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Tag Archives: Reptile Nutrition

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Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation for Aquatic Frogs, Turtles & Newts – Part 2

Clawed Frog PairHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  In Part 1 of this article we discussed vitamin/mineral supplements for aquatic animals that accept prepared/non-living foods; included among these are African Clawed Frogs, Sharp-Ribbed and many other newts, and most water-dwelling turtles.

Live Prey Specialists

Animals that take live prey only are especially troublesome when it comes to supplementation, as one cannot coat live aquatic food animals with powders.  Popular live food specialists include Dwarf African Clawed Frogs, Mata Mata Turtles, Surinam Toads, Mudpuppies and the larvae of most salamanders.  Read More »

Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation for Aquatic Frogs, Turtles & Newts – Part 1

Pipa PipaHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Powdered vitamin and mineral supplements for reptiles and amphibians have been a great boon to herp keepers.  However, African Clawed Frogs, Red-Eared Sliders, Axolotls and other creatures that feed only in water present special challenges, as the supplements wash away before being consumed.  Today we’ll look at some ways around this problem. Read More »

Tiny Pink Mice for Small Herps – the African Pygmy Mouse

Pygmy MouseHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  It’s well known that whole animals, complete with skin and internal organs, are the best source of nutrition for most carnivorous reptiles and amphibians.  Hobbyists keeping and breeding small species that fee upon mammals must often cut pink mice and similar food items into pieces in order to feed their collections.  In doing so, important nutrients are lost, and health, especially in the case of growing animals, usually suffers.  The African Pygmy Mouse (Mus minutoides) provides one possible solution to this problem. Read More »

Herp Nutrition – Calcium Sprays and Tips for Special Situations – Part 2

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. In Part I of this article, we discussed those situations in which a spray-on Calcium supplement might be useful. Over the years I’ve been shown, and have developed, a few other techniques that may help to boost the Calcium and vitamin content of reptile and amphibian diets. These strategies are based on observation and trial-and-error only, as solid research in this area is lacking, but have so far proven to be quite useful.

Calcium-Rich Insect Diets

Powdered Calcium mixes easily with tropical fish food flakes, and the resulting blend is readily consumed by crickets, roaches, sowbugs and earthworms. Try allowing your feeder invertebrates to load up on this nutritious diet for 2-3 days before offering them to your pets.

Mixing Your Own Calcium Supplements

In situations where additional Calcium might be called for, you can also mix powdered Calcium with a vitamin mineral supplement. I’ve used a 1:1 ratio (by weight) for animals recovering from Calcium deficiencies and as an occasional supplement for a variety of creatures, especially young individuals. Again, no hard evidence as to the effectiveness of this, but it may be useful as “insurance” (Note: different products vary in vitamin/mineral content).

Vitamin D3

Calcium cannot be utilized by reptiles and amphibians unless an adequate supply of Vitamin D3 is also provided. Heliothermic (basking) reptiles, such as Painted Turtles and Green Iguanas, make D3 in their skin in the presence of Ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Be sure to provide such creatures with a quality UVB bulb or unfiltered sunlight (UVB does not penetrate regular-grade glass or plastic).

Highly aquatic turtles (i.e. softshell turtles), nocturnal lizards (leopard geckos), amphibians and other non-basking species require a diet that supplies adequate D3, either naturally or with the help of a supplement.

Further Reading

Please see Part I of this article for a discussion of R Zilla Reptile Calcium Supplement Spray.

Recently, it has been shown that some chameleons regulate basking behavior in accordance with their Vitamin D3 needs. To read more about this fascinating research, please see Chameleon Basking Behavior.

Please write in with your questions and comments.

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

Herp Nutrition – Calcium Sprays and Tips for Special Situations – Part 1

calcium sprayHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Coating feeder insects with calcium and vitamin supplements is a time-tested method of adding important nutrients to reptile and amphibian diets.  However, shy and nocturnal species that do not eat soon after the insects are released into their terrariums may get little benefit from powdered supplements.  Insects quickly lose their coatings as they move about…crickets and roaches add to the problem by grooming the supplements from their bodies as soon as they are able (Yes, “grooming” …watch roaches sometime, they are quite fastidious!).

Spray-On Calcium

R Zilla Reptile Calcium Supplement Spray and Vitamin Supplement Spray help to address this problem.  The spray sticks to and may even be absorbed by insects (as well as dry foods and salad), thereby assuring its delivery no matter how much time elapses before the food is consumed.  These products will prove particularly useful to those keeping Leaf Tailed Geckos, Crocodile Skinks, Flying Geckos, Red-Eyed Treefrogs, Spadefoot Toads, certain burrowing tarantulas and others that are notoriously shy about showing themselves by day.

Agalychnis callidryasCalcium Spray supplies calcium in three forms, including Calcium Gluconate, which is readily utilized by many species.  It can also be administered orally to animals with deficiencies (a consultation with your veterinarian would be advisable beforehand). 

Further Reading

Please see my article Providing a Balanced Diet to Reptiles and Amphibians for more information on other aspects of captive herp nutrition.

An interesting article on feeder insect calcium content is posted here.

  Next time we’ll take a look at a few effective but little-used techniques for raising the calcium content of insects fed to reptiles and amphibians

 Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

Agalychnis callidryas image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Christian R. Linder

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