Melleri Mouth Maladies | Giving Reptaid A Try (Part I)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Guinevere's (my rescued Meller's chameleon, who I've mentioned quite a bit on the blog over the last year and a half) mouth issues seem to be returning. As you may remember from all the previous blogs on the subject that she came to me with a respiratory infection, mouth rot/stomatitis, and an infection in her right eye. It took us about 6 months of Baytril, Silver Sulfadiazine, Tobramyacin ointment, and several other products to clear everything up. 

Now it seems like the stomatitis has returned and her gums are once again swollen and sensitive. The first thing I would recommend in a case like this is to go to the vet for some proper antibiotics. (I don't want anyone to think I'm advocating not seeking professional help in the case of an injury or infection, or to seek out home-remedies unless you are experienced and/or have some professional guidance. I have several vet friends that I consult with, so I run most of my plans through them first.) And it is still something I plan on doing down the line if I need to, however, because antibiotics like Baytril are particularly hard on sensitive chameleons like T. melleri, I want to hold off for the moment. 

I have never been a big holistic/alternative medicine believer, to be quite honest, but I have heard so many good things from keepers I respect about Reptaid that I figured it might be worth a try. Reptaid (not to be confused with Repta-Aid) is an herbal/natural alternative to traditional reptile medicine that allegedly combats several common reptilian issues. They describe their own product as such: 

"Reptaid™ is designed to help your reptile overcome viral, bacterial and microscopic infections
 without the complications one would get from more traditional treatments.  It is well known in the 
reptile world that traditional medications can have limited success and debilitating side effects. 
 While undergoing traditional treatments for parasitic infections, reptiles can experience loss of 
appetite, lethargy, hydration issues, even organ damage.  Reptaid™ is a blend of herbs that is gentle 
to the system,  and is found to be beneficial to the health and well being of reptiles.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is 
not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."

So the claims are pretty bold, right? It treats all types of infections and even claims to fight tough parasites like coccidia. But others claim that it is the first product they reach for when they have a mild infection (like a respiratory infection) in a chameleon and that since they've started using it they haven't needed to use antibiotics in several years. So ok, color this skeptic intrigued at the very least. Lets give it a try then and see what happens. I ordered the XL version because it is for reptiles over 250 grams in weight, which all the Meller's are. If you have a typical panther or veiled you probably will not need this size. 

So today, on July 23, 2014 I started Guinevere on her first dose of Reptaid, along with a few CCs of Carnivore Care. I am going to supplement her diet in the next few days with a little Carnivore Care (which is a powdered food diet specifically for carnivores that need the nutritional boost) because her mouth is sore, which makes shooting at and eating insects difficult for her. And because the last thing I want her to do is to lose weight (especially if we have to start on something stronger, like antibiotics) I don't want her to be weakened at all. Additionally, I have been chatting back and forth with a fellow melleri keepers and we believe that we may be missing something from their diet that they would get in the wild, and my guess is that it may be higher levels of protein or some other nutrient that is specific to vertebrate food, whether it's fatty acids or whatnot.

I am also mixing in organic baby food (checking for no added sugars, salts, etc.) to sweeten the mix, as Reptaid tastes pretty awful.

So between the Reptaid, the insect diet supplemented with Carnivore Care, and perhaps some use of the Silver Sulfadiazine cream on her gums again I hope we can get the infection to subside without using anything too harsh on poor Guinevere. And in the meantime I will document my findings with this product in a few weeks and give my honest review about the product. And then in a few months I hope to do a second review of the product, in how it has helped Guinevere long-term. If the infection disappears and does no reappear (or if it does), for example, I want to include it in that second review. 

So, wish us luck! And I would love to hear any first-hand accounts of how Reptaid has worked (or not) for your animals, so please leave a comment about it below. 

(I am not sponsored to review any products. All views and opinions are my own.)

The Anatomy of Gut-Loading | Ingredients & Nutritional Info

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I've spoken a lot about feeder variety and the importance of gut-loading (filling feeder insects with good, nutritious food before feeding them off) but I haven't provided a list of good ingredients yet. Below is a list of foods to keep in mind when grocery shopping and others to avoid completely when putting together your own gut-load. You can always mix in high-calcium fresh fruits and veggies with a high-quality commercial dry insect food to provide your feeders with moisture and additional food. But the more fresh food, the better.

Unfortunately, most commercially available foods are very poor in nutritional value, especially products like gel cubes or bran flakes. These are not a suitable gut-load and it can lead to health issues down the line for your chameleon. So look online and research dry gut-load mixes and determine which one is right for you. 

As some suggestions, I have personally used Repashy Superload for my insects mixed sometimes with a little Superpig, but other great brands include Cricket Crack, DinoFuel, Repashy Bug Burger, and many more. When you compare the ingredients in these diets to the orange get cubes available as most pet stores, the difference is obvious. These better gut loads even include ingredients considered "super foods" such as spirulina and bee pollen. And remember, the better your gut-load and your feeder variety, the more likely it is that your chameleon will reach his or her best physical potential, and it will be evident in their overall health, their colors, and breeding results. 


New Roach Feeder - The Blaberus atropos

Friday, July 11, 2014
I was SO excited to receive these guys in the mail. You've probably read me complain about how difficult it is for us Floridian keepers to find and purchase Florida-legal roach species in bulk, as we are limited essentially to just B. discoidalis (aka Discoids) and those who sell them seem to be incapable of supplying the demand, as it seems everyone is perpetually out of stock. And those who sell them sometimes ask astronomical prices! So I was thrilled when I contacted Kevin from Roach Crossing about buying 500 discoids and he offered me an alternative species since he was out of discoids. 

Curiously enough, this species was apparently collected in the Wynwood Art District area here in Miami, not 20 minutes from my house. And here I had to order them from Michigan! This species is extremely similar to it's cousin species, B. dubia, B. discoidalis, and  B. craniifer, but it is, in fact, it's own separate species although it shares a lot of the same traits. It is non-climbing, about the same size as a discoid or dubia, and breeds easily. 

So I have high hopes that these guys will breed well and free me up from ordering crickets in bulk every month! I have two other Blaberus species currently but I suffered significant losses last year and they just haven't been able to recover yet. So I hope these guys do well and that between them and my other roaches I can have multiple self-sustaining food sources for my chameleons. Which frees me up to put more money towards more exciting feeders than crickets, like silkworms, hornworms, stick insects, katydids, etc. 

Here is my new colony in all its current (messy) glory: 

I put their tub together in a hurry the other night, so it's not as neat as I usually keep my bins. Kevin sent them with this bark substrate and I decided to keep it. First, because I can't imagine removing the roaches from it, and second, because it will help me distinguish between my roach tubs so I don't confuse this new species with my discoids. 

They really are SO similar to my discoids, I'm not sure I could tell them apart if they ended up in the same container. The nymphs are essentially identical but the adults are extremely close as well. 

If you haven't looked into feeder roaches as an affordable and easy to breed feeder I highly encourage you to do so! They are so easy to care for, eat nearly anything, and breed very well at warm temperatures. And since they don't climb any smooth plastic container will keep them safely contained. And that annoying chirping and stench that eminates from cricket bins? Not present with roaches! Just the pitter-patter of little roach feet on their egg crates, which is much more livable. 

Repticon Ft. Lauderdale - June 28/29

Friday, July 4, 2014
This was a fun show for me as my sister had flown back from Spain that Monday, after having spent nearly a year abroad, and was excited to see what all these reptile shows were all about. In all the years I'd kept reptiles she had never been in the same city (or even state, really) and had the opportunity to join me, so this was going to be a fun introduction into the world of Repticon. 

We loaded up our cameras and headed out for Ft. Lauderdale, just 45 minutes north of us. I was surprised to see a lot of chameleons at this show, more than there usually are, and my sister had a bonding experience with a hedgehog. I don't think she's going to join me in this hobby any time soon, but she had fun seeing the animals and meeting a few local friends of mine so all in all it was a good Saturday. 

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