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Dry matter and calcium digestibility in captive veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus)


  • JAPAN – contribution to the 14th ESVCN conference, Zurich, September 2010.

M. Clauss, Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Tel: +41 44 6358376; Fax: +41 44 6358901; E-mail:


Although metabolic bone disease (MBD) is a very common disease in reptiles kept as pets, empirical data on the calcium (Ca) metabolism of reptiles are still scarce. We used the opportunity of a large-scale experimental study on growth and clinical manifestations of MBD in captive veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus) to measure the apparent dry matter (DM) and Ca digestibility in 19 animals (6–49 g), receiving locust nymphs (Locusta migratoria) of two size classes (0.05 and 0.5 g) with or without supplementation of Ca, vitamin A and cholecalciferol (Group A: Ca 0.04-0.09%DM; Group B: Ca 0.47-0.84%DM). Dry matter digestibility was significantly lower for animals receiving smaller-sized prey. A regression analysis of dietary Ca vs. digestible Ca content revealed a complete ‘true’ digestibility of Ca for the range of investigated diets, which might indicate that requirements for this mineral were not yet exceeded by the diets used (so that a reduction in Ca absorption would be induced). Options of higher dietary Ca provision, and reactions of chameleons to such diets, should be further investigated.