ReptiFiles was provided free samples of Jurassic Natural reptile calcium powder with and without D3 in exchange for an honest review, whether positive or negative. The review below is our honest, unbiased opinion. This article also contains affiliate links.
One of the first things new reptile keepers learn is that they need to include a reptile calcium powder as a regular part of their pet’s diet. Dust it on insects! Dust it on salads! Dust it on everything that your reptile could possibly eat! This advice is so often and aggressively repeated that one would think that reptiles are naturally calcium deficient, which begs the question: How on earth do they survive in the wild?
Well, reptiles aren’t naturally calcium deficient, and they definitely have no problem surviving in the wild…at least nutritionally-speaking. So why all the emphasis on calcium supplementation?
It’s all about the calcium-to-phosphorous ratio. (I’ll try to keep this short, but if you want a more thorough explanation, read the Arcadia Guide to Reptile & Amphibian Nutrition.)
Phosphorus is found in high quantities in high-protein food sources such as muscle tissue and insects. In order to properly digest the phosphorous in a meal, a reptile needs to have enough calcium in its system — about twice as much, actually. This is a Ca:P ratio of approximately 2:1. When there isn’t enough calcium for the reptile’s body to properly process phosphorous, it will steal calcium from bones and other stores. Most insects and muscle meats contain more phosphorous than calcium, requiring calcium supplementation to prevent calcium deficiency from developing.
Calcium deficiency is also known as metabolic bone disease (MBD), and it’s one of the most common diseases in pet reptiles. It’s also the most easily preventable. Aside from calcium supplementation, adequate vitamin D intake, or— better yet — exposure to UVB light, is required to prevent this disease and maintain total wellness.
Pisces Jurassic Natural is an Australian reptile products manufacturer that has recently expanded to the US, and with them they’ve brought some very interesting products to the market, including a new reptile calcium powder!
- both with and without D3 available
- contains naturally occurring amino acids
- calcium carbonate derived from oolitic aragonite
- superfine powder for sticking to feeders
- bipyramidal crystals = more surface area = higher absorption
- easy dispensing shaker top
- comes in 4oz and 8oz bottles
- instructions for use on back
- 22,907 IU/kg of vitamin D3
Granted, one reptile calcium powder is more or less like another. So what sets the Jurassic Natural Calcium supplement apart from the rest?
Source. The calcium is derived from oolitic aragonite. “What the heck is oolitic aragonite?” you ask. That’s okay, I didn’t know either at first. Here’s a quick rundown, summarized from Calcean.
Oolitic aragonite is a sand-like mineral that is formed through the biosequestration of carbon dioxide that naturally occurs as part of photosynthesis for cyanobacteria and microalgae around the Bahamas. This photosynthesis and calcification process sequesters tens of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide from our environment, and replenishes at a rate of over 4 billion pounds per year, making it an extremely sustainable natural source of calcium carbonate.
For contrast, the calcium carbonate used in most other supplements is sourced from non-renewable resources: mineral mines all over the US. This type of calcium carbonate mining is energy intensive, has a large carbon footprint, and is not sustainable.
Packaging. It comes in a bottle with holes in the cap that can be opened and closed as needed. Similar to baby powder and other similar products. This makes dosing much easier, rather than having to scoop it out with a spoon like other products make you do. Note that the cap can be stiff and difficult to twist at first. Once open, I recommend shaking the bottle to get the calcium powder to come out rather than squeezing it, or else you’ll end up looking like you just sneezed on a powdered donut.
Label. There’s a bearded dragon on the formula with D3 and a chameleon on the formula without. Many reptile keepers do not know the proper use of D3 supplementation, and mistakenly rely on pictures on labels to tell them which product is suitable for their pet.
Performance. I’ve tested quite a few different reptile calcium powders over the last several years off reptile keeping, and this one is pretty average in terms of how well it coats smooth-carapaced feeders such as dubia roaches and superworms/morio worms. The bugs end up well coated, but don’t usually look like powdered donuts. Reducing the amount of calcium added to the feeder bag also helps mitigate this problem.
Vitamin D content. Compared to other calcium supplements, this is definitely one of the higher sources of vitamin D on the American market, but not the highest.
- Rep-Cal Calcium with D3 — 400,000 IU/kg
- Fluker’s Calcium with Vitamin D3 — 45,359 IU/kg
- Zoo Med Repti Calcium with D3 — 22,907 IU/kg
- Jurassic Natural Calcium with D3 — 22,907 IU/kg
- Repashy Supercal HyD — 22,680 IU/kg
- Repashy Supercal MeD — 11,340 IU/kg
- Exo Terra Calcium + D3 — 6,686 IU/kg
- Repashy Supercal LoD — 4,536 IU/kg
- Sticky Tongue Farms Miner-All Indoor — 4,400 IU/kg
A high D3 content is a little concerning, as vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and excess can cause toxicity with symptoms similar to MBD. However although Jurassic Natural’s calcium is on the high end of the spectrum, it’s still within safe range, and arguably optimal for reptiles that don’t receive UVB.
Why so similar to Zoo Med? As I was comparing Jurassic Natural Calcium with other calcium powders on the market, I noticed that it has a lot of similarities with Zoo Med Repti Calcium with D3, most notably that Zoo Med’s calcium is “precipitated”, “has a unique crystal shape for maximum absorption”, and has an identical vitamin D content, which is odd.
This led me to suspect that Jurassic Natural calcium might be the same as Zoo Med’s product, but in a different package. This is especially alarming, considering that a 4oz bottle of Jurassic Natural calcium costs $9 on Chewy, whereas you can get 3oz of Zoo Med’s version on the same site for $4.
However, a little more digging revealed that while the products may look very similar on the surface, Jurassic Natural calcium is not just repackaged Zoo Med stuff.
- Zoo Med uses lab-purified precipitated calcium carbonate, likely derived from mined calcite.
- Due to its artificial origin, Zoo Med’s product does not contain any amino acids.
- Calcean, Pisces’ sister company, is the only recipient of a lease from the Bahamian government to harvest naturally precipitated oolitic aragonite from their waters.
Things I Liked About the Jurassic Natural Calcium Supplements
- Contains amino acids — That’s not something you see every day in a calcium supplement. Plus, captive reptiles rarely get the dietary variety that they get in the wild, and this results in potential for deficiencies in certain nutrients such as amino acids.
- Phosphorus-free — This is a MUST for any quality calcium powder, as phosphorus interferes with the absorption of calcium.
- Sticks well to bugs, but not *too* well — Too much calcium on a bug can also neutralize stomach acid and interfere with digestion.
- Convenient shaker bottle design — The tall tube-shape of the bottle, rather than the usual fat jar (or heaven forbid, packet) that most reptile calcium powders come in fits well in the hand and makes dosing much easier and less likely to make a mess.
- Eco friendly — Always a plus!
- Great company — I have absolutely loved working with Pisces Jurassic Natural on these reviews. Their transparency and willingness to communicate has been amazing!
Things I Didn’t Like About the Jurassic Natural Calcium Supplements
- Cap is hard to twist — Although this helps prevent accidental opening and possible spills/mess, so I can’t complain too much here.
- I disagree with the instructions for omnivores – Dusting calcium on vegetables shouldn’t be necessary as long as nutritious vegetables are being used and protein source is sufficiently dusted with calcium.
- Packaging is potentially misleading — By using a picture of a bearded dragon on the calcium with D3, a species known to have fairly high UVB requirements, the packaging may mistakenly communicate to new bearded dragon owners that the formula with D3 is suitable for use with bearded dragons. This may lead to accidental overdose. It would be better to use a picture of a species that is not always kept with UVB on the formula with D3, such as a crested gecko.
Conclusion: The Perfect Calcium Powder for the Eco-Conscious Reptile Keeper
ReptiFiles Rating: 5.0 stars!
Honestly, it’s not that hard to make a decent reptile calcium powder. All you need in some finely-ground, pure calcium carbonate, and you’re pretty much set to go. So it’s the special features that really set a calcium supplement apart from the rest. And in Jurassic Natural’s case, sustainable sourcing and bonus amino acids is what earned this product its five-star rating.
My reptile husbandry research has led me to conclude that UVB should be provided to ALL reptiles in captivity, not just the ones that will die without it. So ReptiFiles recommends that in addition to appropriate UVB provision, Jurassic Natural Calcium Without D3 is best used as a default for dusting on feeders, and Jurassic Natural Calcium With D3 is best used once a month or even once every other month to “top up” on your reptile’s vitamin D reserves.