Best UV Meters For Chameleons

Do you worry about your chameleon not getting enough UVB?

Maybe you worry you’re overexposing your pet to UV radiation?

One of the most common mistakes in setting up cages we see comes from not including enough UVB radiation.

But honestly, the only way to tell exactly how much your pet is getting is by watching its health.

Or you could buy one of the best UV meters for chameleons.

The best UV meter for chameleons gives an accurate reading and measurement of how much UV the cage is being exposed to. It should be reliable, durable, and affordable. Our picks for the best products are:

Check out the rest of the article for more details on UVB, UV meters, and a detailed review of the products.  

Why Do Chameleons Need UV Light?

Chameleons come from tropical forests in Africa and Madagascar.

As such, they’re exposed to sunlight throughout their days.

This has forced them to evolve with a higher need for the UVB light.

Without UVB light, the chams won’t get enough vitamin D, and without vitamin D, they won’t absorb calcium and other minerals and nutrients properly.

Too long with a calcium deficiency may result in metabolic bone disease.

This disease is a major concern for all reptiles, but chams especially.

At best, this disease is fixed with stress on the body.

Most likely, your reptile friend will have some permanent deformities.

At the worst, the chameleon may die.

It’s for this reason all chameleon owners should take care to provide the appropriate amount of UVB light. 

Proper Chameleon UVB Setup

The proper UVB setup in a chameleon cage is simple to do if you know what to look for.

The first thing you need is a UVB light.

Look for a UVB light with a 5-10% UVB output.

This will do a good job of providing enough “sunlight” for your chameleon.

But not just any UVB light will do. It’s best to pick a light made by a pet company.

Even better would be a UV light made with reptiles and chameleons in mind.

It may be tricky to do all the research on your own.

We recommend checking out our picks for the best UVB lights for chameleons.

The UV light bulb should be placed above the basking spot. 6″ – 7″ inches away is a good length.

The light needs to stay on for 12 hours per day.

Although some pet websites will say you only need 9-10 hours, it’s even better to provide more if possible.

Don’t go over 12 hours, but up to this amount will only help keep your pet healthy.

If needed, hook the light up to a timer, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn it off or on.

For those who want a little more UV exposure during these 12 hours, you may also want a wide range of UV light to go over the whole cage rather than just the basking spot.

What Is A UV Meter?

UVB light is important, and now you know how to set it up, but how do you know if enough is enough?

UV lights don’t dim either.

Their UV output will decrease before the light part goes out. 

How do you know if a bulb is still putting out what it should?

This is where a UV meter comes in.

A UV meter takes readings of the UVA/UVB being put out and tells you exactly how much is being cast on a spot.

Some of these are meant to be placed in a spot and left there.

These give you a consistent and easy reading of a specific place in the chameleon’s cage.

Other types point at a spot and give you a snapshot reading of what UV light is being shown there.

These are useful for testing different spots around the cage and don’t take up space.

These UV meters are to UV light as thermometers are to heat.

UV meters are just like hygrometers except instead of reading relative humidity; they measure “sunlight.”

The exact measurements depend on the unit from the specific product.

A scientific unit recommendation for chams would be 35-75 uw/cm2.

But honestly, most products use their own unit.

For chameleons, look for a moderate to the moderate-high amount of UV according to their own charts.

The downside of these two types is their higher price.

A cheaper option would be to get a UV card tester.

These cards are available in different forms, but they operate in a similar way across all cases.

As the UV hits the card, a picture of some sort appears.

The picture may change depending on how much UV is there.

People sensitive to sunlight use this to make sure they’re not being exposed to dangerous levels of sunlight.

But there are reptile-specific cards as well.

These won’t give you a range or reading on the UV, but they will tell you if there is enough light.

These are often much cheaper, but you don’t get as much data from the card.

Review Of The Best UV Meter For Chameleons

best uv meter for chameleon

Now you know about what a UV meter is and its place in your chameleon’s setup.

In this section, we’ll break down our picks for the best product for chameleons.

We’ll include an explanation of features and how they impact you, pros and cons for easy comparison, and a general price point.

Since prices tend to fluctuate, you’ll need to click the button to check current pricing.

Solarmeter 6.5R

Solarmeter Model 6.5R Reptile UV Index Meter, ABS...
  • High Accuracy Measurement of Erythemally Effective UV Light Weighted to Match Vitamin-D Action Spectrum in Reptiles
  • Ferguson Zone Chart on Front Panel for Easy Reference
  • Measures 280nm to 400nm Erythemally Weighted

This is the Cadillac of UV meters for reptiles.

For a premium price, the Solarmeter Model 6.5R gives you an easy-to-understand reading with specific information on how much UV is being put out.

Running on a 9V battery, this meter comes with a brochure to help understand how to use it properly.

Honestly, in my experience, this brochure wasn’t even necessary to get it working at the basic level.

All you need to do is press and hold the button on the front while pointing the sensor window at the UV source.

Then, a simple and clear digital reading is put out.

Though this was designed for reptiles, using this with the sun or other UV concerns is also a possibility.

One of the most user-friendly features is the clear Ferguson chart at the top of the product.

A Ferguson chart is a measurement system designed with current UV best practices for reptiles.

The chart is broken into zones, 1-4.

For chameleons, zone 3 or low zone 4 is ideal.

All you do is compare your reading with the chart right above the digital numbers to see if it’s enough.

The company claims the battery should last for two years under normal circumstances.

In our experience and others’, the battery will lose its charge from age before you use it to death.

Pros For This Product:

  • Accurate, easy-to-understand readings
  • Simple to use
  • Long battery life
  • Comparison Ferguson chart included on the meter

Cons For This Product:

  • High price

Solarmeter Model 6.5

Sale
Solarmeter Model 6.5 UV Index Meter - Measures...
  • High Accuracy Measurement of the UV Index
  • Measures 280nm to 400nm Erythemally Weighted
  • Range from 0-199. 9 UV Index

The Solarmeter Model 6.5 is the original meter, which provided the basis for the 6.5R above.

This meter is a more medium price, but it isn’t designed specifically with reptiles in mind. 

However, this doesn’t mean it won’t work for reptiles.

It works just as well; the only main difference between the two is the lack of a Ferguson chart.

The numbers put out from this Solarmeter is based on a 0-199.9 UV index.

For those who want a UV meter to measure more than just reptile UV, this is a good choice for you.

The wider range gives you a little more information than other options.

At the top of the meter, you still get a comparison chart telling you which numbers are considered high or low.

For chams, a moderate to low-high number would be just fine.

Like the 6.5R, all you do to use it is press and hold the button while pointing the sensor at the UV source.

Pros For This Product:

  • Reliable, accurate readings
  • Long battery life
  • Easy to use

Cons For This Product:

  • The chart isn’t meant for reptiles (but is easily used for this purpose)

General Tools UV513AB

General Tools UV513AB Digital UVA/UVB Meter,...
  • Backlit LCD with four digit dual display with High and low measurements
  • Range in a unit mW/cm2 or uW/cm2 and automatic measuring
  • Low battery indicator

The General Tools UV meter is meant for reptiles, UV lamps, and much more.

While the other options are geared a bit more towards home use, this medium-priced option is meant for multiple uses with scientific accuracy in mind.

Along this line, the General Tools UV meter has multiple options for how it displays the data it receives from measuring UV output.

There are more options for how you use the meter, but the comprehensive booklet provides a good explanation of all these features.

With chameleons, a reading of 35-75 uw/cm2 would be just fine.

While using the meter may be a bit more complicated, once you’ve got it figured out, it may end up being easier.

Other UV meters need you to get your whole hand in hand under the UV light to point directly at the bulb.

With this product, the part for getting the reading is separate.

It’s simple to move the reader under the light while you hold on to the digital meter in your other hand.

The battery for this one does last a while, but the more features involved do drain it a little faster.

Still, General Tools offers a low battery indicator on the screen.

All in all, this UV meter should last around a year before needing a battery change depending on how often you use it.

Pros For This Product:

  • Many extra features for reading
  • Separate reader piece from the meter itself makes it easier to handle
  • Large and accurate reading

Cons For This Product:

  • More complicated to use and understand
  • Shorter battery life

REPTI ZOO UVB Tester Reptile Lamp UV Sensor

Sale
REPTI ZOO UVB Tester Reptile Lamp UV Sensor...
  • UVB tester reptile card measures the intensity of the UVB & UVA rays of UV fluorescent lamp.
  • Card changes colors from White to Purple based on the UVB & UVA ray strength.
  • 2PCS Durable plastic card, credit card size, 3.4 inch x 2.1 inch comes in a sleeve.

The ReptiZoo UVB Tester is a great example of a tester card.

The card is quite affordable and still lasts for a while.

This tester card is designed for reptiles specifically by a reptile company.

Repti Zoo has a strong reputation, and this product is no exception.

To use this product, all you do is put the card under the UV light and watch. If there is enough UV being put out, the sun will appear clearly on the card.

If the bulb is losing its power, the sun will appear faded or not at all.

With a 500 time use claimed by Repti Zoo (300 is probably more accurate), you’ll use the card for close to a year before you need to replace it.

You’re more likely to lose the card itself before it burns out.

With the tester card, you won’t get an accurate number reading of the strength of the UVB.

As such, you may not be able to see the instant the UV lamp starts to lose its output, but you’ll be able to catch it before it becomes a problem if you check once per day.

Pros For This Product:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Long life span

Cons For This Product:

  • Not much data given
  • Might miss when the UV bulb first starts to die

Conclusion

We hope you found this breakdown of the best UV meters for chameleons helpful.

It’s important to keep an eye on the amount of UVB chams you get every day.

If they don’t get enough, they run the risk of developing calcium deficiencies or metabolic bone disease.

Any of these products would be great for you; now it’s up to you to look at the UV meters and decide which one is perfect for you.

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