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The effects of UV light on calcium metabolism in ball pythons (Python regius)
  1. J. Hedley, BVM&S DZooMed MRCVS and
  2. K. Eatwell, BVSc (hons) DZooMed Dip ECZM MRCVS
  1. Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Hospital for Small Animals, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: Hedley{at}


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.

  • Reptiles
  • Snakes
  • Husbandry
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