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Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
 Issue 12  
June, 2005
UV-lamps for Terrariums and their effectiveness - Part 1
In this Issue

Contributed by Michelle T. Nash

The second part of Michelle's article details the actual D3 yields from the various lights and their UVB% and makes for some interesting reading and comparisons form which to make
decisions regarding your future UV light purchases.

SOURCE: Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society Volume 40, No.1 January 2005

Original paper "UV-lamps for Terrariums: Their Spectral Characteristics and Efficiency in Promoting Vitamin D3 Synthesis by UVB Irradiation" by: Jukka Lindgren may be downloaded from here

Translated by: Tiina Siitonen, Jukka Lindgren, Barry Brown

Not enough info was available for them to offer data on the effect of "D3 photodestruction" on the lamps that were tested, though they did have a separate table comparing the good to bad UVB amounts for the lamps. I found the ratio of good to bad UVB amounts for the Reptisun 5.0 UVB lamp was 2.057 to 8.232. This made the ratio of good to bad UVB rays about 1 to 4. This doesn't sound too good till you compare it with others whose ratios were ranging from 1:11 to 1:78 . The article stated more research is needed to resolve this.

It was interesting to note the mention of dangerous UV rays being emitted by the Active UVHeat lamp. (dangerous to animals and humans) It recommended offering a shaded area in the terrarium and suggested a single piece of "window glass" would adequately shield nearby humans from the harmful radiation. It didn't say if a terrarium or aquarium glass was the equivalent of a piece of "window glass".

Also of special note was that the measure of "total" UVB is not directly related to a lamp's ability to promote D3 production.

Again, it's the range of "good" UVB's offered that determines this.

"The Reptile Desert 7% UVB, manufactured by Energy Saver Unlimited (ESU), turned out to be a disappointment. Despite it's name, the unit only produces 0.3% UVB radiation and its D3 Yield Index is only 0.5 ." COMPARE THAT TO THE D3 YIELD INDEX OF THE REPTISUN 5.0 UVB LAMP MEASURING AT 439.3 !!!!!!! That's almost a difference of the Reptisun 5.0 being 900 times better than the Reptile Desert 7% UVB lamp.

This was an awesome article and I had been wishing for something like this to help me figure out which lamps were really going to help my lizards thrive.

"When evaluating the proportion of UVB radiation only, Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0 and Sylvania Reptistar stand out. Over 6% of their total irradiance is in the UVB range. Narva Reptilight and R.C. Hagens Exo-Terra Repti Glo, models 5.0 and 8.0, make up another group with their 3-4% UVB proportion. The rest of the lamps produce only extremely small amounts of UVB."

Here's the list of lamps and their D3 Yield Index as shown in the article:


D3 yield index
Reptisun 5.0 UVB
Reptisun 5.0 UVB (used 10 months)
Exo-Terra Repti Glo 8.0
Active UVHeat
Exo-Terra Repti Glo 5.0
Repti Glo
ESU Reptile Super UV Daylight
Exo-Terra Repti Glo 2.0
ESU Reptile Desert 7% UVB
True-Light Daylight 6000
Sun(at summer solstice in S. Finland)

The D3 yield index column is what makes it easier for pro's and novices alike to determine which lamp is really helping the lizards make their own vitamin D3. Also on the market is the Reptisun 10.0 UVB lamp, which, according to a ZooMed/Reptisun representative I spoke with on April 2nd, is even more powerful than the 5.0 at the D3 producing range. He said his company has been testing and working to produce their UVB lamps in the CORRECT UVB range to promote photosynthesis of vitamin D3 in the reptiles. Hats off to them!

Michelle is an avid reptile keeper in the Chicagoland area. She stays involved in the Chicago Herpetological Society and has had writings published in the CHS Bulletin. She has done educational presentations for local grade schools and exhibited at North America's largest educational reptile show, ReptileFest, held in Chicago during April each year. She is a wife and mother and has been a nature enthusiast since the age of 7, when she spied her first coral snake in a pine forest of the southern U.S.

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Handling Lizards - Part I

By Christina Miller -

Even if your lizard isn't suitable for regular handling, you may have to hold your lizard at some point or another. The following are some techniques for handling lizards.

A very important fact to remember, is that reptiles can feel pain and discomfort. They feel it when you touch them, and handling any reptile too roughly or too firmly can hurt them. NEVER pick up or restrain a lizard by its tail- This is extremely uncomfortable, and in most species the tail may autotomize (break off).

You can tell if the lizard you are handling is uncomfortable or is in pain if it struggles when held, rolls, scratches, hisses, gapes, tries to bite, or tightens its grip (digs its claws into your clothes or skin). Because all pet lizards are wild animals, even if the animal is not in pain, it may react this way to human contact (for example, if the lizard thinks you are a predator). However, a normally calm lizard may act this way if it is being hurt, or is uncomfortable for any reason, be it the way you are holding it, or an unfamiliar sight, smell or sound that frightens or stresses the animal. To be certain that the reason for your lizard's struggle to get away is not because it is in pain, you must know how to properly hold the lizard, with the correct amount or pressure or firmness. You should also avoid exposing your lizard to loud and sudden noises, quick and jerky movements, or anything else that might suddenly frighten it.

Another important note: You must pay particular attention to how much pressure you put on a small lizard's chest cavity so that you do not restrict its breathing, and suffocate it.

Personally, I do not recommended using gloves to handle any lizard, expect perhaps very large monitor lizards. Gloves for small lizards are completely unecessary, and you cannot accurately feel how much pressure you are putting on the animal. Even with larger lizards such as iguanas, tegus and some monitors, gloves greatly reduce your hand dexterity, and can lead to the same problem. Also, approaching a lizard with large gloves on may be intimidating to the animal.

Small Lizards

Most small lizards species are easily stressed if handled regularly. These lizards are naturally both predators and prey in the wild, so to them, anything bigger is something that might eat them. Do not approach the lizard from above, this is typically seen as a predator's attack. Instead, approach the animal from the side.

Restraining these lizards is not necessarily difficult (it's probably harder to catch them than to hold them!), but it still must be done properly. Grasp the lizard with your thumb on its chest, and your index finger (and middle finger if needed) wrapped around its side and back. Hold firmly, but not so hard that you restrict the lizard's breathing. Held like this, you can easily examine the lizard, as shown in the photos at left.

In the case of small lizards that are calm when held, such as most leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius), restraint is often unecessary for simply handling or examining the lizard. Holding the lizard in both hands, palms open but slightly cupped, is usually enough. When restraint is needed, apply the pincer technique similar to other small lizards.

Next Issue: Handling Lizards - Part II

Christina has always been interested in animals, but at nine years old discovered reptiles and amphibians to be the most intriguing. For her tenth birthday she received two Gekko ulikovvski, or golden geckos. Since then, she has moved her way around the reptile and amphibian kingdoms, now owning seven herps. Currently studying animal health (veterinary) technology at Vanier College, she is alsoin the process of writing a detailed book about the care of leopard geckos.

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In the News...

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Feedback and Updating

I would appreciate any feedback, good and bad about making your own reptile cages. I am looking for information, constructive criticism and ideas.

These could include things like:
bearded dragon care What sort of additions would you like to see made eg making vivariums, wooden cages for Iguanas, making a cage stand etc ?
bearded dragon care How could the reptile cages be improved further?
bearded dragon habitat What are you particularly proud of?
bearded dragon habitat What worked well for you?
bearded dragon information What did not work well?
bearded dragon information What was difficult and how you got around it
bearded dragon diet Requests and ideas for future reptile cage plans eg "How to make a reptile cage stand"
bearded dragon diet Any other suggestions for improvements or alterations that would benefit future builders of reptile cages

In particular I will soon be documenting the arboreal cage building process but I do intend to review as much as possible, hopefully based on user feedback as much as anything else.

I would also appreciate any pictures you have of your cages - using my plans or otherwise (we're all in this for fun and enjoyment so share away), so we can start to build a gallery of snake, iguana and other reptile cages of different varieties. This would be particularly useful as while many people like to show their pets in photos, not many pictures show the enclosures and I know that many people are interested in seeing how others have set up their reptile cages in order to get ideas.

I believe the collective pool of knowledge and skills we have can allow these plans to improve on a continuous basis.

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These could include:

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Remember - there are lots of people who would love to hear your stories. Just e-mail me at: Reptile-Cage-Plans

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