With the growing popularity of reptile and amphibian pets, there are more pet owners than ever before who are concerned about the proper nutrition of these exotic animals. Pet product manufacturers have responded to this concern by offering a widening range of dietary supplements for herps. There are also more products to combat mites and other external problems.
Vitamins, Minerals and More
Supplements are an important part of the husbandry of most reptiles and amphibians because the diets of pets are often lacking in one nutrient or another.
“They are based on sound science and research, providing only the highest quality ingredients on the market,” said Trevor MacLean, national director of sales and support at Seachem Laboratories.
“Calcium and additional vitamins are critical to a reptile’s health, so we offer several supplements that meet those needs,” MacLean said. “JurassiVite is the only reptile/amphibian vitamin/mineral supplement that provides all 14 essential vitamins and 17 trace and ultra-trace minerals recommended by herpetological experts.”
According to MacLean, calcium is of particular importance, especially in regards to its relationship to phosphorus.
“A common issue that occurs in many reptiles is metabolic bone disease (MBD),” MacLean said. “Too much or too little calcium; too much phosphorous; too little or too much vitamin D3, too little UVB; too little protein or a combination of these factors generally causes MBD. All of which can be avoided with the proper supplementation and providing your reptile with a clean environment.”
“Our calcium supplement, JurassiCal, is available as a powder or liquid form that is extremely concentrated and does not contain phosphorous or vitamin D3. Herbivorous and carnivorous diets are frequently calcium deficient and phosphorous rich, thus having a calcium supplement containing phosphorous is of no benefit.”
Several other companies also offer a range of supplements for reptiles and amphibians.
Zoo Med makes ReptiVite in two formulas: with and without vitamin D3. According to Zoo Med’s website ReptiVite is “a complete vitamin, mineral and amino acid complex specifically formulated for reptiles” and was “originally developed for the San Diego Zoo to correct soft-shell problems in turtles.”
Zoo Med’s Repti Calcium is also available with and without vitamin D3. Both are ultrafine, phosphorus-free powders of precipitated calcium carbonate.
Repashy Superfoods manufactures several supplements that match specific dietary needs. The RescueCal+ is a calcium supplement designed especially for reptiles already suffering from a calcium or vitamin D deficiency. It can be dissolved in water for easy usage and, according to the company’s website, is the only calcium supplement to contain magnesium.
Other items in the Repashy line include the SuperCal calcium supplements, available with four different levels of vitamin D, HyD, MeD, LoD and NoD; SuperVite, a complete multivitamin and multimineral powder; and SuperPig, a carotenoid formula that brightens the pigmentation of reptiles to help them show off their best colors.
For keepers of horned lizards and other ant-eating specialists, Repashy Superfoods made Formic Cal Plus. This is a calcium supplement with added calcium formate that would be provided by feeding on ants in nature.
Reptiles that are breeding, sick or newly acquired may stop eating for some time. This can be detrimental to their health.
To help with this problem, Zilla has created Jump-Start Caloric Supplement and Appetite Simulant. The Zilla website says “Jump-Start was created to address the full range of reasons a reptile’s normal eating pattern may be disrupted, from breeding, illness and anorexia to everyday sluggishness.”
On the Surface
Of course not all problems seen in reptiles can be prevented or fixed with supplements.
“Another common occurrence with reptiles is mites,” MacLean said. “These are pesky, unwanted parasites that can cause your reptile discomfort, and ultimately reduce their overall fitness. By using a safe, nontoxic formula such as JurassiMite or Mite Wipes, you can easily rid your reptile of these unwanted pests!”
Mite Wipes launched at this year’s Global Pet Expo. They contain a nontoxic, all-natural formula that eradicates mites and ticks. According to the JurassiPet website, it is safe to use Mite Wipes daily.
Provent-a-Mite from Pro Products is a spray that eliminates mites and ticks. According to Pro Products website, it is the only mite control product approved by the EPA and USDA for all species of reptiles, including tortoises. It can be sprayed on the pet, substrate and cage décor and will remain effective for 30 days.
For reptiles that are having trouble shedding their skin, Zoo Med offers Repti Shedding Aid. This made in the USA spray helps in removing dead skin stuck on snakes and lizards.
MacLean advises that understanding reptile supplements and medications is the key to successfully selling them.
“Understanding the science behind products will help retailers to sell with confidence,” MacLean said. “Educating not only about the products, but also about proper husbandry, will help the customer to be more successful. When customers are successful, it keeps them in the hobby.”