To thrive, breaded dragons need a very specific diet. As owners, it is our job to provide them with the nutrition they need to be both fit and healthy.
In this article, we’ll specifically look at whether or not bearded dragons need calcium powder so that you can provide your beardie with the best diet possible.
Having too much or too little of any vitamin can cause issues, including calcium powder.
For this reason, it is essential to get the dosage correct and figure out whether or not your bearded dragon actually needs calcium powder in the first place.
So, do bearded dragons need calcium powder? Bearded dragons do need calcium powder, as they will usually not get the appropriate amount of calcium from their diet alone when kept in captivity. However, the specific amount of calcium powder your bearded dragon needs can vary based on various factors such as age.
Read On to Discover…
Do Bearded Dragons Need Calcium Powder? (More Info)
Most bearded dragons will need calcium powder for the large majority of their life. Bearded dragons that are still growing will need it to support both the growth and maintenance of their bones.
Adult dragons will still need high amounts of calcium even though they aren’t growing, as they still need to maintain the health of their bones over the course of their life and into their senior years.
There is a long list of health complications that can arise if your bearded dragon does not get the appropriate amount of calcium.
One of the most common yet serious of these issues is metabolic bone disease or MBD for short.
Metabolic bone disease can be extremely painful for beardies and lessens their quality of life significantly.
The signs of metabolic bone disease are:
- Failure to grow
- Tremors & muscle twitches
- Bone fractures
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty Standing
- Swollen Bones
If your beardie has not been given the appropriate amount of calcium for some time, they can become lethargic, weak and eventually seriously ill.
Death is possible with a severe calcium deficiency. However, the dragon is more likely to become injured due to their weakened bones and die from a secondary infection.
If your dragon is still young and growing, calcium deficiency can cause stunted growth (more on this shortly)
In the wild, bearded dragons can get all the calcium they need from eating small animals. However, in captivity, they are usually given bugs, which do not contain as much calcium.
This is one reason why they need supplementation. In the wild, bearded dragons may have also eaten rocks and dust to consume the vitamins they need.
In fact, we have created a post that shares exactly how bearded dragons get calcium in why wild and why they don’t need calcium powders to be healthy.
Calcium-rich greens are essential for providing a base for a calcium abundant diet, however, supplementation is still required to provide the recommended levels of calcium for a captive beardie.
It is essential to note the UVB light plays a role in whether or not bearded dragons can use the calcium they have ingested.
If your bearded dragon does not have access to proper lighting, then they can develop health problems because of too much unused calcium in their system. The symptoms look very similar to a calcium deficiency and are just as deadly.
Do Baby Bearded Dragons Need Calcium Powder?
Baby bearded dragons need a very particular diet to grow correctly. As growing reptiles, they need more calories than adults would by weight, as they need extra calories to support the rapid growth they are experiencing. This is the same for vitamins and minerals, like calcium.
So, do baby bearded dragons need calcium powder? Baby bearded dragons need calcium powder and supplementation as part of their regular diet. This is important to support the growth and maintenance of their bones. They should have their food dusted with calcium powder 4-5 times a week, but no more than once in a single day.
On top of this calcium supplement, baby bearded dragons may also benefit from a multi-vitamin. This should be used 2-3 times a week, preferably during feedings where you do not provide calcium powder.
If a baby bearded dragon does not get enough calcium, their bones will not grow correctly. This isn’t something that can be undone – once their growth has been affected, you cannot go back and fix it.
For this reason, we recommend you provide the correct levels of calcium through both a balanced diet and supplementation from birth onwards.
Recommended Reading: The 10 Reasons Why your Bearded Dragon Isn’t Growing
Do All Bearded Dragons Need Calcium Powder?
You might now be wondering if offering a diet that’s already rich in calcium would mean that calcium powders and supplementation isn’t necessary?
The answer to this question is not necessarily as simple as you might assume.
So, do all bearded dragons need calcium powder? Not all bearded dragons necessarily need a calcium powder. If a dragon can get enough calcium from its diet, no further supplementation is needed. However, this is rare given the average captive bearded dragon diet and for this reason, we recommend you provide a calcium supplement.
If your adult bearded dragon was properly supplemented as a baby and is currently eating lots of “bone-in” meals and high-quality greens then they may not “officially” need a calcium supplement.
Foods like pinkies have calcium in them, as do most mammals. If something has bones, then your dragon is getting calcium from eating it.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid feeding your bearded dragon a calcium supplement because they eat mammals every-so-often.
Calcium deficiency is a serious issue, and it is often better not to chance it. As long as your dragon can access an appropriate UVB light, they can’t receive too much calcium through proper supplementation.
For this reason, we recommend supplementing your dragon even if they eat pinkies. It is better to be safe rather than sorry in this situation.
Head over to our recommended lighting equipment page to see what UVB bulb we suggest you use to give your beardie the best exposure.
How Often Do Bearded Dragons Need Calcium Powder?
How often your bearded dragon needs a calcium powder will depend mainly on your dragon’s diet and their age.
Smaller, growing dragons will need more calcium powder than older bearded dragons merely because they are still growing.
Some bearded dragons may need calcium supplementation more than others because of their diet and other factors.
So, how often do bearded dragons need calcium powder? Here’s how often bearded dragons need calcium powder:
- 0-4-month-Olds Need Calcium Powder 6-7 Times Per Week
- 4-12-Month-Olds Need Calcium Powder 5 Times Per Week
- 12-24-Month-Olds Need Calcium Powder 4 Times Per Week
- 24-Month-Olds + Need Calcium Powder 3 Times Per Week
- Gravid Female Need Calcium Powder 6-7 Times Per Week
Veterinarians recommend switching between a D3 containing vitamin and a vitamin that does not contain D3.
This is because bearded dragons often need more calcium than they need vitamin D3, especially when they have proper lighting access. By using both types of supplements, you ensure that your bearded dragon is getting enough of both vitamins.
Generally speaking, a bearded dragon with appropriate UVB light exposure will create all the D3 they need to metabolize calcium. However, this is another situation where it is better to be safe rather than sorry.
Dusting is the easiest way to give your bearded dragon calcium powder. You should do it lightly.
The crickets should not be white. Sprinkle a few pieces of calcium on each cricket, and you’ll be good to go. While you can cake it on there, your pet can only absorb so much at a time, so you’d be wasting quite a bit.
This is one reason it is recommended to supplement lightly 2-3 times a week (depending on age), instead of a whole bunch at a time.
For bearded dragons that do not accept food that has been sprinkled, it is possible to gut load the insects you are feeding them.
Once again, you should feed the insects a small amount of calcium. Then, you should feed them to your dragon within 24 hours.
This diet is not healthy for insects and can cause death within three days. Therefore, it is essential to feed them to your dragon quickly.
Here’s a table that shares how much calcium supplementation bearded dragons need:
Bearded Dragon | Calcium Supplementation Guide
|Age||Times Per Week|
|24 Months +||3|
|(Gravid Female)||6-7 (During & 1 Months After Laying)|
How Do I Give My Bearded Dragon Calcium Powder?
Now that we know how often to give your bearded dragons calcium powder, let’s look at how to do it.
So, how do I give my bearded dragon calcium powder? Calcium powder is given to bearded dragons through dusting food or gut loading insects. Dusting is simply spreading it on their food, while gut loading involves feeding it to insects that they will be eating.
Both of these methods produce the same result, and one is not necessarily better than the other.
Dusting is typically the most straightforward option and is much easier than gut loading. All you do is sprinkle your bearded dragon’s food with calcium powder. They consume it when they eat.
However, some bearded dragons are quite picky. They may not consume food that has been dusted with calcium powder – or refuse to eat after they realize you’ve dusted their meal.
For these bearded dragons, it may be best to gut load the insects they are eating. This involves feeding the insects a calcium-rich diet about 24 hours before they will be eaten.
When the bearded dragon eats the insects, the calcium-rich food will still be in the insect’s digestive system. Therefore, the beardie will be eating calcium-rich food as well.
If you’re unsure exactly why calcium is so important for bearded dragons then head over to our guide that shares all you need to know about why beardies need calcium.
Gut loading is a bit more complicated and takes some planning. You may not know precisely how much your bearded dragon will eat, which can complicate how many insects you should gut load.
A calcium-rich diet is not necessarily good for insects either, as many will die within a few days from impaction.
You may have to separate soon-to-be-eaten bugs from those that will be eaten later, ensuring that only the bugs about to be eaten are given the calcium-rich diet.
As you can see, gut loading involves a lot more planning and work than dusting. Therefore, dusting is typically the chosen option. However, some bearded dragons won’t eat dusted food, making gut loading necessary.
Can I Mix Calcium Powder in Water for My Bearded Dragon?
Because calcium powder does come in a powder form, it may seem like a good idea to mix it into water.
Theoretically, your dragon may drink the water, which will also cause them to intake the calcium powder. However, this is not as straightforward as you might think.
So can I mix calcium powder in water for my bearded dragon? While it is possible to mix calcium powder into water to allow your bearded dragon to consume the right amount of calcium in their diet, this is generally difficult to do accurately. Most of the powder will usually go to waste and therefore dusting food is the preferred option.
It isn’t easy to figure out just how much water your bearded dragon will drink, making it challenging to figure out just how much calcium powder to put in their water.
While the bearded dragons will consume the calcium powder when they drink the water, it isn’t easy to know the right ratio to mix the powder into the water.
Many people attempt this method when their bearded dragon begins not to eat.
However, if your bearded dragon is not eating for an extended period, you likely have more significant problems than your dragon consuming all the vitamins and minerals they need.
Calcium is also fat-soluble, so if your dragon is not currently eating any fats, it will be unable to digest the calcium powder anyway.
Some bearded dragons also refuse to drink their water when it has calcium powder in it.
This can create all sorts of problems when it comes to dehydration and fluid intake. If you decide to give this method a try, be sure to monitor your dragon’s water intake to ensure they are still drinking despite the added calcium.
Can Bearded Dragons Have Too Much Calcium Powder?
Many owners get worried about the amount of calcium powder they offer to their bearded dragon and often wonder if they can consume too much calcium powder?
This is a valid question and one that certainly needs answering.
So, can bearded dragons have too much calcium powder? You can give bearded dragons too much calcium powder. However, this is rather hard to do and requires giving them too much vitamin D3 as well. As long as you stick to the recommended dosage you should have no worries about your bearded dragon consuming too much calcium powder.
If you gut load all the bearded dragon’s insects, sprinkle their diet with calcium powder and add it to their water, then sure, they can consume too much calcium. This causes serious health problems and is quite bad for them.
However, to metabolize all of that extra calcium, the bearded dragon also needs to consume high amounts of vitamin D3. Otherwise, the excess calcium will pass through their system and will not do any harm otherwise.
The main problem arises when you’re using a supplement that includes both calcium and vitamin D3.
Giving your beardie too much of a supplement that includes both of these vitamins can cause excess calcium absorption.
If you give your bearded dragon too much calcium and vitamin D3, their soft tissues will begin to stiffen.
They cannot get rid of excess calcium through their urine after it has been metabolized. Instead, it gets stored in their fatty tissues. Too much calcium in these fatty tissues causes them to stiffen.
The most common symptoms of too much calcium are:
- general weakness
- lethargic behavior
The easiest way to avoid this problem is to switch between a D3-containing calcium supplement and one that does not contain D3.
This will prevent your dragon from consuming too much D3, which will, in turn, prevent them from metabolizing too much calcium.
What Is The Best Calcium Powder For My Bearded Dragon?
Now we’ve established that calcium powders and supplements are essential for bearded dragons. it’s now time to take a look at what powder you should be offering your beardie.
There are so many brands and supplements on the market that it can become confusing and hard to know which ones to choose.
So what is the best calcium powder for bearded dragons? We recommend The Rep-Cal as the best calcium powder for bearded dragons as it provides all the nutrition your bearded dragon needs in and comes in a variety of options such as phosphorus-free and with or without vitamin D3 to aid absorption if needed.
Whenever we recommend a calcium supplement we never hesitate to recommend Rep-Cal as we believe it really is the best option on the market.
It’s produced from high-quality ingredients and comes in a variety of purchasing options depending on your needs.
You can choose to go with added vitamin D3 if you want to help your beardie absorb the calcium powder.
You can also get Rep-Cal with no phosphorus in it as phosphorus is known to bind to calcium and potentially prevent it from being absorbed and utilized in the body.
Overall Rep-Cal is a great calcium supplement and one that is trusted by owners all over the world.
You can check out Rep-Cal on Amazon directly 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 2021-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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