Captive Reptiles May Have Nutritional Deficiency

Image of a lizard in a tank.

Pet owners keeping reptiles in captivity as household pets may sometimes find that their pets have a nutritional deficiency. Metabolic bone disease is "the most common nutritional deficiency affecting captive reptiles," advises veterinarian Fredrick L. Frye in Reptile Care: An Atlas of Diseases and Treatments. Dr. Frye suggests that the disease is a result of dietary intake creating an excessive amount of phosphorus in the animal's body.

Metabolic bone disease (MBD) in reptiles can often be overlooked until the pet seems to have broken toes or a leg that presents as impaired. Bone produced by the animal's body is brittle, fragile and can be spongy in texture. When your pet lizard or iguana jumps from one hard surface to another the bone can easily fracture. Normal movements your pet makes can be painful with the disease. Your pet reptile may experience discomfort when walking or moving around a cage, terrarium or your home.

Young lizards with metabolic bone disease may have skulls that fail to grow larger and become longer. They can retain the rounder shape seen at birth.

Early signs of metabolic bone disease in reptiles can be recognized when watching your pet closely. If you see that your iguana or lizard is using its front legs to move and the back legs are dragging you'll want to contact your veterinarian for an immediate appointment.

Lizards and iguanas, for example, use all four legs to move around. Their tails do not remain limp behind them with normal movement. There is a natural lift to many reptile tails that supports their forward motion. An iguana may be able to lift the front of its body, yet the torso and tail will be dragged due to the disease.

Watching your pet you'll be able to see if it looks jerky while it walks. Its limbs or muscles may show twitches and tremors. You may experience your pet's shakiness when holding it.

When handling your pet, you may also find that it has knobs or bumpy places along the bone ends and between the bones of its back or tail. Your vet will always check for knobs and bumps during an office exam. Eating may become decreased and weight loss may occur if your pet's jaw is affected by the disease.

Advanced cases of metabolic bone disease may also include anorexia and fractured bones. Dr. Frye advises that "severely deficient reptiles tend to be lethargic and may only be able to drag themselves along the ground. A reptile lacking the ability to lift it's body from the ground when sitting or walking often suffers from a moderate to severe case of MBD."

When a diagnosis is made for metabolic bone disease, your veterinarian will guide you with treatment recommendations and nutritional guidelines for your pet.

Your First Visit is FREE

Office Hours

Monday:

8:00 am-7:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-7:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-7:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-5:30 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-5:30 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

9:00 am-2:00 pm

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

  • "Countryside is wonderful!!! I take all three of my cats here, and I'm always so impressed with how they accommodate for each cat based on their personalities. They handle each one according to their unique needs. My most timid female is getting over a UTI. After they weighed her in the back, they brought her back over to me loosely wrapped in a blanket that felt fresh out of the dryer! I absolutely LOVE that attention to detail and genuine care that my furkids receive here."
    Melissa D. / Yorkville, IL

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • The Do’s and Don'ts of Pet Summer Safety

    Do you know how to keep your pet safe this summer? ...

    Read More
  • The Most Common Vaccinations for Your Cat and Dog

    Do you know what vaccines your cat or dog needs? ...

    Read More
  • Preparing for Your Kitten’s Developmental Milestones

    Need to hone in on your kitten knowledge? Check out the milestones your new pet will reach during its first year. ...

    Read More
  • What Is Ataxia in Dogs?

    Could balance or gait issues mean your dog has ataxia? ...

    Read More
  • Fish

    If you’re thinking of getting a pet fish, you should know that your veterinarian has a lot of good advice about pet ownership. Fish can be very rewarding as pets, and you just may be surprised about how much fish actually interact with their owners. Here’s more valuable information about choosing ...

    Read More
  • Caring for Senior Cats

    Thanks to advancements in veterinary care, today’s cats can live well into their teen years. It is not uncommon for cats to live to be 18 or even older. However, in order for cats to live a long full life, they need proactive veterinary care to stay healthy. As cats age, they are at greater risk for ...

    Read More
  • Feline Stomatitis: Treatments

    Cats rarely display their pain, but cats with feline stomatitis are often the exception. If your cat appears to have mouth pain, is reluctant to eat, doesn't want to groom, is drooling, and doesn't want you to open its mouth, it may be suffering from this debilitating, degenerative oral condition, and ...

    Read More
  • Feline Leukemia Virus: What You Need to Know

    Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that weakens your cat's immune system. Unfortunately, when the immune system does not function properly, your cat may be more likely to develop other diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders. How Cats Contract Feline Leukemia Cats get feline leukemia from other cats. ...

    Read More
  • Family Cats and Pregnant Women: Take Measures to Prevent Toxoplasmosis Infection

    Nothing must spoil the joys of becoming a new parent. Not even your pets. But family cats with normal, every day habits can pose a risk to expectant women. Women's immune systems can be disturbed by a parasite carried in fecal matter. If you're the primary caretaker of your family's feline friend it ...

    Read More
  • Create an Environment Your Cat Will Love

    The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery confirms that feline emotional wellbeing, behavior and physical health are a result of how comfortable they are in their environment. Understanding how our cats interact with their environment can help us create a space for owners and cats to mutually thrive ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles