Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

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FluffySkink
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Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby FluffySkink » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:30 pm

Hello everyone. I have been stalking the forums for a while trying to learn as much as I can about BTS before I get one. I now have a few questions to which I was unable to find definite answers to in any other threads. Sorry if these have already been asked many times.

So after looking at the pros and cons of different enclosures I have settled on a custom melamine enclosure measuring 109 x 45 x 45 cm or 43 x 18 x 18 inches

This is a general picture of what it would look like. https://www.amazingamazon.com.au/melami ... sures.html

I would be getting only 1 light fixture for an incandescent household light for heating, no thermostat, and removing the ventilation at the bottom as substrate will be covering it anyway.

You may have noticed I have not included a UV light on my list. After doing a lot of research and reading the anecdotes of long time keepers and breeders I have made the decision to supply my future skinks D3 needs through dietary supplements and taking it outdoors for natural sunlight. From what I have read, UV bulbs don't actually do much in the way of D3, and even with a UV bulb, dietary supplementation is still required.

Now for my questions:

1. Do you think a thermostat is necessary? I've seen lots of people who don't use them, and I would prefer not to as I have read the on/off nature of this one would lower the light bulbs lifespan as well as stress out my future skink.

2. Is an incandescent bulb enough to provide a proper day/night cycle for my skink. I have seen keepers who only have an incandescent bulb for heat, but I wanted to check that the lighting from this would suffice to maintain a good photoperiod. Of course this is if I did not use a thermostat, so the light would be on for 12 hours a day, to maintain a photo period as well as give the skink a cool down period overnight.

3. Because it is a melamine enclosure, the light bulb would be sitting inside the enclosure. Is an 18 inch enclosure too low for this?

4. Is a light bulb cage a good idea or unnecessary? As well would I need one of those dome fixtures around the bulb? That may sound like a silly question, but I notice lots of peoples light fixtures are the dome types.

5. The standard cage as shown comes with 1 air vent at the back. While my cage would be sitting against a wall, there would still be a gap so air would still be able to get in, but is this enough ventilation or would it be better to request an extra vent on one of the sides of the cage. Would it matter if it was on the cool side or the warm side?

6. I plan to use high quality dog food for my protein base, as well as adding in some vegetables and using fruit as an occasional treat. Many dog foods already have lots of vitamins and minerals in them including D3 and calcium. Is adding a multivitamin necessary when feeding dog food? I don't want to overdose my future skink on vitamins. As well, how often is it recommended to supplement calcium, and calcium + D3 when feeding dog food and not using a UV light? I was thinking every second feed sprinkle a little bit of calcium with D3, would this be enough?

Those are all my questions, sorry there are so many, and sorry if they have already been asked. I did search the forums and other places for answers, but like I said, some of the answers were not definite, so I really wanted to ask these specific questions in order to confirm information and fill any gaps in my research.

I'm still a ways off from being able to afford the enclosure, but I am the type of person who likes to research months in advance before getting a new animal to ensure I have enough knowledge to provide the best care for them.

I will really appreciate any answers and advice, and I'm so thankful that this forum exists as I have learned so much through it.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby FluffySkink » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:34 am

Can anyone help me?
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby BlueyBob » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:44 pm

Hi Fluffy, I'm only new to BTS's myself, but have had many, many snakes over the years, and have kept 2 blueys this year quite successfully. I'll give a stab at answering your questions.

1. Do you think a thermostat is necessary? I've seen lots of people who don't use them, and I would prefer not to as I have read the on/off nature of this one would lower the light bulbs lifespan as well as stress out my future skink. Yes, I strongly feel a thermostat is necessary, especially on hot days. It's too easy to cook the the insides of a vivarium otherwise. You need to set up a temperature gradient in the habitat, with hot on one side and cool on the other. This can be tricky. Also, if you do the old fashioned thing of trying a whole heap of different bulbs until you get the temperature right, that's great, as long as the temperature outside of your habitat never changes. IMHO snakes are much, much easier to keep than lizards, and I started off keeping them 40 years ago without thermostats, and cringe to think of it now. Just my opinion, though. I'd also definitely go for a thermostat with an alarm. Mine cost about $110, but is also a timer.

2. Is an incandescent bulb enough to provide a proper day/night cycle for my skink. I have seen keepers who only have an incandescent bulb for heat, but I wanted to check that the lighting from this would suffice to maintain a good photoperiod. Of course this is if I did not use a thermostat, so the light would be on for 12 hours a day, to maintain a photo period as well as give the skink a cool down period overnight.
It will get too hot in the summer. I've used LEDs from Bunnings I originally purchased a 4 foot slimline flouro fitting, but took it back when they started carrying nifty LED fittings. They are awesome, and add no heat that I can detect.
You'll need something for light, apart from your heat source, as they won't need heat all the time, but do need light.

3. Because it is a melamine enclosure, the light bulb would be sitting inside the enclosure. Is an 18 inch enclosure too low for this?
I built my daughter's 26 inches high, but that was because I was considering adding a mercury vapour light. 18 inches should be fine if you get a smaller light fitting, and put a cage around it to keep the inhabitants from burning themselves on it. You can get flush-mount ceramic fittings online cheaply, but they have to be wired. From memory there is somewhere in Oz that sells wired ones online.

4. Is a light bulb cage a good idea or unnecessary? As well would I need one of those dome fixtures around the bulb? That may sound like a silly question, but I notice lots of peoples light fixtures are the dome types.
There's no way our blueys could reach the light fitting on our habitat, as it is about 12-14 inches overhead, but with an 18 inch high hab your light fixture might not be so far above, so I'd definitely get a cage. I've seen cheapies on line,


5. The standard cage as shown comes with 1 air vent at the back. While my cage would be sitting against a wall, there would still be a gap so air would still be able to get in, but is this enough ventilation or would it be better to request an extra vent on one of the sides of the cage. Would it matter if it was on the cool side or the warm side? I have three vents in my daughter's new habitat, and it's only just set up ad already smells pretty "lizardy." One on each side, and one on the top, above the heating, so air will rise through it and draw from the side vents. Does it have small vents in the front?

6. I plan to use high quality dog food for my protein base, as well as adding in some vegetables and using fruit as an occasional treat. Many dog foods already have lots of vitamins and minerals in them including D3 and calcium. Is adding a multivitamin necessary when feeding dog food? I don't want to overdose my future skink on vitamins. As well, how often is it recommended to supplement calcium, and calcium + D3 when feeding dog food and not using a UV light? I was thinking every second feed sprinkle a little bit of calcium with D3, would this be enough?
We don't use UV light, but take them outside a couple of hours each fortnight, weather permitting. They get fed every other day. Their main protein is skippy- roo mince we feed our cats. They scarf it down. We put suppliment on every meal. We follow the general feeding guidelines provided on the care section of this website, and have found them outstanding. We give our two lots of variety.

Above and beyond the outstanding resources on this site, the book Keeping Blue-Tongue Lizards by Grant turner is a very useful thing to have.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby FluffySkink » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:04 pm

Hey thank you for your answers. I understand the temperature gradient needed. This enclosure normally comes with an IMIT thermostat already wired into the light fixture. Have you ever used a ceramic heat emitter? I was looking into getting one since where I am we get some cold winters and tend to bundle up rather than use electricity when we can. However that sounds like a lot of bulbs in one cage. Incandescant for day heat. CHE to make sure it doesn't get too cool at night, and then an LED for light. Not sure how well this set up would work, because I wanted to have the light source near the basking spot because thats how it would be in nature.

Would it be okay to have the CHE on the cool side at nighttime? I hear that they really just provide ambient heat, and It would be used to ensure the temps don't go below 16 degrees celsius at night. I was thinking that way I could have a CHE on the cool side for night time, LED in the middle and then incandescent on the hot side for basking. This way there would be some distance between each bulb. I'm thinking perhaps also I would go with a probe style thermostat instead for both the incandescent and the CHE as I hear they are better.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby BlueyBob » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:57 pm

I'm not sure about CHE's, as have never used one. My understanding is that you want them in the hot end, with any UV you have if you are using a spot UV bulb, so that the lizard can move to that area to warm up, and go to the far side to cool down. Same as in Summer. But I'm not sure. I used a heat pad on the viv before the current set up, on the same side as the heat lamp, and when it's winter, I'm going to put in a heat cord taped to the bottom of a tile, which will go under the basking rock. The heat pad is set to like 18, using it's own thermostat, and the light is set to 26, but the thermostat probe for that one is about 1/2 way down the viv. The temp at the far end fluctuates from something like 10 to 22, and on the hot end from 28-28, with the heat rock getting to around 28. This keeps them happy, though they definitely hang out in the hot end more. Ours are wild-caught (rescues, actually) from Tassie, and I'm very reluctant to blast them with as much heat as Mainland blueys get, even in the mountains. We never, but never get above 30 here, and if we do, there's not a lizard to be seen, sun or shade.

But, I do have two heat sources- a pad (soon to be cord) for background temperature, and a light for spot heating the basking rock.

For you, you'd be using the CHE instead of the pad or cord, and you definitely want a cage on that, or so I read.

Sounds like the set-up you want is with either a flouro tube or LED lighting for general purposes, and a CHE set at the far end with a thermostat. I'm not sure where you sit in the UV debate, but if you buy a double flouro fitting you can get a UV tube and a daylight tube. I just use LEDs, and so far they seem happy. I had a UVB light I was going to use, but when I was taping power cords to the roof the fixture fell and the $%##5^%^ bulb broke, so I'm going to keep them going without UVB- they seem fine anyhow.

Setting up a BTS tank is a pain in the butt- sooooo many alternatives to consider.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby FluffySkink » Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:42 pm

As I said in my original post I don't plan to use UV in my tank. how close do you think I could have my CHE and my basking light on the hot side? I just don't want to cause any damage. And then a regular LED bulb in the middle.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby BlueyBob » Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:01 pm

I don't know about that. Are you thinking of using the ceramic light holders? They are pretty wide. Our viv has one of those double enclosures- an el cheapo from Ebay- but I'm not running two really powerful bulbs in it.

If you used two of these http://www.ausreptiles.com.au/ceramic-lamp-holder, the centres of the bulbs would have to 11.5 cm apart at the least.

I guess I'd put the CHE in the back corner, and the basking spot nearer the front, where you can see them while they bask.

I'm also not sure if you should get a reflector dome for your light or not. That's something you might want to research. I'd think that is you used a spot basking light, you wouldn't want one, but I'm not sure.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby FluffySkink » Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:59 pm

Yes the fixtures are ceramic. I think it would be okay, like you said have the CHE in the back and the basking light in the front. I havent been able to find an answer on reflectors. I see a lot of people who don't use them. I guess I'll talk to the manufacturers about my plans for the light fixtures and see what they think.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby BlueyBob » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:30 am

I reckon you'd be fine without a reflector. The basking-spot types have their own mirroring on the inside of the bulb.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby FluffySkink » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:55 am

I won't be using a "reptile basking bulb" Just a regular household incandescent. I actually just found a day/night thermostat which will drop the temp for me at night so I may actually use that with a CHE and then just have a little LED strip to achieve the daylight cycle. We've used them before in our caravan and they give off quite a bit of light. My concern with using a CHE only for heat is that it will end up heating most of the enclosure and I won't be able to get a gradient. If thats the case then I'm thinking CHE connected to an IMIT thermostat. Thats one that sits on the wall and appears to measure the ambient temperature rather than basking spot. Use that for any night heat in winter, and then an incandescent bulb connected to a digital thermostat with the probe right on my basking spot.
Hopefully someone who uses CHE's can give some more input :)
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby BD99 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:05 am

Hey mate, first off, motto is better safe than sorry.

it may cost $30 for the cage, but it'll cost $300 if you have to treat burns and go to a vet.

On UV, use it as your daylight. There are debates on them on UV but again, it is a better safe than sorry. Metabolic Bone Disease is no laughing matter. It deforms your lizzy at best, and by the time its noticed its too late. Again, maybe $100 to get a professional fitting, vs thousands in caring for a disabled lizard.

Food wise, I mix it up. I always calc powder my girls bugs. Basically I gutload the bugs. So starve them for a few days, then stuff them on the good food. Put calc powder over them then load them into a separate tub that I let my lizards in for 10 minutes to go ape and hunt. then they go back inside for any veggies or doggie food I use. I have found they all settle on fancy feast lean beef as something they enjoy. One was on my dog, others on organics. But they are fussy creatures and even brand variants caused them to over eat or not eat at all.

On vents, I strongly advise getting the side vents. Its going to have a smell no matter what, and airflow is nice for them.

As for a thermostat, YES, absolutely get one and use it. At night, you can just switch the cage off to save on power, plus let the natural temps take over. Right beneath your lights will be hotter, especially if you have a form of basking surface there, so it serves as a basking spot without any extra heat thrown in.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby FluffySkink » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:04 pm

Thank you for your response. However after doing a lot of research I still will not be providing artificial UV. That is my decision. Also this cage is actually going to cost me over 400 dollars. If you have a look through my later posts you will see I already settled on using a thermostat. Thanks for the advice on the vents, I will definitely request one on each side of the tank.

I understand that it is good for temperatures to naturally drop at night, however as I said it can get pretty cold here at night, and at times my house drops below 15 degrees at night. This is why I was thinking about a ceramic heat emitter as a back up in case it gets too cold. Do you still think I would be okay without any night heating to avoid the temperature dropping too low? I do usually run a heater at night in winter but it's more just to take the edge off, and I am concerned that even with my heater it may get too cool for the skink because we pile on the blankets here and even with a heater the room is still pretty cool.
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Re: Newbie enclosure and supplement questions.

Postby Tokkay » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:40 pm

Hey there, I've used CHEs before so I was just gonna toss in my experience with them.

From using them with my skinks, they work pretty similar to heat bulbs. If you're just trying to keep night temps up you probably only need a very small one, maybe 60-75 watts. The cage you're using should hold in heat really well for your skink. If you can hook up a thermostat for your CHE too to keep the night temps within range and make sure it doesn't get too hot then you should be good!

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