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Reptiles/matabolic bone disease in green iguanas


QUESTION: I have kept my iguanas for about six months,but because I'm a greenhand and there's not sufficient sunshine in my appartment, they developed a bone disease  which, according to many researchs, can kill them. I'm now in urgent need of help,please tell me what should I do now when there is swelling and deformity in their arms which I belive is still an early symptom? Whoever is willing to answer I thank you with all my heart!!!

ANSWER: Hello Zhang,

Certainly, I am sorry that your iguanas have metabolic bone disease.  How many do you have?
Do you have pictures of them you could send also?
As far as sunshine, direct sun is great, but sun just coming through the windows, etc blocks out all of the UVB.  
What you really need is a good UVB light.  Since you are in China, you can try to find the brand of either Arcadia or Reptisun.  I highly recommend getting a high output tube bulb for them as they put out a tremendous amount of UVB.  You would need to get a high output tube bulb fixture, also.  What type of basking light do you use?
If you can't find Reptisun 10 tube bulb or Arcadia D3 12% tube bulb in the pet store then I am listing a good website where you can find either bulb.
Are you supplementing calcium, also?  They need calcium 4-5 times per week, but you absolutely need to have them under UVB lighting also or else they can't absorb their calcium properly.
Here is a link to find the UVB lighting & fixture:

The owner's name is Todd & is very helpful with any questions you have.  You can inquire about shipping too.

Let me know how they are doing.



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

my iguana
my iguana  
QUESTION: Dear Tracie,
Thanks for the reply. You have indeed provided me with a lot of helpful notes. Yesterday I was in a great rush that I forgot to post more information about my two baby iguanas. Since I'm in university preparing for my thesis, right now my parents are taking care of them. But lately I've been home and the picture below was taken three days ago. You can see his front claw is a bit swelling, but I'm so afraid of further deterioration that when I accidentally bumped into this website I hastened to ask for help. The other one is in about the same condition. When I bought them the seller told me if they get enough sunshine there won't be a problem, so I did not bother to buy a UVB for them, instead, I often put them on my arms to get sunshine from across the window. Thanks to you I now understand that it's of no use at all.Do you think there's a chance of recovery? The disease took shape only about this few days, and I'm very nervous about it. I purchased a UVB for them yesterday, and if necessary, I'm willing to by a second one even if it requires shipping.
Yes, I've been supplementing calcium and a variety of greens as food and fruit as treats, so I think food may not be the problem.
Thanks so very much for your help. Now I'll go to the website you recommended for more information about the lighting.

ANSWER: Hello Zhang,

Congratulations on your studies, a thesis is very time consuming!  I remember doing mine & it takes a lot of work.  Good luck with your thesis.  :-)
I am hoping that they can quickly recover, with proper lighting.  Do you know which brand of UVB you purchased & is it a long tube bulb, too?  Not all brands are created equal & most really don't emit much UVB at all.  
The sun would be great, if it didn't go through the window.  If they were outside on the patio getting filtered light through a screen, etc then that would give a lot better exposure.  
Are they eating pretty well right now too?  
The one picture, he still looks pretty good, despite the toe/claw. I don't think the food & supplementation is the problem.  However, they wont be able to absorb their calcium without UVB exposure.
I am sorry this happened, but you are on the road to correcting it.  
Let me know how they are doing & how the lighting situation is going.


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

QUESTION: Hello tracie,
Thanks for your concerns. Sometimes thesis writing is indeed tiresome.
The UVB's brand is zilla, and yes it's a long tube bulb. I'm not sure of its effects though, since the bulb is expected to arrive today, and my mom intends to give it a try tonight.
They are still eating well, but one of them started to be particular about sweet fruits like carrot and a kind of melon, and one can hardly feed a leaf without the fruits' company. I guess he's a gastronome and perhaps in a few days he'll get to love another sort of fruit:) The other is quite fine. He still eats a lot and does not pick and choose.
Thanks again, and when the UVB is put into use, if it isn't a bother, I'll surely let you know how they are doing. BTY, I checked the website yesterday and it says it's hardly possible to ship it to Qingdao. Pity!


Hello Zhang,

So sorry he can't ship to China, I wasn't sure.  I know that there are sites online out of the UK, etc that should be able to ship to China.  Or, actually check Amazon, they do international shipping.  Here is a link so you can see the lights, it is Arcadia, but they probably have Reptisun 10 too.

The Zilla brand has been known to cause eye issues & the UVB spectrum is not very good quality.  It has a UVB spike & a narrow UVB beam, but has also been known to emit UVC, too.  I would highly recommend trying to find one of the brands I mentioned.

Definitely let me know how they are both doing!



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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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