Signs of Mbd In Bearded Dragons

Signs of Mbd In Bearded Dragons

As a pet owner, you always try to give your bearded dragon all the best but raising a bearded dragon is not easy at all, and improper care can lead to serious health problems.  And one of them is Metabolic bone disease or mbd which can be painful and dangerous to bearded dragons. Therefore, having a profound understanding of the causes and signs of mbd in bearded dragons can allow you to know how to treat and prevent mbd in bearded dragons. In this article, we would like to explain how to detect, treat, and prevent Metabolic Bone Disease.


 What Is Metabolic Bone Disease In Bearded Dragons?

metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons

Maybe you are wondering what Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD in Bearded Dragons is, and actually this is just a relative umbrella term for one of several commonly found conditions seen in 2-year-old or younger bearded dragons.

MBD in bearded dragons frequently results from a range of nutrient issues such as a lack of calcium and/or Vitamin D3 or phosphorous. Especially, too little (hypocalcemia) or too much (hypercalcemia) calcium can have a negative impact on both the growth and the strength of a bearded dragon’s bones.

For example, a bearded dragon’s bones can be brittle and prone to fractures.

Also, Metabolic Bone Disease in bearded dragons can even make bearded dragons deformed, with limbs that curl up or drag along as they move, which make bearded dragons uncomfortable and painful.

Therefore, it’s would be better if you can recognize the signs of mbd in bearded dragons and know how to treat mbd in bearded dragons.

What Are Causes Of Metabolic Bone Disease In Bearded Dragons

how to prevent mbd in bearded dragons

1. Too Much Or Too Little Calcium

The first culprit for MBD in bearded dragons is related to calcium which helps to keep their bones healthy and strong.

Also, a calcium-rich diet allows bearded dragons to produce Vitamin D3 which is responsible for not only bone health, but muscle health, and much more.

In the wild, bearded dragons can get the right amount of calcium from a variety of plant and animal sources to keep the bones of young beardies growing properly.

However, regarding bearded dragons in captivity, to provide your bearded dragon a proper balance of dietary calcium requires you to combine proper diet with proper supplementation, which is such a matter to most pet owners.

And if your bearded dragon does not get enough calcium, which can lead to metabolic bone disease.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Lethargic.

One common mistake that most pet owners can make is giving their beardies far too much calcium in the form of high calcium foods along with overdoses of calcium supplements in an attempt to provide enough calcium for optimal health, which would be counterproductive and lead to MBD in bearded dragons.

There are some cases that reptile owners use the wrong type of calcium supplement, which can prevent bearded dragons from getting enough calcium.

For example, powdered supplements, especially powdered dietary calcium, are very difficult for reptiles to absorb.

Therefore, using a much more easily digestible form of calcium is highly recommended.

We recommend: 

2. Improper Diet

treating mbd in bearded dragons

A healthy and balanced diet plays an essential role in the bearded dragons’ development.

However, preparing such a diet is a matter, and there are some common mistakes that pet owners can make, which can lead to mbd in bearded dragons.

It is undeniable that bearded dragons need calcium to keep their bones healthy and strong.

Therefore, a calcium-rich diet is recommended as it allows bearded dragons to produce Vitamin D3, which is very important for bone health,  muscle health, and so on.

However, there are some kinds of food, especially high oxalate food and high phosphorous food that you should consider when giving to your bearded dragons.

Regarding foods rich in oxalate, they can make the calcium undigestable as oxalate prevents the absorption of calcium by binding to it before it is absorbed by your bearded dragon.

There are some examples of this kind of food such as kale, spinach, carrots, collards, and chards, and make sure that you shouldn’t include them as a daily staple in your dragon’s diet.

However, don’t make it wrong as you can feed your bearded dragon these foods occasionally and remember to use other types of low oxalate, high calcium foods.

Another substance that can prevent the absorption of calcium can lead to mbd in bearded dragons is phosphorus.

Therefore, you had better avoid giving high phosphorus foods to our bearded dragons such as bananas or some kinds of bean.
In short, if you notice some signs of mbd in bearded dragons, you should immediately check your daily diet and try to avoid these foods mentioned as soon as possible.

Other options that you can consider are turnip greens, collard greens, and vegetables like squash or green beans.

3. Low Temperatures

early signs of mbd in bearded dragons

The reason why a basking spot that is not enough can be the culprit for mbd in bearded dragons is that bearded dragons rely on the heat in order to fully digest their food, which allows bearded dragons to absorb minerals and vitamins… like calcium.

If the basking spot is too cool, which means your bearded dragon is more likely not to digest its food, he won’t be able to benefit much from the calcium in their diet.

Therefore, one of the ways of treating mbd in bearded dragons is to give your bearded dragon a basking spot at proper temperatures, especially from 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Lack of UVB

Lack of UVB is the main culprit for mbd in bearded dragons as UVB plays an essential role in helping bearded dragons to convert vitamin D into vitamin D3  when absorbed through the skin.

Also, UVB helps to promote a healthy metabolism for reptiles of all ages and allocate vitamin D3 to the skeleton system, which is essential for bone health.

However, bearded dragons, in captivity, find it impossible to get enough UVB rays even if you place the tank near a window as UVB waves cannot pass through the glass.

Therefore, a high-quality UVB bulb, especially a ReptiSun UVB bulb, is completely important for beardies to get ample UVB rays.

It is recommended to buy high-quality lights and replace them every 6 months. Make sure that you set them on timers so they are on for 12 hours every day.

Symptoms Of Metabolic Bone Disease In Bearded Dragons.

what is mbd in bearded dragons

Before coming to how to treat mbd in bearded dragons, we should have a look at signs of mbd in bearded dragons so that you can know the underlying cause and have proper solutions. However, these symptoms can also be signs of other health problems.

– Tremors or an involuntary shaking of the limbs, front or rear.

– Rubber Jaw/Softening of Facial Structure

Lack of appetite

– Weakness and lethargy.

– Stunted growth.

– Swollen rear legs and/or limb paralysis.

– Bone fractures, severely curled limbs, and inability to move.

As you can see, your bearded dragon has to suffer from bad and painful experiences if they get the metabolic bone disease.

Therefore, if you notice any signs of mbd in bearded dragons, it’s imperative that you seek treatment for them immediately or take him to a reptile vet for testing for MBD.

Treatment For Metabolic Bone Disease

signs your bearded dragon is unhealthy

Maybe you are wondering how to treat mbd in bearded dragons but don’t worry as most cases of MBD are treatable. Below are some steps that you could take to tackle this problem.

if you suspect that your bearded dragon has MBD with some of these signs mentioned before, the best way is to make an appointment to see a reptile vet immediately.

The vet will perform some tests such as blood work, X-rays, and so on to find out health problems and prescribe your medication to give them.

One thing you shouldn’t do is curing mbd in your bearded dragon yourself by looking for advice or solutions on some of the bearded dragon forums out there on the internet as they are not effective.

As you already know main culprits for mbd in bearded dragons that we have mentioned, one thing you should do for them is to make sure their diet, tank temperatures, and exposure to UVB are on proper.

Steps To Prevent Metabolic Bone Disease

how to cure mbd in bearded dragons

1. Diet

Regarding the diet for bearded dragons with MDB, you had better feed your bearded dragon organic baby food in the form of pureed chicken, squash, or pumpkin or foods that are high in calcium include squashes, mustard greens, dandelions, and papaya with a little calcium powder with Vitamin D3 to make sure that he will get an adequate supply of calcium before and during any treatments.

And, make sure that no foods high in oxalate or phosphorous should be given. Also, you may be recommended to give your pet supplements in the form of calcium injections or oral medication.

However, while the oral medication is found to have a low absorption rate, the other is highly recommended but make sure you will not overdose it by asking the vet for help.

2. Temperatures

best size terrarium for bearded dragon

Another solution of treating mbd in bearded dragons is adjusting the tank temperatures with a hot side (basking spot) and a cool side in the tank so that your bearded dragon will have a consistent source of heat to properly digest his food.

Regarding adult bearded dragons, the temperatures for the basking spot and the cool side should be between 100 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit and around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit respectively.

Baby bearded dragons need a little more heat from 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, it is advisable to keep your bearded dragon’s tank a little bit warmer at night to boost his immune system.

To heat the tank, a Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE) like this one here is recommended to instead of the tank heaters (UTH) because they are more likely to short out and burn your bearded dragons, which sometimes leads to severe burns or even death.

The period of time of heat is also important so just keep it on timers.

It is highly recommended to have 12 hours on and 12 hours off.

how to prevent mbd in bearded dragons

3. UVB

Proper UVB exposure will allow your dragon to utilize the calcium he or she takes in.

Therefore, in case your bearded dragon doesn’t get enough UVB rays and have mbd, you should immediately address this issue.

Firstly, you should wonder you are using the right kind of UVB bulb to offer enough UVB to cover their entire tank or not.

In specific, long tube UVBS lights, especially Zoo Med Reptisun T5 HO 10.0 UVB, are highly recommended as they are good at dispersing UVB over a larger area.

Make sure that you keep your UVB bulbs directly overhead of your beardie with nothing in between them, like a screen lid, and the bulb is only about 6 to 8 inches away from your bearded dragon when he is on the highest part of his basking spot.

One important thing is to install new bulbs every 6 months as the UVB output of these bulbs degrades over time.

4. Room To Move

bearded dragon not drinking water

A vivarium providing enough room for your beardie to move around and do some physical exercises can lower the chance of mbd in bearded dragons.

You can checklist of bearded dragon accessories to have many ideas for this:


Although Metabolic Bone Disease is a dangerous disease, you can easily treat and prevent it if you can realize some signs of mbd in bearded dragons, and take immediate steps. I hope that through this article, you will have more knowledge and be fully aware of the importance of good husbandry practices, proper diets, the right temperatures, and enough UVB exposure, along with giving your bearded dragon calcium and vitamins in an attempt to prevent your beloved bearded dragon from Metabolic Bone Disease.

Further Reading:

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