AN INTRODUCTION TO ELECTROLYTES
Veterinarians agree that the majority of reptile patients presented are in a state of severe starvation and dehydration. These patients are recognized by their sunken eyes, poverty lines (wrinkled skin) and protruding bones, as their store of body fat and muscle has been depleted. The reason for this is that reptiles generally give few symptoms of disease or malcontent with their living environment other than a refusal to feed or drink.
A down swing in appetite will most likely be your first sign of a health issue.
Electrolyte Solutions are used to maintain hydration or to rehydrate animals in many situations including the treatment of shock, decreased oral fluid intake, and to replace fluids lost due to an illness such as kidney disease.
Electrolytes are safe for use with all reptiles in all stages of life including hatchlings.
Electrolyte Solutions work to restore proper balance of electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium, etc.) in the body, so that important actions like muscle contraction and nerve activity can take place. They also supply additional water that the body needs when oral fluid intake is not sufficient.
Electrolytes do not need to be saved for emergencies. They can be used safely on a regular basis.
When bringing home any lizard an electrolyte bath and placed in their drinking water will boost their immunity, strengthen their systems, create a feeding response which in turn lessens stress.
Why do I suggest using it straight away?
Your priority is as healthy a lizard as you can make it, right?
Unless you have spent time with the breeder you do not know the ups and downs the reptile has already been through. Has it previously gone days without food? How long was it in transit? What situations it has been in from the day the egg hatched.
Did you know? MBD can get a start in the egg if the parent was low in calcium during the gravid stage before laying.
Hatchlings need all the help they can get. Create a healthier lizard from the beginning of your experiences together. They will thrive and grow with an electrolyte supplement.
Why not try an experiment with your next hatchlings and place one on an electrolyte or better yet, all but one.
A change of home is stressful for all lizards, be that a new design and space or new owners. As above getting a drinking and feeding response is the first concern and very stressful on the new owner as well, when they do not know quite what they should be looking for as this individual lizard's healthy behaviour. You have to see and know what healthy behaviour looks like to know when it is ill. Adding an electrolyte will shorten your period of anxiety and the lizards settling period.
When your reptile develops a good eating, activity, basking and elimination pattern decrease the dosages and lengthen the times between use.
It is believed that up to 80% of vet visits are due to husbandry errors.
If you have followed this and your reptile's condition has been good but slides downward when you stop using the electrolyte. Even if it takes 3 months to happen, look to your husbandry and tweak the environment. What is the lizard using? What is not being used? What are favourite passages through the tank.
How much are they drinking? Hydration is far more important than feeding. What areas of the environment are not being used? As an example: I don't know how many times I have seen .... he has a moist hide but doesn't use it. This indicates a gap in your husbandry and you need to change what you are doing rather than expect the lizard to change his behaviour. If he chooses the dry hide all the time, add the moisture to that one, see if he stays. What is it that attacts him, a differing type of hide? The temperature? The base or substrate? Is there more protection around it? Don't expect the lizard to adjust, you are the one with the "advanced" mind solve the problem. My own environments are always being modified.
All the large manufacturers have their own brands and this is a product they make well. I can only recommend the ExoTerra as it is the only one I have used. (Dont mess with success.)
I can say I don't like products that have you force feeding as that stress will exacerbate the problem. I have an advantage in that I am at home 24/7 and all my reptiles are kept on the main floor. If I see any sign that my lizards are not behaving in a regular manner for a few days, I start the electrolytes. Many times this may be the only step needed and you should begin to see results in 48/72 hours or even less. If used when the issue first appears as little as 10 to 12 hours can bring improvement.
This is a gentle approach that is very successful while being completely non- invasive and will do nothing but good for the reptile. It allows the reptile to deal with the issue by stengthening his own system. As keepers our goal,is to keep their own systems able to handle any issues that arise. These products enable us to do so more efficiently and effectively.
Some of the other products that have been used in the hobby successfully are:
Unflavoured Pedialyte: Ratio 1 part pedialyte 3 parts water.
Pedialyte, gatorade and others cannot be used as a spray in the habitat, it will create mold. These are to be given orally or in a bath. Pedialyte uses artificial sweeteners. It is also recommended to throw pedialyte out after 48 hours.
TIP: To get a jump on it before you can get to a store.
Boil water, add a quarter dash of salt(sea salt if you have some), add honey or a sugar (the less refined the better), you dont want syrup add a half teaspoon and make sure it all disolves. Ratio: 1 part honey to 10 parts of water.
Gatorade or Powerade has also been used. I have never used this. This is also the method used at a 1 part to 3 parts water for Pedialyte.
Poweraide and how to use it:
Christian Castille has a section in Practical Reptile Keeping Magazine. There is some method in his madness.
Manuka Honey/honies in general
**Honey is often mentioned as an electrolyte of choice for Amphibians.
Try this recipe for homemade Pedialyte to have available in case of unexpected illness:
1 quart purified or natural spring water
2-4 teaspoons raw, unprocessed sugar, or 1-2 teaspoons of powdered fruit sugar (fructose)
1 teaspoon Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
Boil water, add sugar (or fructose) and salt. Stir. Let cool.
Refrigerate what you do not use, but do not keep for more than 48 hours; make a new batch.
***** Exo-Terra - liquid electrolytes with or without D3 http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/electrolyte.php
This is the product I have been using for over 13 years with success. Works for my parrots as well. The product is under $10.00 and will last a very long time.
Uk link: http://www.reptilecentre.com/exo-terra-electrolyte-supplement-120ml_p26322182.htm#.U5NsrvldXTo
The goal is thrive. It is not survive. What are you waiting for?