In order to keep bearded dragons healthy, a proper calcium to phosphorus ratio is crucial, and sometimes often overlooked by even the most loving of beardie owners!
Bearded dragons typically receive much of the phosphorus they need through their diet, but not enough calcium, which requires you to dust their food several times a week to ensure proper nutritional needs are met.
But the question arises, how much calcium do bearded dragons need?
How much calcium a bearded dragon needs, largely depends on the age of the dragon. Babies, for instance, will benefit from having their food dusted with calcium powder about 4-5 times a week, while adults should have their food dusted around 3 times a week or essentially every other day.
Now, Whether You Need Calcium With or Without Vitamin D3 Ultimately Depends on Your UVB lighting situation
Because UVB lighting allows for the synthesis of Vitamin D3, the vitamin necessary for proper calcium absorption, the type of UVB light you use will ultimately affect whether you need to include D3 in your dragon’s diet or not.
If you are using a MVB, AKA a mercury vapor bulb, use calcium powder WITHOUT D3.
If you are using regular UVB lighting (like a fluorescent light), opt for calcium power WITH D3.
Additionally, you should purchase calcium powder that is labeled as having cholecalciferol in it.
Cholecalciferol is a very clean, safe form of calcium and is in fact, the same type of calcium produced by the skin.
The Importance of Multi-Vitamins
Also, it should be noted that aside from calcium, bearded dragons of all ages should really be given a good multi vitamin several times to one time a week, depending on their age.
You’ll want to try and avoid vitamins with vitamin A in them as bearded dragons have a high toxicity to this vitamin and can die from too much. Instead, try to opt for vitamins that contain beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is a great option because it converts only what the body needs into Vitamin A, while the rest is passed without issue.
Rep-Cal Research Labs offer some of the reptile industry’s BEST calcium powders (both with and without D3), as well as vitamins.
I highly recommend purchasing from them as their products are extremely well researched.
Check out the links below for my personal favorite calcium powders and multi vitamins!
For optimal results, give your bearded dragon their multivitamin on days they don’t receive their calcium.
How Much Calcium Does My Baby Bearded Dragon Need?
Because they are actively growing, baby bearded dragons should have their food dusted with calcium about 4-5 times a week, and no more than 1 time per day.
Additionally, you’re going to want to supply your baby with a multi vitamin (as discussed above) about 2-3 times a week, mixed with their calcium powder and never more than 1 time per day.
How Much Calcium Does My Adult Bearded Dragon Need?
As adults, bearded dragons don’t need calcium quite as often, given that they are no longer growing.
However, you should still dust your dragon’s food around 3 times a week with calcium powder.
When it comes to their multi vitamin, mix it in with their calcium just one time a week to ensure optimal health.
What Happens if My Bearded Dragon Gets Too Much Calcium?
Although a calcium deficiency is way more common than an excess of calcium, some health issues can still arise.
When too much D3 is absorbed, and high levels of calcium exist in the diet, bearded dragons can experience Hypercalcemia.
Hypercalcemia occurs when there is too much calcium in the blood and can lead to dragons becoming sickly, and in some cases, even dying.
So, how does this happen exactly?
Although rare, Bearded dragons who are exposed to too high a level of UVB, can in turn absorb too much D3.
On top of this, when they are given too much calcium powder, their muscles can then experience calcification and essentially weaken.
If their diet and level of UVB exposure is not adjusted quickly, serious complications can ensue.
So remember, while your dragon does need calcium powder added to their diet, the exact type (D3 Vs. Non D3) and dosage will depend on a couple of factors.
Also, one should not ignore the importance a good multi vitamin can play in the role of keeping their dragon both happy and healthy.
Those who find the balance between calcium powder and a multi vitamin, will significantly increase their odds of caring for a happy and healthy dragon into old age.