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RE: But does anyone look at the clues?

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Posted by: debb_luvs_uros at Mon Jan 12 09:17:14 2009  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by debb_luvs_uros ]  

” There are a lot of people who feed their Uro insects for years with no problems.”

There are a lot of people that smoke a pack of cigarettes each day without contracting emphysema or cancer, shall we declare cigarettes no problem?

Just because you have some people suggesting that they have fed their uromastyx low levels of protein for years and the animal is ‘fine’, does not suggest that the next animal will be fine nor does it even suggest that the animal being described as ‘fine’ is actually fine. In some situations, it simply means that the animal is still eating, breathing, and walking around.

There are thousands of smokers that are declaring themselves health today that are unknowingly walking around with early stages of a disease directly linked to their smoking- the disease just has not yet surfaced and it may take many years.

There have been studies in the field on several species of uromastyx showing that these animals did not intentionally consume insects in nature as adults or as juveniles. These studies showed that insect material was insignificant (one study with seasonal variation showed one fecal pellet out of 425 containing a beetle) so there is data that exists that you can look into.

While you are looking, I would also look at morphology as almost everything points in the direction of uromastyx being a true herbivore. Pay attention to things like the length of the stomach and intestine, jaw/tooth morphology, biting/swallowing mechanism, hindgut fermentation, number and type of natural microorganisms, transverse fold/partitions in the intestine….

Will you increase the growth rate of your uromastyx by feeding it animal protein? Yes possibly-depending on the amount fed. But, you will also increase the growth rate of an iguana by feeding it animal protein so what is the point? To me, an excessive growth rate (that which greatly exceeds that of nature) is not a ‘good’ thing.

I remember not too long ago when the same insect/animal protein argument was made for iguanas. I remember the so called ‘experts’ suggesting that iguanas were omnivores and even the same old- ‘juveniles need insects but outgrow the need as adults’ reasoning. I remember the argument that an iguana would not eat insects or mice if they were not ‘meant’ to. I remember reading in magazines and books that iguanas should be offered animal protein and witnessed veterinarians passing this information along to clients. I also remember it taking many, many years to correct this misinformation while a lot of iguanas met an untimely death.

You still see some owners swearing today that it is fine to feed animal protein to iguanas and a quick search on a video website will likely result in numerous videos of iguanas being fed mice with the owner declaring their animal perfectly fit and sound. If someone has fed their iguana a pinky a day for the last eight years and the animal is still alive and the owner suggests it is doing well- should we conclude that it is perfectly safe to feed all iguanas animal protein? What if you have ten people with a similar story, should we then declare that it must be a natural part of an iguanas diet or that it is ok to feed all iguanas animal protein? At what number of animal protein success stories from iguana owners do we declare that feeding animal protein to an iguana is ok- 10, 30, 45? Yet, we think that it is perfectly fine to do this with uromastyx?

Over the years I have acquired a couple of uromastyx from individuals that felt the need to feed insects. One was a twelve year old ornate that was fed a small amount of insects weekly. The owner described the animal as very tame and perfectly healthy with the exception of a growth on his toe. The ‘tame’ was actually lethargy and partially due to the animal being overweight and the growth was gout (not limited to toe) as verified by radiographs, tissue/tophi, and blood work. The owner was clueless as would have been 99% of the people that looked at that animal. Many people will see an animal with good weight (even excessive) and suggest that it is healthy from this one characteristic alone. In fact, I am sure that if the previous owner still had the animal, he would be one of those posting that he has fed his uromastyx a little insect material weekly and has never had any problems.

The animal above has been on an insect free diet for two years and his activity level has increased significantly. As the diet was changed over to a healthy diet appropriate for an herbivore- the activity level increased and some of the excessive weight was shed resulting in a greater level of activity and alertness. While his gout issues will never be fully resolved, his condition is being monitored and addressed, I do not anticipate the life expectancy of this animal to be anywhere near the life expectancy of the other ornates in my care that were not fed animal protein. As the gout was advanced when the animal came into my care, he has already survived longer than we thought he would since the original evaluation and diagnostics.

Another animal was a nigriventris, it came to me via a long route linking back to one of those early uromastyx ‘experts’ who fed insects sparingly for years and for the other two owners who followed that person’s lead. The age of the animal was estimated to be somewhere around 13 years. This animal came to me because of unknown health issues and was euthanized due to renal failure.

Without diagnostics (which very few bother to do), no one would have known what the issue was with this animal. Had the animal simply died in someone else’s care, I am quite certain that renal failure would have been overlooked or suggested as an end stage situation not the primary disease itself and therefore never linked back to insects/animal protein.

I do not post on this topic very often as there are those that are dead set intent on dismissing the link between feeding animal protein to an herbivore and any/all subsequent health issues and I get tired of the unproductive dialog that tends to take place with this type of poster. In fact, many of these pro-insect people are reading this and coming up with other possibilities in their head for the gout and renal failure in the situations I shared above- dehydration, medication, improper temperatures…. While all of these things can lend to some of the problems of gout and renal failure, none as significant (in my opinion) as feeding excess protein to an herbivore. These same people also casually dismiss (or fail to look for) the data out there that points to uromastyx being an herbivore and/or credible research that shows the adverse impact that feeding animal protein has on an herbivore. Does hydration play a role in some of these conditions? Sure, but so does feeding animal protein to an herbivore. Combine the two and you have a recipe for disaster.

Just a little background…. In the first year or so after acquiring uromastyx, I too offered a few insects per week due to some of the reasons mentioned in this thread. As I started to acquire more uromastyx and noticed that only one or two would eat insects, I began to question why this was. Believing what I heard about uromastyx being an omnivore, I thought perhaps I must be doing something wrong so I sought out and offered a variety of insects feeling that perhaps it was the type of insect being offered. After acquiring and observing more than a dozen uromastyx and noting that only a couple would accept any type of insects, I decided to find my own answers. This research which started many years ago (which is still ongoing today) led me to the firm belief that uromastyx are indeed herbivores and that insect material should not be fed on a regular basis.

Just as those thousands of ticking time bomb smokers I mentioned earlier are out there now walking around claiming perfect health while dismissing everything from a cough to sore throats and hoarseness on colds, I am willing to bet the same thing is happening with a lot of uromastyx that are regularly fed animal protein. Whether that dismissal be the overly ‘tame’ animal, the ‘pudgy’ couch potato, the animal that routinely has issues keeping microorganisms in check, shedding problems, eye infections, or any other issue that might be surfacing. Not many owners will think about the possibility that the stress (body and immune) of routinely feeding animal protein to an herbivore might be playing a role with some of the surfacing conditions they are seeing and that some of these things might just be signs of the ticking time bomb set to go off several years down the road.

Just as I would recommend to a smoker that they have routine medical checkups including lung x-rays, I suggest all uromastyx owners that want to ignore the studies and data showing these animals are herbivore and the impact that animal protein can have on the system of an herbivore also do routine diagnostics. My suggestion would be regular blood work and radiographs. At the very least, have some blood work done as the animal declines or presents with an illness and have a professional necropsy upon death.

Appearances can be deceiving and I think that routinely feeding an herbivore animal protein is similar to playing Russian Roulette with one bullet in the chamber. As we do not know what amount may result in harm or which animal’s might avoid the bullet, following a practice that has the potential of causing harm without monitoring the results (diagnostics not how the animal ‘looks’) is like pointing the gun at your animal’s head.

So am I posting to suggest that a couple insects will result in the demise of your uromastyx? No. Just as thousands of people that smoke a pack of cigarettes a day may avoid that bullet, so may quite a few uromastyx. The question becomes- is it simply worth playing the game?


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>> Next Message:  RE: But does anyone look at the clues? - Paradon, Mon Jan 12 17:32:13 2009
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