QUESTION: can I use a regular light bulb for a UVB basking light or do I have to buy one?

ANSWER: No, a UVB bulb is a special reptile bulb--not UV or UVA.  UVB is necessary in order for turtles to properly metabolize calcium, and without it they can develop shell and bone deformities.  Turtles that are outside for at least a few hours a day don't need an indoor source of UVB, since the sun is the best and most bio-available form of UVB.  I recommend getting the ZooMed Powersun--it provides heat and UVB in one bulb, and is a pretty good artificial source of UVB.  There are no other bulbs I can recommend at this time, since they are either unreliable or provide little to no UVB.  The ZooMed bulb runs about $40 online.  I get mine from Entirely Pets via Amazon, but LLLReptile should carry them, and other online vendors as well.  

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QUESTION: do you have to have a uva light bulb or can you just use a uvb light bulb for a red eared slider

The UVB bulb will also provide UVA.  UVA really isn't a problem, just the UVB.  An adult RES needs about a 100 gallon tank, and a 100 watt Powersun bulb will be fine for any tank up to that size.  You may need to adjust the height of the bulb depending on the current size of your tank so that the overall temperature isn't too high--for instance, if your RES is currently a hatchling and you have a 20-30 gallon tank.  The basking temperature (on the basking surface) should be about 88-90 degrees, with water temp about 76-78 (a few degrees cooler for an adult).


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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