To UVB or not to UVB that is the question (Redfoots)

Toddrickfl1

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Disclaimer: I posted this in the Redfoot section so people don't get confused. This thread ONLY pertains to REDFOOTS.

Do Redfoots need UVB? Or do they get all they need from their diet. I've heard people say both. I've been told that no UVB will produce a disfigured tort with MBD. Then I've also been told it's not necessary. Hatchling Redfoots in the wild spend almost all their time hidden, in leaf litter, pushed up in roots of plants, or even slightly burrowed. Places where UVB is not hitting them. So do we really need to blast them with 12+hours of UVB in captivity when they're young? This is the question I found myself asking. So I decided to do a little experiment. I raised my Hatchling for one year with NO Artificial UVB whatsoever.

This is my tort Large Marge at her first weigh in (January 2019). Screenshot_20200804-174011~2.png

I raised Marge in a large closed chamber plastic Tote enclosure. I used a 50 watt CHE on a thermostat set to 85F. I maintained the humidity at 80%+. For lighting I used an LED strip light like this IMG_20200804_190517650.jpg
And a regular 60 watt incandescent light bulb. Both placed about 12" above the lid of the enclosure, and not inside it. I also fed a varied diet. In that first year I took Marge outside for natural sunlight a total of 6 times, totaling about one hour and 20 minutes for the entire year.

Marge ended up growing very nicely through out the year with a steady weight gain, no anomalies, and no signs of MBD. She topped out at 400 grams in that first year. (January 2020) Screenshot_20200804-173902~2.png

So In conclusion I'd have to say I tend to think young Redfoots get what they need from their diet and that artificial UVB is not an absolute necessity for young torts. Adults I can't say though. This is just my opinion based on this experience. I would love to hear some thoughts, opinions, or experiences of others on the subject so feel free to share.
 

Mystic_Queen

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I’ll be sure to follow this. I think opinions of other red foot owners and what they have found to be best for there redfoots would be interesting to read.
also that’s one beautiful tort
 

Srmcclure

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My redfoot had one of those uvb/heat/light (so almost no uv at all) all in one lights for her whole life before me on top of living on only kale and calcium powder in a bone dry 20gallon and she seems fine. Almost 300g and very slight pyramiding. She SEEMS to be a perfectly normal redfoot from what ive read and you all have said, so I'd have to say this has some merit for redfoots.

I will enjoy learning all about this 😁
 

Mystic_Queen

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This is going to be an interesting thread.
I have a 4 month old red foot.
move noticed (before she wrecked her plants in her enclosure) she would never come out of hiding till the UVB was Turned off. Then it was trashing time and foraging. As I hide bits of fruit in the bark for her to find. So she has that foraging instinct.
even now with me having to take out the poor plants she wrecked she hides in her sideways plant pot and stays.Then as soon as the UVB off she is out. Wondering what she can trash next 😂
 

ZEROPILOT

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They certainly can survive and do well with very little UVB.
This topic has been brought up before and we reached no solid conclusion.
I've personally never seen any MVB in any Redfoot no matter how horribly they were kept.
(Just pyramiding and dwarfism)
So, I'm tending to agree that UVB is at least not AS required as long as correct nutritional requirements are met.
And I can say that for YEARS, I used T8 uvb lights on my Redfoot at heights that I now know offered no UVB at all to my tortoises.
They were all as healthy as they could be.
 
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ZEROPILOT

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This is going to be an interesting thread.
I have a 4 month old red foot.
move noticed (before she wrecked her plants in her enclosure) she would never come out of hiding till the UVB was Turned off. Then it was trashing time and foraging. As I hide bits of fruit in the bark for her to find. So she has that foraging instinct.
even now with me having to take out the poor plants she wrecked she hides in her sideways plant pot and stays.Then as soon as the UVB off she is out. Wondering what she can trash next 😂
That sounds more like your RF not liking the light.
That's pretty common.
They avoid bright lights.
 

jaizei

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I think in a lot of peoples minds, UVB is connected to bright sunlight but theres low levels of UVB penetrating deeper into shade than you would think. I also don't think the behavior of redfoot hatchlings necessarily differs from that of other hatchlings in the wild. Even if a hatchling spends most of it's time hidden or dug in etc, the small amounts of exposure are additive.

"So do we really need to blast them with 12+hours of UVB in captivity when they're young?'

I don't think its an either or question. Maybe when MVBs were the more popular UVB source it was harder to recreate lower levels of UVB. The choice was intense basking spot for UVB or nothing, but with the options for UVB now, I think its easier to have lower levels of UVB over the warm area of an enclosure. I favor providing bright ambient light overall and using plants/hides/etc to create shade, and I think the same applies to UVB.
 

Zoeclare

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This I really interesting, I use a UV tube in my enclosure but its relatively weak, it's the Arcadia 6% forest dweller and I run it for 8 hours and Nitro always lurks under plants or in his hide so I guess he doesn't get a lot of actual benefit? I switched to that bulb because it just seemed so bright and yellow with all the lights on but now the light looks softer
 

jsheffield

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Ineresting! Thanks for the post/thread.

My Redfoot was raised under UVB, soaked daily for his first year (and then a couple of times a week after that), lives in a closed system with temperatures ranging from 82 to 87 and humidity always close to 100%, and eats a nice variety of the recommended foods... and his shell isn't so smooth as your Redfoot's.

I attribute the difference to three factors, genetics, chance, and how fast my Redfoot has grown - he's about 1300g at two years of age.

As soon as I noticed some imperfections in Darwin's shell, more than a year ago, I examined every aspect of his life and living space, decided that I couldn't think of how to improve things for him, and decided not to worry about it... he's healthy, seems happy, and while not a bowling ball of a tort I think he's lovely and I love him.

As regards UVB
One funny thing, with my Redfoot as well as my other two forest tortoises (a Hingeback and an MEP) is that because I've designed their lighting systems to reflect heavy shading and tree-cover (I did this for Darwin by having a 12 hour light day with numerous 15 or 30 minute dark periods throughout the day), I can definitely note their affinity for light and for basking.

Darwin, my Redfoot, likes to come out of his hide and lay down under the light when it comes on, legs stretched out to maximize his UVB exposure; once the light shifts off, he trundles off to the other end of the enclosure again. He'll do this numerous times during the day, only when the light is on.

Not that they're the subject of discussion, but the Hingeback doesn't seem to care about light at all, except for a slight preference for the dark periods in his day for activity, and the MEP, like Darwin, likes to lay down under the light and stretch out, especially after eating.

I like this post, and this style of post because it asks questions about the nature of the way in which we keep our tortoises, and challenges traditional thinking with logic and reasoning, not dogma and "that's the way we've always done it" thinking.

Bravo!

JMHO, YMMV....

Jamie
 

Zoeclare

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Ineresting! Thanks for the post/thread.

My Redfoot was raised under UVB, soaked daily for his first year (and then a couple of times a week after that), lives in a closed system with temperatures ranging from 82 to 87 and humidity always close to 100%, and eats a nice variety of the recommended foods... and his shell isn't so smooth as your Redfoot's.

I attribute the difference to three factors, genetics, chance, and how fast my Redfoot has grown - he's about 1300g at two years of age.

As soon as I noticed some imperfections in Darwin's shell, more than a year ago, I examined every aspect of his life and living space, decided that I couldn't think of how to improve things for him, and decided not to worry about it... he's healthy, seems happy, and while not a bowling ball of a tort I think he's lovely and I love him.

As regards UVB
One funny thing, with my Redfoot as well as my other two forest tortoises (a Hingeback and an MEP) is that because I've designed their lighting systems to reflect heavy shading and tree-cover (I did this for Darwin by having a 12 hour light day with numerous 15 or 30 minute dark periods throughout the day), I can definitely note their affinity for light and for basking.

Darwin, my Redfoot, likes to come out of his hide and lay down under the light when it comes on, legs stretched out to maximize his UVB exposure; once the light shifts off, he trundles off to the other end of the enclosure again. He'll do this numerous times during the day, only when the light is on.

Not that they're the subject of discussion, but the Hingeback doesn't seem to care about light at all, except for a slight preference for the dark periods in his day for activity, and the MEP, like Darwin, likes to lay down under the light and stretch out, especially after eating.

I like this post, and this style of post because it asks questions about the nature of the way in which we keep our tortoises, and challenges traditional thinking with logic and reasoning, not dogma and "that's the way we've always done it" thinking.

Bravo!

JMHO, YMMV....

Jamie
I've never thought about having darker periods during the day but that's a really good idea
 

Toddrickfl1

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Ineresting! Thanks for the post/thread.

My Redfoot was raised under UVB, soaked daily for his first year (and then a couple of times a week after that), lives in a closed system with temperatures ranging from 82 to 87 and humidity always close to 100%, and eats a nice variety of the recommended foods... and his shell isn't so smooth as your Redfoot's.

I attribute the difference to three factors, genetics, chance, and how fast my Redfoot has grown - he's about 1300g at two years of age.

As soon as I noticed some imperfections in Darwin's shell, more than a year ago, I examined every aspect of his life and living space, decided that I couldn't think of how to improve things for him, and decided not to worry about it... he's healthy, seems happy, and while not a bowling ball of a tort I think he's lovely and I love him.

As regards UVB
One funny thing, with my Redfoot as well as my other two forest tortoises (a Hingeback and an MEP) is that because I've designed their lighting systems to reflect heavy shading and tree-cover (I did this for Darwin by having a 12 hour light day with numerous 15 or 30 minute dark periods throughout the day), I can definitely note their affinity for light and for basking.

Darwin, my Redfoot, likes to come out of his hide and lay down under the light when it comes on, legs stretched out to maximize his UVB exposure; once the light shifts off, he trundles off to the other end of the enclosure again. He'll do this numerous times during the day, only when the light is on.

Not that they're the subject of discussion, but the Hingeback doesn't seem to care about light at all, except for a slight preference for the dark periods in his day for activity, and the MEP, like Darwin, likes to lay down under the light and stretch out, especially after eating.

I like this post, and this style of post because it asks questions about the nature of the way in which we keep our tortoises, and challenges traditional thinking with logic and reasoning, not dogma and "that's the way we've always done it" thinking.

Bravo!

JMHO, YMMV....

Jamie
When they get to be older juveniles they start to venture out more in into the open rather than hiding all the time. We see this in captivity too. At that point they definitely receive exposure. My older tort also basks so at a certain point they definitely do seek it out. My theory is at this time it probably is beneficial, even maybe a necessity.
 

Redstrike

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The sun emits Ultra Violet wave lengths. Most animals utilize this wavelength to synthesize Vitamin D3 which is also an important calcium binder. I see no reason to exclude redfoots, or any animal, from ultra violet wavelengths and deny them the bio-chemistry required to survive and acquire Vitamin D3 and calcium.

Redfoots exist in the tropical forests, scrub forests, and savanahs of South America. They are not fossorial - for example caecilians or earthworms that do not obtain exposure to sunlight and UVB radiation.

This is nothing against the original poster, it's just we've gone around this argument before countless times and I'm floored at the arguments against UVB exposure. It's irrational, illogical, and unintelligent.
 

Toddrickfl1

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The sun emits Ultra Violet wave lengths. Most animals utilize this wavelength to synthesize Vitamin D3 which is also an important calcium binder. I see no reason to exclude redfoots, or any animal, from ultra violet wavelengths and deny them the bio-chemistry required to survive and acquire Vitamin D3 and calcium.

Redfoots exist in the tropical forests, scrub forests, and savanahs of South America. They are not fossorial - for example caecilians or earthworms that do not obtain exposure to sunlight and UVB radiation.

This is nothing against the original poster, it's just we've gone around this argument before countless times and I'm floored at the arguments against UVB exposure. It's irrational, illogical, and unintelligent.
Just to reiterate, I'm referring to Hatchlings who spend most of their time hidden. Not adults who venture out in the open more. I'm certain at that point they receive a good bit of UVB exposure, even seek it out. At this time I'm sure it's beneficial, probably even an absolute necessity. However, I'm not sure how you can come to the conclusion that an experiment showing a healthy Redfoot that went from Pipping to a year old with steady growth, despite having NO UVB exposure, is an "Illogical, irrational, or even, unintelligent" argument against UVB being an absolute necessity for Hatchlings? It seemed like a pretty reasonable one to me. That's why I decided to post it.
 
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turtlesteve

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Red footed tortoises inhabit a wide variety of habitats in the wild. In reality their native range is largely open forests and savannah, with yellow footed tortoises being the species exclusively found in dense tropical forests.

Given this, I suspect that they still get plenty of natural UV in the wild. It’s possible they need less because their diet is not exclusively vegetarian, and Toddrickfl1’s tortoise is clearly in perfect health. I gave my hatchlings light and UV, and I did not find that they behaved significantly differently than hatchlings of other species I have raised.
 

Redstrike

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Just to reiterate, I'm referring to Hatchlings who spend most of their time hidden. Not adults who venture out in the open more. I'm certain at that point they receive a good bit of UVB exposure, even seek it out. At this time I'm sure it's beneficial, probably even an absolute necessity. However, I'm not sure how you can come to the conclusion that an experiment showing a healthy Redfoot that went from Pipping to a year old with steady growth, despite having NO UVB exposure, is an "Illogical, irrational, or even, unintelligent" argument against UVB being an absolute necessity for Hatchlings? It seemed like a pretty reasonable one to me. That's why I decided to post it.
It's unfortunate you missed the last two sentences of my post. Let me re-state it here:

"This is nothing against the original poster, it's just we've gone around this argument before countless times and I'm floored at the arguments against UVB exposure."

I'm not referring to you as illogical, irrational, or unintelligent. I'm saying the argument against any UVB exposure are those things.
 

Toddrickfl1

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It's unfortunate you missed the last two sentences of my post. Let me re-state it here:

"This is nothing against the original poster, it's just we've gone around this argument before countless times and I'm floored at the arguments against UVB exposure."

I'm not referring to you as illogical, irrational, or unintelligent. I'm saying the argument against any UVB exposure are those things.
I did read the whole comment.

"This is nothing against the original poster, it's just we've gone around this argument before countless times and I'm floored at the arguments against UVB exposure. It's irrational, illogical, and unintelligent"

My argument against artificial UVB exposure being a necessity for Hatchlings up to one year is that I raised a perfectly healthy one for a year without it, with no abnormalities.

Sure my experiment is not conclusive but I think it's a great starting point. Would have to be replicated many times over. However if we could could prove it, and the narrative slowly shifted from "Your Hatchling will definitely die or grow disfigured without it", it would surely prevent a lot of young torts of new owners from having their eyes fried from coil bulbs, or carapace dried out from MVBs.
 
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Zoeclare

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I noticed a significant increase in activity when I reduced the amount of uvb my bulb put out so I found this thread very interesting in relation to hatchlings needing artificial uvb.
 

Toddrickfl1

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Further disclaimer for any new tort owners reading this: My intentions with this thread were not to say, "This is how it should be done". My intent was to gain insight/evidence from others, and to hopefully spark further dialogue into this subject.
 

Zoeclare

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When I first got Nitro before I found this forum I got so caught up with must have uvb, loads of uvb or he will get deformed I bought an absolutely ridiculous tube it was too big, mounted too low and hurt my eyes when I looked at it and he never came out of his hide the whole 3 months I had it. After researching and reading on this forum I realised I had it all wrong and switched out to a better tube and added some led lights so I could run the uvb tube for fewer hours and the change was instant. He was so much more active and I just felt so bad for subjecting him to that horrible light for as long as I did. Being in the uk I feel i do need some artificial uvb as the weather here doesn't permit many hours outside but i wish I'd found this forum sooner and threads like these to help me understand what I was doing wrong
 

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