Calcium Oxalate Content of Selected Iguana Foods
Compiled by Melissa Kaplan
Foods are selected for feeding for one or more reasons: calcium content is an important one, but so too is the protein content and the other vitamins and minerals. The trick is finding the best possible combinations and eliminating nutritionally empty foods (such as the lettuces and sprouts) and reducing the foods that contain potentially harmful compounds such as calcium oxalates.
Don't feed just one type of green or vegetable. Feed combinations of them, saving the borderline ones for occasional treats. If you feed collards greens as one of your primary greens, be sure to alternate them with other greens such as mustards and escarole. Use squash more often than carrots; this will reduce the calcium oxalates in the diet already coming from the leafy greens. If your iguana is still very small, rotate the problematic foods each batch you make. For example, this week, use collards, but next week, buy escarole. Once your iguana is big enough to be eating several bundles of greens a week (yes, it will come to that!), then you can buy two or more varieties each time.
I receive a lot of inquiries about the source of the above data from people researching oxalates and their effects on other animals, etc. The above oxalate data came from a Canadian botanist-turned-computer-science PhD candidate who realized she'd better be able to make a living doing compsci than her first love and continued avocation: botany. She obtained the oxalate data in the early 1990s from the U.S.D.A. In recent years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has built up a respectable website through which lots of data is accessible or can be ordered, though you will still not find oxalates, goitrogens or other problem plant chemicals in any overall listing of nutritional data for individual foods. The USDA does have a stand-alone list of Oxalic Acid Content of Selected Vegetables (e.g., it is not a comprehensive listing of all foods with oxalates).
There are some other sites that list such plant chemicals, such as the Phytochemical & Ethnobotanical Database, and oxalate disease-related sites with information resources, such as the Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation in which you can find information or sources of information you can order.
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