We are what we eat!
There is a large truth to this. Here at the Vets4Pets Dernancourt Clinic, the majority of problems I see in all my reptile, feathered and small furry patients are related to poor diet. I thought I would touch base with you all, and offer some basic suggestions to improve the overall quality of life and health of your more interesting pets.
For this edition, I will focus on Bearded Dragons.
These are fantastic pets, but contrary to popular belief, there is quiet a lot to know in regards to their diet and husbandry. It is very important to do your homework before purchasing one of these smaller lizards. In regards to food, the biggest concerns I have, is that they are fed only insects, which are not gut loaded, and they are fed too frequently. This usually results in metabolic bone disease (rickets) and obesity, which can ruin your Beardy’s immune system, kidneys and bones.
For the first year of life, gut-loaded insects alone are adequate as the sole diet, and they should be fed daily till they are about 6months old. Still offer vegetables at this stage, but do not expect them to eat veg much. From 6months on, your Beardy should only be fed twice a week. These feeds should consist of about 50% vegetables, 10-20% fruit, 20% should be “boosted” insects, and the remaining 10% should be a good insect supplement. The amount of food offered should be equivalent to their head size. Another version, is to feed alternating feeds, where feeds are alternated between veg and gut-loaded insects. Veg can consist of peas, corn, carrot, spinach, kale, capsicum and sweet potato. A good variety of “boosted” insect species is encouraged and can include crickets, woodies, cockroaches and fly pupae. Mealworms and pinkies (dead baby mice) can be used , but are very fatty and should only be used occasionally.
The insects should “boosted” over "gut-loaded", and not “calcium sprinkled”. Insects are super clean freaks, and calcium sprinkles are swiftly removed off their skin within seconds of applying. Gut-loading when the insects are fed a calcium supplement shortly before feeding, whilst “boosted” is when the insects are fed special formulas for a minimum of 2weeks to ensure they are in great health and contain the required calcium, vitamins and trace elements your Beardy requires. Passwell Insect Booster is a very useful supplement to use for this. Wombaroo do a very good reptile supplement to compliment the vegetable feeds. Another great Australian company is Vetafarm, that does similar products.
Enjoy, and see you soon at your Beardy’s annual health check!
Dr Rob at Vets4Pets Dernancourt Veterinary Clinic