Calci-sand, also called calcium sand, is often said to be a great way to help your bearded dragon get enough calcium for their body. However, does it actually work? Is it even safe to give them?
While calci-sand is beneficial to bearded dragons, it can also be a little hazardous. This is because too much of it could cause a few health problems.
This article will explore more behind what exactly calcium sand is and whether it’s safe to use with your bearded dragon. It will also highlight some alternatives you can consider using instead as a substrate in their home.
What is Calcium Sand?
Calcium sand is sand with high amounts of calcium. Unlike regular sand which is filled with small minerals and rocks, calci-sand is composed of calcium carbonate. This is often found in materials such as cuttlebone and chalk.
Why do Bearded Dragons Need Calcium?
Bearded dragons need calcium for a few reasons. Below are some of the most common reasons why.
It Helps with Their Development
Calcium helps your bearded dragon grow well, especially if they are young. It also works to keep their bones strong, something which is vital to ensure they stay healthy.
It Mimics Sunlight
Bearded dragons often need sunlight to ensure they get enough Vitamin D3. However, calcium sand works to direct small amounts of UV rays to their body. It’s able to do this because it absorbs the waves and converts them into heat.
It Gives Their Body Vitamins and Minerals
Calcium will help to ensure your bearded dragon gets enough vitamins and minerals. This is a helpful benefit as bearded dragons need a handful of them. If they don’t get enough from their food, they can become very sick and lethargic.
In fact, many bearded dragon owners notice that their pet tries to eat the sand they put in their tank. These reptiles have an instinct that makes them believe the sand contains calcium. Because of this, they try to eat it. However, if their tank only contains regular sand, it will not be beneficial to them.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to put calcium sand in their tank so that if they eat it, they will get vitamins and minerals. Some of the most common vitamins and minerals calcium will provide them with are Vitamin D and Magnesium.
Vitamin D is important for your bearded dragon to have for many reasons. It helps to ensure that their body develops correctly. It also works to mimic sunlight if their habitat isn’t located near a sunny space.
Magnesium will help your bearded dragon to have healthy nerves and muscles. It also works to protect their immune system and boost their energy levels. This ensures they stay happy and healthy.
How Much Calcium Sand Does a Bearded Dragon Need?
The amount of calcium sand your bearded dragon needs depends on a few things. The first is the size of both the tank and your pet. The other is to consider the health of your pet. After determining this, you can use the chart that comes with the calcium sand to find the right amount.
It’s very important to make sure that you use the correct amount of calcium sand. Otherwise, if your pet gets too little or too much of it, it could severely damage their health.
To help you out, most calcium sand products come with a helpful chart you can follow. It’s vital to follow this closely to ensure you give them the correct amount. If you still have questions, make sure to talk things over with your vet.
What Type of Calcium Sand is the Best?
With a vast amount of calcium sand available, which is the best to invest in? While it will depend on your bearded dragon, the best calcium sand to use will contain cholecalciferol. This type of calcium powder is filled with Vitamin D3. It will also help to prevent their body from developing Metabolic Bone Disease.
I’m Unable to Find Calcium Sand
If you’re unable to find calcium sand, you can take regular sand and sprinkle some calcium carbonate powder over it. You can usually find calcium carbonate powder from pet stores.
This type also works quickly in their body to help ensure they don’t have a build-up of phosphorous. However, make sure to carefully look at the calcium carbonate that you intend to use. Sometimes, bearded dragons might not be able to safely live in or eat it.
In addition to this, you could also give your bearded dragon calcium supplements. These are an easy way to make sure your bearded dragon gets enough calcium. Usually in the form of pellets, you need to give a few of these supplements to your pet throughout the day. Most of the pellets also contain other helpful ingredients, like mealworms and crickets, for protein.
Side Effects of Calcium Sand
While calcium sand is safe to use if done correctly, it can have a few dangerous side effects.
It’s Heavy in Alkaline
Because of its acidity, alkaline could cause their stomach to not digest food correctly. This could end up leading to bloat or stomach pain.
It Could Cause Impaction
If your bearded dragon eats a large amount of sand, it could cause impaction in their intestines. This could eventually lead to a blockage which could prove to be fatal.
It Could Lead to Hypercalcemia
If the incorrect amount of calcium is given to your bearded dragon, it could lead to hypercalcemia. This disease is when the body has too much calcium in it. Hypercalcemia can cause many problems to their body, including a failure of the kidneys.
Alternatives to Calcium Sand as a Substrate
For pet owners who might be a little hesitant to try out calcium sand after reading the side effects, there are a few alternatives. Below are some you could use with your reptile.
If you’re on a budget, newspapers are ideal to use as a substrate. A newspaper quickly absorbs liquid and is a comfortable material for your pet. However, newspapers spoil easily and you need to change them out often. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria in their tank.
Ceramic tiles are yet another option to try out in your pet’s home. While you need to install the tiles in the tank, the good news is you never have to remove them. Because they are so durable, you can easily clean them off with a cloth.
However, because of their hard surface, these tiles can be a little slippery. Because of this, it might make it a bit difficult for your pet to move around. Another thing to be careful about with ceramic tiles is their temperature. You want to make sure a source of light is heating them up so they don’t become cold.
You could also try a reptile carpet in your bearded dragon’s tank. This type of carpet is usually made out of soft plastic. It also helps to absorb odors and is easy to clean. However, you need to make sure to clean it out often. Because of this, it’s often recommended that you have two carpets on hand you can interchange. You also need to keep a close eye on your bearded dragon as their claws could get caught in the carpet’s fibers.
Pebbles and gravel are a common type of substrate for bearded dragons. While they are a cheap option, they aren’t always the most comfortable substrate. If your pet ingests them, it could also cause a blockage in their body. So, despite their popularity, pebbles and gravel are usually not the top choices to use.
You could also put some alfalfa pellets in your pet’s tank. These pellets are comfortable for your pet to rest on and are easy to clean out. However, despite being digestible, they can pose a few health risks. This includes eating too many of them or not cleaning the tank out often enough which can cause bacteria to spread.
Rubber Shelf Liner
A rubber shelf liner is also a good option to consider using. It not only absorbs liquid quickly, but is easy to remove and clean. Better yet, it’s also very cheap and tends to be durable.
Calcium-Rich Food Options
You can also give your pet food high in calcium. This includes kale, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens. As with most calcium-rich items, make sure to not overdo it. Otherwise, your pet could end up having the health issues you’re trying to avoid.
Calcium is very important for your bearded dragon to have. While you can give them calci-sand, you need to be careful to use the right amount. It also does have some heavy side effects which could be deadly. If you’re still a little unsure about using calci-sand which your bearded dragon you could also try out an alternative substrate, like newspapers and ceramic tiles.