Metabolic bone disease is a very serious condition which affects the skeletal system of bearded dragons. Metabolic bone disease is due to an improper balance of key electrolytes, such as calcium and phosphorus. Read more below to learn how to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease in bearded dragons.
Metabolic Bone Disease, or MBD, is a very serious bearded dragon health issue. MBD typically develops due to inadequate exposure of UVB rays, and a lack of calcium/vitamin D3 in the diet.
Bearded dragons need exposure to the sun’s UVB rays in order to metabolize calcium and synthesize vitamin D3, which both are vital for good bone development. Without proper UVB exposure, metabolic bone disease can develop rapidly, resulting in:
- Inattentive, lethargic
- Skeletal disfigurement
- Weak, brittle bones
- Possible death, if left untreated
Here are a few tips on how to prevent metabolic bone disease in your pet bearded dragon.
Supply Good UVB Exposure
UVB rays are naturally emit from the sun. Reptiles soak in the sun radiation through the skin. Without enough UVB exposure the bearded dragon can become unhealthy.
Pet bearded dragons spend most of their time indoors, drastically reducing exposure to vital sun rays.
There are many specialized fluorescent light bulbs on the market today which produce adequate UVB rays similar to the sun. These UVB light bulbs are essential to help prevent metabolic bone disease in reptiles. Good lighting can also help prevent other health problems such as impaction.
Place UVB light bulbs at a minimum distance from your bearded dragon to be most effective, generally within 12 inches. Placement depends on bulb intensity and wattage.
We recommend replacing UV bulbs at least every six months as the bulb intensity will weaken over time.
Consult the manufacturer for details on light bulb placement and usage. Most manufacturers give recommendations for placement and use on the product packaging or their website.
You will need to add a calcium powder supplement to your bearded dragon’s food. This will ensure your bearded dragon is getting enough calcium each day. Make sure the calcium powder you use is phosphorus-free and fortified with vitamin D3.
Bearded dragons need the vitamin D3 in order to metabolize the calcium. If the bearded dragon receives adequate UV exposure you may use a calcium supplement without Vitamin D3.
Dusting the bearded dragon food with a calcium supplement can go a long way towards Metabolic Bone Disease prevention.
The Cricket Shaker
Sprinkle calcium powder over any food you give your bearded dragon. The best way to dust insect feeders with calcium powder is using The Cricket Shaker.
You fill the bottom of the shaker with calcium powder then load the feeders in it. Give the shaker a few quick shakes and it covers the feeders with a fine coat of the calcium powder. Offer the coated insects to your bearded dragon.
The Exo Terra Cricket Feeder Rock
Another great tool for providing calcium powder on insect feeders is by using a Cricket Feeder Rock.
The Cricket Rock is a hollow rock-looking cricket feeding system. You sprinkle a little calcium supplement inside the rock then load it with crickets.
Give the feeder rock a couple of shakes, but make sure to hold the plug with one finger! You don’t want crickets to escape everywhere. The calcium supplement will thoroughly coat the crickets.
Place the Cricket Rock inside the terrarium and take out the plug in the feeder rock. The crickets will crawl out of the hole usually to a waiting bearded dragon who will gobble them up! It’s a fun and easy way to feed your bearded dragon.
We recommend to give your bearded dragon a multivitamin supplement, such as Herptitive. Offer Herptivite with one meal each week.
Get Routine Veterinarian Check-ups
Veterinarians can perform blood tests on your bearded dragon to determine calcium and vitamin D3 levels. It is always wise to have your bearded dragon examined by a veterinarian to ensure the health of your bearded dragon.
Hello, so I bought a new baby beardie about a week ago and he seems to be pretty healthy, except I just noticed he has two small bumps at the base of his tail, right in front of his back legs. Aside from that, he is alert, always running around, and his apatite seems okay. Also his leg was slightly twitching. I have another beardie who is about a year old and is completely healthy. I have never seen anything like this so I’m not sure if it is MBD. I would take him to a vet, but I know when they are this young there’s not really much the vet can do. Or at least that’s what my nearest vet told me. If this is MDB I’m hoping I caught it extremely early, and if that’s the case, is it essentially reversible? Or by acting now, is possible that these symptoms will disappear? Or will he have this forever??
Tee Riddle says
Hi Kat, Are the bumps you speak of near the abdomen or closer to the vent (anus)? The lumps and the back legs twitching could possibly be a sign of impaction. Impaction happens when the bearded dragon swallows foreign objects (mainly loose particles substrates like sand, pebbles, or wood chips) which causes an intestinal blockage. This has bad consequences and generally leads to death.
Has your bearded dragon been pooping at least once a day? If not, that could be another sign. Try giving him a warm bath and see if it stimulates a bowl movement. If still nothing, contact a reptile vet ASAP.
If it is a male lizard and these bumps are in between his legs almost, but on the bottom of his tail (part towards the ground) then those could be his hemi-penis. Basically male bearded dragons have two penis so they can fertilize the female regardless of the side of her they mount (left or right). Just Google “how to sex your bearded dragon” you shouldn’t find anything to graphic, just a couple of pictures showing the differences under the tails between males and females.
I need help I have Bearded dragon 2years old she’s not eating and basically skin and bones. I also have a citrus back in a different tank same age and she’s fine …. help I have tried everything
Please help! I have a baby beardy who i have had since she hatched on November 25th 2018. She started out great but just in the last week her eyes are crusted over she refuses to eat even when i assist feed her. I have been misting her regularly and attempt to assist feed a couple times a day. She gets plenty of light/heat yet nothing i do seems to be getting her to improve. Im at a loss. Any advice helps.