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Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins are essential for turtles as humans. While the detailed vitamin requirements/day of turtles have not been documented, a diverse diet with a good mix of vegetables, fruits and flesh should meet most needs. 

You can give her some vitamin supplements twice a week.  In most pet shops you can find a variety of powder or liquid vitamins specially made for reptiles.  Make sure it has vitamin A, this is essential for they eye health of the sliders.

Useful Hints

  • If you are feeding a perfect diet, no supplements are necessary. In captivity, we can not easily reach perfection, therefore vitamin should be given; usually once to twice weekly.
  • Calcium Turtles need calcium to build healthy shells and bones. A cuttle fish bone in the tank will be nibbled on by most turtles and supplies extra calcium. Get a new bone, when the old one get slimy! There are also calcium supplements specially for reptiles.
  • Vitamin D3 Synthesized in the turtle's body using natural sunlight. A full spectrum reptile light is an acceptable substitute, or a supplement can be fed. There are supplements available that contain Ca/D3. Of course, the best way for your turtle get D3 is to get unfiltered sunlight, and then it will synthesize the vitamin. NOTE: OUTDOOR TURTLES SHOULD NOT BE SUPPLEMENTED WITH VITAMIN D3, as they make plenty of their own.
  • Vitamin A If lacking, will cause loss of appetite and swollen, runny eyes. A common symptom in turtles not fed properly. Can be fixed using a varied diet. In severe cases, drops may be recommended by your vet. Feeding too much Vitamin A will cause the skin to peel and eventually come off and leave bare flesh. It looks very ugly, is very painful, and often the turtle will die. Vets used to give turtles vitamin A shots. But since dosage is hard to determine, this should only be used as a last resort.
  • There are some products available now that are formulated for reptiles. Herptivite (by RepCal) is a recommended product.

Vitamin A

The absence of Vitamin A can lead to swollen eyes and in extreme cases blindness. Good sources of Vitamin A are green leafy vegetables, cabbage, carrot, and other red and yellow fruits and vegetables. Large amounts of Vitamin A are also found in fresh liver and fish liver oils. (e.g. cod liver oil).

Feeding your turtle a salad of spinach, carrot and liver/chicken tossed with cod-liver oil once every 7-10 days is suggested. As Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin (and not water soluble one), you could also add a Vitamin A supplement into the calcium block or to the food twice/thrice every month.

Some suggested Human Vitamin A Supplements:
Aquasol Capsules (25,000iu)
Approx. Retail Price: INR 25 for 30 capsules.
Dosage: Routine - 33% of the capsule per supplementation. Increase frequency of supplementation for a deficient turtle, and not the quantity per supplementation.

Vitamin D3

The soulmate for calcium, it is vitamin D3 that aids in the absorption of calcium from food and its subsequent metabolization for bones and shell. In their natural habitats turtles generate Vitamin D3 through adequate exposure to the UVB rays in unfiltered sunlight. As their captive habitats merely attempt to supplement this with UVB lamps, it is essential that Vitamin D3 supplements be provided.

We recommend that you let your turtles sunbathe for a 30-40 minutes at least twice/thrice a week in the DSE. The approximate equivalent of this in indoor lighting would be 8-10hr exposure daily.

While those sunbathes should be sufficient, if you notice any shell-softness, immediately start providing Vitamin D3 supplements. The best substitute source for reptile supplements are the ones for birds. In case even these are unavailable you can try and supplement with a human Vitamin D3 supplement. But be careful and provide very limited dosages, once every 7-10 days, because excess Vitamin D can be poisonous.


Some suggested Human Vitamin D3 Supplements


Shelcal 500 (Calcium + Vitamin D3)

Approx. Retail Price: INR 25 for 10 tablets.
{Recommended: contains calcium from an organic source - oyster shells}
Dosage: Routine - 50% of the tablet (powdered) per supplementation. Increase frequency of supplementation for a deficient turtle, and not the quantity per supplementation. As this supplement contains both Calcium & Vitamin D3, don't provide additional Calcium supplementation along with this. 

Ossivite 500 (Calcium + Vitamin D3)
Approx. Retail Price: INR 20 for 10 tablets.
Dosage: Routine - 50% of the tablet (powdered) per supplementation. Increase frequency of supplementation for a deficient turtle, and not the quantity per supplementation. As this supplement contains both Calcium & Vitamin D3, don't provide additional Calcium supplementation along with this.

Arachitol 300 Ampule (Vitamin D3, 300,000 iu)
Approx. Retail Price: INR 67 for 1 ampule (7.5mg)
(This is a very high concentration vitamin D3 supplement, and should not be used for regular supplementation. Use only with turtles exhibiting distinct & significant Vitamin D3 deficiency.)
Dosage: Routine - 20% of the capsule per supplementation. Increase frequency of supplementation for a deficient turtle, and not the quantity per supplementation.

Other Vitamins, Nutrients and Trace Elements

While specific requirements of these are not available, it is best to give your turtles' multi-vitamin supplements twice a week. You can give bird supplements, or cat supplements (just make sure they don't have very high fat contents!). Else, you can also a human multivitamin that contains all vitamins, nutrients and trace elements.

Multi-vitamins can be added to the regular food by dusting or in paste form.


Some suggested Human Multi-Vitamin Supplements


Supradyn (Vitamin A, various B group, C, D3 and minerals)

Approx. Retail Price: INR 14 for 10 tablets.
Dosage: Routine - 50% of the tablet (powdered) per supplementation. Increase frequency of supplementation for a deficient turtle, and not the quantity per supplementation.

Nutrisan (Vitamin A, various B group, D3, E and minerals)
Approx. Retail Price: INR 15 for 10 tablets.
Dosage: Routine - 50% of the tablet (powdered) per supplementation. Increase frequency of supplementation for a deficient turtle, and not the quantity per supplementation.


Calcium

Heard that old thing, about growing children needing calcium for good bones and teeth…well just think how important calcium would become if you also had a body-sized shell on your back!

Calcium is an essential mineral for your turtle to build healthy shells and bones
. Without it, the turtles' shell can turn soft, and that can leave it crippled for life.

But be careful, the calcium source you are using should not contain high amounts of phosphorous, as phosphorous inhibits calcium absorption. 
Ideal calcium: phosphorous ratio is 2:1. A good source of calcium is green leafy vegetables. Diary products (milk, cheese, etc.) while high on calcium are also very high on phosphorous (and fat!) and should be avoided.

Calcium is so essential that you need to ensure your turtle is getting it through various different means. These are -
cuttlefish bone, calcium dusting, calcium blocks, etc. Some of these are listed below.


Cuttlefish Bone

One of the best sources of calcium, its easily (@ INR 20-30 for a big piece) available at most pet/bird shops. The best thing is that it can be left floating in the tank. So whenever, the turtle feels like more calcium, it can nibble on this floating cuttlebone. The added advantage of this is that the turtles' beak remains nice and trimmed!

To serve cuttlefish bone, rinse well, and soak in clean water overnight. Then remove the hard layer from behind, dry and let it float in the habitat. Every week, remove it, rinse well under a strong jet of water (you can do a mild scrub, with a clean old toothbrush) and let it dry. Then return it to the habitat. Change you cuttlebone, once every 3-4 months.


Calcium Dusting

Powdered cuttlebone, or calcium powder (that is low in phosphorous) should be dusted on turtle food - vegetarian, non-vegetarian and live (on all except fishes and snails), just before feeding. If done regularly along with a cuttlefish bone in the tank, the calcium requirements of your turtle would be well met.

Calcium Blocks

In the absence or sometime along with cuttlefish bone, you can supplement the calcium intake by placing calcium blocks in the habitat. These locks can be created at home, and can additionally be supplemented with vitamins and minerals - forming 1 complete power-packed food for the turtles!

 

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Site Created: 1/8/2002, Last modified: 12/7/2003 by Petra Grujic