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#389257 - 09/29/07 04:57 PM Big concern with calcium supplementation
7glider7
Unregistered


This post might end up causing some controversy, but it's info I thought needed to be shared.

Since moving to WA our new glider vet is Dr. Cathy Johnson-Delaney. She specializes in exotics, and has tons of experience with gliders, as she spent time studying gliders over in Australia with people who have studied them for years. She is considered an expert in exotics and is a wealth of knowledge, and I trust her judgement.

With that said, bringing Zeus into see her last week was quite an educational experience. I learned some things from her that concerned me greatly that I wanted to share with you. She had some major concerns about their diet that is leading me to change their diet, and I wanted to share her concerns.

I previously fed all my gliders BML till about a month ago, where I switched them to the GliderNest diet, which is somewhat similar to the BML except that it uses more natural ingredients such as acacia gum and euc pollen, and real chicken instead of the chicken baby food. Here were her main concerns:

1) I use the Rep-Cal supplements that most of us use when making up the BML mix to make sure the gliders get enough calcium. She reported that a major study of most of these pet store supplements found that most of them do not contain the reported amount of Ca to P and might actually be dangerously high in phosphorus.

She also reported that sometimes they are imported, possibly from China, and may contain traces of other elements, such as lead. The ONLY supplement the study tested that actually contained the minerals it claimed was a brand called T-Rex.

As you can imagine, this majorly eeked me out. Her office recommends using human-grade calcium (calcium carbonate or gluconate) as a supplement. Since it is human grade, it is subject to more regulations and is more guaranteed to have the right amount of Ca and shouldn't be tainted with other possibly dangerous stuff.

I know I have stumbled across posts time to time where people found their gliders had low calcium, but they were using a proven diet. Perhaps if the supplements we are using don't necessarily contain as much Ca as we think, this might explain how this could happen.

2) She also felt that I should have their temperature much higher. She disagrees with gliders being kept at temps around 70-75 degrees because the regions where they are from in Australia, 70 degrees would be about the coldest it gets at night, and much of the time, the temps would be MUCH higher. Daytime temp should be between 85 and 90 degrees F, and night time should not drop below 68 and 66 degrees F. Keeping them at a lower temp than what they are accustomed to forces them to use more energy to keep warm as they are outside their normal metabolic functioning range. This causes them to be in a "negative calorie zone" and also might leave them more susceptible to illness.

2) She was very concerned about the amount of fruits in the diet I am feeding (which is similar to BML with a tbs of protein/vitamin stuff, 1 tbs of veggies, 1 tbs of fruit). Based on her research and findings, she feels that many of our diets here are very high in sugar compared to what gliders would be eating in the wild, where fruits and sugars are hard to find for much of the dry season and the gliders mainly eat insects instead. Per her recommendations, I will be switching them to a diet that has more protein and less sugar.

While sugar is something that they LIKE, it's not that big of a part of their natural diet on a regular basis for much of the year. We found out that Zeus actually has cataracts, most likely either from a) poor breeding, or b) a diet high in sugar and too low in Vitamin A before we got him. His vision is still OK, but he has a hard time seeing and pouncing on bugs.

The diet that she endorses is similar to one that is listed under the diet links on this page, but it has been updated. I'm not sure how, I will see if I can post it.

One of the things she said that struck me the most was that many people in America say, "We just don't know enough about their dietary needs, etc." I have often found myself saying this. Her point was, "Yes, we DO know about their dietary needs, because people in Australia have been studying them for years longer than we have, and we should be using their studies and information." After meeting with her I am going to be getting some of the articles she mentioned by Ian Hume, who has apparently done a lot on the metabolic needs of marsupials, and I can post any new info I come across, although it will probably be a while before I can find and read his books.

Again, I know diet will always be controversial, but the Rep Cal and the temperature thing really concerned me and I thought everyone should know.

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#389264 - 09/29/07 05:19 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
blockamon Offline
Glider Lover

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 563
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Dr. J-D is one of the best glider vets out there, so I'd definitely consider her opinion carefully.

1) Did she give you a reference for the supplement testing, and did she mention Rep-Cal specifically? I only ask because Rep-Cal is supposedly made from osyter shells (same source as human grade). The shells themselves should have very low phosphorous, since phosphorous inhibits calcification in marine organisms. So, if it tests positive for phosphorous, it's from a contamination source.

2) Can you please e-mail me the diet she recommended? blockamon@jetbroadband.com . I agree with her that we probably feed more fruit than is ideal. I have seen her previously-posted diet, but I'd like to get the update.

You're lucky to have such a knowledgeable vet close to you.

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#389271 - 09/29/07 05:36 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
Marz Offline
Glider Guardian

Registered: 09/06/05
Posts: 708
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Hi Jen

There are big concerns with any product made in China. Their quality control is way lower than in say USA or Australia and that is for human grade products let alone for pets. I have already warned about chinese made bee pollen which is often sold repackaged to appear to be a local product.

Whilst I wont comment on a lot of your post(I'm sure you will get a lot of interesting reponses) smile I do agree about feeding Repcal to gliders. My vet has worked at zoos and sanctuaries and specialises in nutrition for exotics,native Australian wildlife AND reptiles. She advised not to use reptile vitamins for native mammals.

The other thing I would like to comment on is the temperature issue. Now your vet is only partly right in regards to the lowest temperature gliders experience here in Australia. Possibly when she visited, she stayed in Northern Australia in the more tropical regions. However, gliders are widespread throughout the East Coast of Australia from the tropics to alpine regions! Gliders are very adaptable to weather conditions providing they are acclimatised.

As most people know, I have a huge outside aviary and the temperatures here can be as low as 30 to as high as 115 depending on the season. My aviary has a roof and three covered/partly sides which helps protect from the elements etc and naturally in both those extremes, extra care must be taken to make sure the gliders are comfortable at all times but you would be hard pressed to come across a more well adjusted, healthy colony of gliders.

Cheers Marz

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#389272 - 09/29/07 05:37 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: blockamon]
7glider7
Unregistered


She did mention the Rep-Cal specifically as a problem when she saw it. I don't have the study itself, I am taking her word for it, and I do want to read the study at a later date. At that point she was doing such a thorough job checking Zeus's cataracts that my appointment had run over by about 30 minutes so I didn't have time to ask about the authors...I will be looking it up though.

I am bummed because the diet I have is a hard copy and I can't find one online...Can someone please let me know how to add a diet link to the diet page and I will type it out?

I will get working on typing it up.


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#389274 - 09/29/07 05:44 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
7glider7
Unregistered


Marz, I am glad to see what you have about the acclimatization (I may have just made that word up...sorry). I always appreciate it when you can add your experience, which I think is so valuable since you are in Australia and have much more experience than we can with their native habitat smile

One other interesting thing she added was that based on her research, she feels that the glider population we have here was mostly shipped not from Indonesia but out of Australia, specifically through Jacarta (spelling?) I guess she had quite a bit of experience learning about the politics of who shipped them and where they came from, which is a whole different interesting post I could make...

...anyways, her temp recommendations were based on the fact that 1) she feels that the gliders in the US came primarily from one area of Australia, and 2) based on the temps in that area, that is why she is recommending the temps to me that she is.

So, you are indeed correct that other gliders from other areas may tolerate/be accustomed to a different range...but according to her feelings, based on what region in Australia the US gliders came from, this is the range we should aim for.

I think you have an excellent point that based on your experiences, they are adapatable and can tolerate a much larger range...still, I guess I while I know that mine may be able to TOLERATE lower temperatures, I'd rather keep mine closer to what they are "more comfortable" with.

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#389281 - 09/29/07 06:06 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
Marz Offline
Glider Guardian

Registered: 09/06/05
Posts: 708
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Originally Posted By: 7glider7

One other interesting thing she added was that based on her research, she feels that the glider population we have here was mostly shipped not from Indonesia but out of Australia, specifically through Jacarta (spelling?) I guess she had quite a bit of experience learning about the politics of who shipped them and where they came from, which is a whole different interesting post I could make...


Shipping from Djarkta would be highly likely but I'm still tending to believe the majority of US gliders are from Papua New Guinea and the attached Indonesian region. Indonesia is made of many thousands of islands as well and many people don't realize that wild gliders only inhabit a small part of it. However, as Indonesia does not have a strong background for customs control, it has always popular to ship legal and illegal animals through there.


My reasoning comes two fold.
1) The gliders in Australia look different to the majority of the US gliders. The US gliders have the distinct look of the New Guinea/Indonesian Gliders which by the way do endure high temperatures as your vet says...it is much more tropical there than Australia.

2) Regulations in place have stopped all but strictly monitored zoo trade of any native wildlife out of Australia. The current laws have been in effect since 1982.
No doubt some Australian sugar gliders have made their way over there but not the numbers that would make it viable without some serious inbreeding in the US population.

Originally Posted By: 7glider7

...anyways, her temp recommendations were based on the fact that 1) she feels that the gliders in the US came primarily from one area of Australia, and 2) based on the temps in that area, that is why she is recommending the temps to me that she is.

So, you are indeed correct that other gliders from other areas may tolerate/be accustomed to a different range...but according to her feelings, based on what region in Australia the US gliders came from, this is the range we should aim for.
I think you have an excellent point that based on your experiences, they are adapatable and can tolerate a much larger range...still, I guess I while I know that mine may be able to TOLERATE lower temperatures, I'd rather keep mine closer to what they are "more comfortable" with.


If you have your gliders indoors, there would be no way you would subject them to extreme low or high temperatures for sure. I have three gliders indoors and they are spoilt with a log fire in Winter and air conditioned comfort in Summer.

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#389308 - 09/29/07 07:20 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: Marz]
7glider7
Unregistered


That is what I had always heard about where the gliders came from as well.

The information she had (and again, I have no way of knowing this and I'm just repeating what she told me) was the gliders got around the regulations because they were exported by natives for profit. She described it to me as a similar situation with how in America, certain native American tribes can hunt seals or whales while others cannot, and certain regulations pertaining to wildlife are less restrictive for them due to their native culture and traditions. From what she said she learned while she was in Australia, some native populations (she was not specific about who/where) were using this loophole to export the gliders from Australia through Djkarta for profit. She said that these loopholes have since tightened, hence why we no longer see gliders coming from Australia. I didn't think to ask her when the "tightening" took place.

Most likely you and Dr. J are BOTH right, it's likely they got here through multiple routes. Again, I have no way of knowing personally, I am just saying what she said.

One piece of evidence she pointed out to me I did find rather convincing (although perhaps not the most scientific)...to the best of my knowledge, eucalyptus is indigenous to Australia only. Why are our captive glider so obsessed/have such a strong behavioral reaction when offered euc, moreso than the other plants I offer them, if they are from Indonesia? Their behavior, to me, suggests this plant is a natural part of their niche.

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#389353 - 09/29/07 08:44 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
Marz Offline
Glider Guardian

Registered: 09/06/05
Posts: 708
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Originally Posted By: 7glider7
The information she had (and again, I have no way of knowing this and I'm just repeating what she told me) was the gliders got around the regulations because they were exported by natives for profit. She described it to me as a similar situation with how in America, certain native American tribes can hunt seals or whales while others cannot, and certain regulations pertaining to wildlife are less restrictive for them due to their native culture and traditions. From what she said she learned while she was in Australia, some native populations (she was not specific about who/where) were using this loophole to export the gliders from Australia through Djkarta for profit. She said that these loopholes have since tightened, hence why we no longer see gliders coming from Australia. I didn't think to ask her when the "tightening" took place.

Hi Jen. Please don't think I'm trying to debunk any of this. I honestly have never heard of Aboriginals being able to export Native wildlife! In fact, in a Parliament discussion in 1996 re allowing export of wildlife, the Aboriginal Lands Council actually made a submission requesting this doesn't happen due to exploitation. If your vet has any futher information on this though, I would very interested as I have been doing some ongoing research into the wildlife trade in Australia and if true would be an integral part of new research.



Originally Posted By: 7glider7
One piece of evidence she pointed out to me I did find rather convincing (although perhaps not the most scientific)...to the best of my knowledge, eucalyptus is indigenous to Australia only. Why are our captive glider so obsessed/have such a strong behavioral reaction when offered euc, moreso than the other plants I offer them, if they are from Indonesia? Their behavior, to me, suggests this plant is a natural part of their niche.


Eucalypts are mostly native to Australia but in the 700 species, there are a few species native to New Guinea and Indonesia.

My gliders also get just as excited by Wattles (Acacias) and again there are species of these in New Guinea and Indonesia.

The wild glider of New Guinea eats figs as part of it's wild diet and my gliders adore figs and yes in both countries Fig trees grow in the wild.

Of course, there are trees favoured by gliders that are found locally in only each country ie. Lowland pit pit in New Guinea and Callistemon here in Australia but then again, there are also species of trees here in Australia that gliders favour but are only found in certain locales and not others.

Now it's time for a cuppa break smile

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#389444 - 09/30/07 12:21 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: Marz]
Ahsaehr
Unregistered


I read this on sugarglider.com
COncerning gliders having human vitamins, which I didn't read all this, just your pm to rita saying that's all you trust or something.

Human vitamins would have waaay too much iron for gliders, I got one of my gliders from a "Rescue" who actually worked for a breeder who fed human vitamins and let me tell you my girl's urine stank for a couple weeks after I got her as the vitimins passed through her body.

Regarding temperature- in Australia and Indonesia it actually does get cold in the winter, and yes the gliders can endure cold weather. They normally (this is an observation from my australian friends that keep their gliders outdoors) huddle in the nest and rarely come out in the winter, they will pile on top of each other, in the summer they sleep in seperate pouches, and nest boxes.

I'm not saying the person who gave you this information is wrong, by no way, but the temperature does conflict with the accounts of Australian natives.

My gliders also get just as excited with willow branches as they do eucalyptis. I think trees from the native country doesn't really matter since these animals have been bred in captivity for many generations.


Edited by Ahsaehr (09/30/07 12:24 AM)
Edit Reason: adda bout tree

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#389456 - 09/30/07 12:54 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
the gliders angel Offline
Glider Addict

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 3058
Loc: u.s.a.
i use a high calcium yogurt like stoneyfield a half tsp every other day for my calcium supplement and been for over 2 yrs according to a ustraln vets dont use willow branches. apple are fine not willow.

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#389466 - 09/30/07 01:37 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: the gliders angel]
Ahsaehr
Unregistered


They may not use willow branches, but willow branches will not hurt gliders. Actually, I read in a biology book that apple branches and seeds have trace amounts of cyanide...so i avoid them.

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#389473 - 09/30/07 01:57 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
Ahsaehr
Unregistered


LOL ignore my rambling about temperature, i didn't read all the post and was actually talking about Marz's gliders! hahaha. I'm sorry about the repeat.

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#389478 - 09/30/07 02:27 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
Xfilefan Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 8899
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
I'm not getting into the diet issues, per se, since I have changed to an AU diet myself, but here's a couple interesting points...

LOW caclium in the BML is a new one, since the last couple years there've been huge issues over it "killing" gliders because there is too much calcium in it. Personally I think it's fine, although mine would not eat it reliably, and much better than some. Not saying either view is right or wrong, or that it actually doesn't fall somewhere in the middle, or that there may not be room for improvement, since a diet study last year measured blood calcium in gliders on it on a level with those on other diets. Compared to most diets before it's inception, it went a long way toward eliminating the widespread HLP gliders were dying from at the time, and still does. Although we do know what they need, for the diets used in THIS country, I think a lot longer term study needs done, with a much larger sample group than 9 gliders, to find out exactly what the long term effects of our diets actually are. I do agree with lack of controls and possible contaminants in animal vitamins (which was mentioned earlier by another poster, sorry, forgot which one)-but the issue wasn't the multivitamin as human grade (though it's probably better, but also not formulated for animal nutritional needs in the proper amounts), but the calcium-which should be single source-any contamination would come from how and on what it is processed, handling, and storage, the regulations for animal items on those issues is not as strict as for humans-which is why the pet food scares recently. I use a very small amount of Jurassical in my staple (just short of 1/8 tsp in a double batch to equal a particular amount of milligrams)-if you get a chance, would you ask your vet what she thinks of that one? I've been thinking about trying human grade (though I really don't think antacids are the way to go with that)-just haven't had the spare time to look into it yet as I want to before I do anything.

As far as branches, there are a number that are safe, including apple. Here is one of the few places in the world we have Aspen trees, completely safe, and I cut them periodically from up the road for mine, in winter after the leaves have shed, (well away from the highway), wash them, cook them in the oven, and let my guys have fun. There is more than one type of branch here our guys can chew on that is safe and healthy for them, as there isn't much eucalyptus available here, and with so many species, not all of them are safe just because they're 'eucalyptus'.

Keep in mind that with some of the commercial eucalyptus products here, not only is species in question but drying and processing it removes nutrients and oils and makes it practically worthless as any kind of nutritional source. They may like it, but it doesn't do much for them other than as a stimulating treat, IMO.
_________________________
Jen/Colin :bb: Commander Riker 12 16 02-10 04 12 you will be FOREVER missed :wfb: Sinbad, :wfb: Gabby, :grey: Baby, and :grey: Alley

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#389479 - 09/30/07 02:30 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
7glider7
Unregistered


Marz, no offense at all taken, I always enjoy getting as much information as possible, and I'm glad you posted.

The next time I get a chance to talk with her I would like to know more about who she got the info from and more specifics. If she is quite certain it was through those channels, I will let you know the details.

Ahsaher, please don't misunderstand...I am not advocating feeding gliders normal human vitamins, which would contain harmful levels of other minerals, such as iron, as you mention. I am talking about in terms of CALCIUM ALONE, I myself am going to stick to human sources.

An additional note about the calcium: I don't think the vet was suggesting getting it from antacids, although I am waiting to hear back from her on what exact source she recommends. I am under the impression that you can find pure calcium gluconate or calcium carbonate, human grade, perhaps at a supplement store? And that is what she had in mind.


Edited by 7glider7 (09/30/07 02:32 AM)
Edit Reason: calcium content

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#389483 - 09/30/07 03:00 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
Xfilefan Offline
Serious Glideritis

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 8899
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
Jen, that comment was only because a lot of people advocate crushing antacids as a calcium supplement-I should have pointed that out-it had nothing to do with what you said, but chances are it would come up eventually. I can't remember which diets that was in relation to, though. I think this is a great topic-I don't participate in this forum much because of the politics, and Marz is in an awesome position for some of this stuff, since that's the place that has the most experience with these guys. Hope I didn't confuse you too much! smile
_________________________
Jen/Colin :bb: Commander Riker 12 16 02-10 04 12 you will be FOREVER missed :wfb: Sinbad, :wfb: Gabby, :grey: Baby, and :grey: Alley

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#389504 - 09/30/07 08:33 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: Xfilefan]
BeckiT Offline
Glideritis Anonymous

Registered: 09/29/06
Posts: 16083
Loc: Manitowoc, WI
Originally Posted By: Xfilefan
Jen, that comment was only because a lot of people advocate crushing antacids as a calcium supplement-I should have pointed that out-it had nothing to do with what you said, but chances are it would come up eventually. I can't remember which diets that was in relation to, though.
The only diet I can think of that I've seen the crushing of antacids as a calcium source is Darcy's wink
_________________________
~Becki & Crew~
Glidin' High Sugar Gliders
So You Want to Own a Sugar Glider? Read and Share wink

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#389525 - 09/30/07 09:34 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: BeckiT]
blockamon Offline
Glider Lover

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 563
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
I'm actually thinking of switching to Calcivet and Soluvet. These are bird vitamins, but they are the ones currently used in the nectar mix at Healesville. They can be purchased through Bird Supply of New Hampshire here in the US.

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#389530 - 09/30/07 09:49 AM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: blockamon]
Nari
Unregistered


I would definately be interested in taking a look at this diet once you are able to post it. Please let us know when you get a chance to do that! thumb This is a very interesting discussion, but leaves me feeling sort of helpless. I use rep-cal regularly and jurassical as a back-up. If these aren't safe, I will feel awful for using them. I hope someone can come along and say that these supplements have been tested and were proven safe or unsafe. I don't even know where rep-cal is made or anything about that manufacturer. If anyone does, that would be a good start to learning more about this supplement.

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#389587 - 09/30/07 01:16 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
7glider7
Unregistered


Jen...no offense taken and I wasn't sure if that was what you meant or not smile I just wanted to post to clarify, because I had gotten several PMs about what type of supplement I was talking about, so I think I was being unclear. I always appreciate input from you and Marz and everybody.

Blockamon, I am not that familiar with the bird vitamins, but here would be my concern...I didn't get to ask her if the bird vitamins are "better" or more regulated than the reptile vitamins. So perhaps they would be better. I think that I myself and going to stick to human grade, because I KNOW they are subjected to more rigorous testing by the USDA than animal-grade supplements.

Nari, it actually made me feel quite awful too! It never occurred to me that these supplements might not contain what was on the label, and I felt very naive and somewhat like a bad mom.

Then I realized though, most of our gliders, including mine, are quite healthy with what they are feeding them, so we can't be doing TOO bad of a job. There are plenty of poor gliders out there who just get fed cheerios or nuts or something completely inappropriate, so I finally concluded that while I can (and will) improve their diet based on Dr. JD's recommendations, they have been pretty healthy so far, so at least I haven't seem to have been doing great harm.

Again, I don't want to panic people with this post, although learning this definitely scared me. I just think posting things we can improve for them is how we all learn.

I am going to wait another day or two to see if the vets will send me a word doc of that diet...if not I will type it up and post it...I am kind of worried about posting it here, now, because I wonder if it will disappear when we go back to the other server?

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#389632 - 09/30/07 02:50 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: ]
blockamon Offline
Glider Lover

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 563
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
I must admit that I don't know what standards Calcivet and Soluvet are made to. They are Austrailian, and Oz has even more restrictive regulations than the US (at least for human grade foods). Given that a major zoo is using them, I would assume they would have checked them out.

However, human grade calcium is a good idea. Unfortunately, that still leaves the issue of the multivitamin.

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#392650 - 10/04/07 11:19 PM Re: Big concern with calcium supplementation [Re: Xfilefan]
maidservant
Unregistered


Originally Posted By: Xfilefan
Jen, that comment was only because a lot of people advocate crushing antacids as a calcium supplement


My only concern with the antacids would be the flavorings and the sugar content. I know that they make sugar free antacids, but then you have to deal with the artificial sweeteners, which I won't eat and therefore my babies aren't going to get! I'm using Darcy's diet (switched from BML recently) and I am using human grade powdered Calcium Carbonate that I got at GNC. I've heard that Calcium Citrate will work too, but I'm sticking with what is recommended.

The reason for my switch - My gliders recently stopped eating their BML. I tried feeding it at different times of the night, making it with different juices, and still nothing. I started switching them over little by little, and now that they are totally on the Darcy's diet, they get their ensure mixture at about 11 when I get home from work (earlier if possible) and then they get their veggies at about 2 am. They get mealworms in the morning, and yogurt and fruit as treats.

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