Despite the popularity of keeping snakes in captivity, there has been limited investigation into the effects of UV radiation on vitamin D levels in snakes. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of UV-b radiation on plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels and ionised calcium concentrations in ball pythons (Python regius). Blood samples were taken from 14 ball pythons, which had never been exposed to UV-b light, to obtain baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels and ionised calcium concentrations. Blood samples were then taken again from the same snakes 70 days later after one group (Group 1, n=6 females) were exposed to UV-b radiation daily, and the other group (Group 2, n=5 males and 3 females) were exposed to no UV-b radiation. Mean±sd 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels on day 0 in Group 1 were 197±35 nmol/l, and on day 70 were 203.5±13.8 nmol/l. Mean±sd 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels in Group 2 on day 0 were 77.7±41.5 nmol/l, and on day 70 were 83.0±41.9 nmol/l. Mean±sd ionised calcium levels at day 0 were 1.84±0.05 mmol/l for Group 1, and on day 70 were 1.78±0.07 mmol/l. Mean±sd ionised calcium levels at day 0 were 1.79±0.07 mmol/l for Group 2, and on day 70 were 1.81±0.05 mmol/l. No association was demonstrated between exposure to UV-b radiation and plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and ionised calcium concentrations. These results may provide baseline parameters for future studies in this and other snake species to determine ability to utilise UV-b light for vitamin D production.
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