Thursday, January 22, 2009

Compact UVB bulbs, harmful to reptiles?

I have seen a lot of people on the net say compact UVB bulbs are harmful to reptiles. Compact bulbs meaning they are shaped like a regular tube bent in half, corkscrew or in the shape of a halo/circle. These are being made by several different reptile product manufactures. The lights are said to cause blindness in your animals. Well, I've done some research on the net and found a website that actually did studies on these bulbs and had reported cases of effected reptiles along with some pretty sad pictures. This is the site, I encourage you to check it out!

Basically the information in the sites I've found on the net( not just the one I created the link to) states that these bulbs put out harmful amounts of UV radiation which can harm your reptile in more than one way. First off it states that because they are too bright and put out low wave length UVB and UVC your reptile gets photo-kerato-conjunctivitis ( basically the same thing as snow blindness in humans). It states that the eyes swell up and eventually swell shut. Accompanying this your reptiles exhibit lethargy, decreased appetite, sometimes even lesions that look like burns and exfoliation of the skin on the eyelids. Luckily they state that this is not permanent and if the bulbs are removed your reptile should be fully recovered in 2-14 days. Also (my theory from past experience) If exposed for a long period of time your reptile is unable to control how much D3 it makes and the calcium levels increase making it susceptible to getting Hypercalcemia, especially if you are giving it a D3 supplement. (I am currently working to prove this with the help of my vet) Look at the previous post to learn about Hypercalcemia.

Here are some pics of different compact bulbs

I have talked to my veterinarian about this subject and sent her to the above link. She had not heard about this before and started looking for the illness "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis" in her reference books. So far she has not found anything. This is a relative new thing with reptiles being that these bulbs have not been around for very long so it may be that that's why she can't find it. The both of us are very interested in learning the truth of the matter. She has told me she will be talking to some experts in the reptile veterinary field and let me know if she finds anything out. I will keep you posted on anything I find out! If you have anything you would like to share about your personal experiences with these lights please leave a comment or email me about it.
Part two: 01-29-09
Alright, so I did some more research since first writing this post. I looked at some of the medical websites and found definitions for Photokeratitis and Photoconjunctivitis which combined is what "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis" seems to be referring to. Photokeratitis is a burn of the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) by ultraviolet B rays (UVB). Also called radiation keratitis or snowblindness. The World Health Organization(WHO) explains that Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, while photoconjunctivitis refers to an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and eye socket. These inflammatory reactions may be compared to a sunburn of the very sensitive skin-like tissues of the eyeball and eyelids and usually appear within a few hours of exposure. Photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis can be very painful, however, they are reversible and do not seem to result in any long-term damage to the eye or vision.
I also read(from the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Heath ) overexposure to UV radiation may suppress proper functioning of the body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defenses, increasing sensitivity to sunlight, diminishing the effects of immunizations or causing reactions to certain medications. And also( from Encyclopedia II), prolonged exposure to solar UV radiation may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye, and immune system.
This (below) was from a fact sheet on ultraviolet radiation.
Exposure and Hazards of UVExposure to UV light posses a serious threat to both the eye and skin. Diagnosis of exposure may vary but are commonly set into two categories, photokeratitis (eye injury) and erythema (sunburn). Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea (outer protective coating of the eye) that is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Eye injury can occur due to very brief exposure or with just a flash of intense UV. Erythema is sunburn of the skin and can occur within a few seconds of exposure to a concentrated form of UV. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light also causes premature aging and cancer of the skin. So what would a lizard look like if it had sunburn? It would look like it was shedding continuously, especially around the eyes. This is also described as being apart of "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis".
Here is a link to a recall page from R-Zilla discussing the affected bulbs and that it causes "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis"

Here are two websites about reptile lighting that briefly mention "photo-kerato-conjuctivitis"
This is a very interesting thread I found(below), it actually has the people from the UV guide website talking on here. This thread talks about how these lights can cause toxic levels of D3! It's kinda lengthy but worth it to hear what they are talking about.
RE: [UVB_Meter_Owners] Re: New file - R-Zilla advert - toxic D3 from abnormal spectra?
I will continue to keep you guys posted with whatever else I might find!
So I have been doing a lot of research on this matter and have contacted the author of the UV guide website. Talking to her has really made me understand why the affected bulbs are "bad". She has been a great help in understanding what to look for in a reptile's blood to prove or disprove Hypercalcaemia in affected reptiles. I had a pair of lizards that were affected by a "bad" bulb and that is what started my interest in the matter. The pair of lizards I have, have almost fully recovered. The author of the site is currently working on a publication about this and I have given her my case history of my lizards as well as other affected reptiles I have aquired affected by "bad" bulbs. I started asking around and found some reptiles that were affected and I asked permission to document their recovery. I have been taking them to my vet and I'm trying to see if any of them are Hypercalcaemic. In the future I will be trying to get a solar meter so that I may test "bad" bulbs myself. This little research project has now become much bigger than I ever thought. It has really intrigued my interest and when I am able to post my findings and results on affected reptiles I will. I will also inform you about what the author of the UV guide website has found out about these harmful bulbs after she publishes it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Diurnal Species of reptiles-VERY IMPORTANT

Diurnal species(active during the day) need UVB exposure to make the vitamin D3 that is required to absorb calcium. If they do not have adequate UVB exposure they will not be able to do this and the result is Hypocalcemia or better known as Metabolic Bone Disease(MBD). This is fatal and a horrible way to die. Symptoms are bone deformities, loss of proper motor functions(shaky when walking,unable to hold on to things,laying there unable to move), lethargy, loss of appetite, caving in of body structures such as the casque on chameleons, dehydration from not drinking, sunken in eyes, change in normal skin color(sign of stress), Bones feel spongy. This can also lower your reptiles immunity making them susceptible to other illnesses and/or parasite infestations. If your reptile displays any combination of the above symptoms take them to the vet right away. Something is wrong. Most often reptiles don't show they are sick until the illness is moderate to severe. The way to prevent MBD is to expose them to natural unfiltered (no glass or plastic in between the source and your reptile)sunlight all day every day or using a UVB light above their enclosure with (no glass or plastic) in between the light and your enclosure. The UVB light must be changed every 6 months even if it still puts off light. The reason is because the amount of UVB put out decreases over time. Some people do test their lights on a regular basis to check UVB output and change them when it starts going down, but most people don't so I recommend changing it every 6 months to be safe. You must provide the UVB lighting over the whole length of your enclosure.

When feeding always dust food with a calcium supplement or you can also give reptiles calcium in the form of a liquid and give it to them by hand. VERY IMPORTANT: If you give a calcium supplement to your lizards and they receive proper UVB exposure(with changing the bulb every six months) at least 12 hours a day you DO NOT need to give them the vitamin D3! You will see in pet stores calcium supplements with added vitamin D3, don't use them. Get calcium only. Your reptile if it has proper UVB exposure and proper heating it is already able to make enough of this vitamin on their own. Giving them calcium with added D3 will give them Hypercalcemia which is where they have an excessive amount of calcium in the blood. This is caused usually by overdosing the calcium or D3 intake. This can also be fatal if not caught in time. NOTE: It is normal to have high calcium levels in the blood if your reptile is producing eggs. Symptoms are lethargy, decreased appetite,dehydration,color change(from stress), laying on the bottom of the cage if they are normally arboreal. As with Hypocalcemia(MBD), Hypercalcemia also lowers the immune defenses and they can be susceptible to illnesses and/or parasite infestations.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tokay geckos

For those of you out there who think Tokays can't be tamed, your wrong. Tokay geckos are one of the most misunderstood lizards out there. They have such a bad reputation. Most geckos run when scared but not Tokays, they stand their ground. That doesn't mean that they are mean and nasty, they are just scared. To them we look like huge predators. Heck yeah I'd bite someone if I was a gecko and someone grabbed me! So you ask "How do I tame a Tokay?" Well you have to gain their trust of course. Stick your hand in the cage next to them but move really slow when you do it. After a minute move closer but watch the gecko for signs that they might bite you. If they start puffing up and make noises stop moving and just keep your hand still. After another minute try to get closer, slowly barely moving. Keep doing this until you are touching the side of the gecko and he is not showing signs of being defensive. After another minute try to very slowly push your hand under the gecko. Very important to do this as slow as possible and remain still if he shows defensive posture. Once you have him on your hand just sit there for a min or two. He might jump off but then you just try again to slide your hand under him. Eventually he will see you aren't trying to hurt him. This is the first step in getting him to trust you. Once he has been sitting in your hand for awhile slowly lift him up out of the cage. If he jumps off just do it again. Once you get him out watch his posture to see if he is going to jump. Be ready because he probably will try. If he does don't grab him. Instead catch him with your open hand when he lands. If you grab him at all you lose all trust he has for you and he will bite and you will be back at square one. Eventually he will calm down and sit in your hand. When he starts to trust you he will start walking hand over hand sticking out his tongue tasting you. After you hold him for a long while with him walking hand over hand or with him just sitting on you put him back in his cage. Don't put him back if you haven't gained any ground. Do this every day for a week or more depending on your gecko and the amount of time spent holding it and he should become completely tame for you. Some tips and pointers: Most geckos love applesauce and Tokays are no exception. Put a little on your finger tip and touch his nose. At first he will probably just sit there but if you keep it there long enough he will become curious and taste it. I give it to mine as a treat and they readily lick it up. Once they are comfortable with you they will also take superworms and crickets right out of your hand. Another thing to remember is when taming your Tokay never move fast and keep them away from people or things that make sudden movement or they will take off. The Tokays I have were tame in just days after getting them. My male I got as a baby and my female I got as a wild caught adult.

My Tokays are so tame and nice that my 5 yr old daughter can play with them. Tame Tokays are awesome, they have very laid back personalities and love to just chill and hang out with you.