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About Lighting

Proper lighting is a critical aspect of RES keeping and is generally misunderstood and overlooked. Normally, natural sunlight provides beneficial elements necessary for healthy turtles. There are three main elements provided by correct lighting: UVA rays, UVB rays and heat. For your turtle, UVA exposure is essential for normal behavior including activity, feeding and mating. UVB rays are crucial for your turtle’s health and development. UVB is necessary for the production of the vitamin D3 that is required for the metabolization of dietary calcium. Heat entices your turtle to bask. This warmth elevates their metabolism along with their digestive and immune systems. Drying off also helps hardening of the shell, scute shedding as well as minimizing algae growth and waterborne infections.

Sliders are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day rather than at night. The length of daylight or “photoperiod” is a guide you should use to determine how long your habitat's lights should be on. Mimicking your seasonal photoperiod is beneficial and the use of a timer is a huge help for making this easier. Lighting should be on for around 12 hours a day, depending on the time of year. Too little or too much light will disrupt your turtle’s activity and sleep cycles.

Make sure all lights are firmly attached and using the correct wattage within the limits of their fixtures. Your RES should not be able to touch them and they should not become wet. To ensure that maximum UVB is absorbed, it will be necessary for fluorescent UVB bulbs to be about 10-12 inches away and adjacent to the basking heat source. They also need replacement every 6-10 months. The UVB rays should not have a barrier between them and your turtle. Glass, acrylic and plastic block UVB while screens with grids under 1/2" can obstruct a good portion of UVB rays.

About Basking

RES and similar turtles bask to absorb warmth and vital UV rays. They are cold-blooded and the warmth provided (which should be around 90-95 degrees F or 32-35 degrees C for captive RES) entices them to bask. They are able to engage in thermoregulation and their metabolism functions become elevated; the efficiency of their immune and digestive systems increase. Another benefit is that sliders absorb important UVB rays that are provided in unfiltered sunlight or through a special bulb. UVB rays become metabolized into vitamin D3 which is necessary to process calcium. Basking strengthens the shell as well as reduces algae growth on the shell. A clean, healthy shell is less susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.

All sliders should bask everyday for a few hours even if they need to stack up on each other. This dry and warm basking area should not be overlooked. Basking areas can be of a variety of shapes, sizes and materials but serve the same basic function. They are limited by your budget or creativity, but they should all have the same requirements.

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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.