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Why is Ultraviolet (UV) light so important for my reptile?

30 Apr, 2024
Reptiles

Ultraviolet (UV) lighting is often recommended for reptiles however, it can be confusing to work out what type of UV lighting is needed. To clarify, we discuss the different types of UV light and identify which reptiles benefit from having UV lighting in their enclosures. Remember, the sun is the best source of UV light, so providing your reptiles with safe and suitable access to natural sunlight whenever possible is an excellent way to fulfil their UV needs.

So what is UV light?

UV light is a form of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun. While it is invisible to human eyes, it is thought that reptiles might be able to perceive or detect certain parts of the UV spectrum.

UV light is typically divided into three categories: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

1. UVA - UVA is part of regular sunlight, and reptiles typically respond well to exposure to UVA light. This exposure can lead to increased reproductive behaviour, as well as higher levels of feeding and activity.

2. UVB - UVB is crucial for the vitamin D metabolism in many reptiles. Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract and plays other significant roles in their health.

Insufficient vitamin D can lead to low calcium levels, which may cause problems like decreased bone density, poor gut motility, muscle weakness, a weakened immune system, and neurological issues, including twitching and seizures. A prevalent condition resulting from these deficiencies is metabolic bone disease, characterized by demineralized, weak, and rubbery bones.

Overall, lighting recommendations for reptiles tend to focus primarily on the UVB component.

3. UVC - UVC light is largely filtered out by the ozone layer and can be damaging to living cells.

All reptiles can benefit from UV lighting that replicates the level of UV exposure they would naturally receive in the wild.

For instance, a frill-neck lizard needs a high level of UV exposure, as it typically spends a significant portion of its day basking in sunlight. On the other hand, a nocturnal python, which seldom emerges during daylight, requires minimal UV exposure to simulate its natural environment.

While many keepers choose not to provide UV light for primarily nocturnal species during the day, recent studies suggest these animals may still benefit from even limited exposure.

Once again, the sun is the best source of UV light, providing your reptiles with safe and suitable access to natural sunlight whenever possible is one of the best ways to fulfil their UV needs. A perfect way to give your reptiles time outdoors is with a Pop-up Chameleon temporary outdoor enclosure from www.popupchameleon.com.

If you have questions regarding the UV lighting for a specific species of reptile, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Unusual Pet Vets www.unusualpetvets.com.au for more information.

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