Is your bearded dragon walking with a limp?
Are you unsure of how your beardie may have broken its toe?
Broken bones can affect how an animal lives its day-to-day life.
A bearded dragon broken toe is often a sign of a more serious health condition, especially if it didn’t happen as a direct result of an accident.
A bearded dragon may break its toe because of a standalone accident. It may also be a sign of metabolic bone disease (MBD). A trip to the vet is needed to make sure the toe heels correctly and without infection.
Let’s investigate the causes, treatments, and preventions of broken toes and metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons.
Table of Contents
Normal Bearded Dragon Toes
Bearded dragons have five toes on each of four limbs.
Every toe has a toenail.
Typically, there is one big toe on each foot.
These large toes help the bearded dragon grip and stay balanced while climbing.
Toes are relatively straight or curve slightly downward toward the ground.
Toenails will curl downward, especially as they grow long.
Identifying A Bearded Dragon Broken Toe
If your beardie’s toe is curled upward or bent unnaturally to one side, it may very well be broken.
Also, look for swelling around the toe area.
Bearded dragon toes are susceptible to necrosis (dead tissue), especially if circulation is cut off from incomplete shedding or broken bones.
When necrosis sets in, the skin will blacken, and the toe may look like it’s hanging by a thread.
Bearded dragons don’t grow back any body parts, except for toenails.
If a toe falls off, it will not grow back.
How Can Bearded Dragons Break Their Toes?
There are several common ways a beardie might break its toe:
- Being bitten by another bearded dragon (sometimes even unintentionally)
- Getting caught in carpeting, a door, or in its cage
- Falling from a high place
- Metabolic bone disease (MBD) weakening overall bone strength and resilience
If possible, it is best to identify the cause of the break.
If a broken bone is the direct result of an accident, it’s less likely MBD is a problem with your dragon.
Treating A Bearded Dragon Broken Toe
Broken toes can generally heal on their own, but a visit to the veterinarian is still highly advisable.
What To Expect At The Vet
When fractures are caused by an accident, the vet will still examine the possible underlying cause for the bone’s weakness.
They will most likely take x-rays and look for evidence of metabolic bone disease.
A splint may be used to help the bone heal straight.
Or, if the toe is left to heal on its own, it may repair itself with a malunion, meaning the toe may be slightly crooked or not correctly aligned.
Typically, bearded dragons do just fine with a crooked toe.
How To Help Your Beardie Heal
Once home, it’s essential to give your dragon plenty of cage rest.
Adjust its habitat so it can move around the enclosure without overexertion.
Reptiles’ bones take longer to heal than warm-blooded animals’.
Expect a toe to take at least three or four months to heal.
Metabolic Bone Disease In Bearded Dragons
MBD is a common disease in reptiles.
It occurs when the animals have a disruption of calcium absorption in their bodies.
Causes Of Metabolic Bone Disease
Many circumstances can bring on MBD.
- Lack of calcium in a beardie’s diet leads to weakened, softened bones.
- Too little UV lighting: without UVA and UVB rays, certain reptiles (like bearded dragons) don’t produce vitamin D3 and therefore can’t absorb calcium properly.
- Inadequate enclosure temperatures prevent beardies from digesting foods properly
- Kidney or liver diseases may prevent vitamin D from becoming active
- Small-intestinal, thyroid, and parathyroid diseases all impair calcium metabolism.
Most frequently, insufficient lighting and insufficient vitamin and calcium levels are to blame.
Symptoms Of Metabolic Bone Disease
In addition to broken toes, other common symptoms of MBD include:
- Swollen legs
- Crooked backs and toes
- Broken limbs
- Jerking or shaky movements in toes and legs
If you notice any of these symptoms, take your beardie to the vet as soon as possible.
Treating Metabolic Bone Disease
Your vet may prescribe vitamin D and calcium injections.
You should also take the necessary steps at home to make a more appropriate habitat for your beardie.
How To Prevent Broken Bones And Metabolic Bone Disease
Good husbandry practices are vital to keeping your beardie safe and healthy.
- Trim your bearded dragon’s nails regularly. General pet nail clippers are great to use, like this pair from Shiny Pet.
- Always monitor your pet when it’s climbing. Don’t allow it to fall from high places.
- Avoid pairing aggressive beardies together in an enclosure.
Always give your bearded dragon a clean and appropriate habitat.
Proper UV Lighting
Bearded dragons need 8% to 10% output of UVB rays in their enclosure.
High-ultraviolet lights like full-spectrum fluorescents and mercury vapor bulbs are the most popular choices for beardie cages.
Make sure there is nothing between the bulbs and your beardie.
Plexiglass, glass, plastic, and metal mesh all block a significant number of light rays.
Baby beardies require 90 to 110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C), and adults require 80 to 93° degrees Fahrenheit (34° C).
Your beardie’s basking area should be the hottest part of the cage, and there should be a cooler side of the cage so they can regulate their body temperature.
At night, the overall temperature should drop by 10° degrees Fahrenheit (6° C).
Ask your veterinarian about correct vitamin and mineral supplements.
Bearded dragons usually require different calcium and vitamin D supplements sprinkled on their food over a week.
Baby beardies should have a diet of 80% insects and 20% vegetation.
Juveniles need closer to a 50/50 diet, and adults-only need 20% insects.
While a bearded dragon broken toe can sometimes be the result of a simple accident, there is often an underlying cause stemming from metabolic bone disease.
Bearded dragons are tough and resilient creatures.
A broken toe won’t stop them from living life to the fullest!
Just be sure to book a visit to the vet and make sure its habitat and diet are appropriate.