AmphibiansReptilesFerguson Area [1. Basic General Knowledge]

Release time:2023-11-12
Why learn about Ferguson?

The UV requirements of reptiles are closely related to their outdoor patterns. So, what are the rules for reptiles to go out? Morning and dusk, night travel, day travel? But will they really follow these rules? Obviously, the longer you work with reptiles, the easier it is to find counterexamples:

Corn snakes and hognose snakes that are supposed to be "nocturnal" are sometimes active during the day; cobras that are supposed to be "diurnal" will go out in the middle of the night; leopard geckos in captivity sometimes don't wait until dark Just start going out; many tree frogs that are supposed to be "nocturnal" will come out to bask in the sun during the day in captivity...


Since there are so many counter-examples, is the experience we believed in in the past of "equipping lamps according to day/night + rainforest/desert" still reliable?

You can refer to it, but it’s not scientific enough.

In the past, our understanding of the behavioral patterns of amphibians and reptiles was very one-sided. In the wild at that time, it was difficult for researchers to monitor their activities 24 hours a day, so much of what was known about the patterns of the two crawlers' activities was only conjecture. Later, with the improvement of captive conditions and the popularization of night vision monitoring, we can find that the activity patterns of many crawlers are blurred, that is, there is no longer a strict "day/night" boundary: "night crawlers" will occasionally When out during the day, "diurnal" ones sometimes avoid the sun.

Along with these observation experiences, scientists conducted a lot of careful field research and found that the activity patterns of the two crawlers in the wild are indeed more complicated than previously thought. They will adjust their appearance and sun exposure time based on body size, season, temperature, UV intensity and humidity. Some species don't even need to go out, just rely on the ultraviolet rays reflected from the environment to the entrance of the cave.


Once the fundamental "law of activity" changes, past experience is no longer accurate. At the same time, these studies have also solved past problems: In the past, it was found that the vitamin D content in the natural diet of many geckos is obviously insufficient, but why do they not lack calcium in the wild? It turns out that they may rely on the weak ultraviolet light in the morning and dusk to synthesize vitamin D; some lizards were captured without providing ultraviolet light for half a year, so why didn't they die? It turns out that after reptiles receive sufficient ultraviolet rays in the wild, they store calcifediol/triol in their bodies that can last for several months...

In order to raise amphibians and reptiles more scientifically in the new era, herpetologists have developed a new set of standards to provide suitable ultraviolet radiation for reptiles - this is the Ferguson Zone.

Ferguson is divided into 4 major districts, with transition areas between each district. This standard not only takes into account the UV index that species may actively choose to be exposed to, but also combines 11 micro-habitat environments to configure the placement of lamps. This is more detailed and scientific than the crude lighting method of "day/night travel + rainforest/desert" in the past.


Terms related to Ferguson area

UVI: Ultra-violet Index (Ultra-violet Index) is an international measurement standard, which is a comprehensive value for statistics of ultraviolet radiation. UVI is the result calculated by weighting the three segments of ultraviolet rays: UVC, UVB, and UVA. Its detection band and calculation method are highly related to the synthesis of vitamin D by vertebrates. And because UVC has a huge weight in the calculation, UVI can not only reflect the ultraviolet index. When the value is abnormally high, it may mean that the light contains UVC.

Ferguson Zone 1: Morning and dusk type & Yin-loving type. Daily average UVI 0-0.7, maximum UVI 0.6-1.4

Ferguson zone 2: even sun type & shade type. Daily average UVI is 0.7-1.0, maximum UVI is 1.1-3.0

Ferguson Zone 3: Sun exposure type. Daily average UVI is 1.0-2.6, maximum UVI is 2.9-7.4

Ferguson Zone 4: Scorching Sun Type. Daily average UVI is 2.6-3.5, maximum UVI is 4.5-9.5


Habitat type:

A. Underground; B. In fallen leaves; C. On the forest floor; D. In rocks, cracks or holes;

E. In leaves and shrubs; F. Grassland or savanna; G. Semi-arboreal;

H. Arboreal; I. Shore or wetland; J. Aquatic


Lighting time/photoperiod (in captivity):

(native to) the tropics: 12 hours a day year-round;

(native to) subtropical zone: 13 hours a day in summer, 11 hours a day in winter;

(native to) temperate zone: 14 hours a day in summer, 10 hours a day in winter

Vitamin D:

Important element for calcium absorption. Relevant knowledge about provitamin D, previtamin D, vitamin D, calcifediol, and calcitriol can be found in the previous article.


UVB energy-saving lamps:

One of the most common lamps. It is characterized by spiral shape or straight shape.

The characteristic is that it can provide a large amount of UVB radiation and is very energy-saving. Helps animals synthesize vitamin D. The disadvantage is that the brightness is usually low and the radiation zone is cone-shaped, making it unsuitable for medium and large species. At the same time, there are inferior products on the market with high radiation intensity, so please use them with caution.


UVA light:

One of the most common lamps. Features round/flat head bulb with transparent or frosted glass surface

The characteristic is that it can provide UVA to help lizards/turtles/birds perform visual coloring, assist LED lamps to present correct color rendering, and penetrate the epidermis to heat the animals. Power ranges from 30W-100W. Can be used to create heat islands/sun spots


T5/T8 lamp:

Mainly used to provide ultraviolet UVB. Its characteristic is that the radiation area is uniform, and it can provide a radiation area with a wide coverage area and uniform intensity. However, since the power is generally smaller, the radiation distance is shorter. Even with the highest output lights, UVI will drop below 1.0 at a distance of 1 meter. Weaknesses are brightness and color rendering. Therefore, when this lamp is used for species above Ferguson Zone 2, it is only suitable as an auxiliary lamp that provides UVB radiation.


Mixed light (sunlight):

The shape is a round "big head light bulb". Technically speaking, solar lamps are a mixture of incandescent and mercury lamps, hence the name "mixed light." It has the advantages of both: large heat generation + strong ultraviolet radiation + long radiation distance. But its brightness and light effect are not close to the "sun". Therefore, this lamp is suitable for creating heat islands for species with high UV demand (Ferguson Zone 2-4), simulating strong UV conditions at noon.


Mercury vapor lamp (high pressure mercury lamp, low pressure mercury lamp, etc.):

It is not common in the mainland markets of North America and Asia. The characteristic is that it can emit a large amount of ultraviolet light, visible light and even part of infrared light. It has a long service life and low price, so it is one of the main UV lamps in the European market.


Metal halide lamp (metal halide lamp):

Metal halide lamps are lamps made from high-pressure mercury lamps with various metal halides added. With its excellent light efficiency and brightness, it is currently mostly used in gardening in China. By adding phosphor, it can also emit UVB/UVA; it has a service life of 5,000-20,000 hours, excellent color rendering and stable performance. It is a masterpiece that combines the advantages of various gas discharge lamps mentioned above.

Currently mainly used as two-climb lighting in Europe - this is also the best type of lighting at present. At the same time, its power can be very high. In large environments, a 400W high-power bulb can be selected to create ultra-distant and ultra-large radiant and thermal zones. But the disadvantage is also the large amount of heat generated due to the large power. Metal halide lamps are generally above 70W and are difficult to apply in small environments.


UVB LED light:

In recent years, it has become the new favorite of the mainland market. There are many advantages: very energy-saving, low heat generation, small size, high brightness, high degree of modularity, etc... But LED itself does not have the ability to emit ultraviolet rays. What emits ultraviolet rays are small UVA/UVB lamp beads installed together. But precisely because of its small size, its durability still needs to be improved.

In addition, the wavelength band emitted by some manufacturers' UVB lamps is too short/too narrow, so there is a risk of excessive vitamin D; at the same time, the white light of LED is adjusted to the white light of the human eye, not true white light, so UVA is needed to use it. Lights display color correctly. This type of lamp is still young and there is still room for optimization.


General precautions

After understanding the uses of these lamps, in subsequent articles you can design matching solutions according to the needs of different species.

In addition, the following issues should be noted when creating a UV radiation zone:

1. To improve fault tolerance, all environments should have a "UV gradient." That is to say, the environmental layout allows ultraviolet rays to have a transition range from high to none in both horizontal and vertical spaces. In this way, animals can choose the radiation zone that suits them according to their own needs. Instead of being trapped in a high-brightness, high-radiation area and suffering


2. For species in Ferguson Zones 1-2 (most snakes/some lizards/some terrapins), plenty of sheltered areas should be provided. To avoid excessive ultraviolet rays or overheating

3. When dealing with albino individuals or hypopigmented individuals, it is necessary to appropriately reduce the amount of ultraviolet radiation and environmental brightness, and provide more sheltered areas so that they have sufficient opportunities to avoid the sun. Because they lack the protection of melanin, they are highly sensitive to visible and ultraviolet light and are therefore at greater risk for eye disease and skin cancer. The resulting insufficient synthesis of vitamin D can be supplemented orally.

4. The habitats of some species will change as they grow, which may lead to significant changes in the intensity of ultraviolet rays they receive. The most famous one is the Komodo dragon. Komodo dragons are arboreal as larvae and become ground-dwelling as adults. The difference in UV intensity between the two habitats is very large. Therefore, before placing lamps, it is best to carefully understand the species' habitat so that adjustments can be made in time.


The above is the general content of Liangclimbing Lighting. In the next issue, we will introduce the common species in Ferguson Zone 1 and how to configure lighting fixtures. You must not miss it!