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.
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
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.