How Much Calcium Do Bearded Dragons Need? (Explained)

Calcium plays a huge role in the health of a bearded dragon. Unfortunately this critical component is often overlooked. As owners, its our responsibility to meet all their dietry needs.

In this article, we’ll talk about bearded dragon calcium needs, shedding light on why it’s essential for the health. We’ll also provide practical advice on how frequently to dust those delicious insects with calcium powder, making sure your beardie stays strong and healthy.

Understanding Calcium’s Role in Bearded Dragon Health

Calcium is like the superhero of bearded dragons diet—always there to save the day and keep them strong and healthy. So, let’s dive into why calcium is such a vital part of bearded dragon care.

1. Building Strong Bones and Steady Growth

Just like us humans, bearded dragons need calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Without adequate calcium, our beardies may suffer from a condition called Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).

Think of MBD as the arch-nemesis of our calcium superhero, causing weak and brittle bones that can lead to deformities and fractures. And trust me, no one wants a bearded dragon that looks like it’s auditioning for a Tim Burton movie.

2. Flexing Those Muscles

Aside from making sure our bearded dragons have bones strong enough to rival Superman’s, calcium is also crucial for proper muscle function. It helps with their coordination and allows them to move smoothly, whether they’re climbing branches, chasing crickets, or doing their best impression of a pancake as they bask in the sun.

Long story short, without enough calcium, our beardies would be more like couch potatoes than the active and curious creatures we know and love.

3. For the Ladies: Laying Eggs

If you happen to have a female bearded dragon, calcium plays an essential role in her reproductive health as well. As she prepares to lay her eggs, she’ll need extra calcium to ensure the eggs have strong shells and to prevent issues like egg binding.

Signs of Calcium Deficiency in Bearded Dragons


1. Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

If your bearded dragon starts to resemble a limp noodle instead of a majestic miniature dragon, it might be suffering from Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). This condition is caused by an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus, leading to weakened bones and a host of other problems.

2. Weakness and Lethargy

Does your bearded dragon seem less interested in climbing its basking branch or chasing after tasty crickets? A lack of energy and general weakness could be a sign of calcium deficiency.

When my beardie, Lady Scalesworth, went through a sluggish phase, I knew it was time to reevaluate her calcium intake. After a few tweaks to her diet, she was back to her vivacious, cricket-chasing self in no time.

3. Appetite Loss and Weight Loss

Bearded dragons can be picky eaters, but if your scaly friend starts turning its nose up at its favorite mealworms or greens, it might be more than just a case of culinary boredom.

Calcium deficiency can lead to a decrease in appetite and subsequent weight loss.

Calcium Supplementation Options

There are various methods to supplement your bearded dragon’s calcium intake, and it’s essential to find the one that works best for both you and your pet.

Remember that moderation is key, and it’s always a good idea to consult with a reptile-savvy veterinarian for personalized recommendations.

1. Dusting Insects with Calcium Powder

Ah, the good ol’ shake and bake method. Just imagine your feeder insects shaking their groove thing in a bag of calcium powder before meeting their ultimate fate. This method is simple and effective.

Gently shake your feeder insects in a plastic bag or container with calcium powder until they’re evenly coated. Then, serve them up as a delicious, calcium-rich treat for your bearded dragon.

Just remember not to go overboard – too much of a good thing isn’t always better!

Pro Tip: To avoid a dusty mess, use a separate container for dusting insects and always wash it after each use.

2. Gut-Loading Feeder Insects

Gut-loading is like treating your feeder insects to an all-you-can-eat buffet before sending them off to your beardie.

By feeding insects a calcium-rich diet for 24-48 hours before offering them to your bearded dragon, you’re essentially turning them into nutritious, calcium-packed snacks.

3. Providing Calcium-Rich Vegetables

Dark leafy greens such as collard greens, dandelion greens, and mustard greens are excellent sources of calcium for your beardie. Just make sure to chop them into bite-sized pieces and mix them with other veggies for a colorful, balanced meal.

Pro Tip: Avoid spinach and beet greens, as they contain oxalates that can interfere with calcium absorption.

How Often to Supplement Calcium

Calcium supplementation is essential for bearded dragons at every stage of their lives. Following these age-based recommendations and providing proper UVB lighting will ensure that your bearded dragon stays healthy, happy, and full of life.

Hatchlings: Tiny, but Mighty Calcium Needs

Hatchlings are like little calcium factories, rapidly growing and developing their tiny bones. During their first six months, bearded dragon hatchlings need calcium supplements every day.

Sprinkle a pinch of calcium powder on their salad or insects, and you’ll have a happy, healthy baby beardie in no time.

Juveniles: Still Growing, but at a Slower Pace

As your bearded dragon graduates to the juvenile stage (from six months to one year), their growth slows down a bit, but they still need plenty of calcium. At this stage, it’s best to provide calcium supplements three to four times a week.

Remember, moderation is key – too much calcium can be just as harmful as too little.

Adults: Maintain those Strong Bones

Once your bearded dragon reaches adulthood (over one year old), their growth plateaus, but they still need calcium to maintain bone health. Adult bearded dragons should receive calcium supplements two to three times a week.

Gravid Females: Calcium for Two (or Twenty!)

Gravid (pregnant) bearded dragons require extra calcium to support the development of their eggs. During this time, increase calcium supplementation to four times a week. Think of it as prenatal vitamins for your expecting beardie. Once she lays her eggs, return to the adult calcium schedule.

Young3-4 times a week
AdultsAt least once per week
Reproductively active FemaleThree to four times a week
Adult receiving sunlightOnce every two weeks

Balancing Calcium with Vitamin D3

You might be wondering why we’re even talking about vitamin D3 when the spotlight should be on calcium. Well, without vitamin D3, calcium would be the life of the party without an invitation—unable to enter and do its job.

In simple terms, vitamin D3 helps bearded dragons absorb calcium from their diet, ensuring their bones stay strong and healthy.

There are two ways to meet a bearded dragon’s vitamin D3 needs i.e. UVB lights or you will have to get calcium with D3.

1. UVB Light

If you are using a MVB, AKA a mercury vapor bulb, use calcium powder WITHOUT D3.

Make sure you provide a high-quality UVB light for your bearded dragon, and place it within the recommended distance from their basking spot. And don’t forget to replace the bulb every 6-12 months because, like that mystery Tupperware in the back of your fridge, UVB bulbs can lose their potency over time.

2. Calcium with D3

If you are using regular UVB lighting (like a fluorescent light), opt for calcium power WITH D3.

Dust their insects with a calcium and D3 supplement once a week for juveniles and twice a month for adults. Just be sure not to go overboard—we don’t want our beardies to turn into little calcium-fortified tanks!

Monitoring Your Bearded Dragon’s Health

Monitoring your bearded dragon’s health is crucial for ensuring they receive the right amount of calcium. By scheduling regular vet visits, observing their behavior and condition, and adjusting supplementation as needed, you can keep your bearded dragon healthy, happy, and ready to entertain you with their charming antics.

Just like humans, bearded dragons can’t exactly tell us when they’re feeling under the weather. That’s why it’s essential to keep a close eye on your pet’s behavior and physical condition. Changes such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or shaky movements could indicate a calcium deficiency or imbalance.

It’s essential to adjust supplementation according to their health and life stage. For example, a growing juvenile may need more calcium than a fully-grown adult. Keep in mind that this isn’t a “one size fits all” situation—your bearded dragon’s calcium requirements can change over time. So, stay vigilant, and be ready to adapt your supplement routine as needed. After all, flexibility is key when it comes to providing the best care for your bearded buddy!

What Happens If You Give Them Too Much

The excess of calcium, just like calcium deficiency, is not good for the health of bearded dragons. Many new owners of the bearded dragons make the mistake of providing the calcium more than what’s typically required by the bearded dragon. This can cause health issues in the bearded dragon, which can worsen if not taken care of on time.

It should be kept in mind that providing too much calcium cannot cause any damage in the absence of an equal amount of D3 provided through UVB light. As the calcium won’t be absorbed in the body in the same amount as provided. However, consuming an excess of both the vitamins is alarming.

Excess of these nutrients can cause constipation, general weakness, and lethargic behavior of the bearded dragon. The lack of movement or lethargic behavior is a consequence of the stiffening of soft tissues in the body of the beardie, which happens because of the excess of calcium. Providing an excess of these nutrients without any gap can result in the death of the bearded dragon.


In the wild, bearded dragons have mastered the art of basking in the sun to ensure they get the right dose of vitamin D3 for proper calcium absorption. But, as captive beardie-parents, we’ve got to make sure we’re providing our dragons with the calcium they need to stay strong and healthy.

To recap, remember that adult bearded dragons should receive calcium supplements 2-3 times per week, while juveniles need a daily calcium boost.

Don’t forget the importance of proper UVB lighting to help your bearded buddy synthesize vitamin D3 and absorb that precious calcium.

Keep a keen eye on their diet, balancing a mix of calcium-rich veggies and gut-loaded insects. And, of course, don’t skimp on the snuggles – they may not be calcium-related, but bonding with your beardie is always a plus!

As a fellow bearded dragon enthusiast, I know that providing the best care for our reptilian pals is a top priority. By following these guidelines, you’ll be supporting your beardie’s health and ensuring they can continue to brighten your life with their quirky personalities and charming head bobs.

Filled under: Lizards

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