Crested Gecko Metabolic Bone Disease – Cause, Symptoms And Treatment

Crested Gecko Metabolic Bone Disease

Although, Crested geckos are overall healthy animals, one illnesses to look out for is Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease. Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease is common in Crested geckos. It’s caused by lack of Calcium in the gecko’s diet. If not treated, it’s fatal.

This article will help you get a better understanding of:

  • What is Crested gecko Metabolic bone diseases
  • The causes for the disease
  • What are the symptoms
  • How to treat and prevent it

What Is Crested Gecko Metabolic Bone Disease? Causes

The cause for Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease is:

  • Calcium or vitamin D3 deficiency. This is usually due to improper diet such as baby food or homemade diet of only fruits

Calcium is very important for your Crested gecko’s health and development. Calcium ensures not only the proper muscle and organ function but is also used during breeding and egg production. The healthy level of Calcium in your Crested gecko’s bloodstream should be around 1%.

The lack or imbalance of Calcium in your gecko’s body can cause Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease or MBD. Although, Calcium deficiency is the main cause for this disease, it can also be caused by the imbalance of other vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D3 and Phosphorus.

If your gecko is not getting the Calcium they need through their diet, their body will start to take it from the bone mass storage. This will have a negative impact on their health.

If left untreated, Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease can progress to loss of liver and kidney function, decrease the nerve function and cause blood clotting. It’s essential to know what are the symptoms of this disease, so you can catch it early. If a Calcium deficiency is not corrected on time, it can be fatal.

Crested Gecko Metabolic Bone Disease – Symptoms

In some cases, Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease symptoms are very subtle and owners can miss them.

In the early stages of Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease look out for symptoms such as:

  • Crested gecko shaking head – there can be other reasons for your gecko shaking their head, learn more about it here Crested Gecko Shaking Head? Causes And Treatments
  • Trembling
  • Slightly crooked tail
  • Overall muscle weakness such as inability to stick
  • Shaking when you pick them up or when they are walking

Later stages of Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease presents with the following symptoms:

  • Disfigured bones, spine, hips and tail such as curvy back and spine
  • Swollen limbs and jaw
  • Weak jaw that hangs open
  • Underbite or overbite
  • Kinked tail with multiple zig-zags
  • Humped back
  • Trembling or twitching
  • Lack of appetite
  • Grey or black Calcium sacks. Crested geckos have calcium sacs in their mouths to store calcium. Healthy Calcium sacks should be round and white

Crested Gecko Metabolic Bone Disease – Treatment

Crested Gecko Metabolic Bone Disease

The good news is that Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease is treatable as long as it’s caught on time.

Mild cases of the disease can be treated at home by making a few changes in your gecko’s diet and habitat setup such as:

  • Liquid calcium such as Zoo Med’s Repti Calcium with D3 which can be administered at home
  • Change in diet to ensure that your gecko is getting the calcium they need. You can switch to Pangea Breeders Formula just 1 feeding per week. This formula is high in calcium
  • It’s recommended to install a low impact UVB light such as Exo Terra compact fluorescent bulbs = 14 may or Miner-ALL’s Outdoor formula
  • If you feed your Crested gecko insects, make sure you dust them in Calcium and Vitamin D3 powder before feeding

If your gecko hasn’t improved after a couple of week, you should take them to the vet. Then, the vet will do an X-ray to establish the level of bone deterioration. This will help them come up with an appropriate treatment plan.

Unfortunately, not every case of Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease can be treated. If the disease is caught too late and it has progressed to nerve damage, it can be fatal for your gecko.

That’s why is so important to perform regular wellness exams on your Crested gecko and to act quickly if you notice any symptoms or anything out of the ordinary.

Crested Gecko Metabolic Bone Disease – Prevention

Crested Gecko Calcium Sacks

As we mentioned earlier Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease is treatable but what is even better – it’s easily preventable.

Taking preventive steps as simple as good husbandry can ensure your Crested gecko stays healthy and happy.

To prevent Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease, ensure the following is part of your gecko’s day to day care:

  • A well-balanced and nutritious diet. Recommended is a staple diet such as Repashy or Pangea with an occasional treat of dusted insects and healthy fruit purees
  • Any insects you give to your gecko should be dusted in calcium powder to prevent this condition from developing
  • Monitor your Crested gecko’s health and perform weekly physical exams such as checking their calcium sacks and overall body shape. You can keep track of your gecko’s health by recording their behavior in a diary

Diet

Your Crested gecko gets most of their calcium and vitamins through their diet. Therefore, feeding your gecko the right foods is essential in preventing Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease and other illnesses. To learn about other illnesses that affect Crested geckos, click here Do You Have A Sick Crested Gecko? Full Crested Gecko Health Guide

It’s recommended to feed your gecko a staple diet of Repashy or Pangea. The formula will provide your gecko with all the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy.

In addition to their staple diet, you can give your Crested gecko a monthly occasional treat of:

  • Healthy fruit purees such as papaya and mango
  • Insects/bugs dusted in Calcium and D3. The most nutritional and healthy insects to feed to your Crested gecko include Butterworms, Dubia Roach, Crickets and Silkworms

Completely avoid the following diets:

  • Baby food diet
  • Only fruit. As most fruits are high in phosphorus and low in calcium, over time it will result in calcium deficiency
  • Only insect diet

The diets mentioned above are out-dated, don’t have the necessary nutrient and can be harmful to your gecko’s health.

It’s also important to note that homemade diets are considered more risky and are not recommended for unexperienced reptile owners. If you don’t know what Crested geckos eat in the wild and what’s the balance of nutrients that they need, a strictly homemade diet can result in malnourishment and health problems.

To learn more about what’s the healthies diet for your Crested gecko, click here What Crested Geckos Eat? Crested Gecko Diet – Do’s And Don’ts

Final Thoughts

Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease is caused by the imbalance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that make up the gecko’s bones. The main thing to look out for is the Calcium levels. If your gecko is not getting enough calcium, their body will start taking it from the bone mass storage and it will result in Metabolic bone disease.

Symptoms of Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease include:

  • Swollen limbs and jaw
  • Weak jaw that hangs open
  • Curvy back and spine
  • Kinked tail
  • Trembling or twitching
  • Lack of appetite

Crested gecko Metabolic bone disease is treatable as long as it’s caught on time. Normally, the treatment for mild cases is changing their diet to one that’s high in calcium, installing a low impact UVB light, administering a liquid calcium supplement.

On the other hand, more severe cases will need to be treated by a specialised vet. However, if the disease has caused nerve damage, it can be too late to help your gecko.

That’s why it’s really important to never ignore early symptoms of the disease as acting quickly is key.

Related Topics Q&A

How To Check My Crested Gecko’s Calcium Sacks?

Crested geckos have sacks that store Calcium. These sacks are located in their mouth, at the back of their throat. Checking those Calcium sacks is a good way to tell if your gecko is healthy.

But how do you check the Crested gecko Calcium sacks? To perform this check, you’ll have to get your Crested gecko’s mouth wide open. You can do this by using a thin credit card or something similar to press on the sides of your gecko’s jaw. Do this whilst covering the sides of its head gently.

After a bit of coaxing, your Crested gecko’s mouth should open and you will be able to see the Calcium sacks. If the Calcium sacks are round and white, it means your gecko is healthy. However, if they are gray or black, it means your gecko is Calcium deficient.

It’s important to note that male Crested geckos might have smaller Calcium sacks than a female. This is because females need more Calcium to produce eggs regardless if the eggs are fertile or not.

What Does A Healthy Crested Gecko Look Like?

A healthy Crested gecko should be:

  • Lively and alert when you handle them
  • Their ear and nose vents should be clear
  • The gecko’s skin should be smooth
  • An adult Crested gecko should have a little heft to them

To ensure that your Crested gecko stays healthy, you should perform the following checks:

  • Check their weight weekly. Any unexpected weight loss can mean sick Crested gecko
  • Keep a diary where you record every weight check, behaviour and moods, etc
  • Any responsible Crested gecko owner should have a reptile first-aid kit in case of injury or sickness

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