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TDK conference 2012

Effects of two dietary supplements on the growth and health of Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni)
Hegedűs Petra - year 5
SzIU, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of Animal Breeding, Nutrition and Laboratory Animal Science
Supervisor: Dr. Nikoletta Hetényi


The number of different commercial feeds and supplementations dedicated to reptiles is continuously increasing. Unfortunately the quality and the ingredients not every time meet with the requirements of the dedicated species. The aim of our study was to determine the long term effects of two commercial vitamin and mineral supplements (product “A”and “B”) dedicated to reptiles. As the vitamin content of the supplements was very different (e.g.: vitamin D3 in “A”: 50 000 IU/kg vs. 2000 IU/kg in “B”), their adequacy was also examined (over dosage or deficiency syndrome).

Twelve one month old male Hermann’s tortoises (Testudo hermanni) were randomly divided into two groups of six animals (group A and B). Tortoises were fed every day once in the morning. Diets were based on garden weeds, supplements were fed on a daily basis. Body weight, straight carapace length, straight plastron length, shell width and shell high were measured weekly for a period of 12 month.

Animals in group B gained significantly better (p=0.0446) than in group A. According to the results of mixed models the type of supplement had significant effect (p=0.0258) on growth in the second, exponential part of the growth curve. The shell of the animals in group A was firm and healthy, while in group B – in different manner – all of the tortoises had weakened shell as one of the symptoms of developing metabolic bone disease (MBD). Both the carapace and the plastron were affected in 3 animals (B/1,4,5), only the plastron in 3 tortoises (B/2,3,6). All of the animals behaved normally and had good appetite. The moderate MBD (weakened shell) in group B has been on the mend since the end of the study, as all animal got product “A”.

It can be concluded that the long term use of supplements with only 2000 IU/kg vitamin D3 content leads to deficiency syndromes. These deficiency syndromes could not have been detected in case of a 6 month long experience, so long term studies are recommend (minimum 12 month) in such topics. Daily supplementation of calcium (product containing approx. 150 g Ca/kg) and vitamin D3 (product containing approx. 50.000 IU D3/kg) is recommended in order, to avoid MBD. High amount of other vitamins given for safety reason on a daily basis seems to be disadvantageous, because it provokes the accelerated weight gain and consequently leads to the increment of the requirements causing some deficiency syndromes (Ca, D3). Therefore supplements like product “A” are recommended.

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