Do Blue Tongue Skinks Need UVB? UVB Light Tank Setup
When setting up the tank, every owner asks themselves do blue tongue skinks need UVB? The short answer is yes. There is a lot of discussion around this topic. However, skinks are basking species by nature and need natural light to set their day and night pattern.
The topic of do Blue tongue skinks need UVB is constantly discussed in the lizard community. There are many different opinions online which can be very confusing!
That’s why, in this article you’ll find the most important information on the topic to help you decide for yourself if your should include UVB in your Blue tongue skink’s tank.
UVB In Blue Tongue Skinks Natural Environment
Before answering do Blue tongue skinks need UVB, the first thing you need to do is look at their natural environment and behaviors.
In the wild, Blue tongue skinks, who are diurnal lizards, use the natural daylight to set their day and night patterns and spend long hours basking in the sun.
Although, UVB light is part of their life in the wild, should you include UVB when you keep skinks as pets?
Do Blue Tongue Skinks Need UVB When Kept As Pets?
As mentioned above, Blue tongue skinks are basking species by nature and need natural light to set their day and night pattern. Therefore, the answer to the question do Blue tongue skinks need UVB is yes, they do.
If you look online in the forums, you’ll find many owners who’s skinks are perfectly fine without UVB. However, these lizards are hardy creatures and we don’t know if we are depriving them from something by not including UVB in their enclosure.
Therefore, the safest choice is to include UVB to your skink’s tank setup as it won’t hurt them and it can only provide additional benefits; such as helping them with their color vision and Vitamin D absorption.
It’s important to note that with or with out UVB lighting, you need to provide your skink with Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements. UVB light alone wont provide them with sufficient Calcium or D3 and without these supplements your skink can potentially develop MBD or even die.
Which UVB Light Is Best For Blue Tongue Skink
Now that we have answered do Blue tongue skinks need UVB, we need to look at what is the best UVB light.
When setting up the tank, you will need to include UVB reptile lamp alongside a basking lamp. These two lamps give off different spectrums. Therefore, you’ll either need to purchase a lamp that is specifically both for basking and UVB or purchase two separate lamps.
The light in the basking area should range from UVI 3.0 to 5.0, whereas in the shade should be zero. It’s also important to use the lamp only ever according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
In terms of UVB lights, the best options are fluorescent tubes or Mercury vapor. Read below to find out more about the positives and negatives.
These UVB lights are long tubes that are placed above the tank and need to be quite close to the animal for the best effect. However, it’s important to note that these tubes must be changed every 6 months. Although, they will continue to shine bright, after 6 months they stop emitting UV waves.
In a tank that is 15″ high, it’s recommended to use a 5 or 6% UVB. Furthermore, the lamp should be T5 high output and around half the length of the tank.
One negative of the fluorescent tubes is that the waves won’t spread across the entire tank. Therefore, if your skink is buried on the opposite side, they won’t get the benefit of the UVB light.
Mercury Vapor (MV)
Mercury Vapor bulbs are quite large and emit both heat and UVB. The positives of picking this bulb is that they come with year warranties and don’t need to be as close to the animal as a fluorescent tube would.
Some good brands include Exo Terra’s Solar Glo bulbs, ZooMed’s Powersun, Solar bright bulbs, Arcadia D3 UV Basking Lamp.
Although, mega-ray Mercury vapor bulbs are known to be the best, the negatives are that the globe is very large and won’t fit in most standard lamp. In addition, these bulbs can be quite expensive.
UVB Light Cost
So far we have answered do Blue tongue skinks need UVB and discussed the best options for bulbs. Now, to look into the cost of UVB bulbs:
- Arcadia T5 D3 6% Reptile Lamp 24W, 22in (fluorescent tubes) costs between $24.99 to $39.95
- Exo Terra Solar-Glo Mercury Vapor Bulb 80w costs $52.24 to $54.99
- ZooMed’s Powersun costs $52.24 to $70.75
- Arcadia D3 UV Basking Lamp costs $21.99 to £36.39
UVB Light – Tank Setup
Now that your have picked the UVB bulb and attached it to the lamp, you need to know where to place it in the tank.
The lamp should be attached to the ceiling of the tank, close to the back wall with the reflector facing the substrate. This way it creates a UV gradient along the width from the back to the front and the temperature gradient will be along the length.
As the tank should have a cool and warm side, the lamp should be shining on the warm side. This allows for your skink to self-regulate, picking the perfect spot depending on the time of day.
Normally, you should change the light bulb every 6 months. However, some higher quality bulbs such as Arcadia could last longer.
In addition, to the lamp you can also purchase a solar meter to track how much UV is your skink getting and a timer to regulate the day and night cycles for your skink. Ideally, you should turn off all lights at night to provide 12 to 14 hours of dark and 10 to 12 hours of light.
All of the above must be tested before you bring the skink to your home. It’s better to make mistakes before your lizard gets in the tank.
To get the full guide on Blue tongue skink’s tank setup, click here Blue Tongue Skink Tank Setup – Step By Step Guide
Do Blue Tongue Skinks Need UVB? What Are Owners Saying
Before wrapping up, I’ve put together a few owner’s answers to the question – do Blue tongue skinks need UVB:
“I have kept and bred Tiliqua for over twenty years and none of them have ever had UV lighting or been outside. Mine are all healthy. Dont ask the pet shops they will try and sell you hundreds of dollars worth of junk. You must however add calcium and vitamin D3 supplements to a healthy diet”
“As long as you provide your skink with calcium that includes D3, UVB lighting is not necessary. This has been proven over and over”
“I don’t use UV lighting, I use calcium d3 supplement powder and take mine outside every few days while I go read in the sun with them. I’m lucky enough to have only grass and cement as a back yard, no bushes or anything”
“after having had a number of BTS over the last 10 years however I can honestly say that I’ve never noticed any difference in their daily activities, whether UV or not is provided”
“I do not use a UVB light on Coomassie. He is happy and healthy. I use a standard reptile day light that does produce heat”
As you can see many owners answer “no” to the question do Blue tongue skinks need UVB. However, UVB light doesn’t hurt your skink and it can only provide additional benefits such as help them regulate their day and night pattern and improve Vitamin D absorption.
In addition, we discussed the skink’s behavior in the wild which proves they enjoy basking under the sun rays. Therefore, your best bet is to mimic their natural environment when you keep them as pets.
Just because Blue tongue skinks are hardy animals that can live fine without something, we don’t want to deprive them from what can be possibly beneficial to them. Therefore, the safest option is to include UVB light to their tank setup.
Related Topics Q&A
What Basking Light Do Blue Tongue Skinks Need?
In terms of basking light, you can either get a combined light that emits both heat and UVB or two separate lights.
It’s recommended to use a 100 watt bright incandescent bulb. However, if the tank is taller, you’ll need a 150 to 200 watt bulb to maintain basking temperature.
The best basking and UVB light bulbs are mercury vapors such as Zilla Heat & UVB Basking Fixture with a Zilla 50W Mini Halogen bulb.
On the other hand, if you prefer to get two separate lights, you can use Zoo Med 5.0 or Exo Terra UVB 100 variety.
Benefits Of UVB Light
When deciding if you should include UVB light to your Blue tongue skink enclosure, you should first understand what are UVB light and the benefits.
UVB stands for ultraviolet-B. These waves are short, 290-320nm but much more powerful, and invisible to the human eye.
The benefits of UVB light include formation of vitamin D3 which is important for calcium metabolism.
It’s important to note that placing your skink’s tank near a window won’t provide them with UV rays as glass blocks them.
If you want to provide your Blue tongue skink with natural UV light, you should take them outside. This is the best source of UV and is said that 1 hour of natural sunlight is equal to a week of UV bulb exposure.