Metabolic Bone Disease, or MBD, is a very serious, and sad, condition many bearded dragons develop in captivity. It is brought about by inadequate exposure of UVB rays.
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 disfigurement, weak, brittle bones, and even result in death.
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 emitted by the sun, and are easily soaked up by bearded dragons in the wild.
Bearded dragons kept in captivity are generally kept indoors, preventing exposure to the vital sun rays.
There are many specialized fluorescent light bulbs on the market today that produce adequate UVB rays similar to the sun’s. These UVB light bulbs are essential in helping to prevent metabolic bone disease in reptiles.
UVB light bulbs need to be place at a certain distance from your bearded dragon in order to be effective, usually 12 to 18 inches depending on the situation.
It is also a good idea to replace the bulb every couple of months to provide adequate amounts of UVB. The bulbs will weaken over a certain amount of time and not give off substantial UVB rays for your bearded dragon’s health.
Consult the manufacturer for details on light bulb placement and usage. Most manufacturers give recommendations for placement and use on the product packaging.
You will need to dust your bearded dragon’s food with calcium powder fortified with vitamin D3 to ensure your bearded dragon is getting the required amounts of each. Make sure the calcium powder you use is fortified with vitamin D3.
Bearded dragons need the vitamin D3 in order to metabolize the calcium. One without the other will not give your bearded dragon the supplements in needs in order to prevent metabolic bone disease.
The calcium powder needs to be sprinkled over any food you five your beardie. The best way to dust insect feeders with calcium powder is using a 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.
Another great tool for providing calcium powder on insect feeders is by using a Cricket Rock. The Cricket Rock is a hollow rock-looking cricket feeding system. You sprinkle a little calcium powder inside the rock then load it with crickets. The crickets become coated with calcium powder.
Place the Cricket Rock inside the terrarium and take out the plug in the 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 feeders that have beed coated with calcium powder.
It’s also recommended to give your bearded dragon a multivitamin powder, such as Herptitive, a couple times per month.
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.