Many people understand the importance of giving their leopard gecko calcium, but sometimes, it’s not always clear on exactly how much we should actually give them. With the many different options and opinions we are faced with, getting the right information can be a bit of a challenge. But hopefully, when it comes to this particular question, we can get to the bottom of it once and for all.
How often should I give my leopard gecko calcium? Your leopard gecko should be supplemented with calcium with every meal. Calcium helps to keep their bones healthy and also aids in preventing certain diseases that can be very detrimental to their health and well-being.
When it comes to calcium, this supplement is one that is required for all leopard geckos no matter the size, weight, morph, sex, or diet. Along with another very important supplement that’s used to help break it down, calcium is an absolute must in your leopard geckos diet and supplementing them with it is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. With that said, let’s take a deeper look into this oh-so-important supplement.
How to Give Them Calcium
Luckily, supplementing a leopard gecko with calcium is actually very simple. All you’ll need is the feeder insects of your choice and a small plastic baggy, such as a Ziploc bag, with a decent amount of calcium powder inside of it.
Once you have these two things, just place the feeder insects that you plan on feeding to your leopard gecko in the plastic baggy with the calcium and then lightly shake it.
When doing this, make sure you don’t shake too hard so that you don’t end up accidentally killing the insects inside. It’s not that they are any less nutritious when they’re dead, it’s just that your leopard gecko will likely not eat them simply due to the fact that they don’t find feeders that don’t move to be very appealing.
After you’re done dusting your feeders, you can now either hand-feed your leopard gecko or place the food inside of its food bowl. While some people hand-feed their gecko, I’ve found that most just put it in their food dish. Whatever you decide to do, though, will be dependent on the type of feeder you’re giving them and what method of feeding you prefer.
In addition to supplementing them through their meals, though, you’ll also want to make sure you have a small bowl of calcium inside of your tank as well. Having this bowl will allow your leopard gecko to lick from it whenever they feel the need to replenish themselves with this particular supplement.
You don’t have to worry about whether or not they will lick too much of it because when it comes to their nutritional needs, they naturally know how much they need in order to grow and stay healthy.
Like stated above, you will need to dust your feeder insects with every single meal, but when it comes to insects like black soldier fly larvae, then you might be able to get away with not dusting them since they are fairly high in calcium. Depending on who you ask, though, each answer will differ. But if I’m giving my opinion, I would say to dust them just to be on the safe side.
You don’t want to get into the habit of not dusting insects, even if they are high in calcium. Besides, it’s better to have a little too much than it is to have too little.
If you’d like to check out other feeder insects that are also high in calcium besides the black soldier fly larvae, then check this article out here that I wrote that mentions a few more of these types of insects.
Why Dust If There’s a Calcium Bowl?
This is a question that many have wondered, but from what I’ve seen, it’s simply due to the fact that some leopard gecko owners have very stubborn eaters when it comes to dusted feeder insects. Which means that some leopard geckos won’t touch their food if it’s been dusted. The reason for this is likely because, just like dead food, it doesn’t look appealing to them.
So, having a bowl of it in the tank will ensure that they are, in fact, getting their calcium in the case that this does actually happen. Even if your leopard gecko doesn’t have a problem eating dusted feeders, it’s still always a good idea to have an extra source of calcium for them to lick from just in case they do happen to get a little low on it despite it being on every one of their meals.
Does this mean that you should skip out on dusting your feeder insects altogether just because they have a bowl of it in their tank? No. But, some people actually do, do this. I don’t personally recommend it, though, because your leopard gecko could easily decide not to eat out of their calcium bowl as well.
So, at least when you’re feeding them with it on their food, you’re ensuring that they are getting the right amount that they and not just assuming that they’re licking from the bowl. Most leopard geckos are fairly smart when it comes to knowing when and when not to supplement with calcium, but not all of them behave the same, so I would definitely recommend still dusting their feeders while still having a bowl of calcium inside of their tank.
With that said, if you don’t already have a calcium bowl for your leopard gecko, then I strongly advise you to get one as soon as possible so that you’re not putting them at risk of any kind of deficiency of it.
Many people know to supplement their leopard gecko with calcium, but there are still some beginners who don’t know about having that extra source of it within the tank, so I’d give that bowl or any other bowl that can hold their calcium powder a look if you don’t already have one.
When to Replace Calcium in Calcium Bowl
The calcium in your calcium bowl can actually last for quite some time, but if you notice that it’s starting to get clumpy from your leopard geckos saliva or that it’s getting a little dirty, then I’d say that’s when it’s time to replace it with a new supply.
I usually do this about once a week because over time my leopard gecko tends to get it wet with his mouth from either saliva like stated above, or from having leftover water on his mouth from licking out of his water dish.
To make sure he has more than enough, I’ll fill his bowl up with about 2-3 teaspoons of it and then put it back wherever I have it in the tank until it’s time to be changed again. Most of the times it will be changed once a week, but other times I’m able to go longer than that. It really just depends on how much your individual leopard gecko is consuming its calcium and how well they are at keeping it dry.
Also, make sure to pick out any random debris that might get in there such as substrate or insect parts so that your gecko won’t shy away from licking from it because of things within the tank that may have fallen into it.
Leopard geckos can sometimes be very picky when it comes to what they eat, and if there’s something on or in their food or food and water dishes that they don’t like, then chances are they won’t touch it. They can sometimes be divas when it comes to their food and how it’s presented.
To Use or Not to Use Calcium Sand
I’m really not sure why calcium sand was ever made, but throughout the years, it has caused more impaction in leopard geckos than I’d like to say I’ve seen. And not just calcium sand, but sand in general. With that said, I do not recommend getting this as a substrate.
Yes, it has calcium it, but it still clumps up when wet just like any other sand, so it will likely cause your leopard gecko to have some serious problems. I’ve mentioned it before, but there has always been a great debate in the reptile community, especially the leopard gecko one, about whether or not sand is bad.
And with all of the issues it’s caused, I’m not sure why people are still recommending it as a substrate. It’s sold by large companies, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe. It should never be substituted for regular powder calcium and in my opinion, should be banned from stores.
I don’t mean to sound angry here, it just saddens me to see so many innocent leopard geckos lose their lives from this sand that has been advertised as safe for them. There have been people who have had success using it, but there are equally as many, if not more, people who haven’t had as much success with it.
Everyone can use what they feel is best for their leopard gecko, but I personally don’t think that putting this inside of their tank is worth the risk and trouble of having to go to the vet just in case they end up swallowing it.
If you’re looking for a safe substrate, then I’d much rather go with this coconut fiber and then supplement them with their calcium separately to avoid any digestive issues. It’s what I use and is far safer than sand.
Also, if you’d like to get a little bit more information on the risks of sand along with signs of impaction and safer substrate alternatives, then I recommend checking out my article here about the topic.
Supplementation by Age
There’s really no set amount to how much calcium you should be giving your leopard gecko as long as it’s given to them. You will dust your feeder insects for baby geckos the same way you would for an adult gecko, so there’s really no difference there. Also, all leopard geckos no matter the age will still need a bowl of calcium in their tank as well.
However, how often you give them calcium will be completely dependent on their age and how much they eat as well. A baby leopard gecko will need to eat and be supplemented with calcium every day because it helps them grow significantly within that first year before they reach adulthood.
An adult leopard gecko will likely not consume as much calcium as a baby leopard gecko because they have already done most of their growing. Does this mean that they will never need to be supplemented with it ever again? No, but they won’t likely be eating as much as the baby leopard gecko, so they won’t be consuming as much calcium in return.
Again, if you’re worried that your leopard gecko isn’t getting the right amount of calcium, make sure you get yourself a bowl with calcium in it. I know I’ve already said this, but there are people out there who don’t want to do it for whatever reason. So just to be on the safe side, I’d just go ahead and do it.
Having it in their tank won’t hurt them and they won’t overindulge in it either. Plus, it gives you as the owner peace of mind knowing that they always have access to it whenever you’re not awake or not at home.
Other Important Supplements
Calcium isn’t the only thing that your leopard gecko needs in order to survive, they also need a supplement called D3. D3 is what helps break down the calcium so that their bodies are able to handle it easier. Without D3, your leopard gecko can have a calcium overdose and potentially die because of it.
Both of them work together and if there’s only one without the other, there’s no balance. It’s just as important as calcium and is something else that your leopard gecko needs in order to stay healthy and survive. Unlike calcium, though, you won’t be giving it to them as often.
To give you a better understanding of what I’m talking about, click on this article here and scroll down to the section called ” Feeding Amounts with D3 and Vitamins “. This will not only tell you how much you should be feeding your leopard gecko, but it will also tell you how much calcium and D3 you should be giving them per meal and how often as well.
Another good supplement to have on hand is a good multivitamin. Although multivitamins are important, they aren’t as important as calcium and D3, but they are great for making sure your leopard gecko is getting the proper vitamins that it needs to function at tip-top shape.
When it comes to reptile multivitamins, check out Herptivite. It states on the label that it’s good with Repti-Calcium, which is a good brand that I always point others to for those who use UVB.
For those who don’t use UVB, I always just recommend a supplement called Repashy. It is loaded with calcium, D3, and vitamins.
Are There Supplementation Alternatives?
When it comes to calcium and multivitamins, no. But with D3, there is, and that’s a UVB light. Both give your leopard gecko what they need in terms of D3 supplementation, but which one you choose will be completely dependent on which one you prefer.
One option isn’t better than the next, but you will have to pick one. With UVB lights, instead of using powder to dust your feeder insects, you’ll just have a long bulb placed within the tank that shines down on your gecko where they soak up the light and get what they need when outside of their hides.
I don’t prefer one way of supplementing D3 over the next, but I do think that the UVB light makes your tank look a lot cooler. That may sound silly, but a lot of people actually do take pride in the way their tank looks and I just so happen to be one of those people.
Just to keep everything a little more simple, though, I went ahead and chose to go back to using powder. That doesn’t mean that you should if you don’t want to, that was just my personal preference at the time.
In the future, I might just end up going back to using UVB again. The only real reason why I stopped is because I’m a very busy person and using the powder just saves me a little more time by not having to worry about maintenance as much.
Keep in mind that the size you get will depend on the size of your tank, so make sure you know exactly what size it is before buying one.
When Not to Use D3
The only time you’ll want to avoid using D3 is when you’re already providing it to them from one of the two possible sources of it which you now know are powdered form D3 or a UVB light. And because I know that might sound confusing, I want to explain what I mean so that you can get a better understanding.
For example, if you’re using D3 powder for your form of supplementation then because you’re already using one source, you’ll want to avoid using a UVB light for supplementing as well. Both of these provide your leopard gecko with a source of D3, but if you’re using both at the same time, then that will just cause a D3 overload which isn’t good at all for your leopard gecko.
That’s why when buying your calcium, it’s always good to read the full description of the bottle so that you know whatever you’re getting does or does not contain D3. It’s a supplement that your leopard gecko does, in fact, need, but just like their diet, there needs to be a fine balance when it comes to supplying it.
Other than that, D3 is something that will always have to be apart of your leopard geckos diet. As stated above, it is absolutely essential for maintaining good health and is needed to break down all of the calcium that they consume.
Consequences of Too Little Supplementation
When it comes to lacking certain important nutrients like calcium and D3, the problems that your leopard gecko will face are very great. These problems can present themselves in many different ways and is a sad sight to see whenever it happens. Here are some of the symptoms that you can expect to see when your leopard gecko is lacking important nutrients.
- And More
Just based on that small list, you can see how important it is for your leopard gecko to be receiving the right amount of what it needs. Without it, they will suffer until they eventually meet their demise. Fortunately, though, when this happens, it can be reversed if treated early enough. But even then, it’s a very troubling thing for your leopard gecko to go through and should never get to that point in the first place.
Too many people have made the mistake of not properly supplementing their leopard geckos with the right amount of calcium and D3 and then have had to, unfortunately, either take their leopard geckos to the vet or bury them because it was too late to save them.
If you don’t want to be someone who goes through this, then make sure they’re getting calcium with every meal, have a calcium bowl inside of their tank, and are being fed feeder insects that have been dusted with D3 or are getting it from a UVB light.
If you’d like to read the full, in-depth article about this particular issue, then I suggest checking this article out here. It goes more into the symptoms along with how to treat it and how to properly supplement them as well.
Consequences of Too Much Supplementation
Just as you should avoid giving them too little of what they need, you should also avoid giving them too much of what they need as well. Too much calcium and D3 can cause toxicity and in return, cause them to die.
This is because when their body is overloaded with these two things, their organs cannot work fast or hard enough to break it all down and, therefore, will cause internal damage until they just eventually shut down.
This is similar to someone who is a heavy drinker, for example. The body just can’t break down what’s put in it fast enough and it causes serious issues. It’s not as easy to overdo it when it comes to calcium, but when it comes to D3, accidentally giving them too much is definitely possible.
This is why both are not given in the same amounts. It’s okay to give a leopard gecko calcium every day, but as far as D3 goes, that’s a huge no-no. Again, please click on the link in the last section so that you know exactly how often you should be giving your leopard gecko D3.
Like stated above, both are very good for them and are something that they need, but we all know that too much of a good thing can bad, so it’s important to make sure that we’re paying attention to exactly how much of each of these supplements we are giving them.
After everything has been said and done, I think it’s safe to say that calcium and D3 are the two main things that keep our little companions going. They need this stuff like we need water and without it, things can get pretty ugly.
Giving them the right amount of each is absolutely detrimental to their health and is something that we can’t afford to make too many mistakes on. If you ever feel lost and that you need help, then you can always visit this site or go to a forum like Reddit and ask for advice.
There are tons of resources online that can help you with almost any problem and when it comes to your gecko, you should never guess about what you should do until you know it’s safe for them.
Whether you choose to give your leopard gecko D3 through powder or through UVB will be a decision that will fit your situation the best and is something that is very important to have alongside your calcium so that everything is even and balanced out within your leopard geckos body.
It might take some time to get used to everything but with enough practice and research, supplementing them with the right amount of each is something that will come as second nature.