All living creatures need vitamins and minerals to survive. When it comes to chameleons, they too require them to stay healthy and strong. One particular mineral that’s important for many animals is calcium, but do chameleons need calcium as well?
So, do chameleons need calcium? Yes, the chameleon needs calcium in its diet each day. This mineral is vital to their health. Chameleons that don’t get enough calcium in their diet will start to suffer serious illnesses. If not treated, eventually calcium deficiency will lead to their death.
Why Do Chameleons Need Calcium?
Calcium is important to the health of the chameleons. Their body needs this mineral for a lot of the organs to function properly.
Bone health – Calcium is needed to build, repair, and maintain bones and the teeth in the chameleon.
Organ function – Calcium helps balance out the phosphorus levels to maintain the proper function of the organs. Also, it helps with providing energy through metabolism.
Muscle function – The mineral helps give the muscle mobility. Calcium is used to help with the contraction of muscles. Things like shooting out their tongue, curling their tail, and moving around.
Pregnancy – Female chameleons need plenty of calcium during pregnancy. Calcium is needed to form strong eggshells. Also, it helps keep the female strong and healthy.
How Do Chameleons Get Calcium?
In the wild, a chameleon will get their calcium from the insects and plants in their environment. Insects such as grasshoppers and crickets will eat plants that contain the mineral. As the chameleon eat these insects, they’ll also get plenty of calcium into their body.
Chameleons are mainly insectivores, but they tend to eat plants as well. Some species of chameleon will consume more than others. Plants help give the chameleon some calcium, especially when insects are not plentiful.
Chameleons in captivity, on the other hand, will need to get calcium provided by you. The main feeder insects for chameleons are crickets.
Unfortunately, crickets don’t have enough calcium content to meet their daily needs. Most crickets sold at pet stores are fed low-quality food that doesn’t have much calcium content. You’ll need to sprinkle calcium supplements on the crickets.
How To Give Calcium To Your Chameleon
Chameleon in captivity is not able to get calcium themselves. For that reason, you will need to provide the minerals to them. There are two ways to provide calcium to your chameleon:
This is a method where you feed insects calcium-rich food before feeding them to your chameleon.
For crickets, you can give them foods such as spinach and collard greens, which are high in calcium. After a couple of days or so, you then feed the crickets to the chameleon. They will not only get plenty of nutritious naturally found in the crickets but also additional calcium from the plants that they eat.
The easiest way to gut load the insects is to leave the plants and crickets in a box. Make sure the plants are fresh before feeding them to the insects.
Gut loading is a good way to get the chameleons to get enough calcium in their diet. However, there’s no way of knowing how much the insect ate plants.
This is where supplements come in. By giving them calcium supplements, it will ensure that the chameleon is getting enough of it.
There are two types of calcium. One is the standard calcium powder that is phosphorus-free and without vitamin D3. The other is calcium with vitamin D3.
How Often To Give Calcium To Your Chameleons
Chameleons will need both of these calcium supplements to remain healthy. Depending on the species of chameleon, each will require calcium intake every day, while others need it just once or twice a week.
For panther or veiled chameleon, supplement them with calcium every day. Also, calcium with vitamin D3 should be given to them every other week.
Jackson’s chameleon should be given calcium twice a week, while calcium with D3 is given to them once a month.
It’s simple to supplement the chameleon. Sprinkle a bit of calcium powder onto the insects, whether it’s crickets, grasshoppers, or roaches.
Can You Put Calcium Supplements In a Chameleon’s Water?
Most people are accustomed to mixing powdered supplements in water before drinking them. For humans, that may work, but for a chameleon, it will not.
Chameleons don’t drink a lot of water, and they will be ineffective.
Also, calcium supplements made for chameleons are not designed to be mixed with water. They are specially formulated to stick to insects.
If you try to dissolve the calcium in the water, it will leave a lot of mess in the cage. The plants, decorations, and the mesh of the cage will be left with calcium residue.
In addition, trying to spray water with calcium could risk getting into their eyes. If it does, it can cause eyes and other health problems.
What Happens If a Chameleon Is Calcium Deficient?
This is something that you never want to see happen to your chameleon. Calcium deficiency can cause a lot of health problems for them.
The symptoms of calcium deficiency can be many things, but the earliest one that you’ll see is the chameleon having problems climbing. As they are climbing, they may fall, the legs are hanging from the branch, or they can’t seem to move at all.
If you notice this, you’ll need to get your chameleon treated as soon as possible to prevent further problems.
Calcium deficiency is usually caused by metabolic bone disease (MBD). This is a disease that causes the chameleon’s limbs to become brittle and deformed.
MBD occurs when there isn’t enough calcium in the chameleon’s diet. When that happens, instead of absorbing the calcium from the stomach, the body will draw the mineral from the bones. The body uses calcium to maintain proper organ and metabolism function.
Metabolic bone disease is the leading cause of chameleons kept in captivity. When the chameleon gets MBD, it’s irreversible. However, with proper treatment, the disease can be prevented from progressing any further.
As you can see, calcium is an important mineral to keeping the chameleon healthy. Also, it’s vital that you give them the correct amount of calcium as well.
Donovan got his first pet chameleon at the age of 7. Ever since then, he cared and raised over 10 different species of chameleons. Beside raising chameleons, he enjoys gardening and the outdoors.