Bearded dragons are reptiles that look like dragons. Its body possesses spiny scales, which extend to its face, making a spiky beard under the reptile’s chin. The bearded dragon has been in existence for centuries.
The reptile belongs to the pogona family, which is divided into eight species, and these eight are nicknamed “the beardies”. Of the eight species, the pogona vitticeps is the best beardie to have as a pet.
Bearded dragons are known to be gentle and very active during the day. They are also omnivores, which feed on insects, mice, smaller lizards, as well as flowers, fruits, and leaves.
Calcium is an essential nutrient in the diet of the bearded dragon. Several veterinarians recommend bearded dragon parents sprinkle or coat foods offered to bearded dragons with calcium powder.
The question is, how important is calcium to a bearded dragon? What is too much calcium for bearded dragons? How often should you give your dragon calcium? These questions and more are dealt with in this post.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Need Calcium?
Calcium is essential to bearded dragons’ diet because it helps your dragon grow healthy and happy. A bearded dragon needs calcium to develop its bones, as this makes them stronger.
A bearded dragon that takes a proper diet, the proper lighting, or a good amount of calcium has an 80% chance of survival and living longer than a dragon that lacks any or all of these requirements.
Bearded dragons that are low on calcium are also likely to have severe health problems, which can ultimately lead to their demise.
Moreover, gravid female bearded dragons require calcium to shape their eggs—this shaping act allows your bearded dragon’s child to have the right structure, which leads to a healthy baby bearded dragon.
Calcium Deficiency in Bearded Dragons
What happens when your bearded dragon lacks calcium? Amongst the various effects of a deficiency of calcium in beardies is a weak and fragile bearded dragon, which is likely not to survive for a long time.
Also, if your beardie is female, she is likely to have deformed bearded dragon eggs or be incapable of giving birth. The most severe effect is that your bearded dragon can contact severe life-threatening illnesses, such as metabolic bone disease.
The metabolic bone disease or MBD is a disease that lives up to its name, affecting the bones of the bearded dragon caused majorly by a lack of calcium.
Common symptoms are your dragon’s inability to complete easy tasks like walking, raising its head, or climbing. In severe cases, your bearded dragon lays on its stomach all day; this disease leads to the death of your dragon.
General symptoms of calcium deficiency in your bearded dragon range from a lack of appetite to weak, swollen jaws and legs, stunted growth, and shaky legs while walking. To get accurate information on your dragon’s calcium intake, you can conduct a blood test with your vet.
Calcium Overdose in Bearded Dragons
What happens if your bearded dragon gets too much calcium? The importance of calcium to bearded dragons have been stressed a lot. Most bearded dragon parents do not know that an overdose of calcium is also as harmful to your dragon as is a deficiency.
Nevertheless, an overdose rarely occurs; this can eventually happen as a resultant panic by a beardie parent who feels their bearded dragon has a calcium deficiency.
When giving your bearded dragon an overdose of calcium, you need a balance of vitamin D3 for your bearded dragon to digest the calcium in its body. Nonetheless, if there is an overdose of both calcium and vitamin D3, this would also cause severe damage to the health of your bearded dragon.
Symptoms of calcium overdose in beardies range from lethargic behavior to general weakness, constipation, shaky legs, soft and weak jaws and legs.
These might sound familiar—you guessed right—the symptoms of an overdose of calcium share striking similarities with the symptoms of a deficiency of calcium in your bearded dragon.
The best way to know which is by looking back to your bearded dragon’s diet. If you’ve been giving your bearded dragon calcium, the symptoms are likely to be that of an overdose; if not, it’s likely to be a deficiency. You can also get a blood test on your bearded dragon to be sure.
Best Ways to Provide Calcium to Your Dragon
If you read the entire article till this point, you should have noticed a tip-off on some of the ways to give your beardie calcium. When seeking ways to provide your dragon with calcium, three ideas come to mind: Diet, UVB light, and powder.
You get better results by blending these three. Check out how these work:
A good diet should contain calcium for your bearded dragons. Collard greens, turnip greens, cilantro, Romaine lettuce, figs, blackberries, and a bunch of leafy greens are various diets with a good amount of calcium. Keep a variety of diets in mind when feeding your bearded dragon- try a blend of these vegetables on your beardie’s diet.
Aside from vegetables, some insects are a great source of calcium. Feeding your bearded dragon insects like crickets or beetles provide it with the required calcium to go for a few hours.
To give your bearded dragon enough calcium with insects, you can try the gut loading technique. The technique works by feeding insects a high calcium diet and then feeding them to your bearded dragon. The calcium consumed by these insects subsequently ends up in your bearded dragon’s body.
Another source of calcium for your bearded dragon is light. Reptiles in the wild use the rays from the sun as a basic source of calcium. If you think keeping your beardie out on the sun is old-fashioned, you can get UVB light technology for your bearded dragon.
Set the UVB light at suitable locations after reading the instructions carefully; this technique would be efficient if mixed with the natural sun rays.
Using calcium powder is the most common way to provide calcium for their bearded dragon. It’s also the most effective source of calcium for your beardie when it suffers a deficiency.
If you are thinking of using this technique, you would need a calcium powder that contains vitamin D3; sprinkle the powder on your bearded dragon’s food. You can also coat foods with the powder and feed to your bearded dragon; this process is called dusting.
Avoid coating or sprinkling too much powder on the food—your bearded dragon might refuse to consume it.
How Much Calcium Should Dragons Get?
As emphasized, too much calcium can be dangerous for your bearded dragon. The amount of calcium needed by your dragon depends on its age.
Young bearded dragons ought to receive more calcium than adults. Bearded dragons below 12 months need lots of calcium to aid growth and provide strength. These age gaps are also prone to illnesses like metabolic bone disease than their adult counterpart.
Also, the amount of calcium needed for bearded dragons varies on the sex of the dragon. Female bearded dragons during pregnancy need more calcium—this calcium intake continues till a month after laying her eggs.
How Often Should Bearded Dragons Get Calcium?
Nonetheless, this intake varies according to the age of the bearded dragon. For 0 to 4 months old beardies, which require more calcium intake, require calcium, and a balance of vitamin D3 for a minimum of 6 times and a maximum of 8 times a week.
For 4 to 10 months old beardies, the calcium intake should be a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 5 times a week; for 10 to 24 months old beardies, they require calcium intakes of a minimum of 3 and a maximum 4 times a week, for the adult beardies (above 24 months) they require calcium of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 3 times a week, and for the gravid females, they require the same amount of calcium as the 0 to 4 months old beardies.
Bearded dragons, like other reptiles, need suitable amounts of calcium to stay strong and live long healthy lives. The effect of a deficiency or an overdose of calcium in the bearded dragon can cause negative effects that can be dangerous to your dragon.
This article answers the demanding questions by bearded dragon parents on all there is to know about bearded dragons and calcium. The article also went further to state ways beardie parents can source calcium for their dragon, as well as symptoms to look out for when your bearded dragon has an overdose or a deficiency in calcium.
Keeping to the calcium intakes recommended for your bearded dragon in this post would give your beardie the calcium balance it requires.