UVB for Crepuscular and Shade-Dwelling Species

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Before anything else, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for what is now over 4 years of support for this blog. I cannot believe that the little pet project I thought no one would ever read has become a blog that receives a quarter million views a year and that generates an inbox full of emailed questions, comments, and grateful messages of encouragement. Last year I did not write very much due to work and other priorities but this year I am pushing myself to get back into blogging, which I so enjoy. And all the encouragement reminds me that I don’t just write into the void. Thank you again and here’s to another 4 years! Cheers!

Now, I wanted to give an example of how relevant something like proper lighting is to reptiles in general and what an impact it can have on health, even those that traditionally aren’t given regular UVB access. I’ve explained in other posts how important UV lighting is, so in this post I just want to tell you a cautionary tale, as it were, from my time as an intern at the herpetology department of a major zoo here in Florida. This department had several major faults that I will not go into, primarily because this isn’t supposed to be an exposé on what is essentially a department of well-meaning but stifled zoo keepers mismanaged by a barely competent administration, but also because only one story is relevant here; the story of why the dart frogs were mysteriously ill.

It is not apparent to the public, but in this department there were hundreds of dart frogs in little terrariums lining the walls of all the back rooms, the ones not visible to anyone but employees. And among these, there were dozens of Golden poison frogs, Phyllobates terribilis, in various cages across these rooms. Small, adorable, and indeed golden in color, these frogs were an important breeding project for the department. However, over the span of a few weeks some of the frogs had started developing sores on the palms of their hands, on their noses, and on their thighs. The zoo veterinarian was doing everything she could think of; she had them change the substrate in their cages to a more sterile one, and she had them apply an ointment to the sores as well as a topical antibiotic. But none of this worked, the frogs were not improving. The sores stayed exactly the same for weeks at a time.
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