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Thread: Tanning bed for Tegus

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Labasa, Fiji

    Default Tanning bed for Tegus

    Greetings fellow tegu peeps...

    First off just wanted to say I have been reading through a lot of the contents of these forums and it has been tremendously helpful. I am impressed by the amount of knowledge some of the members here have about tegus and reptiles in general. I wish that I knew when I purchased my tegu what I have learned through the research I have done recently here and elsewhere.

    I purchased my tegu, Jaws, through a local pet store and lo and behold they know nothing about tegus. I had my tegu without UVB lighting for several months because like an idiot I followed the advise of the person who sold him to me and was told all he needed was a basking lamp. Also his diet wasn't the best but am doing the best I can to feed him a variety of foods - some he will eat and some not. As a result he has a pretty advanced case of MBD. Nothing as bad as the tegu I saw in the video the breeder made (I believe on page 5 of the forums).

    Currently he is in a 40 gallon tank with twice milled cypress bedding. He has a 100 watt basking light (forgot the brand), 18" 10.0 exo terra tube light (on the basking side) and 10.0 exo terra compact light on the cool side. The terrarium has a screened metal top so I opted for the 10.0 instead of the 5.0 bulb as I learned that the screening can filter out some of the UVB. I also have been taking him into the natural sunlight (I live in Florida) once or twice a day for a half hour to an hour or so for the past few days and will continue to do so. I mist his cage 4-5 times daily.

    He is currently on .14 ccs of liquid calcium (as prescribed by an exotics vet) twice daily and his appetite isn't great but he is eating, passing stool, urine, etc. regularly. I soak him once or twice daily in the tub with warm water and have done so for quite awhile. I have to admit that before I reread much of the advise on here I gave in and let him eat nothing but pinkies and fuzzy mice but have been trying to give him a variety as much as possible now. I had some success mixing vegetables and whole eggs with ground turkey to get him to eat those. He also at some salmon and tilapia earlier in the week. No luck at all with fruit so far, have tried bananas, pineapples, and some frozen mixed fruit which contained peaches, strawberries, bananas, and mangos. He really doesn't seem all that interested in food unless it moves or unless I put it right in front of him but I am committed and am going to keep trying. Will he eventually just get hungry and go find his food bowl and eat on his own? One thing that concerns me is that he doesn't seem to drink very often from his water bowl (which is large enough to submerge himself in). He doesn't move very well as a result of the MBD but he does move around and seems to be a lot more active when I put him in the natural sunlight.

    I'm sorry that this is such a long post but I wanted to give as much information as possible to save people from asking all of those questions, lol...

    The main question (which is also the title of my post) is are tanning beds safe for tegus? I actually own one and have it in my home, and I thought about using it for him once I learned of his condition but wasn't sure if this would help more than hurt. Then I came across a post another member suggesting someone put their tegu in a tanning bed. My question is, is this safe? And if so, how long should I leave him in there for? Despite what everyone thinks Florida is not ALWAYS sunny and sometimes time doesn't permit me to go outside with him as much as I would like. In case anyone is wondering my bed is not commercial strength though it does work well for home use and was designed to be used in 20 minute cycles. Any help or info would be much appreciated.



    Owner of Jaws.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Sin City


    Hm, in order for anyone to give you a good answer on that you would need to know the amount and type of uv that your tanning bed produces. When you buy a UV bulb it shows the amount and type of UV that the bulb produces and how close or far away the reptile should be from it. If I remember correctly most tanning beds mostly produce just UVA rays and reptiles need both UVA and UVB. So even if it weren't harmful, it probably wouldn't be helpful because it most likely would not have the right balance of UV A/B that he needs. I hope that makes sense.
    Toki Tegu
    Scorch Dragon
    Nadine Columbian Boa
    2 Herb freak Teenagers & 1 Beardie loving Hubby

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Labasa, Fiji


    Thanks for the response and yes it does make sense, I guess I just assumed that tanning beds produced UVB because I read somewhere else that UVB given off by natural sunlight was what made skin darker/gave sunburns and obviously tanning beds produce these types of results. I could be completely wrong with that, though.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Finger Lakes, NY


    tanning bed lights to produce UVB (a lot of it) and I've know people to use them but the also have UVB meters to test them, but it would be unsafe to put them in the bed. I think you could put them under the lights if they were 4ft or more away (not sure on the distance with out the meter)

    ask Got Tegus i think he told me once he uses tanning bed lights
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Welcome Aboard, Rhyno !

    In severe cases of MBD, a tanning bed will help and the natural sun light. I'm not sure of the timing on the bed for a Tegu tho'. I would gather info on the tanning bed first. If tupinambis sees this, he will know.
    1.0.0 Argentine Tegu
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Labasa, Fiji


    Well, I went to the website that I bought it from and it appears that the bulbs that they sell range from a 5.0 uvb output to a 9.9/7.8 uvb output and the bed I have has 24 bulbs. Makes sense now why laying in it for 20 minutes is like being in the sun for hours. Obviously no way to use it unless I just put him in the bed and turn the timer on but seems like it could result in overkill. Mainly am concerned about damaging his eyesight. Not sure if there would be such a thing as too much UVB either. I already feel terrible about his health as I know it's my fault but the vet told me his MBD was definitely treatable and I luckily caught it before he got deformed, paralyzed, etc. The correct lighting in the tank along with the natural sunlight and liquid calcium seems to have really made a big difference so far, though. However I get very attached to my pets and this is my first tegu so will do whatever and spend whatever I have to in order to make him healthy.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Yeah, I'd worry about protecting his eyes. It's not like you can tie on a blindfold.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central FL


    That was a good post and it does keep us from asking all those questions anyway, lol!

    I live in Central FL and we jokingly call FL the partly cloudy state instead of the sunshine state. But getting those natural sun rays is the best bet, especially from 10-2 if it isn't too hot. In the cage, it is best to have the UV lights on the inside, unobstructed. Long tube lights need to be within 6-10" of the lizard to be effective. You need to double-check the distance of compacts (I'm not familiar with those). Also, mercury vapor bulbs are a good choice for MBD treatment and for longer distances.

    Usually, letting a tegu get a little hungry isn't too bad. Since your tegu is recovering right now, it would best if he would continue to eat a properly balanced diet. At this point, I wouldn't worry about fruit since it has a negative calcium balance. I would encourage him to eat whole rodents and/or chicks. A good rodent choice would be weaned mice. Once he seems to be getting better and after a week or two of treatment, I would add the fruit back in.
    Laura R (FL)
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Chicagoland, IL


    Rhyno Congrats on your save there and welcome to the Tegu Foums!!! As I'm sure you've seen we're all pretty crazy about our little Tegus.

    Natural sunlight is the best thing you can do for your Tegu and if you are in a permanent residence, you may consider building an out door pen, similar to a kennel. It sounds like your best bet if you can't get outside with him/her all the time. Just a thought!

    Arg. B&W ~Tegasaurus Rex~
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Labasa, Fiji


    Thanks everyone for your responses.

    @tegs rex - Thank you for the warm welcome and yes I can see that everyone here really loves their animals which I think is awesome. I would love to have an outdoor enclosure but unfortunately I am not in a permanent residence at the moment so am going to look into getting the best possible custom built indoor enclosure I can find.

    @laurafl - I have never had any problems getting him to eat rodents, the vet told me to feed fuzzy mice as opposed to pinkies as they had a better calcium content which makes sense since they are a bit older and have more developed bones. I was just attempting to get him to eat a more balanced diet after learning how important it is to give them a variety. I am going to secure the tube lighting with the reflector hood to the cage top to give unobstructed lighting even though the light is already within 10" of him on the outside.

    Does anyone have a link to well-built indoor tegu enclosures that can be used for the duration of a tegu's life IE - large enough to house 1-2 full grown adult tegus?


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