Light for life

Striving to provide the best possible conditions for captive reptiles and amphibians means us continually working towards meeting the animal’s full natural requirements, it has to be paramount. Although much time and effort can be spent on providing the right heating, food supplements, enclosure design and furnishings, it is clear that for these creatures to live healthy lives indoors they also require a sufficient level of ultraviolet light. Providing the correct lighting should be seen as one of the most important things we can provide in supporting reptiles and amphibians in captivity – and not for just keeping them alive, but creating exactly the right conditions for them to thrive, breed, and remain healthy throughout their full lifetime.

Yesterday we welcomed a visit from John Courtney-Smith from Arcadia Lighting (pictured) to Manchester Museum, and what a wonderful experience it was to meet him, show him our collection, and chat with him about specific animal lighting requirements. John is a super nice guy and it was very clear he has a wealth of experience and specialist lighting knowledge to share. What was also evident was that a care for the animals is very much a main focus for him and Arcadia. John made the journey from London to visit us in Manchester particularly to discuss ways in which he and Arcadia support some of our amphibian conservation work.

It was music to my ears to hear Arcadia is investing such interest, time and money on researching the exact needs of the animals to bring real improvements to their health and well-being: The company are committed to incorporating the latest scientific research in order provide uncomparable lighting for the benefit of captive birds, fish, reptiles, and also amphibians. As such, The Manchester Museum is proud to be working with this company and extremely grateful for their interest and support with some of the amphibian conservation work we have initiated. One such project is the Lemur Frog Project, which focuses on conserving one of the world’s most Critically Endangered species: Lemur Frog.org

Lemur Leaf Frog (c) Chris Mattison

One of the new lights Arcadia has developed that John brought to show us was particularly impressive: a special high output T5 lamp that provides a superb and safe UV source. These are a lot more energy efficient that some of the T8 lights we currently use and  they typically emit 3-4 times more visible light (including safe UVA and UVB wavelengths). This represents a massive leap forward in what we can now provide to our animals.

We waisted no time at all in installing one of the new T5 lights over our Madagascar display – and this morning our Panther Chameleon was sunbathing right beneath it in full colourful glory! Matching the output of the lamps to the species concerned, whether it be diurnal or nocturnal, appears to be most important also, particularly with the light-sensitive eyes of many of our amphibians. It seems light and UV exposure requirements between species are highly variable, but obviously all need to have sufficient to allow for providing the production of enough D3. For example, it makes sense that some animals with thicker skin or heavier scale protection will need more exposure to UV, whereas others with thinner skin may need considerably less exposure rates. Even many nocturnal species require a certain amount of UV as its almost sure they will get some exposure during daytime.

Our Panther Chameleon maintained under Arcadia lighting (c) Andrew Gray. Specimen courtesy of Chameloco.co.uk

The other very important thing to consider when exposing any animal to UV is to provide them with a choice, and provide shade – that way the animal can then do exactly what it was designed to do which is thermoregulate and adjust its own UV exposure.

 

There is still much to learn about providing the correct lighting for different animals, but with people like John committed to focusing on exactly this, and companies like Arcadia dedicated to providing such high quality related equipment, there really is little excuse for anyone denying captive animals their fundamental natural requirements.

ARCADIA LIGHTING      PROJECT LEMUR FROG     ARTICLES BY JOHN FOR PRK

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