, and as such, they treat the fine mesh ceiling of their Zoo Med terrarium like a jungle gym. They like to use it and their schefflera plant to bask within inches of their Arcadia JungleDawn LED, and I’ve had to take extra measures to nerf their Zoo Med T8 Reptisun 5.0 UVB lamp to keep the UVI no higher than 3.0 at that extremely short distance.

With the UVB Riser, I was able to prop both the UVB and LED 2” above the terrarium mesh, as well as add a gentle 40w Exo Terra Daytime Heat Lamp in a Zoo Med Naturalistic Terrarium Hood fixture to augment the geckos’ basking options. With each bracket being 8” wide and 19” long, they just barely fit on top of the 18”x18” screen.

uvb riser lamp stand on mourning gecko terrarium

It works, but you can tell that this is a reptile lamp stand originally designed for use with larger enclosures. Anything smaller than a 18×18 footprint will be dwarfed by the UVB Riser.

As a side note, I was concerned about the heat tolerance/VOC potential of a product that comes into direct contact with high temperatures, so I asked Custom Reptile Habitats about it. In response, they sent me the following information:


What I Liked About the Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser

  • Fills a gap in the reptile market that really should’ve been addressed a long time ago.
  • Facilitates maximum use of a terrarium’s volume.
  • Makes UVB provision safer for small arboreal species.
  • Distances from 2” to 8” are marked, so there’s no guesswork!
  • Compatible with fluorescent fixtures, LED bars, and low-wattage heat bulbs housed in a horizontal hood.
  • Can be easily adjusted to accommodate lamps of varying lengths.
  • Easy to put together and fits snugly together even without the screws.
  • Easy to take apart for compact storage.
  • Low potential for VOC off gassing/heat damage.
  • Made from recycled material = eco-friendly.

What I Didn’t Like About the Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser

  • No instructions. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put the product together if you know what it’s supposed to look like (just reference the product photos on the website), but including basic instructions or a QR code to online instructions is common courtesy for those of us who may be a little three-dimensionally challenged.
  • Largely incompatible with dome lamps. Heat damage isn’t likely to be an issue with this lamp stand, but the relative length of fluorescent and LED fixtures compared to dome lamps, which generally range from 5.5” to 16” wide, still makes using the UVB Riser to elevate the dome lamp along with everything else a questionable proposition. I managed to find a workaround, but this is more an obstacle than a functional feature.
  • Potential for UVB vs. heat lamp conflict. If you attempt to solve the above solution by keeping your heat lamp on the screen and propping up the other lamps, you get an “eclipse” effect where the heat lamp partially occludes the UVB’s output, which somewhat frustrates the point of placing heat and UVB together to mingle radiation for maximum benefit. To overcome this conflict, all lamps should be ideally on the same level.
  • Takes up a LOT of space. If you’re limited on space above your reptile enclosure or you have a small enclosure, then the UVB Riser is inconveniently large. I would like to see a smaller/sleeker version for smaller enclosures or for people who really don’t need that much height
  • Messy out of the box. The presence of significant amounts of manufacturing debris makes this product feel like a quality assurance oversight, which is not quite the luxury experience I’ve come to expect from CRH.

Conclusion: Promising product, but needs further development

ReptiFiles Rating: 3.5 stars

The Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser is a great product concept and very needed in the reptile market for facilitating more precise reptile husbandry. This alternative design is MUCH more UVB lamp-friendly than most other reptile lamp stands I’ve seen, as well as simple to put together, convenient to install, and sturdy even without the hardware.

However, points were knocked off for a lack of included instructions, the presence of a significant amount of manufacturing debris, lack of support for dome heat lamps (contrary to advertisement), and lack of options for small enclosures. Although personally I don’t take issue with the price, fixing these complaints would make the UVB Riser feel more worth the $40.

This last deficiency is particularly significant given that while the idea of being able to lift lamps off the top of a large enclosure to increase available arboreal space is nice, I think the area of greatest need for this type of product is the small enclosures which house tiny species with a penchant for mesh-climbing. A smaller option with narrower brackets and not quite as much height or length (I suggest 10”L x 4”H) would be perfect.

Is this a bad product? Not at all! As it is currently, it’s still very useful in the right applications. It just think that it needs a little extra development and polish to reach its potential.

The Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser is likely to work best for arboreal lizards and snakes housed in an enclosure with a footprint of at least 18”L x 18”W, including:

  • Anoles
  • Chameleons
  • Day geckos
  • Electric blue geckos
  • House geckos
  • Mourning geckos
  • Rough green snakes
  • Rhino rat snakes
  • Vine snakes

ReptiFiles’ tips for success with the Custom Reptile Habitats UVB Riser lamp stand:

  • When installing this product, do your best to elevate ALL of the lamps so they’re still on the same level and mingling radiation. This will help overcome the aforementioned “eclipsing” problem and maintain the effectiveness of your lighting array.
  • Don’t use this product with dome lamps which house particularly high-wattage bulbs (>100w), as this increases the risk of melting the plastic and offgassing chemicals which may be toxic to you and your pet.