As a bearded dragon owner, you are probably highly aware that calcium is vital to the health and well being of your bearded dragon.
You may also have wondered how bearded dragons get calcium in the wild?
This is actually a really interesting question and as beardie enthusiasts, one that we have always been intrigued by too.
In this article, we will take a deep look at how bearded dragons get calcium in the wild, how they get calcium in the winter months, how easy calcium is to come by and much more!
First, let’s take a look at how bearded dragons get calcium in the wild…
So how do bearded dragons get calcium in the wild? In the wild, bearded dragons are opportunistic feeders that get calcium from the insects that are available as well as seasonal vegetation that they come across. Even though the availability of food can be limited, it is extremely fresh and provides high levels of nutrients such as calcium.
Read On to Discover…
How Do Bearded Dragons Get Calcium In The Wild? (More Info)
Calcium is highly important to a bearded dragon’s health for many reasons including the maintenance and growth of bones and the function of muscles.
Even though this is true, not much is ever said about how bearded dragons get enough calcium in the wild to remain healthy without the need to have calcium supplements like captive beardies do.
Studies show that in the wild, bearded dragons are opportunistic hunters and feeders that eat a wide variety of insects and vegetation depending on what is available to them at the time.
There are various factors ranging from the quality of food they consume to the environment they live in that all make a contribution to the level of calcium that bearded dragons both consume and process in their diet.
Let’s now take a closer look at how bearded dragons get calcium in the wild…
Bearded dragons are known to occupy the desert areas of Australia, however, they also largely occupy woodland, scrubland and even subtropical terrain.
This means that the plants, flowers and greens that are potentially available to bearded dragons can be vast.
This was proven when scientists examined the stomach contents of 14 wild roaming bearded dragons and found that they contained various insects and a selection of leafy greens.
It’s fair to assume that these leafy greens are high in calcium not to mention other key nutrients.
Something else that’s important to point out is that these leafy greens are eaten straight from the source so they are as fresh as possible.
When you purchase greens from a store they could have been picked and package days if not weeks ago and a lot of their nutritional value including calcium may have been lost.
The greens that beardies are consuming in the wild have the highest levels of calcium possible when compared to store-bought greens.
As we have previously mentioned, bearded dragons in the wild are opportunistic hunters and are forced to eat a wide variety of insects.
These insects are often full of nutrients including calcium and will usually be much richer in these nutrients than the store-bought insects that captive beardies eat.
This is because insects in the wild are constantly eating and consuming vitamins, minerals and other nutrients including calcium from natural substances like soil and biodegrading plant matter which means the insects are naturally gut-loaded.
Store-bought insects, on the other hand, may have not eaten for days before you purchased them (depending on where you get them from)
Also, if you don’t gut load them yourself before feeding them to your beardie then there’s a high chance that they actually offer very little nutrition, especially when compared to insects found in the wild.
If you are unsure of the best places to purchase live insects for your beardies online then places such as ‘Josh’s Frogs’ and ‘Fluker’s Farm’ are great.
You can always head over to our guide that shares our full list of top online stores for live insects...
You can also see our guide that breaks down the best places to purchase superworms online and it even shares each individual store’s policy on live guarantee and shipping terms so you can see which is the best overall option.
The bottom line is that is you are gut loading your bearded dragon’s insects then they will be nutrient-dense but the insects that beardies eat in the wild will also be nutrient-dense.
The only problem wild beardies may face is that the insects will be harder to come by and will inevitably eat less.
3. Other Factors
Another factor that’s important to how much calcium bearded dragons get in the wild is the quality of UVB rays they are exposed to.
The fact of the matter is, even though bearded dragons don’t get calcium from the sun, they do get vitamin D from the sun and then that vitamin D helps to process calcium in the body.
The sun is much better at doing this than artificial UVB light so beardies actually need slightly less calcium in the wild than they do in captivity.
How Do Bearded Dragons Get Calcium In The Wild During The Winter?
During the winter months in Australia, the temperatures can drop significantly in certain parts of the country.
Parts of Australia can record temperatures as low as 5°C or 41°F in the winter. This means that food becomes scarce with both vegetation and insects even harder to come by.
The temperature drop also means that basking would be difficult and therefore any nutrients including calcium would be hard to digest, process and utilise in the body.
Ultimately, bearded dragons aren’t able to get a lot of calcium in the winter months so they often decide to brumate.
This is a clever evolutionary behaviour adopted by reptiles as a whole and one that allows them to conserve their energy and nutrients until the temperatures increase and food is once again more readily available.
If you want to learn more about brumation including how you can help your beardie before, during and after brumation in captivity then check out our easy to follow brumation guide here…
What Happens If Bearded Dragons Don’t Get Calcium In The Wild?
If bearded dragons don’t get calcium in the wild, unfortunately, they will become ill just like a captive beardie would.
Calcium is vital to both captive and wild bearded dragons and if it isn’t present in their diet then it will cause the onset of serious health issues such as MBD or metabolic bone disease.
Metabolic bone disease is an illness in bearded dragons that is primarily caused by a lack of calcium or availability of UVB rays.
Wild Vs Captive Bearded Dragons – Who Consumes The Most Calcium?
Wild bearded dragons live in a number of different areas throughout Australia and some of which can be difficult to find food.
This means that beardies in the wild must be open-minded with the insects and vegetation they choose to eat as they can’t afford to be picky if they want to increase their nutrient intake including calcium intake.
Something else that helps wild beardies increase their nutrient and calcium intake is the fact that they have evolved to have large stomachs so they can eat a high number of insects and plant matter in one sitting.
This helps them to consume a high amount of nutrients in one go if they come across a scarce food source.
Captive beardies have the advantage of being fed live insects on a consistent and daily basis as well as having the option of a fresh bowl of calcium-rich greens in their tank at all times.
Calcium supplementation is also a huge factor to the levels of calcium a captive beardie consumes compared to a wild beardie.
There is also probably clues to be had in the fact that the average life-span of wild bearded dragons is between 3-8 years, while captive bearded dragons have an average life-span of 8-12 years.
While not all of this increased lifespan can be credited to increased calcium intake, it’s possible that increased calcium intake could be a contributing factor.
With all things considered, bearded dragons in the wild are far less likely to consume anywhere near as much calcium as a captive bearded dragon.
This is due to captive beardie’s having a regular feeding schedule of both live insects and greens plus the added advantage of calcium supplementation.
If you are interested in how long bearded dragons live, then we have just researched and published a new article that shares all you need to know as well as the details of how old the oldest bearded dragon ever was?
You can check out the article and find out how long bearded dragons live here…
How Can I Make Sure My Bearded Dragon Is Getting Enough Calcium?
As you are probably well aware, good quality calcium intake for your bearded dragon is vital for their health.
As an owner. There are certain things you need to do on a regular basis in order to ensure your beardie consumes the right levels of calcium to enable them to have optimal bone and muscle development,
What we recommend to increase calcium intake for your bearded dragon…
- Gut-Loading Insects
- Calcium-Rich Greens
- Calcium Supplementation
Taking the time to gut-load insects is important as this will drastically increase the nutritional value of every insect you offer your beardie.
If the insects you are feeding your bearded dragons haven’t eaten for days then they will be lacking in vital nutrition such as protein and even calcium.
Offering your beardie fresh greens such as dandelion greens and mustard greens in a salad bowl that they can eat as they please is also very important.
In between feeding insects, your beardie needs to be able to graze on greens that are high in calcium to consistently supply them with vital nutrients.
Something that shouldn’t be overlooked is the importance of offering a high-quality calcium supplement.
Even though bearded dragons in the wild don’t have this option, vets and animal nutritionists recommend that you use a calcium supplement to ensure your beardie is getting the calcium they need.
If you’re not sure how often you need to supplement with calcium then check out this table that gives you a guide depending on age…
Bearded Dragon | Calcium Supplementation Guide
|Age||Times Per Week|
|24 Months +||3|
|(Gravid Female)||6-7 (During & 1 Months After Laying)|
We would always recommend using RepCal as in our opinion it’s the best calcium supplement for your beardie.
It’s a great option and we really haven’t found a better alternative anywhere.
You can check it out on Amazon below…
- Rep-Cal Ultrafine Powder Is An Excellent Source Of Calcium For All Reptiles And Amphibians
- Scientifically Formulated From 100-Percent Natural Oyster Shell Phosphorous-Free Calcium Carbonate With Vitamin D3 To Aid In Absorption Of Calcium
Last update on 2021-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
One of the most common questions among new owners and reptile...
Any new or potential owners will naturally want to know if bearded...
Any potential bearded dragon owner will want to know if bearded...