What are probiotics?
The term probiotic, often used interchangeably with the term direct-fed-microbial, is self-defined. In general terms “probiotic” means “for life” and “direct-fed-microbial” or DFM means a microbial (preferably a live microorganism) that is fed directly to the reptile to benefit the intestinal environment of that particular species being fed.
These microorganisms should be non-pathogenic in nature and comprised of many different organisms geared toward the well-being of the particular species. They should create an environment in the intestinal tract of a reptile that is favorable to the animal, yet hostile to pathogens (disease-causing agents).
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Antibiotics have been a valuable tool against certain diseases. Unfortunately, some pathogens, such as Salmonella, are resistant to their capabilities to prevent or cure disease. Because of the indiscriminate nature of some antibiotics they will destroy both “bad” and “good” bacteria. Since the bacteria “war” is a numbers game, it is important that the “good” bacteria always outnumber the “bad” bacteria.
Feeding a probiotic or DFM specially formulated for reptiles can help insure this replenishing of “good” bacteria. Since all animals can experience stress and pathogens take advantage of stressful situations it is crucial that there are fewer numbers of these potential pathogens in the gut of the animal. There is also the concern of zoonoses.
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Zoonoses is the transmission of diseases from animals to humans. The most recognized zoonoses is salmonellosis. The ever-increasing popularity of exotic pets, such as reptiles, has brought to the forefront the zoonotic concern.
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It is commonly understood and has been shown that a single DFM, such as found in yogurt, is not as effective as a combination, such as is found inNutriBAC df.
NutriBAC df can be considered a management tool to help the herpetoculturist or collector in managing for the well-being of their reptile. A concentrated effort on the part of the reptile owner must include both the internal and external environment of the animal.
The internal environment of the animal can include the digestive tract. Even though, seemingly healthy animals may harbor potential pathogens, the key to a healthy animal is a healthy gut. The more disease-free an animal’s environment, the less likely of zoonoses to occur.
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Iguanas (Iguana iguana) that were positive for Salmonella spp were divided into a control and treatment groups. The control group was fed commercial iguana food. The treatment groups were also fed commercial iguana food with different levels of NutriBAC df hand-mixed with them.
The treatment groups were also given water with the NutriBAC df supplement sprinkled in it. The trial lasted over one year with monthly fecal samples tested for Salmonella. After only four months, iguanas being fed a high concentration of NutriBAC df began testing negative forSalmonella. After nine months further enrichment tests of the intestine proved there was no Salmonella growth. Other iguanas in the NutriBAC dftreatment groups have also gone Salmonella-negative after being fed the specially-formulated supplement.
Subsequent testing on other treatment iguanas continued to prove that the iguanas being fed the NutriBAC df supplement were shedding (through the feces) less frequently than control group iguanas. Enrichment procedures were still showing no Salmonella growth on the iguanas fed theNutriBAC df. To further substantiate the findings, a strict protocol was followed to determine if the direct-fed-microbials in NutriBAC df were attaching and living within the intestinal walls of the iguanas.
The results showed a range from 484,000,000 to 1,000,000,000 colony forming units per gram of iguana intestine! Iguanas not fed the supplement still showed Salmonella residing in the intestine, colon, and cecum.