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Reptiles/Baby blue tongue legs dragging


QUESTION: Hi Tracie,
My daughter got two baby blue tongues for her birthday, purchased from a breeder. We live in Wollongong, Australia where it is quite warm and the lizards are native to the locality. We have had them about four weeks (being 2 weeks old when she got them) so 6 weeks old in total.
They are both together in a tank, now outside with no lighting.  They have both been growing and shedding and very friendly.
Three days ago whilst one of them , Buddy, was shedding, we noticed he seemed to be dragging his back leg but thought it was to do with the shedding.  
He has become quite lethargic and wants to hide away covered up and not moving around much. Today he seems to have lost use of all his limbs.
His front feet are bent over whilst the back leg where we first noticed the problem is sort of withered.
He's not able to hold his body weight to hold himself up and when he does move just drags himself.
I checked this site and saw your response to a previous inquiry and the diagnosis of Metabolic Bone Disease.
I saw he may need calcium supplements (which we haven't given) or lighting (which we haven't got).
I would appreciate any assistance or instructions as curious to know if his legs are likely to repair themselves or if it is too far gone.
The interesting thing is the other baby blue tongue, who has been fed on the same diet (commercial blue tongue food plus banana, cockroaches, snails etc ) and in the same habitat is doing fine and very strong and robust.
Do you think it may be some other ailment?
Would appreciate any advice of what we can do and wondering if he may be in pain and /or if these lizards are able to adapt and live on if the damage done is irrepairable. Am able to take him to a vet, who specialises in reptiles, if necessary.
Thank you so much

ANSWER: Hello Donna,
I would love to see pictures!
Could he be impacted by something?  What type of substrate are they on, a loose substrate or paper towels, or tiles?
Based on your description, it definitely could be metabolic bone disease.  Sometimes one will exhibit symptoms before the other, it greatly depends on genetics, etc.  Is the other one dominating it or can you tell?
Yes, he does need a UVB light as well as calcium supplementation.  Since you are in Australia, you should be able to find the Arcadia D3 12% tube bulb, or the Mercury Vapor bulb from Arcadia also, to help.  Arcadia is a popular brand in Australia, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding the light.  This is important as they cannot synthesize D3 or absorb calcium & vitamins without UVB exposure.
Also, the calcium is extremely important especially when they are young & growing.
If you get his taken care of soon, he should completely recover.  How much UVB light though is he getting in the outdoor tank?  Do you have pictures of the outdoor enclosure also?
Can you find liquid calcium for him too?  

The other option would be that it is an injury, but with your description of his front feet bent over & him not being able to hold himself up is pretty indicative of metabolic bone disease.  Sometimes it could be the nutritional status of the mother, etc.  She could have been lower in calcium when he was born, etc which could affect his nutritional status. Sometimes the baby born last could have more tendencies to be lower in calcium status depending on the mother's status.

I am looking forward to seeing pictures.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks Tracie, have purchased the products you advised (although couldn't source the brand of light as time was of the essence or liquid calcium ) Will submit photos as soon as can. He still pretty lethargic and not eating, even with the light now he still seeks out shade and won't stay under it. I don't expect a response to this but just wanted to thank and let know I did act on your expert advice, regards Donna

Hello Donna,

You are welcome!
Which UVB light did you get?  Some are not very good, nor safe.  Please let me know the name & brand of the one you did get & the type, whether it is a fluorescent tube or compact/coil light.
Let me know if you are able to find liquid calcium, also.  You may see a Fluker's brand there.  If not, I have a small online store & sell liquid calcium also.
I am anxious to see pictures of him & of your tank setup.



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Tracie Kretzschmar


I can answer questions pertaining to health, UVB specifics, overall husbandry care & supplementation, analysis of blood test results, and behavioral problems & handling. I can answer questions pertaining to bearded dragons, leopard geckos, iguanas, uromastyx & ball pythons. I can answer adeno virus related questions in bearded dragons, & then specifically about the testing methods as well. I am beginning an Pogona Adeno Testing Society in 2008 which will help to begin to start some standardization within the bearded dragon colonies of the breeders who choose to test.


I have been working with bearded dragons for over 5 years now, as well as leopard geckos, too. I am currently doing rescues, as well. I hope to be able to educate people prior to them purchasing an exotic pet in order to avoid any health crisis with them.

I have a master's degree in sports medicine & physiology, & 1 year of vet tech schooling, & am currently working on a reptile certification through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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