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Calcium thread continued...

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Posted by pcfmeliss on July 30, 2002 at 18:37:27:

This contains snips from three previous posts and my responses...

: i want to know how much calcium a lizard can take.

There is no known daily requirement for reptiles. Vets do have some recommendations - check out the Vitamin Supplementation article at my site,, for info on various vitamin producs and frequency, which is based on age and health status.

Gut loading your prey first--feeding them well and making sure they are hydrated--is also important. Mothman discussed one good way. I've some other info on housing and feeding some prey at

: you can give as much calcium as you want, if they have too much they will poop it out. with vitamins they cannot do that so don't give too much of these.

Calcium is one of many vitamins, minerals and trace elements of which too much is a bad thing. ;) Hypercalcemia (excessive calcium) does pose a health risk. Rather than excess being voided, it is stored in the body where it eventually causes all types of problems (see The only time you want to see reptiles testing out high normal/low hypercalcemic are gravid egg-layers. ;)

:An imbalance of the vitamin A/D3 ratio can interfere clacium absorbtion in lizards and other animals.

Calcium metabolism is a complicated balance between several vitamins and minerals: A, D, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and phosphorous. One of the easiest vitamins to overdose an animal (including humans) is A, so care does need to be taken with that...

: One final note: UV lights are not needed for calcium absorbtion. In fact, they may be totally worthless. I don't use UV lights for any of my animals. I do, however, use full spectrum lights that mimic sunlight to a degree and can work wonders on an animal's appetite and behavior.

UV is a complex issue, too. Some animals are unable to adequately utilize D taken orally: they must be given adequate and proper exposure to ultraviolet B in order to make their own D3. The "Solar" and "Mood" Drop products are worthless for these types of animal because all the drops are are liquid D.

The vitamin D found in many vitamins and in plants is D2, also not well utilized, at least not by green iguanas and other herbivorous lizards. Humans, too, for that matter. While we can utilize some oral D, people living in climates where winter days are cold and short do develop mild calcium deficiency during winter, regaining it solely through the stronger UVB hitting them once spring and summer roll around.

The "full-spectrum" lights are not producing any UVB, and UVA that is nearest the visible spectrum wavelengths.

Not all made for reptile fluorescents produce enough UVB for all reptiles, as they don't have a high enough output in that part of the UVB spectrum in which previtamin D synthesis is triggered.

Bottom line: if you have a species for whom exogenous (diet & supplement sources) of D are not utilized, you have to use a UVB-producing fluorescent in addition to the incandscent "full spectrum" (which isn't really full spectrum as it doesn't produce UVB nor all of the UVB that the sun does...)

That being said, some insectivorous/carnivorous, and omnivorous lizards do just fine without supplemental UVB, providing they are fed healthy prey. Gut loading prey--feeding the crickets, worms, etc., for at least a day or two, and raising rats and mice properly from the get-go, before offering them as food--is healthier than just going from pet store to shaking them in vitamin/calcium powder to feeding them out. All things considered, healthy well hydrated prey make healthier predators. ;)

PCF Meliss
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