Like any creature, a bearded dragon needs a certain intake of vitamins and minerals to keep them healthy and well. Just like you take a multi-vitamin in the morning, your scaly friend also has a few nutrient supplements they need. Because a terrarium isn’t their natural habitat, you’ve already supplied the heat and the light but there are things they can’t get from their new habitat without it being supplied to them.
They have the ability to roam around in their natural environment and thus they get all the varied vitamins and minerals they need from the wild. In captivity, they can’t hunt the way they normally would and their lighting is still lacking in the effectiveness of natural sunshine. So what kind of vitamins and minerals do you as an owner need to supply that they aren’t getting from their food and lighting set up?
Let’s dig into that, shall we?
What Vitamins Should You be Supplying?
There are three essential supplements that your bearded dragon should be getting. They all work in tandem to ensure that all of the nutrients you are giving your little one can be absorbed and reinforce your pet’s bodily functions. Those three vitamins are Calcium, Vitamin D3, and a multivitamin.
While they all have different functions, calcium, and d3 work together and are vital to proper dragon health. A multivitamin can also help supply nutrients they may not be getting from their food or environment. Not every supplement is the same though, so it is important to pay attention to the ingredient lists and talk to your vet before buying specific supplements.
So what do each of these supplements do specifically and what brands should you be looking for? We’ve got you covered there as well.
Calcium is incredibly important for your little one’s development as it is critical in keeping their bones strong and healthy. Beardies are prone to Metabolic Bone Disease, so if they aren’t getting the right amount of calcium in their diet it can lead to weakness, pain, and even deformity. A proper calcium supplement is the best way to get calcium into your pet with ease.
There is a lot of debate in the reptile community on whether or not dragons can actually have too much calcium, and how frequently you should be supplementing them. If you’re unsure of how much calcium you should be giving your pet, you should consult your vet and ask them what they recommend.
There are some vets that recommend a powdered supplement, while others might suggest a liquid. There is a discourse that powders aren’t absorbed as easily and you never know if they’re actually getting enough, whereas a liquid can make it easier to make sure they are getting enough. Either way works as long as you clear it with your vet first.
A powdered calcium supplement we recommend is RepCal Calcium with D3 as it is an ultrafine powdered supplement that is made from 100% natural ingredients and makes it easy to dust on your beardie’s food.
If you’re looking for a good liquid product to use instead, we recommend Fluker’s Liquid Calcium Supplement or Zilla Calcium Supplement Food Spray. Both products are incredibly helpful where Fluker’s comes in a dropper for easy distribution onto food or in water, Zilla’s is a spray that can just be sprayed easily on their live food or their fruits and veggies.
As mentioned before, D3 works in tandem with calcium to help with the absorption of nutrients. In the wild, bearded dragons get a full 12 hours of sunlight that allows Vitamin D to be produced naturally in their skin. In captivity, it can be more difficult for them to get the right amount of light during the day to make up for the lack of sunlight.
Proper UVB lighting can help with the production of D3. You can either get some kind of MVB or UVB bulb/lamp that will help with providing the right amount of vitamin D for your pet. There are plenty of setups that can help give off exactly the kind of light you’re looking for during the day to supplement your pet’s Vitamin D levels.
You can also do this by providing a powdered calcium supplement that contains D3 as well. Two brands we recommend for calcium powder with added D3 are the RepCal we mentioned above as well as Zoo Med Repti Calcium. Both are options with added D3 to keep your beardie’s levels on track.
Multivitamins are where you are going to have to be really picky. Depending on your bearded dragon’s diet, they can get things like beta-carotene from some of the fruits or vegetables that they enjoy. Added Vitamin A (Vit A) in a multi can actually be toxic and you’ll need to be careful about not overloading them because they can naturally convert beta-carotene into it so extra will only make them sick.
One of the multivitamins we recommend the most is RepCal Herptivite because their levels of included vitamins are balanced and it contains beta-carotene instead of Vit A. A proper multi shouldn’t contain Vit A at all.
What Have We Learned?
Vitamins are one of those things that you really need to pay attention to when you’re considering getting a bearded dragon. Because their natural habitat is already so rich with what they need to survive in the wild, their habitat in captivity needs to be able to make up for what they are lacking. Knowing some brands that you can trust and comparing certain supplements with the other ones you are hoping to use, will help you make clear decisions.
It is always recommended to consult your vet before you make any decisions on supplements so that you can ensure your setup and supplements don’t conflict or give your beardie too much of one thing. All in all, just take care of your beardie and keep an eye on what you give them and you’ll be just fine.