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Reptiles/sick breaded dragon


I just got these 2 sister breaded dragons they are 6 months old. One of them is very small and thin and her spine has a curve in it. How can I take care of this small sick looking dragon

Hi Melissa,

The spinal curve could be a congenital defect but it could also be a sign of metabolic bone disease. MBD is very common in captive bearded dragons unfortunately. It is usually caused by improper diet (lack of calcium and/or vitamin D3) or lack of exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) lighting. UVB helps to synthesize vitamin D3 in the body which allows the body to effectively absorb calcium from the diet. When insufficient calcium is fed or absorbed it results in the softening and deforming of the bones, including the spine. The long bones of the legs and the jaw can also be affected.

Bearded dragons are fast growers so they have high calcium demands when they are young.

Ideally, a vet visit that includes blood work for calcium levels  and an x-ray to determine bone density should be done.

What you can do at home right now is to keep her housed separately from the other dragon if possible. A smaller, weaker dragon will not be able to compete for food or have adequate access to the basking site in the presence of a larger cage mate. There can be dominance issues going on without obvious signs to you. If you can't house her separately with suitable heat and lighting then try to  feed her separately.

Make sure she has the proper temperatures and lighting for optimal calcium absorption. That would be a basking spot of 95 to 105F and a good quality UVB emitting bulb such as a ReptiSun 10.0. Dust her insects 5 to 6 times a week using calcium with vitamin D3. You can also lightly dust her greens.

She may have trouble moving to capture insects in which case you may need to feed her in a smaller container or hand feed her. Soaking her a couple times a week in barely warm water will ensure she stays hydrated and will help her defecate.

The deformity will likely not disappear completely but as she grows it may become less apparent as normal bone growth resumes, assuming it is calcium related. Good luck.


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I can answer questions on the proper husbandry and diet of Iguanas, bearded dragons, geckoes, skinks, chameleons, tortoises, box turtles, treefrogs, non-venomous snakes and tarantulas. Also the breeding of some species of feeder insects. I have no experience with venonmous snakes and only limited experience with aquatic turtles.


I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for over 30 years. In addition to my regular job in the medical field I also worked for several years in a pet store that specialized only in exotics. The job entailed both caring for and answering questions on innumerable species. It required constant, extensive research into a wide range of reptiles. I have been called to appear on televised national media (CBC, CTV and Life Channel) as well as CBC radio to discuss the proper care of reptiles and other exotics in captivity. I currently own one or more species of those listed under my expertise with the exception of chameleons. I owned chameleons for years but keep none currently. I keep over 20 snakes comprising 5 species, both Colubridae and Boidae. I bred corn snakes for several years. I have a particular interest in treefrogs and currently have 5 different species. I've raised redfoot tortoises for 10 years and have two iguanas, one for 12 years.

A small and now defunct local magazine called "Pet Vue"

Diagnostic medical microbiology with some parasitology experience.

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