Bearded Dragons, Calcium, and Vitamin D3: Everything You Need to Know  

Have you ever wondered?

  • Do bearded dragons need calcium?
  • Is calcium good for bearded dragons?
  • What is the right amount of calcium for a bearded dragon?
  • Is the bearded dragon getting enough calcium?
  • What are calcium-rich foods?
  • What are good calcium supplements for your bearded dragon?
  • Is calcium supplement good for your bearded dragon?
  • Is calcium powder good for bearded dragons?
  • Why calcium is so important for bearded dragons?

Every bearded dragon keeper knows calcium is vital for a dragon’s health and well-being. This article will guide you to answer all your questions and provide guidelines so that you can provide everything your dragon needs. So, let’s start.

Vitamin D3 and calcium go side by side. Without vitamin D3, calcium has no value/ no use as vitamin D3 is compulsory for the absorption of calcium in bearded dragons.

Calcium is necessary for bearded dragons for the following reasons:

  • Bone development and Bone density
  • Muscle contractions
  • Healthy and proper egg development
  • Good reproductive health in female bearded dragons

Bearded Dragon consumes calcium and if the body doesn’t have a supply of calcium, it will take it from bones, causing a deficiency of calcium which weakens the bones and can cause Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD. MBD is a common disease in bearded dragons but it is preventable as well as curable through proper diet and care.

Metabolic Bone Disease: Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD or nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism or fibrous osteodystrophy refers to skeletal/ bone disorders. It is caused by a lack of calcium due to an unbalanced and unsuitable diet. This painful disease causes serious bone, tissue, and muscle damage in bearded dragons.

The deficiency of calcium in bearded dragons is caused by the following:

  • Insufficient calcium in the diet
  • Too much phosphorus or oxalates (oxalic acid) in the diet
  • Poor supplementation
  • Poor lighting, causing a Vitamin D3 deficiency 

If your bearded dragon is suffering from metabolic bone disease, he will not be able to do the simplest tasks like walking due to weak and soft bones and damaged tissues and muscles. You can read MBD in detail in the Metabolic Bone Disease article and can learn about the causes, problems, and solutions of MBD.

To protect your bearded dragon from lack of calcium, you can do the following:

  • Healthy dietAlways go for food that is calcium-rich and low in phosphorous and oxalates as their higher concentration will stop the calcium absorption in bearded dragons.
  • Provide proper supplementation. Calcium and Vitamin D3 go side by side. You need to provide these daily to your bearded dragon. Try to use phosphorus-free calcium supplements or supplements that are low in phosphorous and high in calcium i.e. 2:1 or 3:1.
  • Proper UVB lighting. Your bearded dragon needs exposure to UVB as they get it from the sun in deserts in their natural environment. It helps them to absorb the calcium and digest the food. The ideal duration is 12 hours. You also need to change the blub of your UVB light after every 6 months.
  • Know the signs of deficiency and illnessThese include trouble walking, lethargy, and swollen limbs.
  • Take your dragon out in the sun. The best practice is to take your bearded dragon out on a walk. They will enjoy it as well as get the Vitamin D3 from the sun.

In the wild, bearded dragons get calcium from varied diets and Vitamin D3 from exposure to the sun. But in domestic settings, these things are not possible. You can copy their natural environment but it is not possible to recreate the exact replica. So, in domestic settings, a bearded dragon can’t satisfy their calcium carvings only from diet and UVB light.

In short, your bearded dragon needs supplements.

Providing the right dose of calcium to your bearded dragon is important. But it is too difficult to know how much your dragon has consumed the meal that you have provided them as they are very choosy in their diet. You will be very lucky if your bearded dragon eats everything that you provide them. They usually don’t eat everything and don’t finish their food.

By providing calcium supplements, you have better control over their calcium intake and you can prevent them from falling ill, especially from suffering from metabolic bone disease.

So, in the wild, bearded dragons get calcium from varied diets e.g. insects, plants, etc. Which are not possible to provide them in domestic settings.

Calcium and vitamin D3 go side by side. Your dragon needs vitamin D3 to absorb and digest the calcium.

In domestic settings, your dragon gets Vitamin D3 from UVB light and exposure to the sun during walks. But it’s not quite the same as free-range exposure to the Australian desert sun and can cause vitamin D3 deficiency.

To overcome this, Vitamin D3 supplementation is necessary for your bearded dragon.

You have already come across two options for supplementation, i.e. Liquid and Powder.

Actually, it’s not about the liquid or powder, it’s about the ingredients that you provide your bearded dragon. If the supplement has all important/ essential ingredients and is suitable for your bearded dragon, you can give it to them in liquid or powder form.

So, it’s down to your preference. Both work fine.

Powdered calcium is a popular and easy-to-use option among bearded dragon keepers. All you need is to sprinkle their food with powder and let them eat it. Their only drawback is that they are messy. You can also learn how to give your Bearded Dragon Powder without making it messy.

Liquid supplements are tricky as they are given by dropper to your bearded dragon. Your dragon will not enjoy it. Another method is to add the supplement to drinking water, but there is no guarantee your dragon will consume it all. 

On the one hand, a liquid supplement is a quicker option that gives you more control over Dragon’s supplement intake, on the other hand powder supplement is easy and your dragoon is also comfortable.

Dusting the insects with powder is a messy business as the powder will be spread in the tank and increase your work. To overcome this, you can do the following:

  • Choose a powder that has a reputation for sticking to insects. 
  • If possible, consider dusting more docile insects like roaches instead of crickets.
  • Use a designated feeder bin, one that’s long and shallow. Once your insects are dusted, place them in the bin with your dragon for mealtime.
  • To dust your insects, place them in an airtight container with the calcium powder and shake them thoroughly. 

Another common question among bearded dragon owners is what should be the frequency of consuming supplements. How often do they need to provide supplements? 

  • Common Practice: A few times a week to once a day.
  • Special case: If your dragon is suffering from any disease, e.g. metabolic bone disease, the frequency is higher. You need to provide them with more calcium according to the vet’s advice.
  • Common Practice: two to three times a week.
  • Special Case: If your dragon is suffering from Vitamin Deficiency and not digesting the calcium supplements, you need to contact your vet and follow his instructions. In this case, frequency is usually more.

Some supplements are a combination of Calcium and vitamin D3. If you are using them, the recommended frequency is three times a week. But you need to read the ingredients and consult your vet before using them.

Other supplements are not necessary like multivitamin supplements. But if you choose to use them, read the ingredients and select the one that is low or without vitamin A. This is because supplemental Vitamin A can quickly rise to toxic levels in bearded dragons, resulting in illness that includes vomiting, weight loss, and loss of energy. Beta carotene is a lot safer than Vitamin A because of the way your dragon’s body will absorb it. 

  • Bearded Dragon needs calcium supplements daily.
  • Bearded Dragons need Vitamin D3 supplement three times a week.
  • Bearded dragons need combination Supplements three times a week if they are not getting simple supplements.
  • Avoid supplements containing Vitamin A.
  • Opt for supplements like beta carotene.
  • Always check with your vet if your dragon is suffering from illness.

How do you know that your bearded dragon is suffering from calcium deficiency? Following are signs and you need to call the vet if you notice any of your Bearded Dragon:

  • Lethargy and weakness.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Stress.
  • Swollen limbs and jaw.
  • Constipation.
  • Receded lower jaw.
  • Soft jaw and facial bones.
  • Bumps along the spine or bones.
  • Bowed limbs and arched spine.
  • Fractures and broken bones.
  • Trembling and twitching limbs.
  • Greenstick fractures (folded or bent bones).
  • Tremors and seizures.
  • Paralysis or difficulty moving.

Calcium-rich food is very important for your dragon. You can’t only rely on supplements.

They are a great source of calcium for your bearded dragon.

  • Cactus pad, or prickly pear.
  • Collard greens.
  • Dandelion leaves.
  • Endive or escarole.
  • Mustard greens.
  • Turnip greens.
  • Kale.
  • Rosemary.
  • Grape Leaves.
  • Blackberries 
  • Figs  
  • Papaya  
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes 

Calcium and Vitamin D3 are important for the well-being of your bearded dragon. Through a balanced diet and proper supplementation, your bearded dragon will continue a healthy and happy life.

If you have questions or would like to give feedback, please contact us.

Leave a Comment