Milwood Animal Clinic
Phone: 269-342-9865
Fax: 269-342-6830
Mon/Thur/Fri 8-6
Tues/Wed 8-7
Sat 8-2
5942 Lovers Lane, Portage MI  49002
Reptile Care
Why is UV lighting important?
Most reptiles require ultraviolet light exposure (specifically, UV-B) in order to absorb calcium from their food.  A chemical reaction in the skin  produces Vitamin D3, which then finds its way to the gut and acts as a key to the door that allows calcium to enter the blood stream.  Without Vitamin D, calcium can not be absorbed from the gut. As part of every reptile exam our staff will test the UV-B output of your bulb(s).  We find that the majority of  "UV" bulbs do not produce a sufficient amount of UV-B to stimulate the production of Vitamin D3.  
We occasionally find bulbs that produce too much UV-B, which can lead to sunburns and eye injury.  Some reptiles are more dependent upon UV-B to produce Vitamin D than others.  Our doctors and staff will advise you on the needs for your specific species of reptile during your pet's exam. Milwood Animal Clinic is the only Kalamazoo animal hospital testing bulbs for UV-B output utilizing Solartech's Solarmeter UVB Meter.
We recommend a mercury vapor bulb to provide both heat and UV-B radiation.  
To learn more about ultraviolet lighting for reptiles, go to  www.uvguide.co.uk
To learn more about Metabolic Bone Disease (caused by a lack of UV-B exposure) go to:  www.anapsid.org/mbd.html
What to expect at your appointment:
As part of your reptile pet's physical exam and consultation, our veterinarian and staff will take a thorough history and discuss the ideal caging, temperature, lighting, humidity, and diet needs specifically for your species of pet.  Remember to bring your UV bulb and fixture with you for UV output testing and a fresh dropping from your pet for parasite screening.  
Crickets:  Dry dog, cat, or fish 
food plus carrot, apple, or potato
Oats, bran, or wheat germ, plus slices of potato, carrot, or butternut squash
Waxworms:  Not necessary but can be fed bran or wheat germ mixed with honey (made to a crumbly mixture)
Earthworms:  sterilized potting soil and lettuce, potato, squash
Dubia roaches:  Dog or cat food plus red, orange, yellow, or purple vegetables
What is a humidity box?
A humidity box is simply a tupperware-type container that is about 1/2 to 2/3 full of damp sphagnum moss (do not use peat moss) with an access hole cut in the lid or side.  Sphagnum moss can be purchased in the indoor gardening department at your local home improvement store, such as Lowe's.  The box is designed to mimic the micro-climate many desert reptile species seek in their natural habitats by burrowing down in the ground to find a more humid environment to assist with proper skin shedding and homeostasis.  Place the box in an area of the cage that is in the middle of your pet's temperature range.  Change the sphagnum moss regularly (every 2 weeks) to prevent mold and bacterial growth.  Be sure the box is large and sturdy enough for your reptile to comfortably get inside.  Do not over-moisten the moss to the point that there is standing water in the box.This is an excellent way to facilitate a healthy skin shedding in lizards and snakes and prevent retained skin and spectacles.
​*What is a Basking Temp?
Your reptile's enclosure should have a gradient of temperatures within it, starting with a hotter, basking area on one end under the basking light (in most cases, a heat and UV-B producing bulb), and a ”cool” spot on the opposite end.  
Because reptiles are exothermic (cold-blooded), they cannot warm themselves internally or cool off by sweating so they must move their bodies to warmer and cooler spots as needed throughout the day.  Providing a range of temperatures with all the possible temperatures in between the basking temperature and the cool spot will allow your pet to choose which temperature is best for it at any given time.  If you see your pet spending most of its time in the cool spot, your temperature gradient may be too hot and if your pet spends the entire day under the basking light, your temperature gradient is probably too cool.  Always have at least two thermometers in your pet's enclosure:  one at the cool end and one under the basking light (at the level or height where your pet basks).  Check these temperatures frequently to maintain an optimal temperature gradient.
​What is gut loading?​
Gut loading refers to feeding your reptile's prey a nutritious diet prior to feeding them to your reptile. Most insects are nutritionally deficient with the exception of their stomach contents. At least 3 days prior to feeding your reptile an insect, feed the insect a nutritious diet: