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ARTIFICIAL LIGHT. When keeping Reptiles in captive environments we need to provide artificial sunlight. Not any old light will do!!! There are specific Reptile lights sold by Pet Shops. Some are different shapes and come in many different sizes. Every keeper needs to be made aware of what light is right for their Reptiles well being. So here we go, and I hope that what you are about to learn is not too confusing.
UVA / UVB. What does all this mean??? The UV spectrum is broken up into three parts: UVA, UVB and UVC, all of which are present in natural sunlight. UVA and UVB are essential for Reptiles wellbeing. UVA is the visible light range, and is responsible for normal behaviours such as feeding and activity. UVB is a non-visible wavelength, and allows the synthesis of vitamin D3, which helps process calcium and prevent Soft Shell in Turtles and Metabolic Bone Disease in Lizards. (Metabolic Bone Disease is particularly common with Bearded Dragons and Eastern Water Dragons that have incorrect lighting)
WHICH IS THE RIGHT LIGHT FOR MY REPTILE??? "Sun-worshippers". Some Reptiles are described as "Sun-worshippers", including Bearded Dragons, Eastern Water Dragons and many species of Turtles especially Red-eared Turtles. In the wild these Reptiles spend many hours a day exposed to the sun and high UVB levels. They require high levels of UVB!! If you keep any Reptile in captivity in New Zealand, you are bound to have a "Sun-worshipper", therefore it is imperative that you purchase a Reptile specific light with the highest possible UVB output. The Florescent Tubes that you will find for sale in New Zealand currently range from 2.0, 5.0, 8.0, and 10.0. These numbers represent the percentage of UVB wavelengths that they give. The higher the number the higher the percentage of UVB, the better that light is for the wellbeing of your Reptile. We at Hot House Turtles recommend no matter what Reptile is kept, that you use the higher UVB percentage bulbs or tubes, either an 8.0 or 10.0.
Some of the Compact UVA / UVB Low-energy Bulbs come with a percentage of UVB and some do not. It's a matter of reading the fine print to get the best suited bulb for your Pet.
INTENSITY OF LIGHT. Glass filters 95% of UVB. Fly mesh filters 30% of UVB. It is best to have no lids on your Turtle tanks, and to mount the light on the inside of your Lizards environment. This will then ensure that your Reptile is going to get the full benefit from the UVB given off. There are two types of Reptile bulbs available, UVA / UVB Fluorescent Tubes and Compact UVA / UVB Low-energy Bulbs. In order for your Reptile to gain the highest possible UVB% from your bulb, the distance between your Reptiles sunning area and the UV bulb must not exceed 300mm. The further your Reptile is from the light, the UV light levels are greatly reduced. Also note that the Florescent Tubes and Compact Bulbs need to be changed as per the manufacturers recommendations. Usually annually, as the UVA / UVB output is reduced over time. Even though the light still goes, they are of no benefit to your Reptile at all!!
(In the enclosure above I have a double florescent tube holder. I use JBL UVB tubes and as per manufacturers recommendation on the packaging I use a JBL Reptil Sun (8% UVB/36% UVA) along side a JBL Jungle (2%UVB). This gives my Bearded Dragons the correct amount of UV and visible light in such a large enclosure which measures 900W x 900L x 1200H. The distance from the log to the tubes is 300mm (again manufacturers recommendation on the packaging). There are two Dome Fittings down low suspended over top of a flat rock. One contains a 60watt heat bulb, and the other a UVB Compact bulb. This provides the Bearded Dragons sufficient UVB when warming themselves on the floor of the enclosure. There is also a 150 watt ceramic heat emitter mounted in the top of the enclosure beside the UVB tubes.)
AMOUNT OF LIGHT. 10 hours of artificial
light is the minimum per day. An easier way to make sure that your Reptile is
getting enough UVB is to turn the lights on when you get up in the morning and off when
you go to bed.
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