Muscular dystrophy is best known as a debilitating neuromuscular disease that affects humans. However, increasing anecdotal evidence and veterinary diagnoses are revealing that this disorder can affect bearded dragons as well. For whatever reason, there is a growing number of bearded dragons being sold in pet stores that are afflicted with this disease.
- severely underweight due to being unable to hunt prey
- inflexible joints
- spastic muscle control
- weak muscles
- frequent flipping onto back
Unknown, but most likely genetic and transmitted through irresponsible breeding practices.
There are no official veterinary studies on muscular dystrophy in reptiles. For this reason, it is often misdiagnosed as metabolic bone disease (MBD), but it is not an issue associated with calcium or vitamin D3. Until official research can be done, there is no cure for bearded dragon muscular dystrophy and these individuals can be expected to have much shorter lifespans than their healthy counterparts.
Bearded dragons with muscular dystrophy must be hand-fed because they cannot feed themselves. It has been noted by Sarah Southerland of Sarah’s Bearded Dragon Rescue that supervised swimming can be a good form of “physical therapy” to help bearded dragons with muscular dystrophy get stronger.
If you suspect that you have a case of bearded dragon muscular dystrophy on your hands, join the support group on Facebook.