Repashy Superfoods offer a wide range of diets and supplements for reptiles and amphibians, commonly referred to as “herps”. Whether you have an insectivorous, herbivorous, diurnal or nocturnal reptile, there is a nutritional product for your pet!
The Right Calcium Balance
The primary concern when it comes to reptile nutrition is calcium, not only the total calcium content, but also the ratio of calcium to phosphorus (another nutritive mineral). To utilize phosphorous in the body, an equal amount of calcium is required. The amount of phosphorous ingested needs to be “matched” with an equal amount of calcium; if not present in the diet, it can be pulled from the bones. With feeding and supplementing, be sure to keep an eye on both calcium and phosphorus content. For example, the average cricket feeder has a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1 to 9; you need to add 9x the amount of phosphorus already present in the insect! This does not make crickets bad feeders, as calcium can easily be supplemented in the form of insect “dust” containing calcium. Cheaper supplements use less efficient forms of calcium which may also include additional phosphorus (for example, calcium phosphate).
Reptile herbivores also face a problem with getting calcium in their diet, as most vegetable matter is also high in phosphorus and low in calcium. Most greens do have a high amount of calcium, so be sure to feed a variety of leafy vegetables, flowers, squash and root veggies in rotation along with a properly designed supplement for herbivores. We highly recommend Repashy Super Veggie!
Repashy offers a full line of calcium supplements, allowing you to customize your feeding schedule to the needs of your reptile. We’ve created a chart (below) that can help you chose which product is right for you and your herp, but first we wanted to bore, err educate you on the utilization of calcium and other nutrients in reptiles and amphibians.
Interactions and Toxicity
Minerals and other nutrients also interact with each other, which affects their bio-availability in the body. The all-important mineral calcium cannot be absorbed by vertebrate animals without Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 can either be generated by the skin when exposed to sunlight or artificial Ultraviolet radiation (UVB rays) or through dietary supplementation. Although all reptiles need Vitamin D3, the amount of supplementation is thought to vary with diurnal and nocturnal animals, and those that live with restricted exposure to sunlight, such as herps that dwell on the forest floor or under a dense tree canopy.
Although a crucial element in the body, Vitamin D3 is toxic at high doses. Excessive supplementation of both calcium and vitamin D can lead to the over-absorption and utilization of calcium (hypercalcemia). This can cause systemic calcification of soft tissue, kidney failure, GI dysfunctions, cardiac abnormalities and hypertension. In short, a really bad situation. It’s important to know that as long as safe levels of dietary Vitamin D3 are maintained (around 4,000 IU/KG), providing natural or artificial UV exposure does not lead to vitamin D toxicity.
Vitamin A is a crucial element needed for Vitamin D3 utilization that can also be toxic in excess. Vitamin A as a preformed substance (retinol) is the problematic nutrient; beta carotene and other carotenoid are precursors to Vitamin A that allow the body to process what is needed and excrete the rest. However, studies are lacking showing that reptiles and amphibians have an easy time of doing this, so using a supplement with appropriate levels of pre-formed retinol and natural carotenoids is another form of security in captive herp husbandry.
10:1:0.1 Vitamin A:D3:Vitamin E is exactly what is provided in Allen Repashy’s All-in-One calcium supplement, Calcium Plus (formerly ICB). Calcium Plus is appropriate of any herp and we recommend it as an insect dust for nocturnal and diurnal insectivores, regardless of the use of UVB supplementation. It contains moderate levels of vitamin D3, natural carotenoids as well as retenol, plus a balanced level of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
However, many keepers may be using other products in conjunction with Repashy products so Calcium Plus may include too much supplementation. The following chart can help you assess the level of supplementation necessary with your herp.
Repashy Product Comparison Chart
Use this chart to customize your feeding regimen. In choosing appropriate levels of D3 supplementation, take into consideration any special lighting or natural light provided. If you have a diurnal basking reptile and do not provide UVB radiation, choose high D3. If you are providing UVB, choose low to medium. If you have a nocturnal reptile or one that has known sensitivity to D3, choose low levels of D3.
With most Repashy products, food items can and should be supplemented with every meal, even if you don’t feed every day. Other supplements recommend alternate feedings of calcium and vitamins, but this is unnecessary with Repashy products as vitamins are designed with stability in mind. Be sure to follow directions on the package. Free feeding means providing the supplement in the enclosure at all times for the reptile to access at any time. This is sometimes done with pure calcium, offering the reptile to self-regulate calcium levels, but should not be done with a product containing extra vitamins such as D3 or Vitamin A, which are toxic in high doses. Too much calcium can be a bad thing if your reptile gorges on powder, so keep an eye on how much total calcium is ingested.
|Crested Gecko Diet*||Yes||Low||Yes||Yes|
* CGD is a complete diet with no other food source necessary when fed to Rhacodactylus species. However, a variety of feeders can be fed to provide stimulation and fatty acids.
Repashy Calcium Plus is an all-in-one solution for insect-eating reptiles. Repashy Veggie Dust is an all-in-one solution for veggie and fruit eating reptiles. For those reptiles that eat both, these products can be used as directed for each feeding and do not interfere with each other.
Always be sure to replace your vitamin supplements after a year, as they do degrade with time. Refrigeration is also recommended.