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RE: Brothers Red Tegu Problems.

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Posted by: laurarfl at Sun Jan 16 08:50:17 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by laurarfl ]  
   

Sounds like it's on the road to the general syndrome of MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease). This is quite common in captive lizards and results from not enough calcium in the diet and/or inadequate UVB lighting. At this point, I would recommend a vet visit.

In the meantime, look at the diet. If it is a young tegu and eating a lot of insects, pinkies, and ground meat, then the calcium to phosphorous ratio is off. Reptiles need a ration of about 2 parts calcium for every part phosphorous in their diet for proper muscle use, nerve use, and bone growth (what calcium does for us). If the calcium is low, then hormones signal the body to get the calcium from the bones so it can be available in the blood to be used to cells. So you see things like tail kinks, soft jaws, short jaws, short bodies, twisted legs, etc. Also, appetite decreases because the lizard isn't feeling well. Then that is bad because it is not getting any calcium in the diet if it is not eating. Insects and ground turkey have a backward ration of one part calcium for every 33 parts phosphorous (roughly). Insects MUST be fed foods that have calcium and powdered with calcium before being fed to the tegu. Any food that does not contain bones must be powdered with calcium before being fed. Adult prey items with a full skeleton have a 2:1 ratio, roughly. For now, I would get some chicken baby food and add 1/4 teaspoon calcium supplement (that does not have phosphorous) to a tablespoon and see if it will lap it up. Powdered calcium will not get into the body as fast as what a vet can prescribe though.

The Vit D necessary for calcium utilization comes from the sun or the UVB bulbs we provide. If you have a long skinny UVB bulb, it should have been replaced already (they should be replaced every 6 months). It also needs to be hung inside the cage, without a screen lid barrier, and placed 6-8" from the basking spot. Ideally, a Mercury Vapor Bulb like the PowerSun100 would work best in the case because it is stronger. But you need a large enough enclosure to use one.

For cold blooded animals, heat is required to make everything work. I would keep the basking spot at 110-115, and the cool side at 80 so the lizard has a metabolism boost. I'm assuming that it is not hibernating? Is that why it is not eating much? If it is trying to hibernate, then that is a whole other issue.


   

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