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Posted by Pennebaker on September 20, 2002 at 04:43:58:
In Reply to: Re: Latest about lizard not moving legs posted by reptoman on September 19, 2002 at 16:56:46:
How can i put his so that i don't come across like a jerk or a downer? Hmmmmm...well, I guess I can't! Not without spending more time than i have. Just as a qualifier before i proceed to offend vets, vet-lovers and people who want to believe they can supplement their HL like any other lizard:
I don't really have anything against vets, vet-lovers and the like, LOL. I also do not believe that any species of lizard can be completely generalized, in so far as proper care.
Having said all that, I must say that i could not help but laugh when i read what the vet said.
"Hmmmm, lets see here. Yep! your lizard isn't getting enough calcium. Here, have a shot. Give your HL calcium everyday and multi-vitamins every 3 days. That should do it! That's $100 please! Next!"
As someone who has been to many vets and gotten lots of good and bad advice, i must say that this was a very generalized diagnosis and treatment. I'm sure this vet has done it numerous times with iguanas and bearded dragons, LOL. Probably even with great results, LMAO.
HLs are not like any other lizards out there. Treat an HL like a baby beardie at your peril (or maybe i should say the HL's)! Nuff said (on that)!
Now that I'm done pointing-out how ridiculously basic and overgenralized the vet was, i'm going to address how the vet can be right and wrong and same time.
Quick, basic husbandry 101: For most diurnal lizards, calcium is metabolized largely thanks to the synthesis of D3 in the empidermis when it's absorbing UVB. You can give a boat-load of powdered calcium to a lizard and they will metabolize and utilize and very small amount of it. Lizards who recieve no UVB will absorb and utilize even less than this.
If this reality of this concept eludes you, try thinking about what your pee looks like a couple hours after taking a bunch of multi-vitamins. Giving a body vitamins and minerals is not the same as making it metabolize and utilize those vitamins and minerals. There are reasons why many medications and vitamins are often prescribed as to be taken with a meal or at least water. It's to promote the abrorption and utilzation of the aforementioned substance. Even so, the relative percenatge of the vitamins (specifically) that are actually utilized are comparitively low (when compared to how much was ingested). Where do all these potent and unused vitamins/minerals go? They get flushed! Every organ along the way gets to deal hard-to-break-down, high-potency, vitamin sludge. BOOM! Look at that super-yellow pee!
Now take this concept and apply it to lizards. We have to supplement most lizards with vitamins and minerals because we normally are not able to provide the species with the environmental requirements and dietary variation they need to be healthy. It's our attempt at mimicking nature! While our supplementary 'band-aid' may work on hardy lizards, especially omnivores, it doesn't work so well on more sensitive species. THESE are the species that, even if available, are not being bred or are infrequently bred in the reptile trade. Lizards like you-know-who; HLs.
Oops! getting off-track here. Back to calcium and the possibility vet being right and wrong.
In nature, HLs get calcium from ants, beetles, grasshoppers etc and the occasional mouthful of river sand,lol. The calcium is metabolized via D3 synthesis, thanks to the powerful UVB(and heat & light,of course) coming from the sun everyday. All elements of the cycle must be working in order for the HLs to get the calcium they need: the prey items need to be healthy and full of the proper nutrients; the temperatures; UV, hydration, etc, etc. All the things that nature provides in abundance and humans try to emulate with feeder insects, supplements, light-bulbs and spray-bottles,lol.
The point is, that you can feed calcium deficient ants to HLs all day long under real sunshine and get decent results. But to feed these ants to HLs housed indoor under cheesy light-bulbs, then calcium metabolization is going to occur much less because of the minimal to no UVB. IMO, the only light bulbs that even come close to being good enough for an HL to live a long life indoors are mercury-vapor bulbs. Even so, HLs really do much better when they are housed outside where they get real sunshine.
The reason why this is so has to do with the HL's sensitivity to traditonal supplementation. I'm not saying that its impossible to raise and keep an HL indoors by using powdered supplements. I am saying that most of these HLs will die and the ones that make it will have a significantly shorter lifespans.
Why? Well, for reason that i've already touched-on. Think for a second. A bearded dragon will live up to 10 years in captivity eating a variety of food: greens, fruit, vegetables, crickets, numerous worms, pinkies etc, and vitamin/mineral supplements. Bearded dragons are omnivores, which is great for us humans because we can offer a large variety of food items. This dietary variation allows us to give them lots of different vitamins and minerals in the best fashion possible--through their food items. Vitamins and minerals are best broken-down and utilized when coming with other nutrients. So that everything that is needed comes along in diluted amalgam of nutrients.
When one uses supplements, the vitamins and minerals are coming along in a much more concentrated, harder to break-down medium. The body deals with it as best as possible, using what it can and passing as much as possible through waste excretement. The problem is that overtime, the organs start feeling the reprecussions of processing vitamins and minerals with unnaturual properties and potency. As much of the unused minerals/vitamins are flushed out of the system, often causing damage on the way out and creating latent causes for future death. Compounding the problem is that the properties of some of the supplemented minerals and vitamins are such that the organ cannot break them down. In these cases, the substances accumulate in the organs, eventually to toxic levels. The organs don't work as efficiently and eventually fail.
Another thing that happens is that the potency of certain vitamins and minerals are such that it disrupts basic bodily functions(electrolytes, the whole nine-yards!), altering the processes, where problems cascade out into other problems making latent diseases that cause other diseases that cause eventual death. It's all very complex at this point.
Which begs the question; how long would a bearded dragon live in captivity is we could completely emulate it's natural diet and not have to use supplements? 20 years maybe? Who knows.
An HL will live up to 6-15 years in captivity, depending on the species. Most HLs don't make-it past their first year in captivity. HLs are specialized. They eat mostly ants. Specializtion requires species to make sacrifices. They are not able to adjust around quick environmental/evolutionary changes as well. In essence, the species gambles.
Where a bearded dragon(omnivore) will get their nutrients from numerous sources, an HL is designed to get it's nutrients predominantly from ants. A species that is designed for specific prey items is also specifically designed in how it matabolizes minerals/vitamins. In other words, HLs can not tolerate unnatural supplemnts like beardies can.
For this reason every other element of the HLs life must be in balance to compensate: healthy ants as a staple, real sunshine for D3 synthesis and psychological benefits, temps, water etc,etc. Every process which promotes proper vitamin and mineral absorption and utilization WITHOUT using traditional powdered supplements.
If supplementaion must happen, then it should be given in a diluted liquid form. I mean liquid calcium or liquid vitamins, not powders with water added to make a sludge, lol. the liquid can be misted or deropped on the HLs head for them to volutarily drink. IMO, using powdered supplemnts for HLs on a daily basis is a probable recipe for DEATH! Satisfy all other elements of the HLs life and use diluted liquid supplements if absolutely necessary.
The vet could be right in their diagnosis. You HL may very well be calcium and vitamin deficient. However, the vet is almost ceratinly wrong in their diections of supplementing full-strength calcium everyday and herptivite every 3 days.
I also find it equally likely that the vet is wrong and is seeing the symptoms of a surface-problem and not the underlying latent causes that are most certainly the cause of your HLs health problems.
Well, hopefully this long post clarified why i don't recommend traditonal powdered supplemnts for HLs and why i'm skeptical about this vet's instructions. Sorry about your HL and good luck.
::I just got back from the vet where I found out my HL Alli has a nutritional hyperarathyroidism. He is lacking calcium in his diet. They call this condition swimmer since they look like they are flat on their tummies and flailing their legs like they are swimming.
::Calcium is not only important for bones but for also muscle movement. That is why his legs stay out to the side he can?t move his muscles enough to stand on them. Lack of calcium can also affect their bowel movements since the muscles are moving enough to push food along the digestive track.
::Alli got a vitamin D shot and some neocalglucon syrup for supplemental calcium. The shot did wonders on the way home he was more active than he has been in awhile and he pooped for the first time in several days. I have to give him and his two other buddies a small drop of the neocalglucon syrup on his lips every day. Hopefully he will back to his old lizard self in 6-8 weeks.
::Here are the other things the vet said I should do:
::1. Every day a calcium supplement (this needs to be calcium only NO Phosphorus or Vitamin D3)
::2. Two to three times a week give them multivitamin with D3
::and mineral supplement. He said Herptivite is the best
::3. A broad spectrum Ultraviolet light and some sunlight when ever possible.
::Hope this helps
:Lester or anyone else out there I thought vitamin and calcium was not required with hl's. Although it's iteresting that this one sounds as though it did the trick??