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.
What makes color enhancers work?
Color enhancers contain different carotenoids, which are organic pigments that cannot be formed by animals, and are generally produced by plants, algae, or fungi. Carotenoids act as antioxidants, can be converted into vitamins, and even absorb harmful light in the eye. Most notably of all, carotenoids are often absorbed into the body and increase the amount of visible red, orange, or yellow coloration in a variety of animals, reptiles and amphibians included. Carotenoids may not have visible effects in all species, but when used correctly, are beneficial to your pet's health.
There are several carotenoids commonly used as color enhancers. Quality color enhancers, such as Repashy SuperPig, will have many different carotenoids from different sources.
Alpha Carotene - a precurser to vitamin A
Astaxanthan - a red pigment responsible for the red color of salmon and cooked shellfish.
Beta-Carotene - a very important precurser to vitamin A
Beta Cryptoxanthin - an important antioxidant and provitamin A
Canthaxanthin - a red pigment used to increase the pink/red color in farm raised salmon
Capsanthin - a red pigment, present in paprika in conjunction with Capsorubin
Capsorubin - a red pigment, present in paprika in conjunction with Capsanthin
Lutein - a yellow pigment, present in many leafy green vegetables
Lycopene - an orange/red pigment present in tomatoes and other yellow, orange, or red vegetables