Help with baby sulcata

cm119

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Jun 12, 2024
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Question on UVB. I’m seeing conflicting information saying they need it 10-12 hours a day, and other places saying 2-3 hours a day, then also seeing the it’s not needed at all if they get real sunlight. We take the baby outside for ~20mins a day, does he need any UVB in his indoor enclosure? Or is 10hours of UVB harmful?

Thanks
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Question on UVB. I’m seeing conflicting information saying they need it 10-12 hours a day, and other places saying 2-3 hours a day, then also seeing the it’s not needed at all if they get real sunlight. We take the baby outside for ~20mins a day, does he need any UVB in his indoor enclosure? Or is 10hours of UVB harmful?

Thanks
I too was confused at uvb timing until I joined this forum, it stems from the fact that their ambient lighting is on a 12hour night and day cycle, so going back in captivity it was the presumption that once the light comes on, ie the ‘sun’ then boom uv must come on for the same amount of time, whereas in fact, if you’re to take a uv meter and measure when uv is actually at it’s highest, it peaks for a few hours from noon then fades again, they wouldn’t be blasted with 12hours of uv in the wild, therefore it’s not necessary in captivity either.
I’m going to go ahead and paste an old quote from @Tom from one of my first ever threads when I questioned this exact topic😊

“There is a lot of "conventional wisdom" found online for animal care. Few people question these assertions. I used to also follow the 12 hours of UV rule. I can remember rushing home in winter and running around trying to get my tortoises outside for that last hour or two of warm CA winter sunshine so they could get some UV... Problem is: There is no UV at that time of day. None in the morning either. I didn't know this until I bought a Solarmeter and started playing with it. Mid day winter UV peaks are very low compared to summer peaks. Anyone with a UV meter can verify this. Go stand outside in full bright direct sun in the morning and point the sensor of your UV meter right at the sun. It will say zero. Same in the late after noon. I thought my meter was broken when I first got it. I could feel the warm sun on my face at 4:30 in the afternoon, but my meter gave me a reading of 0.0. I went back inside and read the directions for how to use it correctly. Same story the next morning. I was all prepared to return it until I pulled it out and tried one more time at around 11am and finally got a reading. UV outside builds slowly in the late morning, peaks mid day, and then drops off back to zero by late afternoon. In winter, I'll start to see low levels of UV by around 10am. This is not even enough for a tortoise to use, but its measurable. By around 4pm, its back to zero again. So why would we would we have strong mid day UV levels in an indoor tortoise enclosure from 6:30am to 6:30 pm? This is totally unnatural, unnecessary, wasteful, and probably annoying to the tortoise. I have not seen this discussed anywhere else on YT, FB, or in person anywhere. It is yet another TFO innovation that started here on this forum. Ask anyone else and they will tell you that your torts "NEEDS" 12 hours of UV every day”

To sum up, your guy being so young and small can’t be outside long enough yet to receive the amount of uv they need, so yes I’d definitely recommend some indoor uv for now🙂
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Oh also I don’t think 10hours of uv would necessarily cause harm, but it’ll simply drain your uv bulbs way faster and they aren’t cheap to replace.
Generally speaking I believe it’s advised to change them out once a year as they emit less uv over timer, though some say a bit longer.
Tbh unless you have a solar meter(like the one pictured) its hard to tell when exactly they need replacing, hence they are a very good investment, obviously your guy will eventually be big enough for the great outdoors with no need for indoor uv, so whether you wish to invest in a meter or simply just switch your bulbs yearly(or so) whilst using them, is up to you🙂
Our red foot will need indoor uv for the rest of her life so I’m personally saving up to get one😊
 

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ryan57

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I too was confused at uvb timing until I joined this forum, it stems from the fact that their ambient lighting is on a 12hour night and day cycle, so going back in captivity it was the presumption that once the light comes on, ie the ‘sun’ then boom uv must come on for the same amount of time, whereas in fact, if you’re to take a uv meter and measure when uv is actually at it’s highest, it peaks for a few hours from noon then fades again, they wouldn’t be blasted with 12hours of uv in the wild, therefore it’s not necessary in captivity either.
I’m going to go ahead and paste an old quote from @Tom from one of my first ever threads when I questioned this exact topic😊

“There is a lot of "conventional wisdom" found online for animal care. Few people question these assertions. I used to also follow the 12 hours of UV rule. I can remember rushing home in winter and running around trying to get my tortoises outside for that last hour or two of warm CA winter sunshine so they could get some UV... Problem is: There is no UV at that time of day. None in the morning either. I didn't know this until I bought a Solarmeter and started playing with it. Mid day winter UV peaks are very low compared to summer peaks. Anyone with a UV meter can verify this. Go stand outside in full bright direct sun in the morning and point the sensor of your UV meter right at the sun. It will say zero. Same in the late after noon. I thought my meter was broken when I first got it. I could feel the warm sun on my face at 4:30 in the afternoon, but my meter gave me a reading of 0.0. I went back inside and read the directions for how to use it correctly. Same story the next morning. I was all prepared to return it until I pulled it out and tried one more time at around 11am and finally got a reading. UV outside builds slowly in the late morning, peaks mid day, and then drops off back to zero by late afternoon. In winter, I'll start to see low levels of UV by around 10am. This is not even enough for a tortoise to use, but its measurable. By around 4pm, its back to zero again. So why would we would we have strong mid day UV levels in an indoor tortoise enclosure from 6:30am to 6:30 pm? This is totally unnatural, unnecessary, wasteful, and probably annoying to the tortoise. I have not seen this discussed anywhere else on YT, FB, or in person anywhere. It is yet another TFO innovation that started here on this forum. Ask anyone else and they will tell you that your torts "NEEDS" 12 hours of UV every day”

To sum up, your guy being so young and small can’t be outside long enough yet to receive the amount of uv they need, so yes I’d definitely recommend some indoor uv for now🙂
I have learned to trust Tom’s judgement and his care sheet is spot on. That said, he has said both that they live about 95% of their life underground where there is no light and that they need UV in captivity. How could they possibly need 10-12 hours a day of UVB? That would be 10X the UVB they are exposed to in the wild. Just sayin.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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I have learned to trust Tom’s judgement and his care sheet is spot on. That said, he has said both that they live about 95% of their life underground where there is no light and that they need UV in captivity. How could they possibly need 10-12 hours a day of UVB? That would be 10X the UVB they are exposed to in the wild. Just sayin.
Yes exactly, I’m saying they only need their uv on about 4hours from noon each day, sorry if there was confusion🙂
 

Tom

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I have learned to trust Tom’s judgement and his care sheet is spot on. That said, he has said both that they live about 95% of their life underground where there is no light and that they need UV in captivity. How could they possibly need 10-12 hours a day of UVB? That would be 10X the UVB they are exposed to in the wild. Just sayin.
Just adding more info:

In the wild, most of their range is in the tropics. UV levels are pretty high there all year. Also, where they live the highs are near 100 degrees every day. A cold day might only reach 88. A hot day might get up to 118. This being the case, They do not sit in the sun at all mid day in the wild when UVI readings would be 8 or 9. They would cook in that heat. After a "cold" night in the 70s, they will come up to the mouth of their burrow and bask in the hot morning sun until they are warm enough, and then they go back underground to escape the heat of the day. I've never been there to measure, but it makes sense to me that UV levels would be somewhat low while they are basking in the morning or late evening.

The bottom line is that it doesn't take a whole lot of UV to meet their needs.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
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Question on UVB. I’m seeing conflicting information saying they need it 10-12 hours a day, and other places saying 2-3 hours a day, then also seeing the it’s not needed at all if they get real sunlight. We take the baby outside for ~20mins a day, does he need any UVB in his indoor enclosure? Or is 10hours of UVB harmful?

Thanks
-20 minutes a day of access to sunshine is plenty.
-Indoor UV from an HO bulb for 2-3 hours will also meet the needs, and its cheap insurance. It is not "necessary" with plenty of outdoor time, but also not harmful.
-10 hours of UV daily should not be harmful if the levels are not too high. You'd need a Solarmeter 6.5 to verify the numbers.

Here in CA its pretty easy to meet their UV needs with no indoor UV bulbs. And skipping a few weeks in winter during our "cold" spells, is not a problem because they store D3 in their fat cells for later use. Even still, I do typically use it during winter and for hatchlings.
 

cm119

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Thanks. I’m now trying my best just to get him to gain weight. Trying hand feeding leafy greens with mazuri paste, just tried adding pumpkin today. Also going to try ‘carrot baby food soaks’ reading some other posts. He eats and poops, seems active when we have him outside or feed him, but sleeps quite a bit the rest of the time and is just gaining zero weight. He was at 27g yesterday and dipped down below 24g today, the lowest we have seen.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Thanks. I’m now trying my best just to get him to gain weight. Trying hand feeding leafy greens with mazuri paste, just tried adding pumpkin today. Also going to try ‘carrot baby food soaks’ reading some other posts. He eats and poops, seems active when we have him outside or feed him, but sleeps quite a bit the rest of the time and is just gaining zero weight. He was at 27g yesterday and dipped down below 24g today, the lowest we have seen.
I really hope he starts gaining for you! All you can do at this point is follow all the advice given, unfortunately for some they simply continue to fail to thrive😔just do your absolute best❤️
 
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