Our 10+ year old leopard lizard (not gecko) has just started getting swellings on his joints etc. He's still got an

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Customer: Our 10+ year old leopard lizard (not gecko) has just started getting swellings on his joints etc. He's still got an appetite and is running around as per normal. I don't have a reptile vet nearby, what do you think is wrong, or is it his time??

Regards Julie
Answered by Anna in 41 mins 13 years ago
30+ years of experience

17,040 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary

Hello Julie,

It's not unusual for leopard geckos to live 15 years or more, so this probably isn't old age. Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

What do you feed your gecko? Any supplements?

What temperatures do you maintain on the warm and cool sides of the cage?

Is your gecko passing normal droppings?

Thank you.


Hi Anna


He is not a gecko, he is a leopard lizard a totally different lizard all together.


We locust, crickets and waxworms with a nutribalance vitamin and calcium supplement.


He is in a glass vivarium with ventilated top. Cool side about 70 and hot about 90. It's been the same and never had any problems before. He likes sitting on the hot side.


Yes he's passing normal droppings.


He has got fatter of late, and he seems to eat more now and thought that was why.??



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Regards julie


Hi Julie,

I'm sorry for the mix-up. It's uncommon for leopard lizards to be kept as pets, and I subconsciously read gecko into your question. Knowing the species now, I need one more piece of information, and then I'll be able to answer you right away.

Do you have a UVB light (not UV, UVA, or full-spectrum)? If you do, how old is the bulb in it?

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX I'm sorry for mis-reading your question.



Hi Anna


We have a UVB light, can't remember when it was last changed, probably a year. I usually change it when it 'goes ping'

Thank you for getting back to me. While it's impossible to know with certainty, the symptoms you're seeing often accompany Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). UVB bulbs only emit UVB rays for about 6 months. After that, they still look fine, but are only emitting UVA rays. Without UVB rays, calcium cannot be metabolized. MBD takes a long time to develop. since your lizard has had adequate UVB part of the time throughout his life, and hasn't for other time periods, it's likely that MBD has finally developed.

There are some other possibilities, including nutritional imbalances and infection. The only way to get a definite diagnosis would be to see a reptile vet, but it's often necessary to drive for an hour or two to reach one. If you'd like to do that, give me your city (nearest larger town if yours is a small one) and state, and I'll try to find the nearest ones. If your leopard lizard was caught in the wild, it's probably illegal for you to have him, and in that case, some vets may not want to treat him. I would call first to be sure.

If seeing a vet is out of the question, I recommend getting a fresh UVB bulb as soon as possible. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand. Continue to dust all the lizards food with calcium. Since he's still eating, that and the new UVB bulb may be enough to turn this around.   If you have more questions, or need help finding a vet, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. There's noa dditional fee for such follow-up questions. I hope your lizard will reach a full recovery.


Hi Anna


I bought him legally so should be okay.


I live in Stanmore Middlesex HA7 3SN UK





I'm glad to hear that, Julie. there aren't as many reptile vets in the UK as there are in the USA, so I'll send the list. I hope one is within a workable distance for you.

Anwell Veterinary Centre XXXXX
Tel: 0181(NNN) NNN-NNNN

Ark Veterinary Centre
Alan Humphreys BVSc MRCV
Unit 17, Woodend Industrial Estate
Woodend Avenue
Liverpool L24 9JE

Chris Artingstall

The Vet Hospital
GL12 7BA
01453 843295

Also at:
Rowe Veterinary Group
Bradley House
Bradley Stoke
01454 275000

Ashleigh Veterinary Surgery
221 Upper Chorlton Road
Manchester M16 ODE

* David Ashton
Attimore Veterinary Group
Welwyn Garden City
Hertfordshire AL7 2AD
01707 331963

Barrier Animal Care Clinic LLP
Brandon Spolander, Joanna Hedley, William Justice
32 Hardens Manor Way
Eastmoor Place
London SE7 8LP (NNN) NNN-NNNN6580

* CJ Hall
Veterinary Surgeons - Exotics Centre
15 Temple Sheen Road
East Sheen
London SW14 7PY (NNN) NNN-NNNN9696, Fax(NNN) NNN-NNNN6359

Henry Hartley
Witten Lodge Veterinary Centre
Heywood Road, Northam
Bideford, Devon, EX39 1DE
Tel 01237 473278
Fax 01237 425749

*Ian Calvert BSc BVSc MRCVS
Veterianary Health Centre
Old Forge Court
17a Moor St
Gwent NP16 5DB
Tel 01291 625205
Fax 01291 626116
(Midway between Cardiff and Bristol)

* Martin Lawton
Exotic Animal Centre XXXXX
Essex, RM3 OQS
Tel: 44 (0) 1708 384444
Fax: 44 (0) 1708 344318
Vet-to-vet consultations:
Faxes are preferred. Phone calls can only be taken between 4:00-4:30 p.m. Fees are £20 per 10 minutes.

* Bruce Maclean
Bird & Exotic Animal veterinary Services
c/o Abbey Veterinary Group XXXXX
Reading RG1 5AS
07754 125302; Fax 0870(NNN) NNN-NNNN

Arthur Dermott Malley
South Beach Vet Surgery XXXXX
Essex SS11 8DU
Ph. (01268) 560660
Fax. (01268) 562083

Chris Marshall
Connaught House
Veterinary Hospital XXXXX
Tel. (01902) 24725
or (01902) 24726

B.A.McCracken XXXXX
Blackpool Lancs FY3 9AT
Tel 01253-392984

Fred Nind
5 Riccarton Mains Road
Midlothian EH14 5NQ
Tel. (0131)(NNN) NNN-NNNN
Fax. (0131)(NNN) NNN-NNNN

* Shelton Smith
Goddard Veterinary Group
8A Joyce Dawson Way,
London, SE28 8RA
United Kingdom
Tel. 02083115407

Laurence Swift XXXXX
Herne Bay
Kent, CT6 5PB
Tel. 01227 374858
Fax 741828
Mobile 0831 434 214

Taylor and Marshall
Veterinary Surgeons
High Street Shinal
Near Wolverhampton
Tel. (01902) 460781


Would MBD cause a distended tummy too? Went and got a new UVB, hopefully this will work.





MBD is actually an imbalance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Most often, it's a calcium deficiency. In advanced cases, it can cause difficulty passing wastes, and a tendency toward intestinal blockages. Both could result in a distended stomach. It's also possible that your lizard is suffering from more than one health condition at once, and the distended stomach is a separate problem. You can read a lot more about MBD at this site:


If you think your lizard may be constipated, I'll give you a first aid measure to try. Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Lectaid (available in UK pet stores). Soak the lizard for about 10 minutes. Then, with him still in the water, massage his underside from front to vent for an additional 10 minutes. That is often enough to stimulate a bowel movement.

Again, if you need anything else, let me know. There's no need to click on accept again. Thank you for accepting above.

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