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 Post subject: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 16th, 2013, 11:57 pm 

Joined: June 11th, 2010, 9:42 am
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Location: Utah
Someone shared this study on another forum: http://vetmed.illinois.edu/mmitch/pdf/corn%20snake.pdf

I am not looking to stir the hornets nest but I am curious as to what some of you with much more experience than myself think about this matter.

I realize there are many questions that are left unanswered in this study, not the least of which is; What is the optimal amount of D3 needed for proper body functions in the corn snakes tested? Just because a snake has more D3 does not necessarily mean in needs those higher levels to go through bio-chemical processes/reactions at a healthy rate.

Like I said, there are some important questions this study does not address so please don't take this post as a balls out endorsement of full spectrum lighting for all of your animals. That said, I think it does show that maybe the whole lighting debate (and maybe by implication, proper husbandry in general) is not as black and white as we may be hoping (for convenience sake).

-Thomas
P.S. If you feel inclined to post a response please be respectful to others and their opinions. Like I said I am not posting this to spark the proverbial powder keg.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 17th, 2013, 6:19 am 
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Though the experiment demonstrates the capacity for corn snakes to synthesize D3 via UV radiation, it doesn't show a requirement for the snakes to do so (i.e. are levels achieved via dietary intake sufficient?).

From a purely domestic-propagation standpoint, this information seems to be interesting, but not overly useful to the herpetoculturist--at least for species which are largely nocturnal, anyway. Thousands (millions?) of corn snakes seem to be perfectly capable of thriving and reproducing over multiple generations without any lighting outside of ambient snake-room lighting, let alone dedicated UV for each enclosure.

It would be interesting to see this experiment replicated with a widely-recognized diurnal species, such as racers (Coluber). Get them feeding on rodents to rule out any dietary difference (assuming the corns were also fed mice).


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 17th, 2013, 9:30 am 
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Everyone would see the rationale as self evident and would provide it - if somehow they had to spend money to not have it.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 17th, 2013, 9:49 am 
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D3 levels arent the only factor relevant to to uvb daytime exposure, although an encouragement to tissue and bone development is a basal instigating force of life.

This isnt a snake thing - its an organism that lives on earth thing.



Currently i have 33 snakes under my care. Of these 4 have environments that have uvb. So i "get" the impractical thing.

The ratio of charges has varied over the years and with the husbandry of several hundreds of snakes. Same species with UVB as without. Other factors also influence like cover.

I have noticed things.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 7:57 am 
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So what this study shows is that blood levels of vit D3 increase with exposure to UV light. Thats all. And its not that surprising. We know that vit D is activated to vit D3 in a multistep reaction, one of which occurs in the skin when exposed to UVB light. However this is not the only way to get vit D. Animals can also get it directly from their diet. This is why vitamin/calcium powders for indoor reptiles contain preformed Vit D3 and those for outdoor reptiles do not. Vit D is fat soluble so you can overdose it.

The bottom line here is that we do not know what a "normal" or "best" vit D3 level is. As far as I know, no data has been collected on wild corn snakes and even if there was, would they be "healthier" if it was higher? What we do have is DECADES of evidence that corn snakes can live for 15-20+ years laying two or even three clutches of eggs a year, without ever seeing a UV light and without ever showing signs of deficiency. I do think that dietary D3 is important and that feeding rodents a high quality diet is important. I also supplement breeding females for a few feedings in the spring with vitamin and calcium suppliments, really because... well it just can't hurt. Is UV necessary for any snake that I have ever heard of... nope... can it hurt... nope. If you can provide it, it will make your snakes look prettier, so why not, but I wouldn't go throwing away all of your racks because of this study.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 10:48 am 
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There are decades of McChicken sandwiches that indicate commercial breeding is not an indication of well being.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 11:13 am 
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Because of what we learned in Reptile Keeping 1-A , uvb is important for d3 conversion in chelonia and sauria. So if uvb were somehow deleted from the index of the spectrum, the only organisms on earth it would effect are turtles and lizards?

When keepers think of uvb they think of a flourescent tube. The impact of uvb and its interactions with the systems of all organisms is not considered.

Also it seems that the ability to breed reptiles is seen as some kind of litmus of significant merit. Snakes will breed when deformed, neurologically impaired, in bad husbandry and hoarding scenario, and with illnesses. Just like many other animals in agricultural and pet industry scenario.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 12:29 pm 
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I am somewhat adamant in questioning why there is such a willingness to accept stasis in keeping - especially where snakes are concerned.

"They can live without it" Why is that always the psychology?

That snakes can live in captivity missing many elemental realities that they have evolved in is known.

But what would we know with their presence?


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 1:22 pm 
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I'd still like to see the experiment expanded to include known diurnal snakes (Coluber) as well as extremely, uh, heliophobic(?) :) snakes (Leptotyphlops) to get a feel for naturally-occuring D3 levels and their variation from species to species.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 1:25 pm 
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I did not only say breeding success. I also said extreme longevity, and no sign whatsoever of disease or deficiency. They don't get soft bones. They don't lay eggs with thin uncalcified shells. They don't show any sign of ill health whatsoever. The eat, grow, breed, and thrive beautifully. So I ask you... if you have a mostly fossorial animal that eats whole nutritionally complete prey, what use do they have for extra vitamin D when you have no evidence that they are deficient? My husbandry is far from static and I always look to improve what I am doing. Prove to me that snakes with UVB are one iota healthier or happier in any measurable way, and I will tear down my racks myself. Good luck.

Regarding your comments about lizards and turtles - they do not eat the same type of whole prey, and they have evolved in ecological niches where they bask in sunlight extensively.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 2:09 pm 
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How is it : Extra? How is it possible for it to be extra?

What are the fossorial species you speak of that have no contact with daylight in nature?

Are you aware of photobiological impacts other than d3 serum levels?

Have you ever observed and bred snakes day cycled with ultraviolet light on a long term basis?

If so - how long? What was the type of light used? What was its UVB index? What was the range of distance of light to primary basking area? How did it correlate to the other temperatures in the environment? What was the POTZ?

Have you kept snakes post operatively or healing from an injury without UVB? Have you kept snakes post operatively or healing from an injury with UVB?

Have you bred snakes without UVB? Have you bred the same snakes another season with UVB? Was there a size difference in the neonates? Were there behaviors noted in the female kept with uvb, during any phase of her gravidity?


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 2:18 pm 
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zwhitman wrote:

Regarding your comments about lizards and turtles - they do not eat the same type of whole prey, and they have evolved in ecological niches where they bask in sunlight extensively.



This didnt address the supposition. Please explain.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 2:53 pm 

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I would say that calling it extra would be accurate. I'm not a scientist, nor a professional herpetologist, i havent conducted blood tests on my animals, and if i was a gambling man i would bet the farm and my right gonad that neither have/are you. Rationally i can only go on the information i do have and can perceive with my own eyes (naked though they be). The study is suggestive of something, or maybe even proving a point. However, UVB light in my opinion (based on the animals i have kept, raised, bred, etc) is unnecessary for snakes (specifically the kind i have kept). If i were to place a uvb light over a cage with lets say rosy boas, who is to say that they are any better for it? They may well come out and bask, but are they basking for the D3 from uvb, or are they basking for warmth? Im sure there is no one answer to a question like that. In nature animals do what they do for a variety of reasons, just like people (im not going to the beach to get UVB, im going to look at girls, swim in the ocean, eat a hot dog, etc). My point? Im sure that it has an impact on a snake to have UVB available to it, much like having an acre to live in instead of a 20gal tank, the ability to compete for/choose their mate, but its not practical in a captive situation for many people. Also animals that have been bred in captivity for enough generations will adapt to captivity . Some species are better at it than others, and those are the ones that get bred the most and are more available.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 4:53 pm 
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Hornemadness wrote:
I would say that calling it extra would be accurate. I'm not a scientist, nor a professional herpetologist, i havent conducted blood tests on my animals, and if i was a gambling man i would bet the farm and my right gonad that neither have/are you. Rationally i can only go on the information i do have and can perceive with my own eyes (naked though they be). The study is suggestive of something, or maybe even proving a point. However, UVB light in my opinion (based on the animals i have kept, raised, bred, etc) is unnecessary for snakes (specifically the kind i have kept). If i were to place a uvb light over a cage with lets say rosy boas, who is to say that they are any better for it? They may well come out and bask, but are they basking for the D3 from uvb, or are they basking for warmth? Im sure there is no one answer to a question like that. In nature animals do what they do for a variety of reasons, just like people (im not going to the beach to get UVB, im going to look at girls, swim in the ocean, eat a hot dog, etc). My point? Im sure that it has an impact on a snake to have UVB available to it, much like having an acre to live in instead of a 20gal tank, the ability to compete for/choose their mate, but its not practical in a captive situation for many people. Also animals that have been bred in captivity for enough generations will adapt to captivity . Some species are better at it than others, and those are the ones that get bred the most and are more available.



How is it Extra in captivity, but not in reality?


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 4:57 pm 
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Also Jesse, you have a tendency to piggy back on issues you have no sincere interest in, or insight.

And always it is about a subject you feel secure has a majority view, which omega like you attach yourself to.

Just letting you know I remember.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 5:05 pm 

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because captivity is not reality, that is to say its not natural.

How do you know what im interested in? When did i say i was an omega? How can you gauge my interest?
Its too bad that we dont agree on a lot. It doesnt make you or me a bad person. It makes us different, is that somehow offensive to you? Why dont we stick to the subject of the thread: UVB and Snakes. Im sure everyone here is sick to death of people having it out with each other on the forums, thats whay the PM's are for.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 5:08 pm 
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In one thread you remark that you : "Take your animals out into the sun. ." and in another different thread asking if anyone takes their animals outside you said No you never do. You forgot what you said.

So please keep the forum play out of this. Unlike the other forum I dont think you can disable ability for members to search posts.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 5:18 pm 

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An example comes to mind, its not snakes, but is related. My wife feeds her blue tongue skinks nothing but canned dog food. Canned dog food contains meat byproducts (organ meats) as well as added vitamins and minerals. She does not provide her skinks with UVB. She gives them heat through ceramic heat emitters, and hibernated them just about every year (she didint this year because we were busy planning a wedding). She has had her skinks for several years, and got them all as babies from a reptile breeder (Michael Lurs) who also fed his blueys canned dog food. She has never had a problem with MBD or anything like that from her original animals or their offspring. Might the presence of vitamin D3 in their food have made it so that UVB is not necessary? Might the same thing be true for snakes who eat whole prey?


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 5:30 pm 

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Some animals go out into the sun sometimes (usually they are being held by me), like my box turtles. Other animals like snakes or flighty pink tongues dont go outside ever. I wasnt aware i was in a court of law... I also didint disable anything in that "other" forum. If you have such a problem with me why dont you communicate with me via PM? What are you hoping to "out"? i dont keep track of everything i say? I agree with people about things i feel strongly about? Guilty as charged.... I dont know if you cared to notice but i dont post much. I dont really think i have ever really gotten into it with anyone on here. I give my opinion every now and then, maybe say something about stuff im doing or not doing. Ill say it again Kelly, if you have such a problem with me or the things im saying then communicate it to me via PM. If it troubles you so i dont have to take part in threads that you are a part of, since for the most part im more than happy to simply lurk. I just dont want to have this weird comicbook-like antagonistic relationship with you. I dont need an archemeny, what i need is more Neil Gaiman audiobooks to listen to.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 5:43 pm 
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Again - it is already known that snakes utilize d3 from the liver of their prey.

Its what we do not know that interests me.

Your post underestimates the involvement I have invested in the topic. I dont have time to go on presently but a simple part of these has been determining uvb detection and attraction. Many forms of heat, and light and ability to control and measure them. A temp gun has come in especially handy.



Many keepers use uvb lighting - I know this for a fact - and keep the practice disceet. They are apprehensive about sharing it.

Photobiological studies are emerging. Studies in photoreception have been most telling. Glandular and neural systems of poikilothermic lower verts. Much more will be revealed.

I am entirely comfortable saying I think ultraviolet contact has relevant multi systemic impacts (however unpercieved and undramatic to our value platform)


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 6:31 pm 
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Kelly Mc wrote:
How is it : Extra? How is it possible for it to be extra?

What are the fossorial species you speak of that have no contact with daylight in nature?

Are you aware of photobiological impacts other than d3 serum levels?

Have you ever observed and bred snakes day cycled with ultraviolet light on a long term basis?

If so - how long? What was the type of light used? What was its UVB index? What was the range of distance of light to primary basking area? How did it correlate to the other temperatures in the environment? What was the POTZ?

Have you kept snakes post operatively or healing from an injury without UVB? Have you kept snakes post operatively or healing from an injury with UVB?

Have you bred snakes without UVB? Have you bred the same snakes another season with UVB? Was there a size difference in the neonates? Were there behaviors noted in the female kept with uvb, during any phase of her gravidity?


WOW! You have a lot of nerve talking to someone who you do not know like that. I did nothing but state my experience and opinion in a calm and polite manner. Against my better judgement I will feed your trolling behavior just this once because it will be mildly entertaining.

Many snakes are largely fossorial and only come to the surface at certain times of year and usually at night. Do they probably see daylight sometimes? Yes. Do they get enough regular exposure to UVB light for it to be a meaningful contributor to their need for D3? No. They have evolved other ways to fill this need, mainly through their diet, absorption, and metabolism.

Photobiological impacts? Yes I am aware of many. Are they relevant to the study posted or anything else that we are talking about? Not so much...

Yes, I have bred snakes of all types (but mostly colubrids and pythons) for nearly 20 years. I have kept and bred them indoors in racks, indoors with UV bulbs of dozens of different types, and I have kept them outdoors in natural light. I have produced literally thousands of healthy hatchlings and I see record performance from my animals in every category that you can possibly measure from growth, to lifespan (I still have my first snake, a 21 year old kingsnake), to reproductive success, to overall health.

With regard to your knit picky questions... I have kept snakes in too many different ways to tell you about, with all types of temperature gradients and none at all, natural light cycles and not, etc. etc. etc. I can safely say that I have never noticed any detectable benefit from UVB lighting in snakes. I keep good records, If you feel like sifting through them for statistically significant differences let me know and you can come over every day for the next year and bang your head against my file cabinet.

How many snakes have you produced? How many species? How long did they live? Can you please provide me with the exact weight of every hatchling and a pictograph showing their growth curves? Also if you could correlate that with the exact amount of time to the minute that they chose to spent under their lights instead of under their hides, that would really tie the data together for me. Hahahahaha

As far as healing... yes as a vet I have treated many sick and post operative snakes under many different lighting situations. Again, never seen any appreciable difference except that bright light seems to stress out almost all snakes and UV is bad for wound healing and promotes scarring. How many sick snakes have you treated where you experimented on the effects of lighting on healing? ... funny... I must have missed that paper at the last ARAV conference.

I would encourage you to look up Russell's Teapot - the onus of proof is on you. Seriously. Feel free. Go prove me wrong. If you have research I would love to see it. In the mean time I will keep producing healthy snakes.

You can feel free to respond to this post (and I am sure you will) but this is the last I will be commenting unless you change your tune. Feel free to PM me if you need some more sarcasm, or ... and I say this seriously... if you want to have a rational and civil conversation about UVB and D3 in reptiles.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 7:18 pm 
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I do not feel I was being impolite. I do not feel discussions always have to be delicately framed.

I would like you to answer my questions which were plainly put, in more detail , since you have stated that you, like myself, have kept snakes in enviroments day cycled with uvb.

The fossorial and nocturnal factor - i believe is a behavioral one variable to opportunistic conditions. Throughout a lifetime of moving from place tp place and inadvertent as well as deliberate (basking) contact snakes have evolved inundated in uvb which is present everywhere - even shade.

It is an element of their reality. Present everywhere, in every biome, climate, and weather condition.

It is everywhere except Indoors - and in our cages.

You stated you have never observed anything behavioral or favorable in biological result. Then, why did you use it?

I have. Which is why I have incorperated it in my herpetoculture. There is much more I would like to share but the tone of the thread has become defensive.

You have stated your beliefs and I have stated mine. I remain curious and we will see what the future holds.

Research in photobiology is fairly new. Compared to The Sun.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 7:57 pm 
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Absolutely nothing to do with UV A or B, but I use lighting with all my nocturnally-active herps, simply for seasonally-variable photoperiod cues (e.g. when to come out of their hides for the night--after "sunset"). Some people don't, and I haven't seen anything to indicate a significant difference in behavior or general health. I just try to duplicate the natural conditions (and in the wild, you generally wouldn't see my animals during the day unless they were hit by a car the night before, when they were active).

I'd have to check all the historical data (if only there were time), but some snakes are just plain nocturnal and/or fossorial, in the sense they shun sunlight. They might occasionally--rarely--be out and about during the day, but as a percentage of their active time, it's perhaps 1-2%. Is that sufficient, especially when factoring in UV exposure in morning/evening light, to be a significant influence on D3, or even general health? I don't know, but it seems unlikely.

Nevertheless, some experimentation sure doesn't hurt and would satisfy my curiosity.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 8:35 pm 
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UVB is not complicated. It is not dangerous. It does not promote scarring. It is Normal.

UBV ie: whole light in nature is accessed optionally. UVB used properly in captivity is also an option - the same as cover, temperature differences, and areas of favor in tactility.

Snakes will heal without it. Snakes I have rehabed with it - seek it in specific phases of healing. Most notably when they go in blue, in the first shed they have in recovery.

But it is not a case of just putting a fixture on a cage. Its use is mindfully stratagized with opportunities of cage detail and security. The distance of the light is key - because of the nature of the light type itself. The wavelength is for the most part , quite minimal. But seems to be enough to instigate a response.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 8:44 pm 
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OK, first of all I will say that I am about to play devils advocate here a little bit. I do believe that it is likely that UV light may have many as of yet unknown beneficial AND deleterious effects on living things including snakes. You are correct that there has not been adequate research in this area. However my basic premise remains, that in my somewhat extensive experience, I have never seen any discernible benefit to UV light in snakes. Above you insinuated that you had noticed "things". Care to elaborate?

"The fossorial and nocturnal factor - i believe is a behavioral one variable to opportunistic conditions. Throughout a lifetime of moving from place tp place and inadvertent as well as deliberate (basking) contact snakes have evolved inundated in uvb which is present everywhere - even shade. It is an element of their reality. Present everywhere, in every biome, climate, and weather condition. It is everywhere except Indoors - and in our cages."

That my be, but its not present underground, underwater, deep in rock crevices, or at night... where most (not all) snakes spend 99 percent of their time. Also, I was under the impression that effective UVB only reaches the surface of the earth when the sun is above a certain angle from the horizon, so really it is only available for a few hours in the middle of the day. More importantly, just because something is ubiquitous doesn't mean its necessary or even beneficial.

"You stated you have never observed anything behavioral or favorable in biological result. Then, why did you use it?"

I am not exactly sure what you mean. I have tried many things over the years to see if it would work, to see if it improved anything. Keeping snakes outdoors was somewhat of a logistical problem living in northern climates where it is illegal to keep native species. I did it just to see what would happen. Behaviorally I saw lots of cool things... but nothing that I could attribute to UV light. As far as indoors, mostly I used fluorescent lights to see into cages better, or to keep plants alive. I figure if I am going to use a fluorescent light anyway, I might as well use something that MIGHT have benefit to the animals too. My bulb of choice was usually a reptisun 10.0 but I have tried many. Again, despite years of this I never felt like I noticed anything different between cages that were only lit with heat lamps, nor did I notice any change when a bulb was long past the point of producing viable UV light. (I have a UV meter so I do know whats going on) If anything I find that the brighter the cage the more likely the snakes are to seek cover.

I do think that light is important. All of my animals are exposed to natural light cycles. But again not to sound like a broken record... I have never seen even the slightest bit of evidence that snakes are healthier when provided with UV light. Therefore because it is expensive and a hassle. I choose not to give it to them and I don't lose any sleep over it. I can also rationally explain how snakes get enough D3 from their diet to negate that argument. So what are these other photobiologic effects you are concerned/ curious about?


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 9:18 pm 
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zwhitman one thing I am interested in is how snakes assess their surroundings with it present, as an evolved neural 'expectation' and the impacts it has in defining the photoperiod. I do think there are subclinical and perhaps even greater effects on the immune system, cell generation and a myriad of signaling mechanisms - simply because its total absence in captivity discreetly defies normalcy.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 21st, 2013, 10:01 pm 
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I also question the accuracy of snakes spending 99% of there time underground or otherwise in total darkness.


I think snakes have a more complex relationship with light, its thermal and inextricable in tandem wavelengths , than we assume, or percieve.

A snake can access the resource of sunlight positioned under cover, or positioned all kinds of ways and proximities in biome - and captivity.

It is a counterintuitive irony i have observed in the snakes i keep with uvb, that the space value dedicated to sheltered areas encorperate a major portion of their total environment. In a moment they can be readily, immediently accessed. These are the individuals that are out in the open the most. And they have patterns of repose and activity more clearly defined than my other specimens. These animals arent handled. I dont have the time or inclination really to take them out gratuitiously. Yet they are explorative and active - not restless - there is a difference, the tunnels they weave in the aspen have several openings throughout the environment and are more elaborate.

These animals bask frequently - again counterintuitively in duration time greatest when in the mid to later stages of gravidity, and in pre ecdysis. I have hundreds of mostly not great photos, but some good ones. I want to consolidate these and my notes in an organized body of presented observation. I understand their scientific informality. These are only my most current uvb specimens - but i have been interested in this and using uvb in various formats since the days of vita lites.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 5:05 am 
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Kelly Mc wrote:
These animals bask frequently - again counterintuitively in duration time greatest when in the mid to later stages of gravidity, and in pre ecdysis.


What species?


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 8:17 am 
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Chris, the snakes that provoked that comment are a corn snake and an mbk.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 8:26 am 
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Kelly Mc wrote:
Chris, the snakes that provoked that comment are a corn snake and an mbk.


From what I understand, both are documented in scientific literature as being active during the day, to varying extents and dependent on season. I am interested in comparing such observations with those of, say, graybanded kingsnakes, Trans-Pecos ratsnakes, etc. which are well-known subterranean-realm animals only surface-active at night, and under certain conditions at that (I think there was perhaps one recorded instance of a grayband found during the day in the wild).


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 9:54 am 
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I for one see no reason to waste resources changing out bulbs for animals that their is no evidence to support them needing it, and plenty of evidence showing they do just fine and dandy without it.

My philosophy is that it is best for keepers to try keeping animals that are adapted to the climate and their living situation so to reduce power consumption and use of various resources.

Now it would be interesting to allow snakes controlled access to the outdoors. Some old day keepers devised ways to modify windows to allow animals like sungazers to take advantage of natural sunlight despite being kept indoors. But this would strictly be for the keepers enjoyment of the animal showing different behaviors.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 10:24 am 
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I suppose this is as good a place as any to share that I day cycle my anurans with uvb. I have always done so.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 1:11 pm 
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Kelly Mc wrote:
I suppose this is as good a place as any to share that I day cycle my anurans with uvb. I have always done so.


Sounds like you have the makings for an easily-administered experiment, though not necessarily as in-depth as the original post...three groups:

1. frogs with uvb.
2. frogs with non-uvb lighting but on same photoperiod.
3. frogs with NO lighting.

Feed all groups on the same schedule, check things like weight gain/loss, activity in general, breeding activity, etc.

The more I think about it, the more you should advertise this as a project you're willing to mentor a student through, as a science-fair project or something similar. :thumb:

P.S. I say that not to sound consdescending (in that the basic experiment I've laid out here is fairly simple), but because you have the resources available (frogs/lights/enclosures) which would otherwise potentially prohibit a student from taking on a project from a bare-bones approach, and it would encourage a youngster to get involved in herpetology.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 2:13 pm 
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Perhaps and maybe someone can pick up on that, but I dont have frogs available for experiments. There are pics of them posted here. They were all raised With.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 3:31 pm 
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Kelly Mc wrote:
Perhaps and maybe someone can pick up on that, but I dont have frogs available for experiments. There are pics of them posted here. They were all raised With.


Well, I wasn't implying you would do anything invasive, let alone lethal, to them! If not YOUR frogs, perhaps you could at least work with someone so that THEY are responsible for procuring the frogs themselves, and you assist with enclosures (on loan), setup, husbandry, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 5:02 am 
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This is an interesting topic wrt ecology, which is more in my interest than keeping or breeding snakes. Though I do enjoy some direct interaction at times. The kind of information, insights, and observations keepers and breeders have to offer is of value to me, and I hope strong opinions on variations in practices don't cause too many to clam up and not share these observations.

Kelly Mc wrote:
How is it Extra in captivity, but not in reality?

Natural environment tend to be brutal to its occupants, especially relative to captive environments. In the wild a snake doesn't always have a consistent diet, or even a consistent food source. It could be argued that this capacity to synthesize D3 is more suited to surviving lean times, when environmental conditions are particularly troubling, than it is for specimens in less stressful ecological circumstances. The month to month and year to year variability of environmental hardships, and concomitant variations in diet, is ideally not an issue in captive environments. Hence extra in captivity but not in reality is a very reasonably hypothesis.

For instance, us humans cannot synthesize our own vitamin c, even though we still posses the [inactive] gene for doing so. Obviously our ancestors that possessed active genes for doing so lacked such a need of this capacity so long vitamin c rich foods were plentiful. We apparently effectively created our own "captive environments" such that weren't as subject to environmental variations that periodically removed this nutrient supply. Lacking these hardships, like captive snakes, this active gene no longer played a significant role in our survival, else it would still be active. It was still problematic for early sea fairing explorers, in which scurvy resulted in an alarming death rate.

I still think photobiology plays a far more extensive role than generally appreciated, but this imo does not imply any significant issues exist wrt what is and isn't sound herp husbandry practices. In particular is is infrared, which provides a very efficient heat source in weather that might otherwise be too cold, as defined by a thermometer, for snakes to be active. This is the basic technology behind the high efficiency heaters you see advertised. During warmer weather infrared may also inhibit activity in temps that may otherwise be just fine to be active in. It makes a lot more sense than tracking moon phases, and imo, along with other parameters, is likely plays a role in the apparent synchronicity in interspecies activity patterns.

Kelly Mc wrote:
Its what we do not know that interests me.

I can sympathize with your curiosity here, and your right that there is likely a whole range of photobiological impacts still to learn about. However, attaching this to implied criticisms of standard husbandry in this particular case is premature at best. Not only is the rational against it hypothetically sound, but the evidence available at this time fully supports that rational. What is absolutely certain is that a conscientious keeper/breeder generally maintains a far higher standard of health than any wild specimen is likely to ever enjoy. Nature is brutal, but we don't have to be.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 6:56 am 
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I respectfully disagree with your assumptions. I carefully read them twice.

What is "Standard Husbandry" ?

I am conscious that life in nature is not la la land.

I think the prematurity is in not knowing the discreet effects of long term supression of activity in muted principles. It does not stop snakes from eating and copulating: that is all we know, and the extent of what many want to know.

I am also curious about cortisol levels.

I think my assumptions will turn out to be correct.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 7:18 am 
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"Standard Husbandry" practices as people here have defined in terms of the lack of intent to use UV lighting.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 7:25 am 
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Got it. It is used pretty loosely. I wasnt aware of exactly what the standard is, or what/who defined them.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 2:02 pm 
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As a general rule of evolution, functions like D3 synthesis tend to come with both benefits and cost, and those benefits tend to only be meaningful in the context of the environmental conditions the organism is likely to find themselves in. Natural boom bust cycles are a major environmental factor that goes away in captive conditions.

I would bet, based on what I know about evolution and genetic functions, that in this context any "discreet effects" are far outweighed by the benefits provided through the artificial environmental stability inherit in captive conditions.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 3:44 pm 
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My wife and I used to discuss these kinds of things quite a bit way back when we were still just friends/dating, as she started out from the position of questioning whether people, even zoos, should be keeping wild animals at all. (Check out Fred Small's song "Larry the Polar Bear," which she played for me one of the first times we got together, sometime to see where her head was at.) At one point early in my career I even coauthored a book chapter titled "Zoo Science Versus Zoo Voodoo" addressing these kinds of issues in a more general way. So y'all are bringing back fond memories for me... :)

Unfortunately, humans tend to look at the needs of other animal species from a, well,... human perspective (sort of a "what would I want if I were the animal" is about the best that most of us can do, but of course we aren't the animals and never will be), and really aren't all that good at subjectively assessing the condition of animals of other species, either. Objective measurements are called for.

Until somebody finally invents a happiness meter, though, we're stuck with the kinds of metrics we already have. Without a laboratory's assistance, that means growth, longevity and reproduction, more or less. They're not such bad metrics of successful animal keeping, in my opinion, if we keep in mind that they really only establish minimum standards. There's plenty of room on top of those for folks to try various things that seem to them to be warranted, e.g. that they believe would stimulate the animals to be more active, allow the animals to express a larger percentage of their natural repertoire of behaviors - or maybe even just enable the animals to "be happier" - but no one's likely to persuade many other people of the justification for these "extras" without presenting evidence pertaining to some kind of objective metric (e.g. the animals grow faster or bigger, they live longer, they exhibit greater reproductive success). Given our aforementioned human limitations, I for one think that's just as it should be; widescale adoption of voodoo practices in place of more scientific ones can actually do more harm than good, in the long run.

With a laboratory's assistance various physiological measurements can be added to the mix, of course, telling us things that the most basic life history data might not - if we have corresponding physiological data from healthy, normal ("happy"?) animals against which to compare it. Corticosteroid data, for example, can't tell you much about the condition of this particular animal if you don't have a bunch of data from other animals (of the same species) in good condition by which to judge.

So I say meet the minimum standards at the very least, and do whatever more than that strikes your fancy. If you think you're onto something that should be used to raise the minimum standards, by all means let's hear about it, but you probably shouldn't expect others to adopt it unless you can demonstrate by something other than your impressions or arguments that its adoption is worthwhile. Those impressions and arguments are important, but only as a starting point; next you have to get hard data (or find someone else to get hard data) on the subject to see whether said data back them up.

Gerry (who many, many years ago discovered that a lot of folks were pretending that it had already been established that basking under UV is important for a number of herps, when the truth of the matter is that there's still quite an open question on the subject yet today :? )


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 4:49 pm 
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gbin wrote:
There's plenty of room on top of those for folks to try various things that seem to them to be warranted, e.g. that they believe would stimulate the animals to be more active, allow the animals to express a larger percentage of their natural repertoire of behaviors


If y'all don't keep a hawk in your reptile room--you know, just to keep your herps alert--you're doing it wrong; depriving them of their natural repertoire of behaviors.

:P

Your comment about UV being "common knowledge" for herp-keepers has prompted me to start a new topic...


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 5:49 pm 
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mywan wrote:
As a general rule of evolution, functions like D3 synthesis tend to come with both benefits and cost, and those benefits tend to only be meaningful in the context of the environmental conditions the organism is likely to find themselves in. Natural boom bust cycles are a major environmental factor that goes away in captive conditions.

I would bet, based on what I know about evolution and genetic functions, that in this context any "discreet effects" are far outweighed by the benefits provided through the artificial environmental stability inherit in captive conditions.


What are the benefits ? I used the word discreet only because they are not known or noticed. Perceptually to the snake - they may not be discreet at all.

If what remains fixed (stable) fosters suppression of all relationship to normal stimuli are not these gaps unprecendented in the evolved mechanisms of an organism ? Using the word benefit could be considered a very limber speculation.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 6:21 pm 
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I don't know the full cost/benefit ratio any more than you do. Virtually nothing of benefit is without cost. Even Sickle Cell Anemia has benefits wrt conferring resistance to malaria. That's why I said "both benefits and cost" and "outweighed by the benefits". Hence I'm speaking on balance rather than in absolutes.

I certainly hope some will take your position seriously enough to practice it and convey some good observations.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 6:33 pm 
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And I thank you for your astute, cleanly presented input (no rhetorical or emotional attachment) and being so gracious as to take the time to do so.


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 7:50 pm 
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chris_mcmartin wrote:
If y'all don't keep a hawk in your reptile room--you know, just to keep your herps alert--you're doing it wrong; depriving them of their natural repertoire of behaviors.

:P

Me, I like to keep a bit of radioactive material under my bed, to stimulate my immune system which would otherwise go too unchallenged in modern American society. Likewise I suppose you could use something other than a hawk that would serve more or less the same purpose of an actual bird of prey in your herp room - but without requiring you to clean up bird crap all of the time.

:P

Gerry


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 24th, 2013, 5:58 pm 

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Thank you all, I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the comments and opinions! I for one am truly interested in the subject and enjoy hearing different viewpoints.

gbin wrote:
Unfortunately, humans tend to look at the needs of other animal species from a, well,... human perspective (sort of a "what would I want if I were the animal" is about the best that most of us can do, but of course we aren't the animals and never will be), and really aren't all that good at subjectively assessing the condition of animals of other species, either. Objective measurements are called for.

On a personal level I fall victim to Gerry's comment in always thinking "What would I want in if I were in that situation?" So I tend to do things that, as far as husbandry is concerned, I think the snake or herp will enjoy.

mywan wrote:
Natural environment tend to be brutal to its occupants, especially relative to captive environments. In the wild a snake doesn't always have a consistent diet, or even a consistent food source. It could be argued that this capacity to synthesize D3 is more suited to surviving lean times, when environmental conditions are particularly troubling, than it is for specimens in less stressful ecological circumstances. The month to month and year to year variability of environmental hardships, and concomitant variations in diet, is ideally not an issue in captive environments.

On a practical level, putting personal feelings aside, there are costs and benefits associated with every evolutionary change. "mywan's" comment made me think of what we know of evolutionary changes, and that is that nothing is "good" or "bad" when applying it to evolution it just is. Just as we tend to attribute human emotions to our animals, I think we often attribute human morals of "good/bad" and "right/wrong" to a certain extent (I don't know if that is a bad thing necessarily). A given trait/mutation may have certain benefits or setbacks at a particular time but those could theoretically flip at any moment so the paradigm of what is beneficial or not would be reversed, so again there is nothing good or bad about it, it just is. It would be interesting to test over a long term study, and I mean a really long term study, if from an evolutionary standpoint there were any differences in the ability to synthesize the vitamin D between the CB populations and their wild kin (using that word in a loose sense of course).

Where this argument gets sticky is when you attempt to apply evolutionary principles to individual specimens in one's personal collection, because evolution does not occur in individuals but in populations over long periods of time...... For this reason I will continue to use full spectrum lighting for certain species I keep (I use it for the garters and the one racer I keep), not necessarily for the known benefits and well being of the animals as much as for my own enjoyment and peace of mind.

-Thomas


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 25th, 2013, 8:42 am 
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Cool topic.

From my perspective, it is best to view the ability of tetrapod vertebrates to photosynthesize D3 using UVB as a symplesiomorphy (which it is). It's an OLD trait, not a derived one. The ability of crespicular and nocturnal squamates to do so is a "hold over" that probably isn't disadvantagous in most cases, so hasn't been weeded out by selection. The fact that it may actually have some mildly advantageous results in some members of various lineages probably serves to reinforce its continued presence. Let's not forget that "snakes" are but one lineage within Squamata, nested deep within the various "lizard" groups, many of which are diurnal (as are many snakes). There is a vast range of when herps are active. Accordingly, there's a vast range of their exposure to UV wavelengths. Quite a number of species probably NEVER willingly expose themselves to either visible or UV light.

As for the degree of nocturnality of various snakes... well, it varies a LOT between taxa and between times of the year. Field experience alone tells us a lot of that, doesn't it? Pantherophis guttata are less strictly nocturnal than Bogertophis. Lampropeltis getula are less strictly nocturnal than Lampropeltis alterna and triangulum.

Kelly Mc wrote:
UVB is not complicated. It is not dangerous. It does not promote scarring. It is Normal.


I respectfully disagree. UVB IS complicated. It is both beneficial and detrimental to herps, in general. It DOES present dangers - some of which are undeniably serious (it's a mutagen, causes severe retinal damage, skin burns, etc.). It may be "normal" for diurnal, heliophilic animals, but certainly isn't for strictly fossorial and/or nocturnal animals (snakes such as Leptotyphlops [as an exteem example], various Caudates, and a host of others). Visible light is different than UVB and UVB is different than infrared (heat). Just becuase you have one doesn't mean that you have the other(s).

-Cole


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 25th, 2013, 4:18 pm 
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Short answer: Not necessary. I've bred multiple generations of nocturnal and diurnal colubrids in near darkness or artificial light with no apparent ill effect.

However, sunlight, or simulated sunlight may be beneficial in some diurnal species in stimulating appetite, breeding behaviour and thermoregulation.


Dan


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 Post subject: Re: UVB for Snakes?
PostPosted: February 25th, 2013, 9:52 pm 
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I think when we are speaking of a non imposed, voluntarily accessed exposure - ultraviolet light is not "dangerous". The most sunshine I have lived in was in Florida - and I dont recall ever encountering any animal, reptile, amphibian or invertebrate with sun damage.

We can grind out the google or our texts - But the same can be done with air, water, algae.


I have been in herpetoculture for 40 years - as a personal pursuit, and for the past 30 as my only occupation - they are as familiar to me as any livestock would be to a lifetime farmer etc. Ive applied it and there are effects. They would qualify as positive.

What we dont know yet, someday may define whats necessary on a finer scale.

Ultraviolet light is only one thing we dont consider. There is more.


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