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Pet lizards need vitamin D and calcium for healthy bones. Dietary calcium is only one part of ensuring your leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) doesn’t develop hypocalcemia or metabolic bone disease. Consumed calcium is unavailable to your squamate without active vitamin D, also known as D3.
Calcium is essential for bone maintenance and growth, muscle function, and metabolism. When blood calcium levels are low—a condition called hypocalcemia—your leopard gecko may suffer from lethargy and muscle cramps.
Low blood calcium can also lead to metabolic bone disease when the body utilizes stored calcium from the bones to maintain blood calcium levels. That can be a severe problem for your growing leopard gecko, causing poorly developed or soft Gumby bones that are fracture prone.
This article evaluates five calcium supplements and how to use them, and we’ll also look at the essential role of Vitamin D3 and how best to add it to your leopard gecko’s diet.
Are Vitamin D3 Supplements Enough For My Leopard Gecko?
Vitamin D is an essential regulator of calcium and phosphorus equilibrium in animals, and it can be acquired from the diet or synthesized when skin is exposed to UVB. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to metabolic bone disease (MBD), a complex of diseases.
Studies have shown that leopard geckos can get all their required vitamin D3 from dietary supplementation, negating the need for UVB exposure for D3.
While exposing your leopard gecko to sunlight’s equivalent (UVB) may not be essential for Vitamin D3 production, the full impact of UVB on your reptile’s immune response has not yet been established. I recommend using UVB lights for at least 3-hours a day, especially in the first six months of your little leopard gecko’s life.
Why Are Captive Leopard Geckos Prone To Calcium Deficiency?
Managing the nutritional needs of insectivorous reptiles in captivity is a common challenge, and this is true for all lovers of Eublepharis macularius, including zoos. Some of the challenges include:
- Insects raised in captivity do not have ready access to natural diets due to a lack of insect species variance, poor commercial insect diets, and insects being fasted before consumption
- Captive insects are generally deficient in calcium, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D3, and E), thiamine, and omega-3 fatty acids
There are two common strategies used to deal with these deficiencies: dusting and gut-loading. But there’s a challenge! Crickets, for instance, can groom themselves dust-free in less than 150-seconds. Gut loading with calcium and vitamin-rich diets is a better option.
Still, these diets provide variable results with factors such as duration of gut loading, the developmental cycle of the insect, nutritional aspects, and quality of the gut loading diet all play a part.
Most vertebrate animals require dietary calcium intake greater or equal phosphorus intake. Insects with more calcium and diverse nutrient profiles include black soldier fly (BSF) larvae, common rough woodlice, and soldier termites.
Insectivorous lizards develop signs of rickets and bone demineralization when fed unsupplemented insects.
The calcium to phosphorus ratio in feed crickets and mealworm larvae is approximately one part calcium to ten parts phosphorus – significantly lacking the required calcium.
An unsupplemented diet cause folding fractures in the long bones, softened bones, and significant demineralization. Geckos receiving crickets supplemented with calcium grow significantly better and healthier, with well-mineralized skeletons.
The 5 Best Calcium Supplement for Leopard Geckos
|Rep-Cal SRP00200 Phosphorous-Free Calcium Ultrafine Powder Reptile/Amphibian Supplement with Vitamin D3||98%||831|
|Repashy Calcium Plus 4 oz JAR||98%||1,063|
|Zoo Med Reptile Calcium with Vitamin D3||95%||1,356|
|Fluker’s Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3||94%||7,528|
|Zilla Reptile Health Supplies Calcium Supplement Food Spray||85%||606|
1. Rep-Cal SRP00200 Phosphorous-Free Calcium Ultrafine Powder Reptile/Amphibian Supplement with Vitamin D3
My number one choice – and is the same seems to apply to thousands of other breeders. Rep-Cal has established a good reputation with insectivorous lizard lovers.
It is scientifically formulated from 100% natural oyster shells and is an excellent source of phosphorous-free calcium carbonate with added Vitamin D3 for improved calcium absorption.
According to a comment by the seller: Calcium is a minimum of 35% with a maximum of 40%. Vitamin D3 minimum of 400,000 IU/Kg
Comments from a Users of Rep-Cal’s Product
Dani from the United States commented: “Great product for my Leopard Gecko! I leave a milk lid full in her tank, and she helps herself to it as needed. The container is small, but the shelf life is long, and a little bit goes a long way with this. I bought this in conjunction with the rep-cal multivitamins and am very happy with the purchase!”
Angel from the United States commented: “I’ve been using this for many years. My leopard geckos are doing amazing on it, and I leave it in a dish and let them self-regulate.”
Repashy Calcium is an all-in-one calcium supplement with added vitamins, trace minerals, and carotenoids for dusting insects. I was impressed by the number of up-voters and their score for this product – 1,063 votes and an average 98-percent approval rate – now that’s impressive. They claim that there is no need for a separate vitamin supplement.
Comments from a User of Repashy’s Product
In 2021 Ryan from the United States commented: “I’ve had my leopard gecko for about eight years now, and it’s happy and healthy. It seems more eager to eat food with this dusted on than the plain calcium. I always use this stuff to dust his food. Better than needing to follow a schedule of dusting calcium one day, multivitamin supplements another day, and calcium with D3 another day… it’s too much hassle. This is meant to be everything your pet needs in one. You’d be a fool not to have this if you own a reptile that needs calcium supplements. Also, it smells like banana candy, which is nice.”
Zoo Med’s Reptile Calcium is an ultra-fine precipitated calcium carbonate supplement with Vitamin D3. It is a phosphorus-free calcium supplement for reptiles and amphibians. It has a unique shape/high surface area per gram, increasing calcium bioavailability. It is free of harmful impurities (not from Oyster Shells) and contains safe levels of Vitamin D3.
Comment from a User of Zoo Med’s Product
Loren from the United States commented: “My leopard gecko loves it. I had some other grayish calcium prior, and my Leo hated it, but he practically bathes in this stuff. lol.“
Seven thousand, five hundred and twenty-eight users have given Fluker’s Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3 a 94% approval rating. That means that more than seven thousand gave it either a four- or five-star rating – that’s when your product does what it says.
Comment from a User of Fluker’s Product
In 2021 JJ commented from the United States: “YUMMMMM😉 I got this for my two leopard geckos, and they like it. They probably don’t even notice that’s it’s on their food, though,😂 but they eat it like no problem. It’s easy to use. All you do is put it in a container or baggy with the insect kind of shake it and then give them to your reptiles. It’s also cool cause it’s the Calcium and Vitamin D3 together, so I don’t have to buy two separate ones.”
Apply Calcium Supplement by misting any reptile food (including mealworms, mice, or vegetables). This proven formula is readily absorbed into virtually any reptile, or amphibian’s bloodstream assimilated directly into bone tissue. In extreme cases, three drops applied directly to a pet’s mouth will help treat common calcium deficiencies. It is made in the U.S.A.
Directions to using Zilla Reptile Health Supplies Calcium Supplement Food Spray
- Calcium is essential to reptiles for supporting and maintaining bone health
- Spray directly from the bottle onto food 15 seconds before serving
- A few drops can be applied directly to the pet’s mouth
- Most species of reptiles and amphibians require exposure to UVA and UVB light to absorb calcium
Can I Make My Own Calcium Supplement?
An alternative to buying a calcium supplement is to make your own, and I suggest you do this by grinding some cuttlefish bone (or cuttlebone) finely.
Cuttlebone is commonly used as a calcium-rich (90%) nutritional supplement for pets like reptiles, chinchillas, and caged birds. It is also rich in carbon and amino acids, essential for cellular development.
Cuttlefish bone, or cuttlebone, is a rigid, brittle structure present in all members of the Sepiidae family, or cuttlefish. Contrary to its name, a cuttlebone is not a bone, but a hard shell of cuttlefish, a squid-like cephalopod. Filled with gas, it provides the fish with buoyancy.
Some leopard gecko breeders use a commercial calcium supplement and ground cuttlebone for a healthy diet. Remember that you will need to add a Vitamin D3 supplement or use UVB lights to help your Leo synthesize the calcium.
FAQ’s about Leopard Gecko
Conclusion on Best Calcium Supplement for Leopard Geckos
Your leopard gecko must have access to more calcium than it can get from its diet. Because crickets are rich in phosphorus, calcium ratios must compensate for these excesses. The two common strategies used to deal with calcium deficiencies are dusting the food with calcium and gut-loading crickets with calcium-rich food.
Dusting the food with calcium is one way, but another way is to supplement the cricket’s diet with calcium-rich food. Below are nature’s five vegetables that contain the highest natural calcium content.
|Vegetable||Calcium per 100 g|
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