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Reptiles/balance problem and severe flipping over problem


QUESTION: I have a 2yr old beardie named Turk. He had developed a severe flipping problem and not being able to right himself. He is very lethargic at times and other times very normal. My wife and I have spent hundreds of dollars on 2 different vets. All blood tests have come back normal but calcium was on the low side. Have been told that his liver may be a little enlarged. He has become a very particular eater. He will only eat crickets when they are hand fed to him. He will not touch greens. My wife and I are very worried about him. He is loved dearly! We have taken everything out of his cage so he can't climb and flip over. Hoping you can help and maybe give me some answers. I have tried to find answers from every source but none have worked. Please help!

ANSWER: Hello Mike,

Can you run over your tank setup with me, such as your UVB light, temperatures, supplementation, etc.
It sounds like a calcium issue possibly, if he is flipping in that manner.  Exactly how low was his calcium?  Do you have a copy of his blood test?
Did they feel his liver or was an ultrasound or x-ray done?
Did the vet give you any liquid calcium for him?
Turk is a cute name for him.  Do you have any pictures of him?
How long has he had the flipping issues?

As you have already done, taking things out of his tank was a good idea for now.  Be sure to adjust the basking light accordingly so that he will stay warm enough under his light.

Let me know how he is doing.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your quick response. I had a reptiglo 10.0, but after reading some of your other answers I switched to the rep to sun 10.0. Due to the problem of flipping over, I have taken everything out of his cage. Papertowels as a substrate anda rock to bask on and a soft mat for him to sleep on is all that remains. During the day since a week ago I let him run around the bedroom while my wife and I are at work. When I get home I take him outside our put him in the cage. He seems to do better out of his cage than in, that is why this is being done. No xray has been done. The vet just felt it by hand. Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the blood tests. The vet said that his calcium was towards the low side of normal.

ANSWER: Hello Mike,

Turk is a nice looking dragon!
When he is out of his tank though, is he getting any UVB lighting?   
He needs at least 6-8 hours of UVB lighting as well as a basking spot of 95-105 to stay warm so he can digest when he eats.
You could get a Solar Glo mercury vapor bulb & set up a light stand so that he can get some heat & UVB if he is out of his tank for a lengthy period of time.  How long is he out of his tank running around?  The tank for him is outside?  

If his calcium was on the low end of normal then he has hypocalcemia which cause muscular & neuromuscular issues such as what he has.  Are you giving him calcium regularly?
If he isn't eating anything you can consider getting some critical care powdered supplement which you could get at the vets or online.  Or you can mix some chicken or turkey baby food along with squash or sweet potato baby food for some extra nutrition.  If he will eat crickets hand fed then that is fine also.  He most likely doesn't have the strength to chase his food down though.

If his liver is enlarged a little bit you can also get some milk thistle supplements for him, probably liquid, to give a few drops daily.  
Where did you get him, a breeder or pet store?

Let me know how he is doing.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: When he is out of his cage he has no UVB except for the sun through the window. He hasn't flipped since I've been doing this. He is not really fond of extreme heat. Seems to like it colder than hot. Weird huh? He has always been like that. Last night we have him 10 crickets dusted with calcium and baby food peas. We have to force feed him the baby food by using a syringe. We are doing this because he won't eat his vegetables. He has a bowel movement almost once a day. He has never been a water drinker. We make sure he's hydrated by using a syringe. His fecal looks good not dry 2 dark ovals 1 white oval with fluid. I'm sending you a video that shows his balance problem. I can't send the video won't let me.

Hello Mike,
Is the window open so it is screen to where the UVB can shine through the screen?
He wont benefit from any UVB exposure if it is going through glass though.
How warm is he getting though with his basking spot?  
If he isn't getting a nice basking temperature of at least 95-100, his body wont be able to absorb his calcium or other vitamins properly.  It is fine to have a lower basking but 95 is really the minimum for optimal health.
You can send a video to my email at:

He isn't eating on his own right now at all?



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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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