Are we doing UVB wrong?

Flick boy

Chameleon Enthusiast
So this might be nonsense on my part but would you think that higher uv levels in some parts of an enclosure with males leads to better colour and higher fertility? And too high uvi could lead to over calcification in females , eggs proir to laying ( this post can be deleted)
 

CasqueAbove

Chameleon Enthusiast
So this might be nonsense on my part but would you think that higher uv levels in some parts of an enclosure with males leads to better colour and higher fertility? And too high uvi could lead to over calcification in females , eggs proir to laying ( this post can be deleted)
From what I understand no. I read, or kind of read a study that found that UV above 3 did not produce xxx can’t remember but it was something that indicated how much calcium it could process. What I gathered was that there was no gains above a given threshold.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
So even though I use a 12% I never recommend it to new keepers. I understand that unless you have a uv Meter you can't be sure . And obviously different lights can be used distance appropriate. Sometimes confusing when a 5/6% is recommend here and a 12% in the uk. but I only provide 3/4 uvi at basking but with other levels not exceeding 7 % . I think 9/10 uvi in Madagascar in the warm / bright months. I know I don't live in Madagascar but surely they can cope with higher levels. Also depending on the time of year uv would be different not always the same low or high
Right but even in areas where there is a higher UVI how often are these chams sitting at the very top of a tree in full exposure? Your going to get a real reduction in UVI level as you move down below the canopy. Not to mention full sun (higher UVI) at noon brings with it the hottest temps of the day. This is when chams go deeper into the plants to stay cooler.
 

Kaizen

Chameleon Enthusiast
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
Thanks for the mention. Complete transparency: Despite the intuitive advice of the experts such as Mario, my thoughts on uvb exposure for some montanes comes from facts about their respective habitats. Physics tells us that light diminishes with square of the distance from the source. This means that sunlight, including uvb, is exponentially stronger at 2000 meters above sea level, than it is at sea level. Hence, when montane species such as jax, are exposed to direct sun, they are exposed to exponentially higher levels of uv radiation. However, just so we’re clear: xantholophus aren’t hanging out in full sun all day. Presumably, they get some direct sun exposure to warm up in the AM, then spend the day in dappled shade, hunting etc. So, while the solar radiation (and therefore uvb) they do receive is more intense than their sea-level counterparts, they certainly don’t spend all day in the sun. Long story short, it makes sense that certain montanes are adapted to higher solar radiation intensities. However, they probably adjust for this by their use of dappled shade—not to mention the specific morphological attributes, such as “warty” skin. So, it makes sense that if your goal is to replicate natural conditions, then provide high uvb, coupled with dense areas of shade. However, the jury is still out on whether this approach to montane husbandry is better. It is perfectly plausible that providing high intensity uvb in a densely shaded enclosure is equivalent to providing moderate intensity uvb in an enclosure with less shade. Without question, there is a definitive answer to the question, “how much uvb does my Jackson’s need,” and that answer will look something like, “your Jackson’s needs x number of micro-mols over y period of time.” Unfortunately, we don’t know those values as of yet. In the meantime, we have to grope around in the dark as best we can. My guess is that both approaches to uvb for certain montanes can work. What doesn’t work is throwing unearthly levels uvb at your Cham in a sparsely planted cage. Personally, I like to offer high uvb, but this is a function not only of the size of my enclosures, but the amount of plant coverage I inevitably get in my greenhouse. I highly recommend that anyone thinking about this issue should keep an open mind, so as much research as possible, consult as many experienced keepers as possible, and be ready and willing to change their practices according to available evidence. Finally, take any advice proffered as “the one and only way” with a huge grain of salt!
 

DeremensisBlue

Chameleon Enthusiast
Site Sponsor
UVI 3 comes from experiments on Veiled and Panther chameleons that show that females can lay fully calcified eggs without dietary D3 when they have UVI 3 at the basking branch. That roughly equates to a 6-9” below a T5 6% or 5.0 going through standard screen.

If a female gets enough D3 to handle the most intense need for calcium in her life with UVI 3 then there should be a compelling reason why you would give more. UVB is not benign.
There is discussion about some higher altitude chameleons being drawn towards higher UVB, but we also need to be careful to analyze what they are being drawn to and if our separating of the UVB from heat confuses whatever sensor they are using. The reason why it is harder to have a standard for Jackson’s is that they are live bearing and so we don’t have a test like the laying of eggs. They have been shown to be healthy under UVI 3, but there are also reports of them being drawn to higher. So I can’t offer anything definitive on Jackson’s like I can on panther and Veiled.
(Though just keep in mind that Veiled chameleons are actually from higher altitudes than our xanths so when we talk about high altitude chameleons we are talking about Veileds too)
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
This has proven a very interesting and informative thread. Many voices which I trust have given many points which explain my original question and given a great deal to take into consideration. @DeremensisBlue I’m so thankful that you’ve weighed in here as your knowledge and experience leads our way. So now it’s clear to me that I trust your opinion over that of my vet when it comes to chameleons. :)
My new 12% bulbs arrived last week and have been shoved into storage for now. Perhaps if my plants grow much denser or I feel like installing more ceiling hooks, they’ll be put to use. For now, I at least have spare bulbs for my beardie.
 

DonKeesh

Established Member
I will just add that husbandry and exotic veterinary are two different realms in my book. I will listen to vets 100% when it comes to medical procedure and treatment, but when it comes to husbandry I will always listen to keepers with the most experience. Sometimes you have to keep the animal for years to truly understand the advanced husbandry, when vets giving husbandry advice may not have hands on experience themselves.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
What I used to do was give vets a chameleon to keep as a pet if they would take it. If it lived as long as mine normally did, then they might know enough about husbandry...and if they didn't, then if they paid attention to the difference in the longevity of mine and theirs, they would see that maybe they needed to make changes.
I realize this isn't directly related to the UVB exposure...
 

DeremensisBlue

Chameleon Enthusiast
Site Sponsor
This has proven a very interesting and informative thread. Many voices which I trust have given many points which explain my original question and given a great deal to take into consideration. @DeremensisBlue I’m so thankful that you’ve weighed in here as your knowledge and experience leads our way. So now it’s clear to me that I trust your opinion over that of my vet when it comes to chameleons. :)
My new 12% bulbs arrived last week and have been shoved into storage for now. Perhaps if my plants grow much denser or I feel like installing more ceiling hooks, they’ll be put to use. For now, I at least have spare bulbs for my beardie.
Here is an explanation of the 6% vs 12% that I tried to put into its simplest form for a YouTube video on Panther Chameleon Care. Maybe this can help?
UVB Explanation

Understanding and talking in terms of UV Index is the only way we can have a meaningful conversation about the role of UVB in chameleon husbandry. I am floored that a vet would say knowing your UVB levels is only good for knowing when to change the bulb. Well, then there is a value you are trying to hit if you are measuring to know when it goes below a certain threshold. What is that level and how did you decide on that level? The UVB bulbs we have were not designed for chameleons who can climb up top and get close and personal. They were designed to punch through space to reach a bearded dragon or basking reptile down on the ground. So we chameleon people need to be very aware of UVB and its strength.

I selected UVI 3 as the target level for Veileds and panthers because of experiments done between me, Pete Hawkins, and Johnathan Hill of iPardalis showing these species can fully calcify eggs with out additional dietary vitamin D3. I did a further experiment that showed no difference between offering UVI 3 and UVI 6. These experiments are, by no means, the end of the discussion. If someone wants to use a 12% and offer UVI 8, for example, then fine. But at last understand what you are doing and have a reason in your mind. The problem is when you are an admin of some Facebook group or a vet and you start telling people they should use a 12% sitting on top of a cage "because". Because? What does that mean? Are you following the Ferguson Zones? Did you do some test that says there is some benefit from higher UV Index? Or do you just like the number 12 better? Is there a particular cage condition that requires it?

UVI 3 is just a data point that was proven to work. There is much more work that needs to be done. Me, personally, I will be experimenting with UVB dose and seeing if I can determine a UVI combined with a shorter time than 12 hours for having the UVB light on. But before I tell anyone they should do it I will make sure I have experimented and figured out what the benefit of it is. And then I will share my repeatable experiment for anyone who is interested in exploring it.

So, 12% at 8-9"? I measure UVI 8 to UVI 5 over the year lifetime of the bulb. (There will be variation in everyone's bulb depending on age or how it is driven and everything else. So let's just take that as a magnitude.) Why is this the target if UVI 3 is sufficient? Perhaps we, one day, find that the higher UVB triggers something in their brain during mating season or something like that. Well, then we have something else to consider and experiment with. And once we figure out what UVI that is and at what time of year that needs to be raised then, with a working knowledge of UV Index, we can make it happen. So, this UVI 3 number isn't written in stone never to be questioned. It is a starting point for more experimentation. But let's make sure we use further experimentation to dispute it or justify something else. There has to be a reason to say it should be something different. At least for the sake of people who take chameleon husbandry seriously.
 

bbyoda

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hey @MissSkittles thank you for prompting this discussion. Back when my cham Yoda had parasites, Dr. Bruce recommended the same switch for me. I went to Pet Bazaar and asked to borrow lights to experiment a bit to see UVB levels in my cage for 12% versus 6% using a solarmeter. With my setup, and where Yoda likes to hang all day, 12% was overkill based on Ferguson levels and data Bill Strand and other provided here on the forum. So I returned the 12% as I didn't thing Dr. Bruce's word alone was enough to make a switch there. I made other changes based on Dr Bruce's advice, including a supplement switch to pre- formed vitamin A, because there was some compelling discussion and advice on the forums to suggest that'd be a good course of action. As always I appreciate your, the forums, and Bill Strand's commitment to critical thinking and improving care and husbandry for chameleons.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Unfortunately a 20-30 minute vet visit isn’t nearly long enough to have a full discussion about uvb levels and what data Dr Bruce is basing his recommendations on. I have no idea if he keeps or has kept chameleons, but he did say he has a bearded dragon, for which a higher uvi is needed. Hopefully I won’t have need for another visit to Dr Bruce for a while, but maybe I can ask him more. If I’m feeling really bold, I could risk insulting him and ask him check out Chameleon Academy. ;)
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Unfortunately a 20-30 minute vet visit isn’t nearly long enough to have a full discussion about uvb levels and what data Dr Bruce is basing his recommendations on. I have no idea if he keeps or has kept chameleons, but he did say he has a bearded dragon, for which a higher uvi is needed. Hopefully I won’t have need for another visit to Dr Bruce for a while, but maybe I can ask him more. If I’m feeling really bold, I could risk insulting him and ask him check out Chameleon Academy. ;)
I told my vet to check out chameleon academy and told him to refer his chameleon people there lol

But he also does not seem to have a really strong knowledge of chameleons.
 

bbyoda

Chameleon Enthusiast
Unfortunately a 20-30 minute vet visit isn’t nearly long enough to have a full discussion about uvb levels and what data Dr Bruce is basing his recommendations on. I have no idea if he keeps or has kept chameleons, but he did say he has a bearded dragon, for which a higher uvi is needed. Hopefully I won’t have need for another visit to Dr Bruce for a while, but maybe I can ask him more. If I’m feeling really bold, I could risk insulting him and ask him check out Chameleon Academy. ;)

You're so right!! The vet visit goes by quickly. Dr. Bruce told me he frequents groups on Facebook. I'm sure he'd appreciate Chameleon Academy. I'll mention it in my next checkup.
 

Gingero

Chameleon Enthusiast
I had a keeper message me for help and tell me their vet was watching my videos right in front of them during their vet visit looking up answers lol

But back on topic…
I will also recommend 6%/5.0 for new keepers with a big reason being they’re using cages that are too small/smaller than 48” tall. For what it’s worth, I’ve mentored countless keepers experiencing eye issues with their cham who had been using a 10.0 on a 36-48” tall enclosure and after switching to a 5.0 no longer saw their cham closing their eyes. This is after confirming their supplements were correct. I’ve used a 12% on a densely planted panther enclosure and have had great success after measuring UVI levels with a solarmeter 6.5. I also run a 12% on my male parson’s 6 foot tall enclosure. I badly wish I could just keep my chams outside… the struggles of living in an apartment…
 
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