Read the featured Q&A article in Practical Reptile magazine
The two questions we recieved can be found at the top of this page, followed by the answer covering both points.
Question 1: Is nutrobal designed to be used with each feed, or on a less regular basis? It states one pinch per kg of animal, though clearly many lizards weigh significantly less then a kilo and adding say a 5th of 10th of a pinch to a bag containing say 6 crickets to spread the dust over them, is quite hard to accurately do. For this reason, especially in small reptiles such as Anole lizards and dwarf species of desert gecko, is it better not to use nutrobal with each feed to avoid hypervitaminosis? I've noticed some websites appear to suggest Nutrobal dusting of livefood only 1-2 times a week, and sometimes suggest using a pure calcium carbonate powder the rest of the time.
Question 2: Is the 200mg calcium per gram of nutrobal a sufficient enough amount that the addition of a calcium powder along with nutrobal is unnecessary? An example would be if nutrobal was used for one days feed, then a pure calcium powder the next. Is just using nutrobal instead of this switching method an acceptable practice? There seems to be some confusion on websites about whether nutrobal is designed to supply all of a reptiles calcium needs.
Answer: Nutrobal is a calcium balancer and multivitamin product. A lot of time went into every stage of the product research and development, including selecting a particle size which 'sticks' to crickets and other livefoods without getting into their spiracles and killing them. We have maintained this carefully for over 20 years, and have launched Calci-Dust containing the same calcium we use in Nutrobal. The product has been used by the majority of reptile vet in the UK and a large number of zoos keeping reptiles. We also ship Nutrobal worldwide.
Nutrobal was designed to be used at every feed, but it was designed at a time when UV lighting was very poor, often dangerous. Now with better UV (when set at the correct height, bulbs changed regularly) Nutrobal could be sufficient every second feed. You should also consider whether a species is crepuscular/nocturnal where UV isn't factor. The data doesn't exist to show that leopard geckos can actually use UV efficiently, however they can use Nutrobal.
There are of course many variables at play, however we have never had a report of hypervitaminosis / overdose from its use every feed, and that is the recommended dose. If UV is used then we recommend alternating Nutrobal and Calci-Dust.
It is important that crickets and other livefoods are always dusted with something. Even reptiles soon learn that if they don't eat the 'white ones' then brown ones will appear. If you aren't going to use Nutrobal then dust with Calci-Dust.
Don't worry about per kg dosing if you use crickets and mealworms. The per kg dosage isn't relevant if you are dusting - the animals self dose in that what they eat is size related (bigger animals eat more crickets and so more Nutrobal).
The amount of calcium in NUTROBAL is plenty to supply the animals needs, if its on every feed. If it isn't then as said Calci-Dust should be used. Owners tend to grow reptiles in captivity quicker than they would grow in the wild, that means that they need optimum calcium levels for health bone development or they will get metabolic bone disease. Once reptiles are adult then they have lower calcium needs and I suggest switching to ARKVITS which has enhanced levels of vitamins A, C & E which can be useful for long term maintenance, support of immune system and encouraging breeding.
NUTROBAL isn't just calcium, the vitamin D3 is vital as without it the calcium goes straight through the animal.
Whilst I'm writing, I should also mention our new NUTROGRUB product. I have worked on this for 2 years, Our GRUB GRUB and BUG GRUB are now withdrawn and replaced with NUTROGRUB. Insects find it much more palatable and its a great way of keeping the feeder insects alive, whilst at the same time gut-loading their calcium levels. We have increased the calcium in mealworms by x 7-8 and in crickets by x 12. These are stunning results, but you should still dust at the time of feeding, loading calcium and providing lots of vitamins.
I'm honestly pleased that people feel comfortable enough with NUTROBAL after 20 years to play around, but it is well tried and tested. We are very responsive, asa vet i speak to other reptile vets regularly and follow the published literature. We try to do our best, and since we manufacture NUTROBAL every 3 months for quality and maximum shelf life we can always make any changes that science indicates.