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Supplements and Vitamins

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Though we cannot completely understand what constitutes a healthy and balanced diet, we do know to place emphasis on certain vitamins and elements. Even with a well-varied diet, we may not always provide all the nutritional content that is necessary. However, we can improve those diets with the additional supplementation of minerals and vitamins. These supplements are easily available though various sources and is an inexpensive way to fortify your turtles diet. Please use supplements carefully and within the manufacturer’s guidelines. Limit their usage in healthy animals and consult your veterinarian if you need to use these to supplement a deficient diet. Any excessive element may be toxic and life threatening. Carefully check what is in the supplements you are offering your turtle and make sure the phosphorus content is very low or zero.

Calcium is rightfully the most frequently recommended supplement to add to a turtle diet. Both turtles and tortoises require calcium for proper bone and shell development. The amount of calcium required in the diet should be greater than the phosphorus content and is normally cited between a Ca:P (calcium to phosphorus) ratio of 1.5:1 and 2.5:1 as good. Egg bearing females, young turtles and those recovering from shell-related injuries should receive additional calcium. It is also important to note that excessive amounts of calcium can be harmful. The kidneys maintain the body’s calcium level and remove any excess, though may not be able to process disproportionate amounts.

Here are some suggestions for additional calcium and vitamin supplementation:
Cuttlebone (Calcium)* – A favorite option used by aquatic turtle keepers. It is inexpensive, easy to find and normally floats. Remove the hard backing and offer your turtle small bite-sized pieces to chew. These are normally found in the bird/avian sections of pet stores. Click here for cuttlebone preparation.
Rep-Cal Calcium* - A phosphorus-free powder to dust pellets, vegetables and feeder prey. Contains no Vitamin D3 supplement, which would not be necessary for turtles with adequate UVB/sun exposure.
Rep-Cal Calcium with Vitamin D3 – A phosphorus-free powder to coat pellets, vegetables and feeder prey. This contains Vitamin D3 for which many indoor turtles without sufficient UVB are deficient. Do not use if your turtle has adequate UVB/sun exposure.
Rep-Cal Herptivite Multivitamin (Vitamin A, Amino Acids) – A beta-carotene supplement that allows for a turtle to naturally convert this into Vitamin A.
Tetra Fauna ReptoCal (Calcium, Vitamin D3) – A powdered calcium and Vitamin D3 supplement containing trace amounts of phosphorus. Do not use with RES kept outdoors.
Zoo Med’s Reptivite Reptile Vitamins (Calcium, Amino Acids) – Another powdered supplement, this contains a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1.
Cod Liver Oil (Vitamin A) – A soft-gel supplement found in supermarkets, pharmacies and health food stores. This oil (and most other fish oils) include a very strong concentration of Vitamin A. It is unnecessary for healthy turtles or those without a Vitamin A deficiency to use this.
*Highly recommended
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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.