Lipshitz (FloridaWild patient)
We see a variety of reptiles. During your first appointment we will gather information about your reptiles's environment, food, socialization and any past illness. We will perform a physical examination.
We use this opportunity to teach you some things that perhaps you didn't already know about reptiles.
What is UV light and why is it important?
UV stands for Ultraviolet and is an important part of natural sunlight. It is invisible to the human eye and has 3 different wavelengths. In herpetology, the UVA and UVB wavelengths are the most significant.
UVA is the wavelength that is visible to reptiles and amphibians. It aids in inducing natural behaviors like feeding, breeding and is essential for their overall well-being.
UVB light is the invisible light that helps some reptiles convert Vitamin D3 in their skin to aid in utilizing calcium from their diet. In other words, without the UVB light, calcium cannot be absorbed from their food or supplements. This lack of calcium leads to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
MBD is common in reptiles that are cared for improperly. Because the body has a demand for calcium and cannot absorb it from the diet, it begins to mobilize the calcium from the animals bones. This decrease in bone density leads to fractures usually in multiple locations. This is a very painful disease.
Jasmine (FloridaWild patient)
Does every reptile need UV light?
No! Nocturnal species, such as the leopard gecko, do not require the UV light. This is because their bodies have adapted to hunting at night and therefore in the wild, are not exposed to this wavelength. In addition, snakes do not require UV light because they obtain Vitamin D3 from their prey. But other animals like Green Iguanas, American Anoles and Bearded Dragons need the UVB light. If the reptile originates from tropical places, then the need for UVB light increases and there are products specifically for these pets.
How to provide UV light?
There are a few ways that UV light can be provided to your pets including fluorescent tubes, fluorescent power compact bulbs, mercury vapor bulbs and ulfiltered sunshine.
It is crucial to remember that plexiglass and windows filter out the UV light needed. In addition, wire mesh also decreases the amount of UV light absorbed by reptiles. Keeping this in mind, having little or nothing between the light source and the animal is most beneficial.
Speedy & Ford (FloridaWild patients)
Does every reptile need UV light?
Fluorescent bulbs made by ZooMed and Exo-Terra are excellent. These are inexpensive and easy to use. Please keep in mind that these bulbs need to be changed every 6 months (even if the light is still on). This insures that the proper UV light is radiating from the bulbs.
But, alas, Mother Nature is always better. None of the options for your reptile even come close to the advantages of natural sunlight. If possible, build an outdoor enclosure that is safe and provides adequate shade to prevent overheating. An aquarium outside is never a good idea. This is because the glass of the aquarium acts as a greenhouse effect and will cause the animal to overheat quickly. In addition, when constructing, use the largest mesh possible to prevent escape and decrease the UV light filtered.
More information about UV lighting:
UV Lighting by California Zoological Supply (Cal. Zoo.).
Reptile Lighting by Melissa Kaplan.
UV Lighting: Sunshine on their Shoulders by Bonnie J. Keller.
Thanks to Western New York Herpetological Society for this helpful information.