Lighting Your Sudan Plated Lizard Setup

Reptiles have evolved over the course of thousands and millions of years to be very good at living in a very particular type of environment. As such, their health and wellbeing is very dependent on this environment. They’re not as adaptable as mammals like humans and cats and dogs. So when we keep a Sudan plated lizard as a pet, we need to make sure that the Sudan plated lizard setup recreates the natural conditions of its native habitat. This habitat re-creation starts with setting up the right lighting, heating, and humidity.

Sudan plated lizards’ natural distribution falls between about 10° north and 20° south of the equator, where sunlight tends to be strongest and UVI (UV Index) readings tend to be highest. These lizards are diurnal, which means they’re most active during the day, preferring to bask in the morning before the sun reaches its apex. They also have thick scales that help protect them from the intense UVB radiation in their habitat.

rough-scaled plated lizard uvb and lighting
Photo 26384903” by John Lyakurwa is licensed under CC BY 4.0
A Sudan plated lizard setup must include the UVB radiation naturally found in sunlight in order to the lizard to be healthy. The best way to replicate the sunlight in their natural habitat is by using a high-quality fluorescent tube UVB lamp. Sudan plated lizards in particular need a UVB lamp that meets the following requirements:
  • T5 HO (high output) bulb
  • 10-12% UVB output
  • mounted on the ceiling of the enclosure
  • 12-18” above the basking area
  • 1/2 to 2/3 of the length of the enclosure

For a 4’x2’x2’ enclosure, for example, you will need a 24-36” lamp. Bulbs should be mounted inside a T5 HO fixture with a reflector for best results — fixtures without reflectors reduce bulb output by about 50%.

We recommend only the following bulbs for use with Sudan plated lizards. According to current data, any and all other brands are of inferior quality or strength and can’t be trusted for reliable performance.

If your basking area will be 18-24” away from the top of the enclosure, or the light will be mounted over mesh rather than inside the enclosure, using an Arcadia Dragon 14% bulb will be more appropriate for your plated lizard’s needs, as UVB strength decreases as it gets further from the source and is partially blocked by mesh.

  • Advanced keepers: While following the above instructions should produce UVB at safe levels for your rough-scaled plated lizard, you can double-check what your pet is getting by using a Solarmeter 6.5. This device measures UVB strength in UVI (UV Index), and can be used to measure UVB levels anywhere in the enclosure. If you’re using a Solarmeter 6.5 to help you set up your UVB lighting, aim for a gradient between 0 at lowest and 6.0 at highest (in the basking area). Raising the basking area closer to the top of the enclosure can help accomplish this.

A Sudan plated lizard setup also requires plenty of bright “sun”light to stimulate activity, appetite, and general wellbeing. Aside from using a UVB tube, this can be accomplished by using a 6500K LED or fluorescent light of the same length and a light-producing heat source (more on that later). These lights and their fixtures are usually pretty easy to source.

Keep the lights on for 12 hours/day. You can do this by manually turning the lights on and off or by putting them on a timer like the Zilla 24/7 Power Center. If you wish to create “seasons” for your pet, leave the light on for 13 hours/day during the summer and 12 hours/day during winter.

"Photo 30406384" by mikeloomis is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

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