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Old 09-18-2019, 12:55 AM   #1
Vitamin and calcium suplementation

I have two Uros and a baby Longicauda boa. Every time i sprinkle powdered vitamins or calcium on their food, they don't eat it. I guess they don't like the taste. I use a Reptisun 10.0 UVB light and put them out in the direct sun a couple times a week. Should I be concerned about them not getting their vitamins? They seem happy and healthy.

I have have also read that it's a good idea to sprinkle vitamins on the occasional food item fed to snakes. My concern here is that it will foul the snake to the food item for future feedings. I mean vitamins taste awful. Is there a solid reptile multi-vitamin that can be put down the throat of the food item so the snake won't taste it while eating?

Old 09-18-2019, 10:54 AM   #2
We used to dust everything with vitamin supplements. We used a combination mixture of SuperPreen, Osteoform, and later on, Sticky Tongues mineral supplement. That was a long time ago, so I'm not sure if those products are still available.

The thing is, we would just dip the back end of the feed items in the powder mixture, not the whole item. Never had a problem with the animals rejecting the food.
Old 09-18-2019, 11:39 AM   #3
Inserting the material into the prey animal will work to deliver the dose, yes, if taste is an issue.

Speaking to Rich's mention of Sticky Tongue Farms, I am a big fan of the "indoor" Miner-all product for my own younger animals and I work with species that I would consider to have high mineral/calcium needs (and which also tend to have an attraction to minerals, so that makes things easier).
Old 09-18-2019, 11:52 AM   #4
I wrote about my thoughts concerning vitamin supplements elsewhere, so I'll just cut and past those thoughts here:

Heck, we used to provide vitamin and mineral supplements with every meal. Mixture of multivitamins, minerals, and calcium. Every animal, every meal, from babies to full adults.

Point of the matter is that snakes in captivity are not going to get the same nutrients from the mice you feed them that they would from the mice they catch in the wild. Mice will nibble on just about everything. Everything in their gut also gets digested by the snake when the mouse meets an untimely end curious about what the flickering snake tongue is. What do the mice you feed your snake have in their gut? Well, likely mouse chow. Period.

Do you think baby snakes might need a boost in calcium (along with vitamin D3) when growing up? Do you think that the adult females might need that boost too when they are bred and developing eggs?

When I was in the business, I heard from a number of people complaining that their animals would suffer an apparent slow decline over the years. Mine never suffered that fate. Did you know that when a female is developing eggs that if she does not have enough calcium in her blood stream, it HAS to come from somewhere, or else you get eggs with insufficiently formed shells. Usually that "somewhere" is her own skeletal structure. And the damage will be cumulative. And along the same line, feeding an animal a diet insufficient of the vitamins and nutrients it needs (humans included) will cause a cumulative decline in health over time.

Heck, I even gave the mice that I fed to the snakes vitamin supplements. Healthy food is, well, HEALTHY food, I would think.

As for corn snakes not "needing" vitamin supplements, well maybe they do or maybe they don't. I know what my opinion is on that matter. So let me ask you this. Do you think that maybe diet is important to animals? Do you think you are providing everything your captives need in their diet without supplements? Suppose the only thing you had to eat for your entire life was peanut butter sandwiches. Do you think that would be healthy for you? Do you think you would live longer or not quite as long as you would like on a fixed diet of that nature? What do you think?

Do you think I thought it important to the health of my animals? Take a guess....
Anyway, it just seemed logical to me to give the animals supplements, so that is what I did. Back when I started in this, there really wasn't a whole lot of reference material to go to. Interesting that you mention alternas, because I had heard people having a lot of problems way back when getting the eggs to hatch or having low fertility. Never had that problem myself, but then again, I gave the alterna I was working with pretty heavy calcium supplements. I recall reading that alternas were often found in proximity to limestone ridges and it just seemed to me that they would have a lot of calcium in their natural diet. Now if I could have just gotten the babies to go readily onto pinky mice...... But they were stubbornly lizard feeders as babies, and I got tired of dealing with that. Pretty aggravating to produce 40+ gray banded kingsnakes and have every one of them be a pain in the butt about feeding.

People don't seem to realize the changed environment we are forcing our captive animals to live in. They don't get direct sunlight, for the most part, so the transformation of vitamin D2 to D3 is inhibited. Unless you are taking pinky mice directly after feeding from the female mice, they really don't have any calcium to speak of, because their skeletal structure hasn't developed. So you really need to help the baby snakes out with the calcium intake, and most certainly some vitamin D3 so they can assimilate the calcium into their own skeletal structure.

Nutrition is an important topic. Heck, how many of you take vitamin supplements yourself? Connie and I have been doing that for years. I don't think it is any accident that we rarely get sick and are not on tons of medications like many people our age. I believe it DOES matter. Even to your own health.
Well, let me throw a curveball here. Why would anyone think that feeding a snake whole mice fed only on rodent chow would be identically equivalent meals that a wild snake gets? If you accept the premise that you are what you eat, and that is inclusive to mice a well, are mice that are fed only rodent chow the same, nutritionally, as wild mice? It could very well be that feeding non supplemented mice are really not that much better than chicken........ :shrugs: It's not just the mice themselves, but whatever they happen to have in their gut at that fateful time when they were wondering what they heck that flickering tongue of that snake was, that provides the nutrition to the snakes.
I think inbreeding is pretty much the equivalent of burning old ladies in Salem Massachusetts back in the colonial days, blaming their misfortunes on those poor women as being witches and the cause of the problems.

How many of you give you animals vitamin supplements? How many of you blood test your animals for RH factor incompatibilities?

Why are people blood tested prior to getting married?

Certainly no one I know blood tests their animals, so let's take a look at the vitamin supplement issue.

Suppose there is some vital amino acid or mineral that corn snakes may need to have in their diet, or something will not function properly. It may not be immediately detrimental, nor even visible, especially in the first generation. But the animal is growing up without it, regardless. Then they are bred and produce babies, which have already started out life with this deficiency, so perhaps there might be a cumulative effect. Even if you have completely unrelated animals, they ALL are suffering from this deficiency, so it really doesn't matter whether they are related or not. So on to the next generation, although you are outbreeding your animals, you are still compounding the problem with each successive generation.

Eventually, this deficiency may begin to manifest itself. And in 101 times out of 100, people will say it is the results of inbreeding. But in reality it could very well be a husbandry problem.

Many people will tell you that there is no need to use vitamin/mineral/amino acid supplements for snakes because you are feeding them whole rodents, which is what they feed on in the wild. Rubish... Those rodents out in the wild are no where near what we are raising ourselves or buying frozen from suppliers. Rodent chows might be OK, but they certainly cannot be providing everything a wild rodent may be feeding on in it's natural environment. It is THAT food source that snakes have evolved having as their supply of nutrients. And whatever that wild rodent may have in it's gut at the time it becomes a snake's meal, is what also goes into being nutrients for the snake.

We give ALL our animals supplements. As soon as the babies have established a good feed response, they are provided partially dusted pinkies, and from then on this is provided for the rest of their lives.

So I still get some animals with kinks? Heck yeah! But considering the numbers I am dealing with and the percentages, it is way lower than one might expect. But that's just the way it is. Life is not perfect.

As an experiment, go to the maternity ward in your local hospital and ask about deformed human children. Contact some of these poor unfortunate parents and ask them if they are inbred, which may be the cause of their deformed baby. After you are done picking your teeth up off of the floor, let us know the results of your study.
A couple of things here.

Unless you provide dietary vitamin D3, or expose your animals to natural unfiltered sunlight, they will have difficulty assimilating calcium from the diet into their bloodstream.

A lot of people are under the impression that feeding snakes whole mice is identical to what the snakes eat in the wild, so no dietary supplement of vitamin, minerals, amino acids, etc. is necessary. I disagree, however. Rodents in the wild will nibble and eat all kinds of things they are not provided in a laboratory or captive environment. When these rodents are eaten by wild snakes, all of this material in the gut of the rodent, plus that already digested and part of the tissue matter of the rodent, is then assimilated by the snake.

We dust ALL of our mice every feeding with a mixture of SuperPreen, Osteoform, and lately Sticky Tongues mineral supplement. We have been doing this for a couple of decades now.

Baby snakes need to be able to assimilate calcium in order to build their rapidly growing skeletal structure. Female snakes need additional calcium intake to be able to provide this calcium for the internal nutrients in the eggs as well as the egg shell itself. If a female has insufficient calcium for this job, it will be leached from her own skeletal stucture. As you can probably imagine, this is not a good thing for her to undergo.

Any snake with a weakened skeleton is a certain candidate for easily broken ribs, among other ailments.

I believe that MANY deficiencies that people are running into with their babies are not caused from inbreeding, which is the conclusion they normally will jump to. I believe it is a problem of cumulative deficiencies in diet over generations. Figure that if there is even just one amino acid that being absent will not cause immediate discernible problems, but does have a negative effect. Then the next generation it has a little bit more of a negative effect, but possibly still invisible to the eye. Compound this over 5 generations or so and you can see where this might lead. What appears to be a SUDDEN problem, was not sudden at all. What was 'sudden', was the observable tip of the iceberg.

Anyway, that's my take on it. Not everyone agrees, of course, but from my experiences in the past, I will continue to dust the feed animals regularly.

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