Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Basking in Unfiltered Sunlight is Important For You & Me =)

Ok. This particular blog post requires some serious talk.  I will try my best to sum up everything in the shortest, simplest possible way for all of you folks out there who have short attention span like my mum  :)  You discuss something too long-winded to her and rest assured you will lose her.  Anyway, here it is:

A.. We, sulcata tortoises “synthesize our own vitamin D3 from the UV component of sunlight”.
B.  “Vitamin D3 is essential for the effective metabolism of dietary calcium in reptiles.”
C.  Three to four hours outdoors in unfiltered sunlight would suffice.  Too much isn’t always good.

Here’s a simple flow-chart that I made to illustrate how we synthesize vitamin D3 when we expose ourselves to unfiltered sunlight, then use it to metabolize the calcium content from the food we eat:

Princess Peachy is exposed to UV rays from unfiltered sunlight  -->  Certain UV wavelengths including UV-B reacts with sterols in my skin to produce “pre-vitamin D3”  -->  A process that also depends upon heat converts this to vitamin D3  -->  Vitamin D3 metabolizes the calcium content from the food that I eat.
sulcata tortoise, geochelone sulcata, basking, unfiltered sunlight
"Vitamin D3 metabolizes the calcium content from the food that I eat"
IMPORTANT:  “If inadequate vitamin D3 is available, the animal will rapidly develop the condition known as MBD or Metabolic Bone Disease. In this condition, bone density suffers and various other serious metabolic problems occur. Symptoms include swellings, lethargy, general weakness and tremors. The shell may also become soft and pliable. MBD remains the number one killer of captive lizards, tortoises and turtles (snakes are less affected as being highly carnivorous they easily obtain their D3 requirement via their prey). To prevent MBD, adequate levels of calcium must be present in the diet, and adequate (but not excessive) quantities of D3 must be provided by means of dietary supplementation or by exposure to adequate levels of UVB lighting. Rapidly growing specimens such as hatchlings are most at risk, although adults too will be affected if maintained in a state of deficiency for long enough. Egg laying females are also at great risk, due to the extra demands egg production places upon their calcium metabolism.”  (Quotation from Tortoise Trust)

I would advise that you make sure you are well hydrated (read my blog post on “soaking”) before going for a long walk in the sun outside.  And soon as you step out, search for a shady place that you can run to just in case the temps get too high, to avoid overheating.  That’s it.  :)  If you have any questions, just leave a comment below.
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"Search for a shady place that you can run to just in case the temps get too high, to avoid overheating."
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  1. Hey there! As new tortoise owners, it's crazy the balance of diet/vit D/UVB/Calcium...oy! Princess Peach is awfully cute ;)

    1. Thank you :) We love her very, very much :) Hey have a great day! And thanks for passing by :)