Skeletal Deformity in Amphibians


PetMD Editorial

Published Aug. 14, 2008

Metabolic Bone Disease in Amphibians

Metabolic bone disease develops in amphibians as a result of deficiencies of vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus. Vitamin D, specifically, is essential as it controls the absorption and metabolism of calcium, and an imbalance can cause problems in the animal's bones and cartilages.

Symptoms and Types

  • Bone fractures (due to reduced bone density)
  • Curved spine (scoliosis)
  • Deformed lower jaw
  • Bloating and muscular spasms, in severe cases



Amphibians which are improperly fed are more prone to this disorder, especially those on an exclusive cricket diet, as they are not good sources of calcium. In rare cases, metabolic bone disease may also be encountered as a result of gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidney diseases, which may interfere with the absorption or metabolism of vitamin D or phosphorus.


Fractures and other bone deformities (examined through X-rays) can help the veterinarian diagnose metabolic bone disease. However to confirm, they will use blood tests to check the animal's calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D levels.


A well-balanced diet and ample nutrition is necessary to combat metabolic bone disease. Therefore, the veterinarian will work with you to make a diet that best fits the amphibian's needs. In severe cases, they will prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Living and Management

In addition to following the veterinarian's prescribed diet, they might also be recommended that you provide the animal with full-spectrum lighting and ultraviolet B (UV-B) lighting.

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health