Vitamin D3 and calcium are two very important nutrients that influence many of the body’s processes.
Bearded dragons are no exception. This article will discuss the importance of these vitamins D3 and Calcium, how they relate to each other, and what your pet will need for a healthy life.
Which calcium’s are for bearded dragons?
Bearded dragons require two forms of calcium to stay healthy: calcium carbonate, which is a base and therefore has an alkaline pH; and calcium citrate, which is acidic.
Both forms of calcium should be given to your bearded dragon.
Calcium carbonate is typically found in the form of cuttlebones (a bird product) or powdered in some supplements.
Calcium citrate can be found in supplements for humans or reptiles that are made with chelated minerals, as this form of mineral binds well to amino acids.
However, it’s important to remember that both forms of calcium need vitamin D3 to effectively absorb into the bloodstream—and both are necessary for your bearded dragon’s health.
Why do bearded dragons need calcium?
Bearded dragons are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.
They get most of their calcium from eating crickets, mealworms, and other insects.
Some vegetables also contain calcium, but it’s not enough to meet the needs of your bearded dragon.
You’ll need to give your bearded dragon supplements that contain additional calcium for it to grow healthy bones and avoid developing metabolic bone disease (MBD).
MBD occurs when your pet doesn’t get enough calcium or vitamin D3 in its diet or from exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D3 is essential for absorbing calcium into your pet’s body. Without it, he won’t be able to use the nutrients he gets from his food.
If he doesn’t get enough vitamin D3 regularly through his diet or sun exposure, he’ll develop MBD over time.
Bearded dragon calcium overdose symptoms
Too much calcium is called hypercalcemia, and this condition happens in lizards when they eat more than their bodies need.
It can be caused by a variety of things, including environmental conditions and diet.
Hypercalcemia can lead to weakness, lethargy, vomiting, constipation, and loss of appetite. In severe cases, it can even cause death.
Causes of bearded dragon calcium overdose symptoms
The most common cause of hypercalcemia in bearded dragons is from them eating too much calcium from their food or supplements.
Bearded dragons should only eat a small amount of supplement with every meal or just once a day. Too much supplement will lead to an overdose on calcium.
If you have multiple dragons living together in one enclosure you may also see this condition due to fighting over food or territory.
Be sure there are enough hiding places placed throughout the cage so that each lizard has its own space away from others if possible.
You may also see hypercalcemia if your bearded dragon has been stressed out for some reason such as being moved to a new environment.
How do bearded dragons get calcium in the wild?
In the wild, bearded dragons get calcium from two primary sources:
Sand and rocks.
The bearded dragon’s natural habitat is sandy soil. The animal eats the sand, which is rich in calcium.
It also eats rocks to get this mineral. However, these are not good sources of calcium for your pet because they have no nutritional value and can be harmful if consumed in large quantities.
Insects and worms.
Bearded dragons also eat insects and worms to get their calcium requirements met.
These sources are much better for your pet than sand or rocks since they contain other nutrients as well as calcium.
You should offer your pet insects and worms every day in order to provide him with enough of this important mineral
Do bearded dragons need vitamin D3?
YES. Bearded dragons need vitamin D3 to absorb calcium and phosphorus from their diet and use it to grow and develop.
In the wild, they get their supply of this essential nutrient from the sun. But since most owners keep their lizards indoors, they have to provide this vitamin in their diet or through supplementation.
Vitamin D3 is one of several vitamins that help with calcium absorption.
Reptiles are unable to produce vitamin D themselves, so they must get it through their diet or by taking supplements.
Bearded dragons who don’t get enough vitamin D3 may show
- Signs of rickets
- Soft bones and skeletal deformities will affect their growth
- Development as well as their overall health.
Where to get vitamin D3 for a bearded dragon?
The best source of vitamin D3 for a bearded dragon is UVB exposure from sunlight or artificial light sources.
Vitamin D3 is one of the most important nutrients for your beardie. It can be found in a variety of foods including eggs, dairy products, and fish oils.
It’s also usually added to commercial food, but if you want to make sure you’re giving your beardie the correct amount then adding it yourself is safer than relying on manufacturers.
It helps with bone development, and immune system function and helps regulate calcium levels.
There are two main forms of vitamin D3:
Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol.
Cholecalciferol is the natural form of vitamin D that comes from plants, while Ergocalciferol is the synthetic form found in supplements.
Cholecalciferol has been shown to be more effective at raising blood calcium levels than Ergocalciferol, although this doesn’t mean Ergocalciferol isn’t useful – just that it’s not as effective as cholecalciferol.
Can bearded dragons have liquid vitamin D3?
Bearded dragons can’t absorb liquid Vitamin D3. If you want to give them liquid Vitamin D3, it’s best to mix the vitamin into their food.
While this is not the most effective way of getting your dragon what it needs, a little bit of oil-based liquid Vitamin D3 mixed into the carrots won’t hurt.
It’s important to remember that even in powder form, vitamin D3 is not something to be given too frequently, and your bearded should only get small amounts at a time.
You will want to monitor them carefully for signs of excess calcium intake and remove their UVB light if necessary.
Can I use human vitamin D3 for bearded dragons?
If you’re supplementing your bearded dragon with a vitamin D3 supplement, be sure to use one that’s made specifically for reptiles.
Human vitamin D3 is not the same as reptile vitamin D3. Reptile vitamin D3 is carefully designed to be safe for reptiles, and human vitamin D3 is too strong for them.
If it seems like there are more benefits to using human vitamin D3 than reptile Vitamin D3, that’s because there aren’t any benefits when it comes down to the health of your pet.
Make sure you don’t accidentally buy human vitamin D by accident by checking the label carefully before purchasing the product.
It should clearly say on the bottle or packaging that it’s made for reptiles so you know it will be safe for your bearded dragon.
The strength of human Vitamin D3 is also about double what reptile Vitamin D3 is, so even if you reduce the dosage by half, which some people have done in order to save money on supplements, your beardie will still be getting too much and could suffer from a severe health condition as a result.
How to treat a bearded dragon from vitamin D3 and Calcium deficiency?
There are a few options when it comes to treating a bearded dragon from vitamin D3 and Calcium deficiency.
If you have a UVB light and basking rock, you can try placing the bearded dragon on the rocks for about 15 minutes, twice each day.
This will allow the UVB rays to penetrate the skin and convert vitamin D3 into its active form.
If you don’t have a UVB light, then your bearded dragon is likely suffering from nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism (NSHP). NSHP occurs when there is not enough calcium in their diet.
The parathyroid gland senses that there is not enough calcium in the blood and releases a parathyroid hormone (PTH) which causes bone resorption (bone loss).
The only way to treat NSHP is by increasing calcium intake in foods or supplements, which may involve using calcium gluconate injections if you are unable to get enough calcium into your pet’s diet.
How frequently should you feed your bearded dragon vitamin D3 and Calcium?
If you are feeding your bearded dragon one time a week, or even once every two weeks, you are doing it wrong.
I’m not saying that you need to feed your bearded dragon a lot of food at one time. What I am saying is that you need to make sure they get enough calcium and vitamin D3 daily.
A bearded dragon needs calcium so they can grow strong bones, and vitamin D3 so they can absorb the calcium they do get from their food.
If your bearded dragons’ diet doesn’t contain much calcium or vitamin D3 then they will not be able to absorb it properly.
So even if you feed them enough of both of these nutrients it will not help them much if they are not absorbing them properly because of a lack of either or both nutrients in their diet.