Priest, S. An illuminating look at reptile lighting – Black headed Python. Available: https://www.facebook.co ... alink/1762347660566489/ Accessed: November 7, 2019.
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Keywords: Infrarot = Infrared, Schlangen = Snakes
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An illuminating look at reptile lighting – Black headed Python.
By Stuart Priest
I've been keeping reptiles, especially snakes for over 30 years. It all started with a garter snake at the age of 3 and has been a thoroughly enjoyable passion of mine ever since. Through those years there have been many, many trials and tribulations that I've always made an effort to learn from. So, it's not surprising to feel like I knew what I was doing when it came to keeping reptiles. Using the usual benchmarks, does it eat, does it poo and does it shed then Yes, I am highly successful. Add in the next benchmark, do they breed, then I have a fairly high success rate there too. Just recently I've had a total change of direction in what I aim to achieve in my personal collection, this has been based a lot on what I've read on certain groups on Facebook (Advancing Herpetological Husbandry being chief among them). Racks are out and vivarium’s are in, ambient and belly heat are a thing of the past and full spectrum lighting are in. Sounds obvious but a lot of us keepers have a habit of falling into the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" train of thought.
One of the main reasons for my turn around is not just the information I have been seeing online. For that we can have a small back story. I purchased an adult pair of Blackhead Pythons from a friend. They came at a bargain price because the female came with a lung infection, I was made aware of this and I carried on the treatment as recommended by the vet. Nebuliser twice a day and drained afterwards, mucus and constant gurgles and bubbles that did not seem to get better. A second vet visit gave the same diagnosis and recommendation to carry on the nebuliser treatment.
So, back story over and fast forward to the AHH conference at Drayton Manor Park. Lighting session with Roman Muryn and Dr Francis Baines. They spoke of the myriad benefits of providing full spectrum lighting to reptiles, even snakes (I know, I was always a believer that snakes do not need UV too). So, I came home, invested in a 12% T5 UV tube and a PAR38 Infra-Red Bulb to replace the ceramic heater and LED bulb that she was using before. Within just 2 days it was like I had a new snake, she was actively basking for long periods of time making use of the UV and the Infra-Red, she was many times more active and alert, totally ridding herself of the lethargic attitude she had always had since coming to me. Every day she improved and after just 11 days of this new lighting setup there was no, I repeat NO sign of the mucus around her mouth and nostrils. There was only the slightest trace of a gurgle when she was breathing and her appetite was better than it had ever been.
Within 3 weeks there was not even the smallest hint of ill health and to encourage this new behaviour I started adding branches and leaf litter to create a little enrichment. This only increased her activity levels and created a little muscle tone. The latest instalment on this beautiful girl is that she has ovulated and the Male was only to happy to help her there when introduced to her vivarium.
Taking the same 'enlightened ' view on this and learning from everything that happened, I decided to take the same approach with some of my other captives. I next rolled this approach out to my trio of Ackies, they arrived to me with both females having been seriously harassed by the Male. One of the girls even had a broken fore leg. (Are you noticing a trend for animals needing TLC) I had separated the girls to convalesce and when they were better, I needed them to actually thrive. They already had UV but when I combined this with a combination of Halogen and Infrared bulb it was like I had given them fresh batteries. Tonnes of leaf litter and pinecones add a little enrichment too. The activity levels, time spent basking and hunting went through the roof. The male is actually busy constantly and not just harassing the females. Increased muscle tone and time spent basking together prove that once again, the correct "full spectrum lighting" and a little environmental enrichment really are the key for healthier and happier reptiles.
All of this is what has firmly pushed me to make the change, if I can see such a pronounced difference in so short of a time then the truth cannot be questioned. I have set about reducing the number of animals I keep so that I can give everything adequate space in a vivarium, with full spectrum lighting and ample enrichment. These are parameters that just can't be provided in a rack, so the racks have to go. I must admit to feeling bad for all the animals I've kept in the past without these conditions, assuming they are doing well because I just judged them by the traditional benchmarks of eating, pooping and shedding, and accepting those as enough. Not preaching here but I for one am converted, and I feel that it's nothing more than what is expected of a responsible reptile keeper. The dark ages are in the past and full spectrum lighting is what banishes the dark.