Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is becoming increasingly common in leopard geckos. MBD is a metabolic disorder characterized by a lack of calcium or vitamin D3 in the body. This results in weak, brittle and deformed bones, making it difficult for the animal to move. Though the disease can be treated with immediate medical attention, it is imperative to prevent it from happening in the first place. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to know and detect the signs of MBD in your leopard gecko early on so that it can be treated and your pet will live a happy and healthy life.
In this article, we will discuss the signs of metabolic bone disease in leopard geckos in detail, including what to look for and how to prevent it from happening.
What is Metabolic Bone Disease in Leopard Geckos?
Methyl Bone Disease, also known as Secondary Nutritional Hyperparathyroidism or simply metabolic disease is a skeletal disorder that occurs when the bone of a leopard gecko is depleted of essential vitamins and minerals, specifically calcium and vitamin D3. Without sufficient levels of calcium, a leopard gecko’s bones become brittle, which can lead to deformities and fractures. A leopard gecko requires calcium and vitamin D3 to maintain healthy bones and regulate normal body processes. Calcium is vital for proper muscle function, blood clotting, and nerve transmission. Vitamin D3 is necessary for the absorption of calcium and ensures correct formation of bones.
A leopard gecko can develop MBD at any age, but it is most commonly seen in young or poorly-fed specimens. A lack of UVB light from natural sunlight or a proper UVB light, insufficient dietary calcium, or phosphorus to calcium imbalances, could all lead to MBD in a leopard gecko.
What are the Signs of Metabolic Bone Disease in Leopard Geckos?
1. Weak and Brittle Bones
Brittle and fragile bones are the most visible signs of metabolic bone disease in leopard geckos. The bone of a leopard gecko that is affected by MBD will become weak, brittle and easy to break even from slight impacts. You may notice your leopard gecko having difficulty supporting its own weight during movement, exhibits limping or sudden reluctance to climb walls, jump and hunt.
2. Swelling of the Joints
When a leopard gecko has MBD, there’s a high possibility of swelling around the joints area, typically in the legs, tail, and jaws of the animal. This swelling is caused by fractures and bone resorption in the gecko’s skeletal system. The swelling could be painful to the leopard gecko and would not only impede their mobility but also affect feeding and digestion.
3. Twisted Limbs
Metabolic Bone Disease can cause the limbs of a leopard gecko to become twisted, splayed, or even bent out of shape, due to the deformation of the bones. The twisted limbs are often painful for the gecko and may make it difficult for the animal to move, resulting in decreased activity and lethargy.
4. Reduced Appetite
Leopard geckos with MBD tend to lose their appetite over time, due to the pain from bone fractures or swollen joints. When a leopard gecko does not consume enough food, it can lead to emaciation, weakness, and can worsen their condition.
5. Soft Jaw
Metabolic bone disease can also weaken the jaw of a leopard gecko and make it soft. This makes it impossible for the animal to chew, leading to difficulty eating, and could result in starvation and subsequent death if untreated.
Metabolic bone disease could make a leopard gecko lethargic, unresponsive, or have difficulty dragging themselves to get around. It could be challenging for the animal to move if their bones are disturbed, leading to reduced activity and low energy levels.
How to Prevent Metabolic Bone Disease in Leopard Geckos?
Metabolic Bone Disease can be prevented by the following measures:
1. Providing a Proper Diet
Leopard geckos require a balanced and nutritious diet of crickets, mealworms, and waxworm foods that are dusted with calcium and D3. You should avoid feeding geckos with pinky mice or cat food as the main food source. Gut-loading the food items with calcium before feeding the gecko is also important.
2. Provide a Proper Home
The right housing is equally important in preventing MBD in leopard geckos. It is necessary to provide fully equipped, temperature regulated, and bacterial-free housing, with a right-sized substrate that is easy to clean.
Furthermore, providing access to natural sunlight or UVB lighting is essential for leopard geckos as it allows them to optimize their vitamin D3 in their bodies and absorb calcium correctly.
3. Regular Veterinary Visits
Regular veterinary visits can help to identify any difficulties in your Leopard gecko’s health during its growth stage and keep the MBD in check.
4. Maintain the Right Temperature
The ideal temperature range for leopard geckos ranges between 25° C (77°F) and 32° C (90°F) during the day and should not drop below 21ºC (70°F) at night. The right temperature is necessary to keep the gecko’s metabolic rate and appetite regulated.
5. Calcium and Vitamin D3 Supplements
Calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are essential in leopard geckos to ensure that they have an adequate amount of vitamin D3 for food absorption and calcium for healthy bones. Dusting these supplements on their food items or adding them to their water bowl is an effective way to administer them.
Preventing metabolic bone disease in leopard geckos is crucial to keep them healthy and happy. Keeping your pet well-fed, providing the right housing, and a balanced diet are some of the key measures you need to implement to prevent MBD. In addition, finding out the signs of the disease and getting veterinary attention early can keep the disease progressive and detrimental. Be attentive to your pet’s overall well-being and ensure the right steps are taken to keep their growth in check.
It is essential to remember that leopard geckos are highly sensitive pets that require specific care for adequate growth. By following the above measures, you can undoubtedly keep your pet Leopard gecko healthy and thriving.