The tiger salamander is a species complex found throughout North America that encompasses Ambystoma tigrinum, Ambystoma mavortium, and others. These animals have become popular exotic pets because of their striking appearance and behavior.
If you’re interested in herps, you’ll know that many pet reptiles and amphibians benefit from the addition of ultraviolet lighting (UV lights) to their enclosures. Indeed, certain pet reptiles and amphibians require UV lights – and UVB in particular – to produce Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 promotes the uptake of calcium and helps the immune system to function properly. Consequently, many owners wonder if their pet tiger salamanders also need UV lights.
Here’s what I found:
Tiger salamanders (regardless of species or subspecies) do not require the addition of UV lights – or UVB lights in particular.
Continue reading below to find out more!
Table of Contents
- Do Tiger Salamanders Need UV Lights?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Do Tiger Salamanders Need UV Lights?
To better understand why one would reasonably expect that tiger salamanders might need UV lighting, it’s first worth understanding what UV light is and what its applications are.
In nature, sunlight emits ultraviolet radiation (a.k.a. UV radiation). UV radiation is essential to life. UV light falls into three categories, depending on its wavelength.
UV-A, UV-B & UV-C
UV light falls into three categories, depending on its wavelength. There are three types of UV light: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UV wavelength is measured in nanometers or nm. One nanometer is one thousand-millionth of a meter.
The wavelength of UVA light ranges from 315 nm to 400 nm. This type of UV affects how certain living beings see their environment.
The wavelength of UVB light ranges from 280 nm to 315 nm. This is the type of UV light mainly responsible for sunburn.
The wavelength of UVAC light ranges from 200 nm to 280 nm. UVC rays can penetrate into living organisms’ cells and damage their DNA. Generally, this type of UV ray is filtered out by the ozone layer in the wild.
Types of UV Bulbs / Lights
UVA Bulbs / Lights
UVA bulbs are available in a range of wavelengths, each with its own applications (polymerization, sunbeds, bank note forgery detection, glow-in-the-dark lighting for nightclubs, etc.).
UVA bulbs are not recommended for use in terrariums or vivariums.
UVB Bulbs / Lights
UVB bulbs are used for UV lighting in reptile and amphibian enclosures.
UVC Bulbs / Lights
UVC bulbs have germicidal properties (kill or deactivate microbes) and must be handled with extreme care. This type of UV bulb is frequently used in industrial applications such as sterilization.
UVC lights must not be used in terrariums or vivariums.
Benefits of UV Lights for Reptiles & Amphibians
Certain pet reptiles and amphibians can benefit from adding UV lighting to their enclosures – particularly UVB lighting.
Indeed, UVB lighting enables the synthesis of Vitamin D (Vitamin D3) in the body. Vitamin D3 is essential for the uptake of dietary calcium (which is itself required to build strong bones but not only). Vitamin D3 also acts as a “hormone” that helps regulate many body systems, including the immune system.
Because pet herps are far less likely to get UVB exposure in captivity than in the wild, some species require UV lighting to make up for the shortfall. The addition of UV lighting helps prevent Vitamin D3 deficiency or insufficiency and the associated health problems.
Examples of Pet Reptiles that Require UV Lighting
Reptiles are more likely to require artificial UV lighting than their amphibian cousins.
- Bearded dragons
Examples of Pet Amphibians that Require UV Lighting
Certain amphibians, such as certain pet frogs, benefit from UV lighting.
Benefits For Plants
Another reason why you might want to consider adding UV lights to your pet herp’s setup is if its enclosure contains live plants.
Indeed, live plants require a range of wavelengths for photosynthesis and, ultimately, survival.
Why Don’t Tiger Salamanders Need UV Lights?
It is important to note that tiger salamanders are nocturnal creatures and spend most of their lives underground. When they do leave their burrows, it’s at night when it’s dark.
Therefore, tiger salamanders have naturally evolved to receive very little sunlight on their skin. And that stands true both in the wild and in captivity.
However, if, as outlined above, your vivarium/terrarium contains live plants, you may want to ensure that they are getting sufficient UV lighting for their photosynthesis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Tiger Salamanders Need Lighting?
Tiger salamanders will benefit from lighting, particularly a regular day/night lighting schedule.
Tiger salamanders are very sensitive to light and dark cycles. As is the case with all exotic pets, owners should strive to mimic the animal’s natural habitat in their enclosure. In the case of tiger salamanders, this implies recreating a regular day/night cycle of approximately 12 hours/12 hours.
Even though tiger salamanders don’t enjoy basting in the sun (or in heat lamps), the regular day/night pattern provided by a standard light (such as an LED light) helps regulate their physiology, mood, and behavior.
Tiger salamanders will generally sleep in their burrows, under the dirt, or in their hide when the light is on (mimicking their natural behavior in the wild), and become active once it gets dark (once again replicating their nocturnal habits in the wild).
However, it’s worth noting that any artificial lighting should not be too bright and preferably indirect. In the wild, tiger salamanders live in damp grasslands and woodlands, where vegetation provides them with a lot of shade and protects them from prolonged exposure to bright, direct sunlight.
Do Tiger Salamanders Need Heat Lamps?
Generally speaking, tiger salamanders do not need heat lamps in their terrarium.
Indeed, the ideal temperature range for tiger salamanders is between 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 24 degrees Celsius) whilst the average room temperature in most US homes falls somewhere between 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 24.5 degrees Celsius). Therefore, tiger salamanders can live comfortably with the average home temperature in the USA.
However, if your tiger salamander’s enclosure is at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for sustained periods, then you should probably look into a heat lamp or heat pad. If you do install either one of these heating systems, it’s vital that the temperature inside your pet’s habitat doesn’t exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) or your tiger salamander may suffer from overheating and become stressed.
Do Tiger Salamanders Need Vitamin Supplements?
Tiger salamanders can be given vitamin supplements containing calcium, Vitamin D3, and other important vitamins and minerals.
Whilst healthy salamanders generally don’t need this type of supplementation, certain caudate experts think that if given in the correct dosages, these supplements can help improve calcium metabolism and the animal’s general health.
These vitamin supplements can be given to tiger salamanders by “dusting” the regular food you feed them as part of their diet.
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