Reptiles with Metabolic Bone Disease

Let's discuss reptiles with metabolic bone disease. Metabolic Bone Disease is caused by calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorous imbalances in a reptile's body. Usually phosphorous levels are too high while calcium and vitamin D levels are too low.

The most common reptiles that are at risk of developing metabolic bone disease are reptiles that eat mostly insects and plants. Reptiles such as carnivorous snakes usually get enough vitamin D and calcium from the prey they eat.

Symptoms of metabolic bone disease in reptiles include bowed legs, lump along legs and spine, limping, abnormal lower jaw flexibility. Reptiles with metabolic bone disease also have a hard time raising their bodies off the ground. Other symptoms include lethargy, seizures, depression and tremors. If a reptile has the disease for a while and it is never treated they can end up dying. In turtles the common symptoms include a soft shell that flares up around the edges.  

As previously mentioned, metabolic bone disease is a result of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D levels, but there are things that lead to these imbalances. A common cause for this disease is inadequate UVB exposure. Ultraviolet-B light helps a reptile's body produce vitamin D and also helps their calcium metabolism. Natural sunlight is best for reptiles, but many reptile owners don't realize that glass and plastic enclosures actually filter out the beneficial light. A reptile can also become over-heated if their terrarium is placed in direct sunlight.

Treatment for metabolic bone disease is available. Mild cases can be fixed with improvements to the reptile's diet, which may include vitamin D and calcium supplements. More exposure to an ultraviolet light can also help reptile recover. In more serious cases broken bones have to be treated and injections may have to be given to the reptile in order for it to recover.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your veterinarian or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.