One of the prior necessities for keeping a bearded dragon is, keeping a UVB light in its cage. This is the foremost important item needed the bearded dragon to keep in good health. This little reptile can survive two days without the UVB light. This light is much needed for producing vitamin D in their bodies. Also the calcium absorption from the food is not possible without the presence of UVB light. When the phosphorus and calcium ration is disturbed in the dragon’s body. Having plenty of calcium is needed to boost the immunity of the dragon and it stays healthy.
What happens when there is not UVB light:
Lack of calcium is responsible for affecting the bearded dragon with MBD or metabolic bone disease. This is the cause of weakness among the dragons and the movement in them decreases. In face it causes so much deterioration in their bones that the bone becomes fragile and weak. This can be critical and terminal for bearded dragons if not checked and treated in time. The UVB light should be switched on for 12 to 14 hours within the enclosure and then switched off for the rest of the day.
MBD or metabolic bone disease covers a vast array of diseases as deficiency of various nutrients fall under this group. Lack of calcium, vitamin D3, and imbalance in phosphorus and calcium causes this trouble.
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The reason for UVB symptoms:
As per the scientists, the MBD is caused due to the absence of UVB lights. It happens when the body starts pulling calcium from the bones and it lets the bones to become brittle and prone to breakage. As UVB lights help the bearded dragon to grab calcium from the food, in absence of it, the body seeks calcium from bones only.
The effect of MBD in Bearded dragon:
This is a dreadful disease for the little creature and it can even cause death. Primarily, the bones get deformed. The limbs of the dragon gets curled up, which cause them pain and uneasiness during movement. The discomfort does not let them move from one side of the tank to the other side.
The symptoms of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) in Bearded dragon
The beard will remain extremely fatigued and it will seldom make any moves. When you see the bearded dragon is not behaving as jolly as it used to be then you should get to check the UVB bulb. If it is not working or broken, then getting a new one is mandatory.
- Swollen limbs are another particular symptom of MBD in dragons. As we have mentioned above, the brittleness and weakness of the bone cause the limbs to swell. The limbs become painful to move and thus the movement of the dragon gets limited.
- Due to the uneasiness of movement, the dragon will not feel like eating. It will lessen its food intake or can skip meals. The pain in the limbs makes it anxious and thus it stops eating like a healthy reptile.
- When these symptoms are neglected for more than a week, you can see the dragon getting paralyzed. The limbs get weaker day by day without the UVB lights and thus the dragon will stop moving altogether.
- Bones also can get fractured if the dragon tries to move, as the weak bones will not be able to carry the load of the body of the dragon and thus, gets fractured.
- However, if you find these symptoms in your bearded dragon and is not able to fix the UVB light of the cage anytime soon, then there are some optional methods to get the dragon needed amount of light.
You cannot actually substitute the UVB light with the natural sunrays, so keeping the enclosures near the window cannot help in absorption of UV lights in any way. The place could have direct sunlight in ample amount and for longer hours. But the glass or plastic enclosure does not let the UV lights to pass through, so if you have the enclosure of mesh then only it will be helpful. But usually the cages are built with glass or plastic in which cases, using UVB bulbs are the only right option to provide the dragon with the UVB light.
However, if you can keep the dragon directly under the sun for sometimes, then it can be of some help. But do not take it outdoor as other creatures may harm it. You can let it play under your surveillance only.
The MBD is curable and reversible if you can check the symptoms early in your pet. Getting right amount of UVB lights will improve the health of the dragon and it will get back to its normal form and revive the energy within 6 months maximum.