Hypercalcemia, also known as excess calcium, is a serious illness that can affect a pet iguana. Causes of hypercalcemia include the consumption of animal protein in herbivorous lizards. Know how to avoid hypercalcemia in iguana.
High levels of vitamin D and calcium poisoning result in excessive bone resorption and increased calcium absorption in the intestine.
Effects include excessive parathyroid hormone (often due to malignancy in the thyroid gland). Hypercalcemia causes:
- bone defects,
- heart changes,
- renal hypertension
- failure and death at very high levels.
The best way to avoid hypercalcemia is not to overdo the vitamin supplementation, including supplementing vitamin D3. Feed your iguana carefully by limiting the vitamins and other supplements. For example, give it various leafy greens, that are calcium-rich, so that you can minimize (or totally eliminate) calcium supplements.
The opposite of hypercalcemia is hypocalcemia, often described as Metabolic Bone Disease (broad term for any condition where iguana’s bones have a lack of calcium).
Ideally, if you keep your iguana with diverse and quality diet, you shouldn’t need to add supplements at all. The iguana nutrition should reflect its diet in wilderness as close as possible.
Please note -iguana’s body can not even absorb the vitamin D3 given in the powder form, so don’t buy calcium supplements that claim to have D3 because it’s useless and, worse, can become toxic for your pet.
The best way to provide D3 is through routine access to the open, unfiltered sunlight (i.e, the sun does not shine through glass, plastic screens).
When it is not possible to dry the iguana with the sun regularly, use UVB lamp with an appropriate distance from the iguana contact. The recommended lamp is ‘Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor’ with long life span (one year) and guaranteed level of UV light during that period. If you decide to go for this lamp, pick either 100W or 160W bulb, and then, when mounting it, pay attention that the minimum distance between the bulb and the backing spot for your iguana should be no less then 14in (25cm) for 100W, and 20in (50cm) for the 160w bulb.
If you can’t provide your iguana with 8-12 various greens + 2 vegetables each day, then you’ll probably need to add some supplements, but in modest amounts.
If you are not sure or aware of the dosage of the supplementation, get an advice with the local pet store, but these are some guidelines:
- Hatchlings and Juvenile iguanas: dust one pinch (on the top of the knife) of supplement over the food once a day.
- Adults: sprinkle 1 pinch per kg (2.2 lbs) of iguana weight once or twice per week.
- Gravid females: 1 pinch per meal while gravid and for another few days after laying eggs. But, in these cases, it’s the best to take the iguana to the veterinarian (specialized for reptiles) who will determine the appropriate dose and give an advice.