at Wed Aug 8 11:39:18 2012 [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by jarich ]
Darn, missed this thread until now; rarely come on this forum anymore.
I will plainly state that my experience is very limited as to what success may be accomplished from either food source exclusively. I am also NOT saying people shouldnt feed rodents. However, since we are talking about scientific nutritional values I can add some to that discussion.
As regards the nutritional content, crayfish are higher in usable calcium. They also have higher amounts of other minerals, though not in any crucial way. Vitamin contents vary, of course, but crayfish are higher in Vit E, which is a shortcoming of rodents. However, rodents are higher in Vit A, so Id say its easy to call them equal but different for the sake of vitamin content alone.
Fats are a big difference. Rodents are very high in saturated fats, whereas crayfish are pretty much all unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Let me be clear, the actual ramification of this difference has not been studied in varanids specifically. However, it is important to note two things. First, Niles in the wild, like many varanids, are not exposed to high levels of saturated fats in their diet. Second, we are finding that in numerous species and genus of animals generally, a change to diets high in saturated fats results in health issues. (It should be noted that these are usually issues in old age)
It doesnt matter that these are captives, since we are talking genetic predisposition towards lipid metabolism. However, this does depend on species, of course. There are a number of varanids that do eat a large amount of red meat in the wild, and are adapted to that diet.
As for the OP's question about problems with wild caught specimens, there is that possibility. Crayfish build up in heavy metals. The easiest and best way to find out is to look at water surveys in your area. Fish/Wildlife and County governments will have those figures. If the heavy metals are within acceptable ranges, then you should be fine.
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