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Metabolic Bone Disease

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What is it?

Metabolic bone disease is one of the most common nutritional problems in reptiles. It is almost always caused by improper care, and rarely from liver, thyroid, and kidney diseases. It results in lethargy, lack of appetite, rubber jaw, tremors, weakness, heart failure, bone fractures, disfigurement, and death.

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Causes

Calcium is vital to the health of all living things with skeletal structures. It is caused by phosphorus levels becoming too high, and/or calcium levels becoming too low. This is caused by a diet that is not varied, feeder insects that are not gut-loaded (fed a healthy diet prior to being fed to your reptile), not providing adequate UV spectrum lighting, heating, supplements, and vitamins.

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Symptoms

Bone deformations, hunched backs, twisted limbs, shells and carapaces that do not adequately grow with the turtle or tortoise, curved spines, rubber jaw, and a plethora of other issues wherever bones are involved.

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Prevention

Varied diets, proper UVA/UVB lighting, adequate heat, providing calcium with and without D3, especially for nocturnal and crepuscular reptiles such as leopard geckos.

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Treatment

Quickly correct the reptile's care before it becomes irreversible. Metabolic bone disease is almost always completely preventable, except in the case of kidney/liver disease. The treatment plan is the same as the prevention plan, however the damage is not always reversible.

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Outcome

If caught and corrected very early, reptiles with metabolic bone disease can have a thriving and healthy life. If left untreated, MBD is fatal although it takes years of suffering and neglect.

A foster-based rescue in Southern Ontario