Chemical Analysis of Six Commercial Adult Iguana, Iguana iguana, Diet
Charles A. Hurty (1), Duarte E. Diaz MS (2), Jennifer L. Campbell MS (2), Greg A. Lewbart MS, VMS, DACZM (1)
KEY Words: green iguana, Iguana iguana, nutrition, diet, reptile, husbandry, feeds
Concomitant with the expanding popularity of reptile keeping, pet food companies have sought to meet the growing demands of reptilian pet owners. Designer reptile diets claiming to offer balanced, complete nutrition have been introduced to the market. It may he premature for these companies to make such claims since standardized nutrient requirements that would define a complete and balanced diet have neither been established nor recognized (Donoghue, 1995, 1998). Without the scrutiny of a regulatory agency to monitor feed composition and advertising claims, some of the diets being produced and marketed for the reptile pet may not be nutritionally complete (Donoghue, 1995, 1998. 1999, Donoghue and Langenberg, 1996). While formulated diets can greatly benefit owners and their pets by providing necessary nutrients to an intended species, they may also threaten the health status of the animal if certain nutrients are not included or are present in improper amounts (Lawton, 1996, Allen and Oftedal, 2001). During our initial investigation of iguana products, we identified more than 25 diets labeled specifically for adult iguanas.
We selected six adult iguana diets from pet stores in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, analyzed their contents, and compared our data to the product labels and to various suggested nutrient recommendations for iguanas. Our primary concern is the investigation of quality control of various diets marketed for adult iguanas. We are neither making an attempt to outline suggestions for formulating diets, nor making judgments about the nutritional soundness of these diets.
Table 1. Dry matter nutrient composition of dry formulation commercial adult green iguana diets. Endorsement of the diets by the authors should not be implied.
The mineral concentrations of the six dry commercial adult iguana diets are presented in Table 2. Only one company (Fluker Farms) listed information concerning mineral content of the iguana diet. Copper content of the Fluker Farms diet was consistent with the packaging label. The information in Table 2 will be considered in the discussion.
a. KT Adult iguana, Fortified Daily Diet, Kaytee Products, Inc., Chilton, WI 53014.
b. All Natural Adult Iguana Food, Zoo Med Laboratories. Inc., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.
c. Reed's Iguana Food, Tetra/Terrafauna, TetraSales USA, Blacksburg, VA 24060.
d. Adult Iguana Food, Maintenance Formula, RepCal Research Labs, Los Gatos, CA 95031.
e. Fluker's Fruit Formula Iguana Diet, Fluker Farms/Laboratories, Port Allen, LA 70767.
f. T-Rex Iguana Dry Formula, Adult Fruit & Flower Formula, T-Rex Products, Inc., Chula Vista, CA 91911.
g. Recommendations from Allen and Oftedal. 2001.
h-i. Recommendations from Donoghue and Langenberg, 1996
N/A = no available recommendation.
These recommendations should not necessarily be utilized to formulate diets, but do provide references for comparison. These ranges include recommendations for growing green iguanas.
The Zoo Med feed contained 27.15% .DM crude protein, which is a level of dietary protein that is recommended for growing, juvenile iguanas. Such a diet may be inappropriate for adult iguanas, which do not require such high levels of protein. More may not necessarily be better.
Table 2. Since the calcium-phosphorus ratio (Ca:P) has been linked to the development of metabolic bone disease in iguanas, it is one of the nutritional parameters that has been repeatedly investigated and explored (Scott, 1992, Burgmann, et al, 1993, Donoghue, 1995. 1998, Frye, 1995). Recommended Ca:P ratios range from 1:1 to 3:1 (Frye, 1995, Donoghue and Langenberg, 1996, Donoghue, 1999a, Allen and Oftedal, 2001).
Table 3 offers the Ca:P ratios of the six dry iguana diets that were analyzed. It is also important to consider the actual amounts (% DM) of calcium and phosphorus in the diet. While the ratio may fall within suggested guidelines present in the literature, amounts actually present in the diet may fall short of the published recommendations (see Table 2).
Further investigation of the more than 25 adult iguana diets should include an analysis of vitamin content. Since reports of failure to thrive among captive iguanas are frequently attributed to hypovitaminoses and hypervitaminoses, it would be prudent to determine the vitamin levels present in adult iguana foods (Cooper, 1990, Scott, 1992, Burgmann, et al, 1993, Baer, 1994, Donoghue and Dzanis, 1995, Frye. 1995, Lawton, 1996, Donoghue, 1998, 1999a). Furthermore, actual feeding trials designed to determine the nutrient requirements of iguanas are required before completeness and balance of reptile diets can be determined.
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