In order to promote proper bone growth and overall health, your Russian tortoise needs their nutritional needs to be fulfilled. These nutritional needs include various minerals and vitamins that promote good health. One of the critical minerals that are needed to ensure good health is calcium.
While Russian tortoise’s required calcium intake is naturally met in the wild, tortoises in captivity may not get what they need just from their food. Therefore, it is important to understand the significance that calcium has on your tortoise’s health and how to ensure their needs are met.
In this article, we’ll explore the various effects of calcium on Russian tortoises’ health. We’ll discuss how to recognize a calcium deficiency, and whether or not calcium powder is necessary to ensure your Russian tortoise is happy and healthy.
Do Russian Tortoises Need Calcium Powder?
While Russian tortoises certainly need calcium in their diet, there are many ways to provide it to them besides just calcium powder.
However, if you notice your Russian tortoise has a calcium deficiency, then calcium powder is a great, quick solution.
How to Recognize a Calcium Deficiency
If your tortoise is not receiving enough calcium to sustain itself through its diet, its body will begin to take calcium from its bones or shell. This will lead to a deficiency of calcium in its bones and shell, causing damage to its bone and shell’s structural integrity.
You’ll be able to tell if your tortoise has a calcium deficiency because its shell may appear deformed or soft. The shell may appear more flat than usual. You may also notice that your Russian tortoise is experiencing constipation, swollen legs, or lethargy. Additionally, your Russian Tortoise might stop eating.
More severe calcium deficiencies can lead to tremors and weakness. If your suspect your tortoise has a calcium deficiency, take it to your local veterinarian to get more information. You can avoid deficiencies by providing the best food for a Russian Tortoise.
Should I Give My Russian Tortoise Calcium Powder?
While using calcium powder to fulfill your Russian tortoise’s natural calcium requirements is the easiest and simplest solution, giving them excessive amounts can harmful.
Calcium powder can be beneficial if used in the proper amounts, but it is important that you don’t exceed the amount of calcium your tortoise needs with the powder. Excess amounts of calcium can have negative effects on your Russian tortoise’s health.
If you do decide to use calcium powder with your Russian tortoise, make sure you give them the proper amount. The best calcium powder to use is calcium carbonate powder. This combination is generally preferred as it is safe and effective.
Avoid calcium preparations like bone meal, as it is more likely to be contaminated with sources of metal. Ground eggshells should also generally be avoided as a calcium supplement as they may contain unpredictable hormones or antibiotics.
Something to consider instead of calcium powder is to adjust your Russian tortoise’s diet to meet its calcium needs naturally. By supplying food with higher calcium levels, you’ll be fulfilling your tortoise’s calcium requirements by over-supplementing them with calcium.
Turnip greens and kale are great examples of common foods with high levels of calcium. Implementing a wide variety of calcium-rich foods into your Russian tortoise’s everyday diet is the best and safest way to ensure that they are eating enough calcium without causing deficiencies of other vitamins or minerals.
Why Does My Russian Tortoise Need Calcium?
Calcium is primarily needed to promote healthy bones and a strong shell. The structural integrity of their bones and shells is based upon a specific calcium-phosphorus ratio. Russian tortoises naturally consume the calcium they need in the wild through their diet.
The plants they eat are grown in calcium-rich soil substrate. This makes the plants well-saturated by the time your tortoise eats them. However, tortoises in captivity might not receive all of the calcium they need through their diet.
So, many turn to calcium powders to promote proper bone and shell strength. This can make up for the calcium that your tortoise is lacking in their everyday diet. However, it is important to understand the risks of calcium powder as well as its benefits.
While calcium powder can be great to make sure your tortoise is getting enough calcium to strengthen its bones and shell, too much calcium can have risks to its health. Excessive amounts of calcium can lead to deficiencies in zinc, copper, and iodine. It can also lead to tortoise shell pyramiding.
Whether you choose to supplement calcium into your Russian tortoise’s diet through food or powder, make sure that you observe their behavior and make sure their shell is looking healthy. If you have any concerns about your Russian tortoise’s health, it is always a good idea to visit your veterinarian for more information.