In order to keep your reptile healthy it is important to have the correct setup for them, this includes their housing, water, humidity, heat and UVB. There is a lot of miss information about UVB. We at Adele's Reptiles believe an informed reptile keeper is a good reptile keeper. Please read this latest report with regards to why your reptile needs UVB not only to keep it alive but for a heathy long life.
In order to metabolize (effectively absorb) dietary calcium, reptiles need vitamin D3. This can come from one of two ways:
- Ingesting through their food and/or supplements
- Exposure to UVB (ultraviolet b) lighting
UVB is a necessary part of the process in which vitamin D3 is produced in the skin of humans and animals, and is also what causes sunburn in humans. The vitamin D3 that is produced is responsible for regulating calcium metabolism. Proper exposure to UVB wavelengths allows reptiles the ability to regulate their own vitamin D3 levels naturally.
Since most reptile species are unable to utilize dietary vitamin D3, they must have access to UVB rays with full-spectrum lighting for 10–12 hours a day. An incandescent day bulb can be used for basking area during daylight hours only; can use a ceramic heat emitter or red heat lamp at all hours.
A lack of UVB and vitamin D3 can ultimately result in metabolic bone disease in reptiles, and rickets in humans. UVB light helps to prevent or reverse metabolic bone disease commonly seen in captive lizards. UV light also allows turtles and tortoises the proper wavelength needed to maintain healthy shell growth. Nearly all animals that are active during the day are exposed to UVB.
Reptiles housed indoors that are not exposed to the correct levels of UVB, will result in the development of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). MBD causes reptiles’ bones to become soft, resulting in severe deformities of the spine, broken legs and soft jaws. In severe cases, the internal organs would calcify and become hard—which ultimately resulted in death.
We now know that most diurnal (daytime active) reptiles require UVB. Since the release of the ReptiSun UVB lamps, dozens of scientific studies have confirmed their beneficial effect on reptiles. From the results of these studies, we can now make recommendations on exposure times, distances and lamp replacement intervals.
Researchers have determined the UVB levels required by some reptile species, termed “Ferguson Zones” by utilizing UV Index readings and observations of species natural basking behavior.
Zones 1 and 2 are appropriate for diurnal and crepuscular species. Species such as geckos, snakes, box turtles, water dragons and chameleons avoid direct sunlight or venture out into full sunlight for short periods of time.
Zone 3 covers many popular pet species such as turtles, tortoises, monitors and iguanas that enjoy basking in full sunlight in the morning and early afternoon.
Zone 4 species include bearded dragons, uromastyx and desert iguanas that bask in full sunlight even after other species’ have retreated into burrows or shade.
Anything exceeding Zone 4 should be avoided for even the most sun-loving reptiles.
For all reptile species, it is essential to provide a UVB gradient that allows the reptile to adjust its UVB exposure. Reptiles also require heat in order to benefit from UVB and synthesize vitamin D3. Screen covers on terrariums filter out a portion of the UVB from all lamps, while glass and most plastics filter out 100% of the UVB.
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