There are several different varieties of supplements available on the market today. The most popular kinds are:
Calcium supplements are needed to offset the generally calcium poor diets fed to pet reptiles and amphibians. Not only are captive diets poor in calcium, but they are often unbalanced with an excess of phosphorus, which severely impacts your pet's ability to uptake the needed amount of calcium. Vitamin D3 is also important in the uptake of calcium. Generally, D3 is produced when exposed to UV light. In captivity, a lack of UVB lighting or providing less than the needed amount can result in a need to supplement with vitamin D. Many calcium supplements are available with varying amounts of vitamin D3. As a general rule, the more exposure to UVB light your pet reptile or amphibian gets, the less D3 supplementation it needs in order to utilize dietary calcium properly.
There are many different brands of vitamin supplements available, including Exo Terra, Rep-Cal, T-Rex, Repashy, JurassiPet, and Tetra. Each vitamin supplement may use different sources of the various nutrients they contain - it's hard to say one brand is better than the other. Using multiple brands in conjunction with each other will help ensure your reptile or amphibian gets the nutrition it needs. Alternatively, switch brands after you run out of one, or it has been open for longer than 6 months. All vitamin supplements should be replaced after they have been open for 6 months.
Specialty Vitamin Supplements
Occasionally, your pet reptile or amphibian may benefit from more specific, targeted supplementation. This need is generally linked with fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamin A. Breeding activity specifically utilizes a lot of vitamin A, which is then quickly depleted in the body. Supplementing regularly can help maintain good egg production in reptiles and amphibians (we dust once a month for breeding adult dart frogs) and can even help animals that are producing bad eggs get back on track (for animals producing bad eggs, we dust once a week for 8 weeks). Most vitamin supplements provide vitamin A in one of two ways - beta-carotene (such as Rep-Cal Herptivite), and in retinol form (as in the Repashy line of vitamin supplements, especially Repashy Vitamin A Plus). There is some literature that suggests beta-carotene is a safer source of vitamin A, as beta-carotene must be turned into vitamin A by the body and is nontoxic in the beta-carotene form, while other research suggests that your pet may not be able to utilize vitamin A from beta-carotene in any significant amount, and that providing a retinol form of vitamin A is a must. Either way, be careful when using vitamin A - oversupplementation can harm your pet. Always use supplements as directed.
Josh's Frogs generally recommends against the use of all-in-one supplements in most situations. Calcium should be supplemented separately from vitamins. This ensures that the body can uptake both the vitamins and calcium that it needs. Calcium can severely impair your pet's ability to uptake nutrients if present in excess. Some all-in-one supplements, such as Repashy Calcium Plus, can play an important role in a supplement rotation.
Color Supplements (Color Enhancers)
Color enhancers are supplements that contain specific compounds which your pet's body can use to create pigments. Many species show duller colors in captivity than in the wild. This can be due to a number of reasons, with dietary limitations being a major cause. A wide variety of chemical compounds and pigments are routinely consumed by many species of reptiles and amphibians, either from direct consumption of compound containing vegetable matter, or consumption of insects and other animals that have consumed said plant matter. In captivity, this natural order is broken, and intake of natural color enhancers is severely limited by a lack of variety. Infrequently dusting foods with a color enhancer (1-2 times a month) can go a long way in regaining wild coloration in your pet reptile or amphibian. Currently, the most popular color enhancer for reptiles and amphibians for sale is Repashy SuperPig.