You’ve already made your leo’s habitat comfortable and as natural as possible – and all the tasty bugs you can offer! But even the best insect diet is low in calcium. So, is it ok to leave calcium powder in your gecko’s tank?
The answer is yes, you can leave calcium powder in a leopard gecko tank, provided it does not contain vitamin D. While supplements containing calcium and vitamin D are good in small quantities, they can be toxic if your leopard gecko consumes too much.
In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to safely supplement your leopard gecko’s calcium intake by leaving calcium powder in their tank.
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Should you leave calcium powder in with your leopard geckos?
All captive leopard geckos need calcium supplementation, but that doesn’t mean that they all need a bowl of calcium in their tanks. Many geckos can get enough calcium from their dusted or gut-loaded feeder insects.
However, as geckos are good at regulating their mineral intake, there are rarely any risks to leaving the calcium powder in the tank, provided it is from a good source and is pure calcium (more on that later).
There are also some specific situations where a bowl of calcium powder is a good idea. Firstly, if you have a breeding female, she will need an extra boost of calcium and vitamin D.
After all, a female leos can be fertile for up to seven months of the year and lay eggs multiple times during that period. This can be very draining on their bodies.
Alternatively, if your gecko is unwell, your vet may recommend access to calcium. You can add another multivitamin to your calcium bowl as well, depending on the vet’s prescription and diagnosis.
For more info on when to offer additional calcium supplements, check out our articles:
- Is Your Leopard Gecko Suffering From Calcium Deficiency?
- How Long Can Leopard Geckos Go Without Calcium?
What kind of calcium powder can I leave in the gecko’s tank?
Your geckos can feed on calcium powder as a supplement for their food intake and you can choose the best suitable option for your leos.
Avoid Calcium with Vitamin D
There are many calcium supplement powders that are mixed with vitamin D3. This is great because geckos can’t absorb dietary calcium without vitamin D – but you shouldn’t leave these in the tank.
The reason is that if your leopard gecko consumes too much of these mixed powders, they can overdose and get kidney failure because of excessive vitamin D intake.
So although a calcium and vitamin D3 mix is great for dusting insects, it shouldn’t be left in the tank with your gecko.
Some owners choose to leave a dish of pure calcium powder in their gecko’s tank since the reptiles are quite adept at knowing how much they need.
If you are feeding your leo with pure calcium powder without other additives, be sure to check the ingredients. Some supplements contain other components like lead, mercury, or shells that can be harmful to your pet.
Look for calcium carbonate from rocks, rather than other sources. Two great examples of powders are:
How to Provide Calcium Powder in your Leopard Gecko’s Tank
Now that you’ve decided to offer calcium powder supplements to your leopard gecko, you may have questions on exactly how to set it up.
How much powder to offer?
A bottlecap full or a teaspoon of calcium powder is enough. Your leopard gecko will lick it as needed: there is no need to force them to consume the contents of the entire dish.
Where to put the powder?
You can put the powder in a shallow dish or their feeding dish inside their tank. Depending on the temperament of your gecko, you may need to use a dish that is hard to tip over!
One thing to note: Do not mix the calcium powder with your leo’s water. The calcium will only float or sink to the bottom of the water container. Besides, your leo needs a fresh clean water source 24/7.
Does it matter when you offer it?
Your leopard gecko is most active in the dark, and is probably going to lick at the supplement at night or in the early hours of the morning.
That said, it’s ok to leave the supplement in the tank for a week, so the actual time you offer it doesn’t matter.
What If You Don’t Want To Use Commercial Calcium Powder?
If you’re still not sure about leaving a commercial calcium powder in your gecko’s tank, there are other options to choose from.
You can leave calcium-rich items in your leopard gecko’s tank for them to lick. For example, your leo can lick cuttlebone (or sepia bone) as both a tasty treat and an extra source of calcium, as it is over 80% aragonite,
You can either break up some cuttlebone and leave it in the tank, or provide it as a block in one place. Here’s one option that, although marketed for birds, is perfectly acceptable for your leopard gecko.
Another option is to create your own calcium powder from cuttlebone or eggshells.
Since your geckos are insectivores and bugs are a poor source of calcium, another option is to gut load your feeder insects with calcium-rich items like dark green vegetables 24 hours before handing them to your leos.
You may also dust the feeder insect food directly with calcium powder, and dust the insects again in a bag with calcium powder before putting them in the gecko’s cage.
Whatever you decide to do, there’s a product out there for you and your pet.
Just make sure that when you’re purchasing powdered calcium (with or without the addition of vitamin D), the product you’re buying has no heavy metal dust or is unfriendly to geckos, ingredients like crushed oyster shells.