METABOLIC BONE DISEASE IN REPTILES
1. What is Metabolic Bone Disease?
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) in reptiles is a term used to describe a problem with their bones which results from a combination of poor nutrition (high phosphate, low calcium and low Vitamin D), kidney disease or inadequate UV B light (leading to Vitamin D and calcium deficiency).
2. What types of reptiles can be affected?
All reptiles can potentially be affected by MBD. Turtles and lizards are more commonly affected than snakes.
3. What signs will an affected reptile show?
Signs can range from reduced appetite through to soft, bent or broken bones. Other signs include tremors or seizures, general weakness, and reproductive problems. Some reptiles can die from complications arising from MBD.
4. How is MBD diagnosed?
MBD can often be detected by performing a radiograph (x-ray) on your reptile.
5. Can MBD be treated?
Most cases of MBD can be treated. Treatment often involves splinting or casting broken bones. Calcium supplements by injection or orally (by mouth) will be necessary. In some cases antibiotics and fluids by injection may be required. In the longer term, improvement in diet and access to UV B or natural light are necessary. MBD needs to be treated sooner rather than later to improve the likelihood of success.
6. Can MBD be prevented?
The majority of MBD cases can be prevented. Feeding an appropriate, balanced diet will reduce the likelihood of MBD developing.
Providing UV B in the form of suitable UV B globes, as well as 30 minutes per day of natural sunlight, is necessary for lizards and turtles, and recommended in snakes to enable calcium absorption from the diet
Keeping your reptile at an appropriate temperature is necessary for your reptile to metabolize calcium appropriately.
Yearly health checks with a veterinarian that regularly sees reptiles are recommended to ensure your reptile is healthy. Your veterinarian may also recommend yearly radiographs to check bone density.
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