Are we doing UVB wrong?

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Back sometime at the beginning of the year I took Jack to a terrific and very experienced/knowledgeable vet (Dr Bogoslavsky in Orlando). He advised I change his uvb from a 6% to a 12%, which I did and all has been fine. I can’t say that I’ve noticed any difference in him from my other chams, who still have 6% uvb. Later when I took Stella to him, he didn’t say anything about changing her uvb strength. Today I took Hammlet to Dr B and he again advised I change to the stronger 12% and keep basking area the same 8-9” away. He explained that the 6% strength is really more suitable for the montaines and that panther and veiled do very well with 12%. When I asked him about UV index, he explained that I really only need to measure that to determine if my bulbs need replacing. He also mentioned the thriving (invasive) wild populations of chameleons in Florida, but I very briefly got distracted and missed the connection point he was making. However, he did then mention how it’s impossible to standardize the needs for all species of chameleons in one neat package.
Of course, I’ve already ordered new 12% bulbs for all of my chams and am now sitting here pondering this. Like most of us, my chams have plenty of shady spots and varied levels in their appropriately sized enclosures so they can choose how much uvb and heat they want. If I had a cham in a smaller enclosure with sparse plants, I would definitely stick with the 6% uvb.
So, what is the reason that the 6% or 5.0 uvb has become the standard? Is it because it’s the safe choice for those who may have inadequate enclosure sizes and/or plant cover? Is it because it’s also the safe choice to recommend for whatever species of chameleon someone may have? Is it to try and keep things as simple as possible even though possibly one size doesn’t fit all? Should those who have enclosures of adequate size and foliage be using the stronger uvb? Should we still be recommending 6% or 5.0 to keepers of veiled and panther chameleons?
I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts about this.
 

Andee

Chameleon Enthusiast
I agree with your vet but almost would individualize them more. So Ryker was my original panther, came from Kammersflage, had amazing breeding, was a great healthy boy. At 5 years old he started showing snow blindness with 6% uvb bulb that had nothing wrong with it and was about... 2 months old... I took him off the bulb to hopefully let his eyes heal, he had straight sunlight for a while, he went completely blind and showed severe damage to his corneas. He had no genetic disposition for this, and had no health issues otherwise at the time. I kept him going until he was about... I think 7-8 with hand feeding, last 6 months a bit of force feeding with a syringe because honestly he was still sassy and doing well. But he went down hill in his senior years. My vet and I, along with some of the senior members of the forum concluded the uvb was likely at fault. I had tried different ones after he went blind completely during winter to provide him with uvb when sunlight was less reliable but he seemed extremely sensitive to artificial uvb. However... I have never had another cham have this problem. Neptune doesn't like being inside for prolonged periods. Will go off food. He goes outside 3 times a week and has a large uvb 12% for his cage and lots of greenery (all fake because he demolishes them otherwise just by climbing them) and he does much better with the extra exposure. He can get out of it, and thrives. Hope was a montane, she needed less uvb, but she also needed more sunlight exposure because she came to me with severe MBD, she had 4 days of the week with 1 hour min out in the sun. She thrived for 5 years in my care and I think was 7 when she died. Phoenix was a rescue who was rehomed, couldn't have a uvb light in the beginning because she had eye issues but once she was ok she thrived being indoors and with a light. no issues and was a piggy and I had to be careful with how much she ate. in my opinions chams are some of the most individualistic reptiles when it comes to their preferences for care and they can go downhill when we don't meet their individualized needs.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
@MissSkittles said..."Is it because it’s also the safe choice to recommend for whatever species of chameleon someone may have? Is it to try and keep things as simple as possible even though possibly one size doesn’t fit all? "...I think this is a big part of why it's done. It's complicated enough to throw so much husbandry information all at once at newbies, that it's an option that works better than the info they get at the stores, etc and gives them time to learn better options as they go along. Explanations of everything get too long and complicated to start off with sometimes.
 

Andee

Chameleon Enthusiast
I agree with you too Kinyonga, that I think new keepers need a baseline to start, somewhere to get comfortable, and then look at what does MY cham possibly need, where are they showing signs of distress and why? I think it's why we see a lot of questions in the health forum that sometimes are just so out of the blue for most chams but after you learn about a certain chameleon it makes sense. Like I've learned Neptune sucked at eating things with spikey legs, while Ryker and Hope never had an issue with it. He ended up with a small injury on his lip and he is a nose rubber when he gets stuck inside too long, a thing we learned... I think last year when the fires were happening and the air quality was so poor. He doesn't shed well in these areas anymore, and so even if the skin is loose and ready to come off it won't. I often have to take a wet qtip to it or it just starts overlapping with other sheds.

But it's weird the differences I've noticed.
 

CasqueAbove

Chameleon Enthusiast
UVB is a tricky area. When we give the 6% advice it is because we know through testing by bill strand the "safe zone of 6 and basking of 3. He himself states this is a guide line and not a final word. It works but that is not to say they can't handle higher. I think this is the key point. He in no way claims they can't handle more, just that 3 is enough to lay calcified egggs.


I prefer a 12% but it depends on the set up. 12% gives better saturation, but if I have young or screen climbers I stick with 6%.

What I have noticed is that
6% makes the "sweet spot" a much smaller footprint so set up and supplements are critical.
12% increases this foot print by more than double, but needs to be 9 to 12 inches above the basking area.
I really only worry about UV above 8 or 9, not that they are in this but if they really tried and stretch they could get it. I use this number because it can be measured in nature, though in deserts. Numbers like 15+ don't really exist in nature.

I still think the 6% if you are putting it on screen is a good start. Like you we may find situations where 12% is better.

For my personal thoughts I feel saturation of the enclosure constantly being in 1 to 3 uv with plenty of shade spots is best .

On my male I have a 48in 12% over the main area, there is a basking branch that comes out and is covered by a MegaRay 160w set back so its UV is 3 to 4 and up to 87 depending on where he choses.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
@ERKleRose Dr B said only to change my uvb and get my chams outside more. I think Jack had labs when I took him, but can’t be certain and haven’t had any reason for a return visit as of yet. For Hammlet today, labs were optional and as my concern was nothing, I chose against having any done.
 

DocZ

Chameleon Enthusiast

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
@Andee I honestly hadn’t even thought about how higher uvb may affect the eyes. I will definitely be monitoring for any signs of visual problems.
We do need to take a more individualized approach to our animals care and that we do need some guidelines for where to start with new keepers.
@kinyonga we do tend to confuse some when it comes to uvb, which is why I wonder about this. Too often it’s hard enough to explain to a new keeper how a 5.0 compact bulb isn’t going to produce the same uvb as a T5 5.0 will.
@CasqueAbove as all of my chams are adults and have plenty of plants, I don’t think I need to worry that they may get too close. As my boys are in double sized enclosures and I have 2 separate uvb fixtures for each, maybe I’ll keep a 6% in one and put a 12% on the other side to give them more options. I have noticed that Hammlet will climb above his basking branch closer to his uvb at times. Is he trying to get a higher saturation? I’ll have to keep a close eye on him. My girls are a little different as they each only have one uvb fixture. They do have some areas of dense foliage, so will see how they do.
As Dr B mentioned the wild cham populations here in Florida, it made me go outside with my solarmeter. With the sun fully covered by clouds, my readings were around 3.5. With the sun almost fully out from the clouds, I was reading 6.9.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Was there a reason he didn’t want your females under 12%?
He just didn’t say anything about it when I took Stella in. When I asked him about giving all my chams (panther and veiled) the 12%, he said yes and then went on with his explanations that I mentioned above.
So I follow everything Bill Strand tells us to do... When he says a 3 UVI at basking... I say "yes sir!" and do so :hilarious:

UVI of 6 is still within safe limits... The highest Beman has access to is a UVI 4.2. But he rarely sits in that area.
Me too! I don’t know nearly enough to ‘experiment’. But, when a good vet tells me to do something differently, who do I listen to?
That’s interesting the doc recommended lower UVB for montanes. Mario Jungmann who is really successful with montane Chams recommends higher UVB
Here’s a link to Bill Strands podcast with episode 127 and another to @Kaizen ’s page about T cristatus where he mentions the same practice of higher UVI for montane chams

https://chameleonacademy.com/chameleon-academy-podcast-archives-season-4/
https://www.kaizenchameleons.com/about-2
I just listened and got the impression they are using only uvb and gutloading as a D3 source. Haven’t yet read Kaizen’s post.
 

Lindasjackson

Chameleon Enthusiast
It makes sense that Montaine species need a different uvb than say chams that live at lower elevations but why lower uvb for mountain es and higher for the others? I thought it would be the other way around!
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
So speaking as a montane(parsons) keeper. I notice interesting behavior that could help dial in uvb for this species. Im sure other parsonii keepers notice this too, it seems common. Outside, every morning he will do whatever he can, even if it means sit on the ground, to bask in the brightest sun's ray's. He'll move around for a while trying to stay in the bright light until about early afternoon(can't remember exactly, but it's pretty consistent, day to day. I can always expect to find him in the same places). Then he moves into the shady humid spots for the rest of the day. This tells me a few hours of high UV followed by next to none at all is probably what they get in the wild.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
It makes sense that Montaine species need a different uvb than say chams that live at lower elevations but why lower uvb for mountain es and higher for the others? I thought it would be the other way around!
I don’t know. I wish we could hook ourselves up to each other’s brains to share knowledge. I guess that’s what books and college is for. 😂
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
I may be wrong for why they need lower uvb, but I think many of the montane chameleons live in more plant-dense areas(so less uvb gets through). Like your traditional rainforests. Many Panthers/veileds are found in relatively open and dry regions, so it's not really realistic when you see people set their enclosures up like jungles, that's more where the montanes would be. @Lindasjackson
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
Thoughts on UV...
This is for humans...but it might apply at lest in part to chameleons...
"Sun exposure suppresses the immune system and may make the body more vulnerable to infections and cancers"...
"Excess exposure to UV radiation can cause a painful burn of the cornea"...
https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/uviguide.pdf

UV exposure...
" they may not be able to photoregulate effectively in an artificial UV gradient that provides too strong a UVB irradiance"...
https://reptileuvinfo.com/docs/artificial-ultraviolet-exposure-chameleon.pdf

"Lighting for Chameleons - Part 1
By Andy Beveridge"...
http://www.chameleonnews.com/04AugBeveridge.html

"Lighting for Chameleons - Part #2
By Dave Weldon"...
http://www.chameleonnews.com/10JulWeldon.html
 
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