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UV for Varanidae


Roachman26
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Does anyone know if its critical that monitors get a lot of UV? I've always done it, but is it necessary? I know beardies, iggies and any chelonians must have it, as much as possible, but I've heard conflicting things about it for monitors. They say big boas and pythons don't need much, if any, because they get D3 from eating whole prey animals. Is it the same for Varanids? I'm aware of the psychological benefits, what I'm asking about is MBD. I'm building a sunning cage for my little ones and I'm always worried about losing one or having some sort of outdoor mishap. Once they get a little bigger they'll live outdoors anyway, but while they're little I keep them inside and give sunshine on warm days.

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Does anyone know if its critical that monitors get a lot of UV? I've always done it, but is it necessary? I know beardies, iggies and any chelonians must have it, as much as possible, but I've heard conflicting things about it for monitors. They say big boas and pythons don't need much, if any, because they get D3 from eating whole prey animals. Is it the same for Varanids? I'm aware of the psychological benefits, what I'm asking about is MBD. I'm building a sunning cage for my little ones and I'm always worried about losing one or having some sort of outdoor mishap. Once they get a little bigger they'll live outdoors anyway, but while they're little I keep them inside and give sunshine on warm days.

post-934-1261810066_thumb.jpg

I've heard both but the majority of sources I've read say they don't require it. I have a friend who's growing his pretty big without D3; I'd just say feed a varied diet.

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I've heard both but the majority of sources I've read say they don't require it. I have a friend who's growing his pretty big without D3; I'd just say feed a varied diet.

What species does your friend have? I've raised several, but always taken them out in the sun quite a bit and supplemented with rep-cal (with D3) one or two times a week. Here's a pic of my old female salvator.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/roachman26/4216325343/

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Hi Roachman

Well, any animal eating whole vertebrates (e.g. rodents) get enough vit. D3, those fed on insects don't (except the insects get a special vitamine D3-enriched diet).

Young monitors (as well as lizards in general, snakes, and other vertebrates) need more calcium for their fast growing bones and therefore a lack of vit. D3 is worse than for adults (for youngs it's 50-100 I.U. per kilogramm and week, for adults 50 I.U./kg/week). One has two possibilities to ensure enough vit. D3: either by supplementation (e.g. Rep Cal -> can be quite much if one calculates it!) or by UV-B light (which is better not only because it is the natural way but because over-dosage is impossible).

Sunlight would be the best thing and even half an hour each second day is more than sufficient (for humans it's enough with 20 minutes exposure of the under-arms :o ). Here in Middle Europe the sun at a slightly cloudy morning (I measured it at 10 a.m.) in spring brings us around 200 uW/squarecentimeter of UV-B -> that's what you get with high-end bulbs like the Mega Ray's by reptileuv.com at an appropriat distance! 200 uW/cm2 (around 800 uW/squareinch??) every one or two days for 30 minutes are sufficient for heliotrope reptiles (= desert- but also 'treetop'-dwelling day-active species) to avoid rachitis (IBD can have other reasons) but are not enough for animals with a current deficiency.

I can't tell you much about Varanus salvator cencretely... It's such a variable species that some populations have a very high UV-exposure (e.g. 200-400 uW/cm2 UV-B for several hours a day!) whilst others could be classified as 'jungle dwelling' (50-100 uW/cm2 UV-B ).

Besides: UV-B has nothing to do with psychological benefits ;) ! It's long-wavelength UV-A which can be seen by most vertebrates (except primates and a few others) and which is responsible for circadiane rhythm and other physiological and psychological effects! Reptiles estimate the amount of invisible UV-B exposure by the amount of visible UV-A and that's the reason why energy-saving bulbs and fluorescent tubes with the 'UV-index' 10.0 can cause damage (the ratio of UV-A to -B is not sun-like and pretend too less UV-B ).

Hope that I could be of some help!

Grüessli

Andreas

P.S. My favorite bulbs are the Mega Ray's even though we have cheaper European products (Bright Sun and UV Raptor). These bulbs nearly loose no UV-output over their lifetime compared to every other product on the market and are worth its price. I use the self-ballasted 160W zoologist (blended light bulb = ugly mercury vapor spectrum but the only bulb useful at a distance of 0.8 to 2 meters), the old self-ballasted 100 W as spot (have to replaced it sooner or later) and the new externally ballasted 70W metalhalide (might loose UV-output) to raise the offspring (Note: The wattage is different because we have 220 W on the grid). For those being interested: I have the Narva BioVital T5 tubes as basic illumination in addition.

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Thanks for a very thorough answer. I think we have the same type of lamps as you do. Mercury vapor, 160watt flood, 100watt spot. The ones we have are manufactured in Canada and marketed here in the States by several manufacturers. I've found that they work very well. I brought an Iguana back from the beginnings of MBD with one in the middle of winter here. She didn't recover 100% but her jaw straightened back out. When her tail re-calcified, it kept a couple of slight crooks in it. She's still alive at almost 17 years old.

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  • 1 month later...
Thanks for a very thorough answer. I think we have the same type of lamps as you do. Mercury vapor, 160watt flood, 100watt spot. The ones we have are manufactured in Canada and marketed here in the States by several manufacturers. I've found that they work very well. I brought an Iguana back from the beginnings of MBD with one in the middle of winter here. She didn't recover 100% but her jaw straightened back out. When her tail re-calcified, it kept a couple of slight crooks in it. She's still alive at almost 17 years old.

yup, iguanas, given half a chance will out live you. i have had iguanas with multiple problems come back in the middle of winter for me, with no uvb bulb. just good food and under heat. some had bad burns and would freak if they even saw bright light at all. everyone's saying anoles and even nocturnal geckos need uv spot lamps. im wondering if its just marketing ploys.. ive have the same animals from hatch lings for twelve years with no problems.

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everyone's saying anoles and even nocturnal geckos need uv spot lamps. im wondering if its just marketing ploys.. ive have the same animals from hatch lings for twelve years with no problems.

Well, in nature anoles, forest- and twilight-dwelling (and maybe strictly night dwelling ones too) reptiles get UVB in the shadow by light scattering (easily around 20-50 uW/cm2) for several minutes to even hours a day. This is enough because they have a thinner and more UV translucent skin, a 'more efficient' vit. D synthesis, and/or need less vit. D due to a higher sensitivity than sun-dwelling species.

As a conclusion: Even these reptiles need UVB for a natural supply of vit. D BUT vit. D can easily be supplemented by their nutrition. For the mentioned UVB intensity it's not really necessary to use UV spot lamps (which often only emit UVA being as mentioned earlyer beneficial for behaviour), fluorescent tubes or compact bulbs can be sufficient. Im my oppinion it's better to mimic nature and use a UVB lamp even for non-heliotropic species (and support economy and contribute to the green-house effect :blink: ).

Such arguments are for sure good for marketing purposes but the vitamine suppliers make their own commercials too... therefore you shouldn't listen to them but use your brains to find an appropriate solution. ;)

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Well, in nature anoles, forest- and twilight-dwelling (and maybe strictly night dwelling ones too) reptiles get UVB in the shadow by light scattering (easily around 20-50 uW/cm2) for several minutes to even hours a day. This is enough because they have a thinner and more UV translucent skin, a 'more efficient' vit. D synthesis, and/or need less vit. D due to a higher sensitivity than sun-dwelling species.

As a conclusion: Even these reptiles need UVB for a natural supply of vit. D BUT vit. D can easily be supplemented by their nutrition. For the mentioned UVB intensity it's not really necessary to use UV spot lamps (which often only emit UVA being as mentioned earlyer beneficial for behaviour), fluorescent tubes or compact bulbs can be sufficient. Im my oppinion it's better to mimic nature and use a UVB lamp even for non-heliotropic species (and support economy and contribute to the green-house effect :blink: ).

Such arguments are for sure good for marketing purposes but the vitamine suppliers make their own commercials too... therefore you shouldn't listen to them but use your brains to find an appropriate solution. ;)

true, and i should admit i have absolutely no monitor specific first hand experience.. it just seems so wrong that people ar conned into buying stuff nowadays that just isnt helping the animals, as they die so quick after buying (see people come in recent after buying saying there anoles all died, or all but one). ive fed exclusively de stinged bumble bees, and had population explosions (would the pollen on and necter in the bees be rpovidiing that much of what is lacking in captive all crix diets the stores recommend? as i know anoles lap up pollen and nectar in the wild, as well as fruit.) thanks a lot for all the info. P.S. im wondering with even the controversies of care, why most European animals seem to do better?

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