The Truth about Vit D3 Supplementation (Panthers).

Discussion in 'Chameleon Food' started by RenVet, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. RenVet

    RenVet New Member

    I see recommendations on supplementing Panthers with Vit D3 vary quite a bit on the forums. I have seen recommendations from once a week, to once a month, with the average recommendation being dust with calcium each day, supplement with Vit D3 every 2 weeks.

    Is the need for oral Vitamin D3 supplementation overrated in Panther Chameleons?

    This is a subject that I have talked to many top reptile vets and specialists about, and there have been some studies done to prove the effectiveness of oral Vit D3 supplementation, compared to what your cham naturally absorbs by way of UV-B. And it is an interesting discussion indeed.

    The need of oral supplementation with D3 is controversial in (Panther) Chams due to their ability to regulate their (endogenous) D3 levels and absorbing what they need by way of UV-B. Multiple studies in the past decade have led us to believe that Panther chameleons have the innate ability to recognize when their (endogenous) Vit D3 levels are low, and that has a direct effect on their thermoregulation and basking behavior. I have included the link to a journal publication goes into it it a lot more detail, for those academics out there.

    How this affects you? In a nutshell, studies have proven that if your husbandry is sound, and you have a good, reliable and consistent UV-B source available, then the requirement of oral Vit D3 supplementation for your Panthers, is questionable. In my opinion, I am not quite ready to stop supplementing Vit D3 cold turkey, but the need for it is certain controversial, and if the data continues to support this hypothesis, this practice will be one that will be phased out of many programs in the future.

    Please feel free to critique and/or discuss this further. I value the opinions and knowledge of this forum highly and would love to get some feedback on what you think about this.

    Dr Ren (Vet)
  2. sdheli420

    sdheli420 Established Member

    one thing i can say is when i am using less d3 vit's(sticky toungues farms..berry flavored , my cham is addicted, lol) he will bask more in his uvb/uva basking area..when im using more he ends to bask more in the window (witch naturally blocks alot of uvb...) just a point.....:)
  3. jojackson

    jojackson New Member

    I tend to think folks concept of 'supplement' has become more akin to 'requirement', and simply accepted per say. (any lizards in general)
    Im a big believer in 'nature knows best' and I base all my husbandry, regardless of species, on less artificial, more natural. This includes UV exposure and as broad variety as possible diet wise.
    While captivity has it's pitfalls (cold foreign climates, limitations on avail food sources),
    I think that folk rely too heavily on artificial Uv and suppliments/vitamins and other products as a matter of course.
    Few folk these days suggest 'nature first' as a part of regular husbandry.
    People are afraid to use wc food for fear of parasites, pesticides etc, and seem to think natural sunlight will kill an animal, convenience for the keeper sustains a huge industry.

    While there is benefit to be had from a combination of techniques, and though lizards may thrive on a regime of powders and potions and artificial lighting, just as many dont.
    Misunderstandings about the use of such products, quite often end in disaster.
    I think its better to have a goal of sufficiency by minimal artificial needs, than simply accept their use as the norm.

    I do suppliment young with artificial uv (first 6 months) in addition to natural light, thereafter I dont bother with it, since Im in a lizard loving climate I use the sun as a priority. Likewise Calcium and D3, after the first 6 months I only use it about once in two weeks. I catch lots of food outdoors, and provide constant healthy variety of gutload
    for the commercially bred insects I do use.

    A problem with reliance on calcium powders is that I dont trust artificial UV lighting to be anywhere near as effective as natural. No amount of dusting will be useful if the animal cannot metabolise it. Personally I see D3 (in Australia anyway) as a human convenience, no more, though it may be useful in less ideal climates (winter).
    Given the vast array of such products, and likewise the variance in strength and in other ingredients, its a tough call to be sure the stuff is useful at the recommended usage levels, much less the fact that not every lizard will have the same requirements!

    I see D3 as a 'blanket' treatment, and prefer to allow my reptiles to gain as much natural Uv to metabolise of calcium etc as they need, rather than what a manufacturer tells me they need.

    Gravid, post gravid, sick, convalescing, and young animals all have different requirements, simply not taken into account by following a given regime.

    Commonsense and moderation in all things! Never just because!
  4. sdheli420

    sdheli420 Established Member

    totally agree, thus why i always take my chams outside for the natural benifit of "organic" uvb and uva...kinda like the fad of organice veggies and stuff people are raving about.."its just better for you", its true
  5. RenVet

    RenVet New Member

    Well stated JoJax. Always enjoy reading your insight. Thanks for taking the time.

    Dr Ren (Vet)

    On another note, Aussie eh? I lived in New Zealand for 7 years and just recently moved back to the US as of a few months ago. Talking about lizard loving... Although they are not phylogenically considered a 'lizard', I got the extreme pleasure of working closely with a few Tuataras during my time there. IMO, the most fascinating animals on the planet.
  6. jojackson

    jojackson New Member

    Yeah mate, true blue! :D
    Tuatara's are really fascinating creatures, I envy your having had such an experience,
    these remain sadly, beyond the reach of most civvies, damn shame, they would probably be the ultimate reptile to keep, in terms of challenge.
    You would want to be sure your kids and perhaps grandkids shared your interest, since they might well inherit them. :)
    Id love to hear more about that sometime. The extinction of tuatara after surviving for so long would truly be a sad day for humanity. Hopefully we can course correct in time
    to prevent it, undo our environmental damage and give them half a chance.
    Warming climate may well finish them off, if we dont all act.

    Henry the tuatara is a dad at 111
    laurie likes this.
  7. kinyonga

    kinyonga Chameleon Enthusiast

    While I do not disagree with stopping the usage of D3 from supplements if it can be done effectively, is there any harm being done by giving some by supplement and allowing the chameleons to produce the rest through their exposure to UVB?

    I have dusted with D3 lightly twice a month for many years with the idea of ensuring that the chameleons get some vitamin D3 and allowing them to produce the rest of it from their exposure to the UVB. I have used my method of supplementing with (vitamins, calcium and) D3 because it hasn't seemed to do any harm based on the length of the lives the chameleons (not just panthers) seem to live with me and the lack of health problems they seem to have.

    I have done the same dusting regime with coneheads, waterdragons, cordylus lizards, anoles, bearded dragons, etc....and even nocturnal geckos most of which have also lived long healthy lives with me and reproduced. With many of them, I have kept some offspring from which have also lived long lives, etc. ( 12 years and counting, same for the waterdragons, cordylus lizards, anoles, geckos...leopard gecko trio here for over l7 years and counting.)

    The issue of supplements is always of interest to me...and I hope the more we explore it the more we will learn.

    Interesting information...

    Food for thought...if a dark skinned person moves to a northern climate that person can suffer from a vitamin D deficiency...if a chameleon is kept in a northern climate, will the sun's rays be sufficient to allow it to produce enough vitamin D?
    #7 kinyonga, Mar 3, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011
  8. warpdrive

    warpdrive Avid Member

    while I agree with everyone on suplimentation of D3, I still would like members to use it at least once a month due to even NEW bulbs being defective or older bulbs not producing enough D3 at times before replacment.

  9. warpdrive

    warpdrive Avid Member

    durring the summer months, yes it's more then fine. even better then if in the lower lattitude areas.

  10. pssh

    pssh New Member

    Without a UVB meter you cannot tell how effective your UVB source is. If that's the case, if your bulb is not producing adequate UVB, then it doesn't matter how long your animal sits under it.
  11. Julirs

    Julirs New Member

    Exactly my thoughts.
  12. Dave Weldon

    Dave Weldon Avid Member

    Howdy Kara,

    (A few thoughts...)

    UVB meters (I have the Solarmeter 6.2) are great tools for positioning UVB sources as well as tracking their aging rate. It is important to start with a UVB source that produces a known safe and effective spectrum. UVB meters can't always help us make that determination, which leaves us relying on the research done by reptile keepers like Dr. Baines and her site. Her spectral analysis of UVB sources has help to uncover products that produce dangerous spectral content, some heading towards UVC (death rays) :eek:.

    The indoor UVB source that is readily available, reasonably priced, comes in a variety of lengths, has a long history of well-understood output characteristics such that it's UVB levels can be safely predicted from published data without using a UVB meter, is the Zoo Med Reptisun 5.0 linear fluorescent tube :).

    For those who are having trouble sleeping, more UVB info:

    See Ya, Dave Weldon
  13. jojackson

    jojackson New Member

    Originally Posted by pssh
    Without a UVB meter you cannot tell how effective your UVB source is. If that's the case, if your bulb is not producing adequate UVB, then it doesn't matter how long your animal sits under it.

    Exactly, the more reason for allowing the animal to suit its own needs in natural conditions (outside) wherever possible, no matter how predictable "Zoo Med Reptisun 5.0 linear fluorescent tube's" may be. keepers are not so predictable!
    Nice plug Dave! :D

    P.S Kin, really good link, Im not sure the manufacturers of artificial Uv and supplements know this!
  14. fluxlizard

    fluxlizard New Member

    This isn't exactly new information. It's pretty much what people have been doing for years here on the forums.

    A couple of studies I wish someone would do-

    1 bloodwork to determine vitamin d levels in wild panthers, and/or panthers kept outdoors and then compare that with levels indoors under uvb lighting

    2 bloodwork to determine vitamin d levels in captive panthers to figure out if d3 can be provided solely via supplementation. Ferguson did some work on this, but only on gutloading prey items and it resulted in failure. I'd like to see some work done with direct dusting of prey- I believe that would succeed.

    3 bloodwork to determine if dietary vit d levels differ for animals kept in enclosures with higher basking and background temps. I'm pretty sure from casual observation of other lizards I have raised without uvb that high basking temps are a key for maximum ability of their bodies to utilize dietary d3. I don't know anyone who has done a study like this.
  15. jojackson

    jojackson New Member

    They would be interesting! If any results from such studies have been done, Kin will find them. :)
  16. kinyonga

    kinyonga Chameleon Enthusiast

    I don't know about that jojackson...I missed posting Dave Weldon's information, didn't i?? :(
  17. fluxlizard

    fluxlizard New Member

    She is amazing! Like having a living breathing database of research! :)
  18. Texas Panther Man

    Texas Panther Man New Member

    Best thread Ive seen on here in weeks.
  19. drewtt

    drewtt New Member

    Besides this paper, and a more recent one by the same group (Karsten et al. 2009, Physiol Biochem Zool), can you link me to the other studies you mention? I have personally not seen much literature regarding this, especially in chameleons.

  20. ataraxia

    ataraxia Avid Member

    under optimal conditions of course this is true.

    the reason it is mentioned so much on the site or recommended. is because of this........ how many of us own a meter? not everyone has money or wants to spend the money on a uvb meter. with that in mind and whats already been mentioned about defective, dwindling performance, improper exposure to uvb sources. unless you can provide natural sunlight or have a meter....d3 supplement is a useful tool in a indoor enviroment.

Share This Page