If possible, occasionally place reptiles outside in the sunlight.
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Giving your reptiles access to sunlight even for an hour a day can be a good thing.
Monday’s blog was about the types of lighting for reptiles and why you must provide it. I thought I’d continue in my “light vein” and talk a bit about taking reptiles outside to enjoy some sunshine.
Even when you provide full-spectrum lighting for pet reptiles that are kept indoors, it’s a good idea to, if possible, expose your animals to pure, unfiltered sunlight. Of course, when I say this I mean for you to take them outdoors, not place their enclosures next to windows through which the sun shines. That is a big no-no. Not only is the glass in the window going to filter out any beneficial UV light, you could also end up super-heating the enclosure. It’s usually not a good idea to place any sort of animal enclosure next to a window.
Giving your reptiles access to sunlight even for an hour a day can be a good thing. This can be done by having a pen or enclosure in which you can place them temporarily. The enclosure should be a screened one to take full advantage of the sun and to not overheat the animals. Be sure some shade is always available, and water. You don’t want to stick them outside with absolutely no refuge. Aside from the need to get out of hot sun if necessary, reptiles need to be able to hide to feel secure. Imagine if you were a bearded dragon that was placed in a bare outdoor enclosure, with birds flying overhead. You would be one nervous dragon. So provide shade, hiding places, etc. Even if your reptiles hide and don’t seem to take advantage of being outside, it’s still good to get them out there once in a while.
When keeping reptiles outside, take precautions that they are in escape-proof enclosures. Plan accordingly, and keep in mind that you not only want to keep your pets inside their enclosures, you want to keep other things — potential predators such as dogs and cats, children, etc. – out. Consider using locks if you think the situation warrants it.
If you’re going to place your reptiles outdoors for a little while a few times a week you don’t necessarily have to build a big, fancy outdoor enclosure. This “sun room” could be smaller than the enclosure in which your pets spend most of their time indoors. Even a wood and screened box or crate-type enclosure could do the trick. Zoo Med offers a Tortoise Play Pen and a Tortoise House that could be used for this purpose; both include a hide box so animals can escape the sun. You could also modify a rabbit cage or similar enclosure. Provide as fancy an enclosure as you wish, but the important things to remember are security and shade. Provide both if you are going to take your herps outside.