Calcium deficiency is a common problem in bearded dragons and is often seen in captive-bred species. This is due to a lack of dietary calcium in the diet, which is required for proper bone health. Calcium deficiency can also be caused by digestive problems, but it should not be confused with dietary or metabolic bone disease, which is more common in pet reptiles.
Calcium is essential for many functions inside the body, from maintaining bone mass to regulating muscle contraction. Calcium deficiency is one of the most common nutritional concerns for pet owners, both in reptiles and in other animals.
Bearded dragons are a type of lizard that requires UVB and UVA light. These lights provide vitamin D3, which is important to the regulation of calcium in the blood. This is achieved by exposing them to basking in an area with direct sunlight or else with a UVB/UVA light bulb or tube.
It’s recommended that all adult bearded dragons should have access to calcium before egg-laying, and sticks of cuttlebone should be offered every day.
Bearded dragons are omnivorous and eat a variety of insects, including crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and silkworms. They also eat plants like dandelions, clover, and kale. Some adult bearded dragons will not eat vegetables, so they should be force-fed until they are weaned off insects.
A deficiency in calcium can be caused by vitamin D3 deficiency or by a lack of calcium in the diet.
Vitamin D3 is produced by the sun. Bearded dragons should be kept in an area of direct sunlight so that they can provide themselves with vitamin D3, and should be fed a diet that contains vitamin D3. It’s suggested that a lot of fresh oranges or tangerine juice is drunk every day, although some bearded dragons may not like this taste. Some vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and collard greens are nice sources for the bearded dragon to eat because they also contain calcium.
How to treat calcium deficiency in bearded dragons?
When a bearded dragon is deficient in calcium, its spine will become deformed and limp due to its brittle structure. Limp spines are common in juvenile bearded dragons at about three to five months of age. Many things can cause this, so it’s important to eliminate other factors such as vitamin D3 deficiency, improper heating system, or lack of calcium.
One way to fix a calcium deficiency is through the use of calcium supplements. Vitamin D3 supplements are also recommended because they increase blood calcium levels, which are important to other bodily functions. I recommend Fluker’s Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3, I have been using it for my beardies and its a good one for me.
It’s crucial that the temperature stays appropriate for the bearded dragon. A temperature of 80–85 °F is ideal for a bearded dragon. Without proper heat, it could cause a calcium deficiency by restricting the muscles and preventing movement. This can reduce the ability to obtain vitamin D3 from the sun, and also diminish appetite for food sources of calcium such as vegetables.
In addition to this, calcium should be supplemented into the diet. Calcium can be provided by a cuttlebone or a calcium block. A cuttlebone is usually offered to captive birds, while a calcium block is usually offered to hermit crabs and other invertebrates.
Bearded dragons also have to consume the correct nutrition as well as vitamin D3 in order for the calcium deficiency to be treated effectively.
Why Bearded Dragons Need Calcium and Vitamin D3?
It is common knowledge that bearded dragons are often kept by people who have a lot of time on their hands. They provide hours of entertainment for their owners and a relaxing form of exercise for the dragon itself.
With this in mind, it would make sense that the owner should take care to ensure that their beardie is provided with an adequate diet – one which includes a healthy amount of calcium and vitamin D3. Those are some pretty important nutrients as they help to support bone growth, while also ensuring healthy teeth and nerves.
Vitamin D3 allows the dragon’s body to absorb calcium from its digestive tract. Calcium is useless to your dragon unless it is combined with Vitamin D3.
Bearded dragons require calcium for a variety of reasons, including:
- Bone formation
- Contractions of the muscles
- Female reproductive health
- proper egg development
Dragons’ bodies require so much calcium that if they are lacking, the body begins to remove calcium from their bones, resulting in metabolic bone disease (MBD). Unfortunately, MBD is one of the most frequent diseases in domestic bearded dragons, although it is completely avoidable with correct nutrition and care.
Any of the following could be the cause of your bearded dragon’s calcium deficiency:
- Inadequate calcium intake in the diet
- An excessive amount of phosphorus or oxalates (oxalic acid) in the diet
- Inadequate supplementation
- Inadequate illumination, resulting in a Vitamin D3 deficiency
How do I give my bearded dragon more calcium?
If your bearded dragon is not eating properly, it’s possible they are lacking in calcium. Calcium deficiency can lead to juvenile growth problems, such as stunted development or bone deformities. You should purchase a supplement powder for bearded dragons (get Fluker’s Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3 on Amazon.com) and feed the required dose to the bearded dragon once per week or as stipulated by your vet. It contains both calcium and Vitamin D3.
A vitamin D3 supplement can be safely given two to three times per week. Bearded dragons do not require this supplement on a daily basis because they should be obtaining 12 hours of UVB exposure every day. Of course, a dragon with metabolic bone disease or another illness that necessitates a more intensive supplement program would be an exception.
In addition to calcium and Vitamin D3, I recommend giving your beardie a multivitamin. Calcium can be given up to once per day. Vitamin D3 can be given three times per week while combination supplements should be given three times a week. Vitamin A supplementation should be avoided.
Another way to give your bearded dragons calcium is by providing them with a calcium rich organic foods. Even with the supplements, it is still important to provide calcium-rich foods for your bearded dragon.
Foods like: Cactus pad, or prickly pear, Leafy greens, Collard greens, Dandelion leaves, Endive or escarole, Mustard greens, Turnip greens, Kale, Rosemary and Grape leaves are all rich in calcium.
Can bearded dragons absorb calcium through their skin?
It’s a common misconception that bearded dragons absorb calcium through their skin. In reality, reptiles lack the ability to absorb calcium from any part of their bodies, including their skin or anywhere on the outside of their body.
Bearded dragons get all the calcium they need by eating vegetables, UVB lights, calcium supplements and other foods high in calcium. Without UVB, bearded dragons can’t actually absorb and use calcium properly.
Bearded dragons are omnivores and eat both plants and meat in order to get complete nutrition. The calcium in plants can be found in their bones, while the calcium in meat can be found in their muscles. The calcium from bone and meat is absorbed by the reptiles’ stomachs, which also have the ability to absorb some of the calcium from food they eat. This absorption occurs via the reptile’s intestines, which are part of their digestive tract.