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Care Plan and Ideas - Advice request

Discussion in 'General Tegu Discussion' started by aza, Jul 3, 2018.

  1. aza

    aza New Member

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    I don't have a tegu yet but I'm very interested in getting one (I'm thinking Argentine B&W), so I'm doing my research and making plans for how to take care of it. I'd love input on my info and ideas, and feel free to correct anything that may be misinformed or potentially harmful. :)

    Let's start with my plans for providing food so far:
    1. Vertebrate (some of these are meant as backups to each other, in case I can't get ahold of a particular item)
      • Reptilinks (basically whole prey ground up and sold in sausage form)
      • hare-today.com sells ground whole prey meats, and whole prey mice, rats, chicks, fish, and rabbits. (10lb order minimum, shipping costs ~$30. May require a separate freezer for pet food due to high quantity orders.)
      • Canned Starkist Alaskan Pink Salmon - Reduced Sodium variety (basically "fish puree" including the bones and fins. Packed in BPA-free cans, and the only ingredients listed are salmon and salt.)
      • Nature's Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient canned dog food - turkey, chicken, or rabbit varieties
      • Wild Calling 96% Rabbit canned dog food
      • Quail eggs (there's a local farm where I can buy 100 unfertilized Coturnix eggs for $25. not sure how long they keep, though.)
    2. Invertebrate
      • Repashy Grub Pie
      • Repashy Bluey Buffet
      • Other Repashy and Pangea products
      • Mazuri Insectivore Diet, softened with water?
      • Live Dubia roaches, butterworms, and Black soldier fly larvae
      • Live snails (they breed quite fast and I'm part of some keeper groups online so I can get live babies fairly often, or potentially start a feeder colony of my own.)
      • Live earthworms (I saw on one of the food lists that red wrigglers aren't safe for some reason? Is there a species that would be safe?)
    3. Supplements (not all of these will be given on a regular basis)
      • Beef liver & Cod liver oil (lots of vitamins, cod liver oil helps to process the beef liver. not to be given frequently due to high risk of overdose on vit. D.)
      • Rep-Cal Herptivite
      • Powdered calcium without D3 (UVB will be provided. I read that the overdose of dietary vitamin D can make them sick)
      • Liquid calcium (for emergencies)
      • Repta Boost
      • Hill's Science Diet Restorative a/d canned dog food (for emergencies)
      • Oxbow Carnivore Care (for emergencies)
      • Oxbow Herbivore Care (for emergencies)
      • Electrolyte powder (they make it for reptiles if you know where to look. For emergencies)
      • Canned pumpkin puree (only organic, no-sugar-added varieties. Works as a laxative.)
    4. Plant life
      • Seasonal community share boxes from local farms (you pay a fee or help on the farm and they give you a big box of assorted fruits and veggies. whatever the lizard won't eat would be used by the humans.)
      • Other goodies from my local produce market
      • I can buy large quantities of seasonal fruits and veggies, and make home-canned purees etc so the lizard can enjoy them all year
      • Home-grown stuff like tomatoes, Bell peppers, etc
      • I've saved several different charts of foods they can eat (including the lists from here!) for when I'm shopping for the lizard. Maybe 2-3 different fruits, 2-3 different veggies per meal, and rotate through the list changing one or two at a time?
      • Some places say not to feed tegus lettuce at all. I know iceberg and such is basically just water and therefore nearly useless in their diet, but what about dark leafy greens? Kale, Romaine, turnip greens, collard greens, beet greens etc?
    5. Proportions
      • I read the ratio for Adults is something like: 30-66% plants (mostly fruit), 15-40% invertebrates, 20-28% vertebrates
      • babies will eat little to no plant life and mostly invertebrate protein, while adults will eat more plants and vertebrates.
      • What I can't find reliable information on, is meal-to-meal proportions--
      • How much do they eat per meal? Adult vs. baby? I know it can vary obviously, I'm just looking for a rough idea of what to expect, so I can figure out how to budget the ongoing cost of the food. :)
      • How do you proportion things to give them the appropriate nutritional ratios? How sensitive to error are they?

    I still have lots more I'm looking for advice from more experienced keepers on, but this is a lot on its own so I'll start here and post more in this thread later. And if you see anything that seems incorrect or potentially harmful, feel free to point it out, please and thank you! ;)
    TIAisMKM likes this.
  2. Zyn

    Zyn Active Member

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    Looks complicated lol
  3. aza

    aza New Member

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    I'm just trying to make sure that I get plenty of variety in there so the lizard will properly thrive. For vertebrate protein I'll probably focus on reptilinks or the products from hare-today depending on availability and such. The others are mostly just for backups and variety.

    For invertebrate protein, I don't always have access to live insects due to where I live. The market for reptile supplies in my city is pretty small and our summers are hot enough to zap any online orders; so products I can order online and not have to worry about whether they'll come in alive or not are really important.
  4. dpjm

    dpjm Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Aza, overall it looks like you have done a pretty good amount of research into the diet. Here's some points:

    Skip the Mazuri insectivore and all Mazuri products. They are nutritionally balanced for the most part but are made with cheap ingredients (poultry by-product, soybean meal, wheat, etc. etc.) You can do a lot better and from most of the other items on your list, it looks like you intend to

    With all food, know how much calcium and phosphorus is in it. For each day, actually add up how much calcium and phosphorus the tegu has gotten from all food sources and make sure that the ratio is at least 1.5:1. If it is low in calcium then use a calcium supplement. You can also calculate how much supplement to use as well based on how much short in calcium it was. When you do this part, keep in mind that calcium carbonate, which most supplements are, is only 40% calcium, the other 60% is the carbonate portion. All other vitamins/minerals should be in check if you use a good varied diet and a multivitamin/mineral supplement. Protein should probably be 20-25% on a dry matter basis, can be higher for hatchlings and subadults.

    For supplements, I would only buy the first three on your list, the others I would buy as needed but you should not need them if all goes well.

    Good luck with any leafy greens. I was able to get steamed kale and dandelions into my tegu but it took some training. They are not generally well accepted. Most people try to hide it in other foods. It's probably not essential but worth a shot. I would stay away from spinach, chard, and beet greens, and limit collard greens because of high oxalates. Kale and bok choy are good but should be cooked a bit. Dandelions are good and don't need to be steamed.

    I would avoid red wigglers just to be safe but most other earthworms should be ok, especially if you raise them yourself.
    aza and Guman like this.
  5. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I applaud your due diligence. Dandelions are very good. Of them all, that would be my go-to for hiding in food.
    Ginny Mastandrea and Guman like this.
  6. Guman

    Guman Active Member

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    Stay away from tomatoes and cirrus unless looking for another laxative. Any veg. That has lettuce in the name should not be feed.

    The green iguana society has a nice list for vegetarian needs and it breaks down the ca+ to phosphorus ratio.
    aza likes this.
  7. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    My pre-tegu lizard life was green iggies since early 90s. The Green Iguana Society provides a lot of helpful information.
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  8. aza

    aza New Member

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    Thank you everyone for your help!

    @dpjm -

    Thank you for the tip about Mazuri being made with cheap ingredients. I'm definitely trying to do better than that! And I will definitely file away the other information for future reference.

    @Walter1 - Thank you! I definitely want my tegu to be happy and healthy and thriving.

    @Guman - Those are great tips too! I didn't even think about references for iguanas also working for tegus.



    On a slightly related note, does anyone have any tips on looking for reptile vets? The closest one I can find so far is about four hours away, but I live close enough to several moderately large cities that I feel like there's got to be someone closer than that.
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  9. grapebasil

    grapebasil Member

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    You might try googling exotic vets rather than reptile? Additionally, if you’re comfortable disclosing your location someone in the recommendations forum might know of a good vet that is not necessarily listed as ‘reptile.’ If there is a veterinary school nearby, you might check there and ask about a reptile vet.
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  10. EnjoysWine

    EnjoysWine Member

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    Add up the calcium and phosphorus the Tegu has gotten . . . I'm interested is this, but it sounds difficult. How would one go about doing this?. Is there a chart available somewhere?
  11. dpjm

    dpjm Active Member 5 Year Member

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    It is a bit difficult at first, but it is kind of fun and you get the feeling that you are at least not completely guessing when it comes to the calcium supplement. It requires you to use charts and to weigh out the food that you feed out. If you don't like math then you might not like it. Let me know if you want to know more.
  12. EnjoysWine

    EnjoysWine Member

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    I like to be precise, so yes please continue. I actually have a very accurate scale that I use for measuring additives for wine making, so I feel like that would come in handy.
  13. dpjm

    dpjm Active Member 5 Year Member

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    I would start by making your own chart so that you don't always have to go between different online charts. Since you are just figuring out how much calcium to add to food, the chart only needs to have calcium and phosphorus.
    The chart would look like this, except with whichever food items your tegu eats, you have to fill in the calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) amounts from information online:

    Food Item (100g fresh) / Ca (g) / P (g)
    rat
    cockroach
    strawberry
    egg

    Sorry, the chart doesn't show up so nicely but there should be three columns.

    I get most of my "human" food info from http://nutritiondata.self.com/. Make sure you always set the serving size to 100g when using this site.

    Rats and other vertebrates is here: https://www.rodentpro.com/qpage_articles_03.asp. All the values on this chart are on a dry matter basis, so you have to convert the values to "as fed" weight.
    This is an easy equation: % nutrient (as fed) = % nutrient (dry matter) x % dry matter/100
    For example, here is how you would do calcium levels for a rat, using the numbers on the chart I linked you to:
    % Ca (as fed) = 2.62 x 33.9/100 = 0.89
    Keep in mind that for your chart, the percentage is the same as the amount of grams since you are basing it on 100 g of food. So you would enter 0.89 g on your chart for rat Ca. Then do the same for P.

    You can do one for insects to, there is data on those, but it's almost not worth it because the nutrient levels vary so much according to what happens to be in the insect's gut. They have a huge gut that holds a lot of food and that food also contributes to their overall nutrient levels. For these charts you don't really know what the tested insects were fed so the data is not necessarily representative of the insects that you have. I don't include insect calcium or phosphorus levels in any of my calculations because of this. It is important to realize that all insects have a severely inappropriate calcium phosphorus level unless they are fed a SUPER high calcium diet. So I just dust my insects very well but don't count the calcium or phosphorus in them. I just assume they are at least neutral.

    Let me know if you want to know more.
  14. grapebasil

    grapebasil Member

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    I thought dubias were supposedly at a good phosphorous/calcium ratio?
  15. dpjm

    dpjm Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Nope, not without a bunch of supplement or a super high Ca gutloading diet a few days prior to feeding.
  16. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Common oversight.
  17. EnjoysWine

    EnjoysWine Member

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    Ok, so far that makes sense. I'll try to put a chart together over the next few days. I guess the next step would be to weigh out the food you are feeding, then add up the calcium and phosphorus, determine the mass of the calcium deficiency for the proper ratio, then you know how much to add.
  18. Zyn

    Zyn Active Member

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    Dubia not high on the bone count ;p

    I just go with my gut... this rat has bones, so just a dab of the old calc powder blamo down Sevs gullet happy Tegu.
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  19. dpjm

    dpjm Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Bingo. Add up the calcium (Ca), add up the phosphorus (P). Take the phosphorus amount times 2 (or whatever ratio of calcium to phosphorus that you want), then subtract the calcium amount. That is how much calcium to add.

    Or in other words: 2P - Ca = required Ca

    But, you have to remember that you do not have pure calcium, you have calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is only 40 % calcium by weight so you have to take the required calcium amount and times it by 2.5.

    So the full equation is: (2P - Ca) × 2.5 = required CaCO3
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