A unique effort is being co-ordinated in Manchester, to save a rare amphibian in Costa Rica. John Courteney-Smith of Arcadia Reptile reports on this global scheme, which involves a range of key partner organisations and supporters.
Investing in a good UV meter is one of the most worthwhile things that any reptile or bird keeper can do. Not only do they show you at the touch of a button the power output of your system, but they will also show you how much energy has been naturally lost over the life of a lamp. They could also be used as an accurate indicator of when you need to change your lamps.
UV meters are very easy to use. Measure the distance that you want to record between lamp and the target area. By measuring out the distance, you will be easily able to re-create the test and maintain accuracy of recording. Point the small lens that is on top of the solar meter directly at the lamp and press the button that is underneath the display screen. Instantly a number will be displayed. Note that number on your pad, then measure out all of the other target areas, basking platforms, sleeping areas, feeding and resting spots and take readings from all of these points. UV lamps will decrease in power naturally over the first 100 hours of the lamps life and then stabilise. This is your photogradient. You will be able to map out and adjust your decoration to open up exposure zones or include shade and then monitor the efficacy of this area. It is by mapping out these zones and recording the lamps output that you can be sure that you have provided enough UV energy over a wide enough area for your animal/animals to use. You should always take at least three separate readings from each zone and use the average reading from these tests, the readings will differ slightly if the angle that the meter is held at differs.
Which Brand? here are many brands of UV meter but we recommend using the branded “solar meter” range. These hand held meters seem to be the most accurate and the easiest to use and interpret. We regularly use the “solar meter 6.2” and the “solar meter 6.5” but what is the difference?
Solarmeter 6.2 – Measures UVB in UW/cm2 or microwatts per cm2
This is displayed on the screen as a number between 0 and 1500+. This is a great meter to use as it shows the true output of your lamp and the gradients of power that you have provided and the limitations to that gradient with decoration in mind.
Solarmeter 6.5 – Measures total UV output.
This is displayed as the “UV INDEX” this is the total measurement of UVA and UVB and is the reading that weather stations display. So for example the average UV index of the UK is 4-5. The average index of the deserts of Australia is 9. An index of 9 is about as high as you can find on earth. Certainly providing an index much over 9 in captivity would be regarded as a health risk to the animal. Again you can use this meter to plot out the photogradient that you have designed. I feel that this will become the meter of choice in the years to come.
Shelled Warriors Forum
Arcadia Reptile is proud to support and contribute to the Shelled Warriors forum. This online community is a great place to learn about all forms of chelonia, although branded solar meters are available from most good reptile shops and online we include this link as it has very good product information. You should shop about and decide where you would like to purchase your unit from.
John Courteney-Smith – Arcadia Reptile Manager
The use of a solar meter is in our mind a very powerful tool in ensuring that your animals receive the exposure to UVB that they would be exposed to in the wild. The Solar meter 6.2 is a good guide as to the level of UVB and will also show the relative decay of a lamp over time. The solar meter 6.2 can be used more accurately to set a usable photogradient whether you use the full sun or partial shade method of illumination. All technology has limitations and one limitation with all light meters is that they measure wavelengths from different light sources in different ways. It is for this reason that our advice is to not use a 6.2 when measuring a Mercury vapour lamp or metal halide alone, you will get an artificially low result. The Arcadia reptile lighting guide contains uw/cm2 recommendations. These guidelines only apply when measured with a 6.2 and using Arcadia Reptile fluorescent lamps. Other forms of lighting may show lower results that is provided in reality.