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.