Anyone heard or tried the "Carotene Experiment"?

Cornsnake chat, help and advice
pitzMike
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Feb 2017, 07:14

Anyone heard or tried the "Carotene Experiment"?

by pitzMike » 11 Apr 2017, 02:17

I was not aware of the carotene experiment until I joined some Betta Groups in FB. The thought that fishes can be groomed and enhance their coloration led me to research for the possibility of enhancing the colors of reptiles. Through reading various articles regarding animal coloration/pigmentation, i learnt that many animals' color, including some reptiles, are well affected by the type of food that they eat. Im no biologist so my understanding of these might be limited.
Then i read of the Carotene experiment which aimed to enhance the Reds, Oranges and Yellows of Corn Snakes however the articles regarding these are limited. I would like to start the same experiment on some of my snakes to see if it can enhance my corns' coloration.

Anyone else heard or tried this same experiment?

Another thing: I am also researching on the Black/Brown pigmentation which is affected by melanin for the Anerys.

:dead:

Joe Was
Posts: 65
Joined: 14 Nov 2016, 20:23

Re: Anyone heard or tried the "Carotene Experiment"?

by Joe Was » 11 Apr 2017, 18:49

I have done something like that for some time now.

What we do is, in a baby food jar, put "20 ml" or about "2/3" of an once of "Extra Light Olive Oil." I then add the contents of one "Lutein" gell-cap and another of "Beta-carotene." I purchase the lowest dose available on the shelf.

We feed thawed frozen feed. We inject, using an insulin syringe, about "10 units (1/10 of a cc)" of the mixture into each food item's stomach/body cavity.

We do this once every three to five feeds starting after the third feed of a newborn or brumated animal.

I got to thinking a number of years ago. About, the prevailing theory that the yellow color that generally presents in older animals, was mainly due retained carotenoids from food items. So, I decided to supplement at first I just used "Beta-carotene in extra light olive oil (also, known, as pharmaceutical blending-oil or sweet olive oil). Now, we use extra light olive oil for cooking and frying from the grocery store/kitchen.

I was cautious at first due to knowing some nursing mammals cannot have formulas made with animal fats and others with plant fats. The baby rino will die with animal fat milk so, their formula is made with vedgetable oil. And, others are just the opposite. I reasoned, in snakes the rodent and bird eaters, would get vedgetable oil in the stomachs of their feed.

Back in the early 1970's when I volunteered at a large zoo. We injected raw whole eggs into the stomachs of the rats we fed the snake eating snakes. So, I was no stranger to supplementing snakes by injecting their food. [The zoo stoped importing Indian rat snakes to feed its king cobra and it became dull and listless on just rats. The egg injections glossed it right up.] I still do the egg thing with dull or ailing snakes today, but not consistently. Due to raw eggs having vitamin blockers mainly "avidin" or anti-vitamin. Cooked eggs deactivate the anti-vitamin.

This is what I found Beta-carotene alone, may not do all that much. The combination of Beta-carotene and Lutein does quicken the yellow, orange and deep tan coloring in snakes. It takes a lot of time and does not happen overnight. Not all morphs respond to faster or deeper coloring.

Most snakes shed more easily and tend to look more bright, glossy and healthy with the injected foods. The color improvements have not been, as dramatic, as I had hoped for. I have been thinking of adding canary bird red and lutino factors to the mix. Just, have not gotten around to playing with these. So, for now we are still doing the listed carotenoids.
Remember, a setup for your animal(s) will in most cases cost you more than your animal. Most, animals eat more than many sources say.

pitzMike
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Feb 2017, 07:14

Re: Anyone heard or tried the "Carotene Experiment"?

by pitzMike » 12 Apr 2017, 02:06

Hi Joe! Thank you for being active in this forum and sharing your knowledge and experiences!

Have you tried mixing the supplements in the water instead of injecting it to mice/rats? I searched for Carotenoid supplements and found some "Carotenoid Complex" which contains more than lutein and beta-carotene but I have no idea if it will be suitable or the ideal for reptiles. I am still studying if too much carotenoid might affect the health of the animal.

Also, I believe, Carotenoid is responsible for the Reds, Oranges, and Yellows? Does it show on your corns who are taking these supplements?

I also read somewhere that pigmentation and the development of chromatophores usually starts in the embryonic stage - this gave me an idea to try it in 3 of my 10 corn eggs of the moment. I mixed supplemental lutein and beta carotene in water and mix/dampen vermiculite use in incubation. Havent seen the result yet as I expect them to hatch the 4th week of April but will monitor and log the results of this experiment.

I know some might be off or will not agree on this experiment.

Joe Was
Posts: 65
Joined: 14 Nov 2016, 20:23

Re: Anyone heard or tried the "Carotene Experiment"?

by Joe Was » 12 Apr 2017, 15:26

pitzMike wrote:Hi Joe! Thank you for being active in this forum and sharing your knowledge and experiences!

Have you tried mixing the supplements in the water instead of injecting it to mice/rats? I searched for Carotenoid supplements and found some "Carotenoid Complex" which contains more than lutein and beta-carotene but I have no idea if it will be suitable or the ideal for reptiles. I am still studying if too much carotenoid might affect the health of the animal.

Also, I believe, Carotenoid is responsible for the Reds, Oranges, and Yellows? Does it show on your corns who are taking these supplements?

I also read somewhere that pigmentation and the development of chromatophores usually starts in the embryonic stage - this gave me an idea to try it in 3 of my 10 corn eggs of the moment. I mixed supplemental lutein and beta carotene in water and mix/dampen vermiculite use in incubation. Havent seen the result yet as I expect them to hatch the 4th week of April but will monitor and log the results of this experiment.

I know some might be off or will not agree on this experiment.


From what I know the colors: black, white and red are directly controled by genetics and yellow is from retained dietary consumption. Though, I believe this might be too simple of a distinction.

The secondary to cornsnake genetics colors like green and yellow may also, have something else, going on besides the above prevailing wisdom on the subject. On green Bubblegum corns and Butters the hint of green or yellow may present before the first feed. Some, tan and browns may not be just a mix of red, black and yellow. The whole Redcoat, Red-factor, Fire, Crimson and others are not worked out yet. And, my money is on more complexity than the current simple understanding of color in morphs.

Beta-carotene helps reds and oranges to some extent but, not as greatly, as Lutein helps tans and yellow in cornsnakes and birds for that matter. This is true even in people where high doses of Lutein will tan skin up some when taken to excess. And, as you pointed out earlier the fish keeping community has known, for years that the carotenoids and omega fatty acids color-up fish quite well.

As, for the carotenoids being toxic - most of what I have read on it show no toxic dose and list these, as non-toxic. Most toxic studies are done on rodents and as mammals they have non-nucleated blood cells like we do. But, reptiles and birds have nucleated blood cells. This is why some medications that are safe and work for mammals are toxic to birds. As the exotic bird trade became expensive veterinary resurching worked more with the nucleated blood group. So, today almost all the reptile medications came from bird work.

My take, is whatever a reptile's food eats, is also, good for the reptile. So I, would say the whole carotenoid group, should also, be nontoxic to reptiles.

My use of oil and injecting food rather than use in water. Is all carotenoids are light sensitive and degrade. Many, carotenoids are fat bound and the commonly available supplements are packaged in oil so, working with water may be difficult. In natural sourced carotenoids many are found in conjunction with fatty acids like, the omega complex.

The sources of some of the less used carotenoids come from elgae. The comon ones like Beta and Lutein come from carrot peelings and tommato.

All this being said, I skip a few feedings between the suppleminted feeding. So, the animals have two or three feedings that are not supplemented. Just to be safe.

Your, pre-hatch experiment is interesting. I was not aware of pre-hatch influences beyond temprature and humidity. But, the fertilized development of the embryo from undifferentiated cells through oragagenetics, is primaraly chemical. Through, DNA that trigger the chemicals that cause the differentiation of simple cells into specialized cells and later into organs and tissues. So, you may be on to something?
Remember, a setup for your animal(s) will in most cases cost you more than your animal. Most, animals eat more than many sources say.

pitzMike
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Feb 2017, 07:14

Re: Anyone heard or tried the "Carotene Experiment"?

by pitzMike » 21 Apr 2017, 00:20

Wow I still have more to learn! Nope I'm not into something grand. It's just my curiosity killing me :). I'm an engineer by profession but for my love of animals, I am thinking of taking some minor biology class just to satisfy this curiosity of mine.


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