Supplements !

Vitamins facilitate metabolic activity and growth. Minerals are the building blocks for bone and muscle. A balance is required for health.

Vitamins and minerals are best supplied through diversity in food groups. But few of us can supply all the different types of insects available to a chameleon in its natural habitat. And most of the insects one can buy have a poor phosphorous to calcium ratio. So, LIGHTLY coating low calcium feeder insects with supplements, especially a calcium supplement, can be of value during the life of your pet. This is especially true while your chameleon is growing rapidly during its first year of life and for ovulating females.

Still, supplementation can be a controversial topic. Keepers and breeders have had success (and failures) with different brands, different amounts, and different regimes. Currently the consensus leans toward proper gutloading of prey insects, exposure to outdoor sunlight when possible, and controlled use of vitamin and mineral supplements. Supplement use should be supplemental to a good diet, not automatically and unthinkingly provided. More is not usually better. Some prey types should not be dusted at all. Calcium, Magnesium, Phos., D3 and vitamin A are important players in bone health and other systems and need to be in balance.

There is no single schedule that fits all situations. What I do, what works well for me, what anyone else says, may not be the best choice for you and your chameleon. The needs of males vs females, young vs old, and between species vary. Montaine species (Jackson's included) are believed to be extra-sensitive to supplementation; they require less supplementation than say panthers or veileds. Those that get access to sunlight need very little D3 in their diet, if any. Those with excellent gutloading and a variety of prey insects may need less supplementation dusted on prey than others. Breeding females and growing young have different needs than old males.

Also, the brand of supplement makes a difference. Rep-Cal has 400,000 IU/kg of D3 whereas Miner-All (I) has 4,400 IU/kg of D3 and I think 150IU D3 in Nutribol (which also has Vit A so be cautious) and Repashy Calcium Plus has 20,000 IU/lb of D3 (and also has preformed Vit A). That's a considerable difference in D3 strength amongst products!

Herptivite uses beta carotene, so is very safe in that it provides prOformed vitmain A (carotene) which does NOT build up in the system like preformed vitamin A can - but of course it doesnt provide retinol /preformed vit A if that's what you need. Reptivite and Repashy have preformed vitamin A and thus should be used cautiously (especially if you are supplementing with preformed A in other ways) with this in mind. Some retinol may be very beneficial, too much may be very detrimental - and no one can tell you exactly how much is the right amount for your chameleon.

Only you can decide what works for your situation, for your chameleons situation.

Factors to consider are:

  • What brand of supplements are you using?
  • How often is your chameleon outside, having access to natural sunlight?
  • What types of insects/feeders do you use?
  • What do you gutload with?
  • What type of UVB lighting do you use?
  • What temperature range does the chameleon have access to?
  • What is the Age, Gendre and type (species) of chameleon ?
Pay considerable attention to gutloading and providing correct UVB lighting so that vitamin/mineral supplementation isnt as big of an issue, rather something you do regularly but not every insect at every meal. Provide as many different types of bugs as possible too.

Note: If left free-roaming in the cage, a supplement-coated insect eaten 4 hours later will have lost most of the supplement with which you had dusted it.

Links to Info on Supplementation

Calcium leads the bone-building team with membership that also includes Vitamins D, K and A, Magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and more. Calcium is also important for muscle function.

D3 along with calcium, magnesium etc. is necessary for formation of bones, but too much can build up in the system and cause damage (Excess actually causes ABSORPTION of bone and mineralization of organs). Rep-Cal has 400,000 IU/kg of D3 whereas Miner-All (I) has 4,400 IU/kg of D3 -a considerable difference. Vitamin A also figures into this because A and D3 are antagonistic to each other.

Vitamin A
Excess preformed vitamin A can prevent the D3 from doing its job, and cause other issues. Inadequate amounts of A can result in calcium absorption issues, eye sight issues, etc. Pre-formed Vitamin A can be over-dosed with; its a fine line between helpful and toxic. Using a vitamin powder with a beta carotene (prOformed vitamin A) source of vitamin A is safe, in that beta carotene won't build up in the system like prEformed sources can. However, there is controversy about whether all/any chameleons can convert beta carotene into vitamin A, and its not known which insects do this either many feel strongly that it is important to provide preformed A. Caution is warranted. I would suggest providing pre-formed vitamin A (retinol/acetate) in a very limited, controlled way. Vets can provide an oral solution based on weight, or use a supplement product containing it on occassion (reptivite, nutribol, repashy) or cautiously provide via bug gutload. (I dont recommend oils)

Helps with muscle and nerve function, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. It teams up with B6, D and K, Calcium etc. Magnesium is found in in whole grains, nuts, green leafy vegetables, kelp, etc.

Vitamin K
is required for bone mineralization and blood clotting.

Vitamin B sources
important for muscles and energy

Iodine is essential, yet too much can also be toxic

Info on feeder nutrition:

What's in different brands of supplements:

What I do
I pay great attention to gutloading well, and providing a wide variety of insects. Mine is not a set unthinking daily routine schedule. Rather, I adjust what supplementation I use based on type of feeder and what I gutloaded with.
that said, My panther chameleons essentially do not go outside. Therefore I add D3 (for over a decade, I used rep-cal brand with great success, but more recently using other products) to their diet by LIGHTLY dusting feeders approximately twice a month, even though I do have UVB bulbs (either reptiGlo or ReptiSun 5.0, NOT passing through a screen) which are changed regularily. I use a vitamin supplement (for over a decade, I used Herptivite without preformed vitamin a) roughly once every other week, usually opposite weeks from the calcium with D3. I use a plain calcium (rep-cal or sticky tongues mineral -o no phos, no D3) powder lightly dusted on most crickets, most mealworms (which I dont offer often), sometimes superworms, and occassionally silkworms. I almost never dust stick insects, moths, roaches, butterworms, cabbage loppers, isopods, etc.

Although the above system worked perfectly for years and years, resulting in healthy long lived chameleons, in April 2011 I added a little TRex super food dust (contains vitamin A acetate, plus a bunch of good stuff) to my cricket feed. The plan was to give my crickets or roaches a tiny bit of preformed vitamin A as part of the gutload once every two or three months. See comments below for evolution of this idea into a Repashy experiment
As of January 2012, I plan to use Repashy Calcium Plus about 3 times a month, reducing the use of all other vitamin products accordingly.
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Effective April 2011, after more than a decade of NOT providing preformed vitamin A, I have decided to add a wee tiny amount via my cricket gutload. I have just begun adding a little TRex Uromastyx super food dust (which contains vitamin A acetate, plus a bunch of good stuff) to my cricket feed. The plan is to give the crickets about a half of a teaspoon of this stuff mixed in with gutload once every two or 3 months. Its a negligable amount true, but given that I kept multiple generations of long-lived and healthy chameleons entirely without pre-formed vitamin A for well over a decase, I dont think much (if any) is really required. Adding this very small amount is certain to do no harm, and may possibly provide a small benefit.
sandrachameleon;bt788 said:
Effective April 2011, after more than a decade of NOT providing preformed vitamin A, I have decided to add a wee tiny amount via my cricket gutload.

I put a teaspoon of the TRex preformed vitamin A containing material in with gutloading materials in April. I havent done so since, but come August I think I will do so again - although this time it wont be with the TRex stuff (I had just got a teaspoon of it from a friend to try). Instead, I might get a half-handful of rabbit pellets from the bulk bins at a local animal supply warehouse. These are made mostly Timothy and Alfalfa, but with some additives including Retinol. Probably will cost only a few cents. Im sure both crickets and roaches would eat the pellets, especially if I smash /grind them first. And the amount of actual preformed vitamin A in them would be low, so no fear of toxicity.
going to keep all but one of my chameleons on the NO preformed vitamin A diet, and introduce a small amount vitamin A intro the diet (Repashy Calcium Plus) of just one chameleon, periodically. I have two brothers from the same clutch, housed side by side, same lights, same everything except the addition of a small amount of preformed vitamin A to the diet of one of them. I am curious to see if I can notice any difference between them, in terms of health, 6 months to a year from now.
Repashy experiment ended after only 2 months because I sold the chameleon that was the subject animal. Nevertheless, starting January 2012 I am confident in using Repashy Calcium Plus about 3 times a month, reducing the use of other vitamin products accordingly. I will not be using bug burger much, as I have found my own gutload mix / techniques to be better for me (especially as the crickets don't seem to like bugburger). But it's useful to have around for "just in case"

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