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Some people consider lizards to be “disposable” pets: when one dies, you buy a new one. While it’s certainly fine to buy a new pet if your water dragon dies, there are many things you can do to give your lizard a long and healthy life. Take time to learn about your water dragon and the potential health issues that may affect him, and you and your lizard can enjoy many years together.
While many health issues can be taken care of at home, it is a good idea to find a veterinarian that specialized in reptiles, in case of emergency. In fact, it is best to find a vet as soon as possible (preferably before you even bring your dragon home for the first time) so you won’t have to waste any precious time when an emergency arises. Locating a vet that specializes in reptiles can be challenging. If you’re having trouble, check with local pet stores, animal shelters, or herpetological societies, and they may be able to help. You can also visit www.arav.org, the site for the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians.
Stress can be a major problem for reptiles. A common form of stress is heat stress, caused by extreme high temperatures in the terrarium. If your water dragon has been affected by this, he will become listless and his muscles will no longer function properly. If you attempt to pick him up, he will likely feel limp and lifeless. Under these circumstances, you should immediately place him under cool, running water.
Metabolic Bone Disease
Metabolic bone disease is caused by inadequate exposure to ultraviolet light. This ailment is painful and eventually debilitating for the lizard. Symptoms include soft jaws that are bent outward, difficulty walking, limbs that are crooked or bent, swollen thighs that are hard to the touch, and trembling or convulsing. This disease is easily prevented by allowing your water dragon to soak up enough ultraviolet rays so he can efficiently metabolize calcium and synthesize vitamin D3, which will keep his bones and teeth strong and healthy.