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Please help! MBD!?

Discussion in 'Chameleons' started by Koga_Steelfang, Jan 20, 2005.

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  1. I think my Chameleon has MBD(Metabolic Bone Disease). She is a Young Veiled Chameleon. We had no access to crickets for a few weeks, we only had meal worms! Recently she began acting strangely... She would hold her mouth weirdly, She stopped climbing around, she developed a black mark on her back, her tongue hangs out and she can't control it very well.

    Unfortunately, her behavior began to go downhill the day we got cricxkets for her... she wouldn't eat them. We had to force feed her and give her water from a dropper. She eventually stopped climbing and can't lift herself off the ground anymore. We did online research and thought that MBD was most likely the problem.

    But more problems arise! Our Vet knows nothing about Chameleons and can't treat her! We read up on how to treat it, with more calcium in her diet and lots of sunlight... but its been very very cold lately and there hasn't been enough sunlight to put her in. We also found conflicting data on the disease! Some sites say that Chameleons can recover from MBD, while others say its irreversable!? I NEED to know what to do to help her. Please!

    She IS showing signs of improvement, but I'm still worried about her tongue and jaw. She is regaining strength(Not shaky when walking, can stand up a little), and she has regained her appetite(Trying to eat). But she still can't eat on her own, or really walk much anymore. Pleasde tell me what to do.

    P.S. We are giving her Calcium supplement, and gut loading our crickets/meal worms/waxworms with veggies and fruit. We also have her lights on constantly(Heat and UV lights). Several sources said we need to keep her heat up, but its winter time and its very cold, thus the constant lighting.

    Thanks in advance for any help! I really appreciate it, but I would prefer a hasty response.
  2. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Chameleons require less UV than many other lizards, and if you have provided a UV light then I don't see why your cham should be suffering from MBD - what UV have you got and where is it?

    It sounds more like your cham has some kind of disease or injury, or possibly a parasite infection - what cham is it? -tongue problems are not rare with veiled chams, and there are a number of possible causes; too much or little vitamins, in particular vit A (what supplements do you use?), too little calcium or insufficient UVB, dehydration, injury. We really need to know more to provide an accurate diagnosis.

    The meal worms you were feeding - what size were they? Was she eating them ok? How old and big is the cham? Meal worms can be harder to digest than other foods, but do not cause MBD - in some lizards, where the food item is too big it can cause hing-leg extension, or paralysis.

    It does sound very serious - I know you say your vet doesn't know anything about chams, but you should take her anyway,. a vet can do a faecal exam to see if any parasites are present - take a poo sample, or they can do x-rays and other medical stuff we can't do. Alternatively, find a specialist vet near you - perhaps someone here can recommend one? - your cham sounds very sick and all we can do here is advise, we are not trained to make the animal better.

    Some things you can try to do to keep the strength of the animal up, while you find a good vet, are; feed a multi-vitamin supplement 1-2 x per week, add calcium to the other feeds, for now. You can feed the crickets fruit and veg as you have been doing, to gut-load them, but you can also try them on cooked (hard-boiled) egg-yolk, which is high in vit A. Veileds will eat greens, particularly if they are dehydrated, so try some finely chopped greens, though not lettuce as this has very little nutritional value - try kale, watercress, roquet, butternut squash and grated carrot.

    Good luck, please keep us updated on your little one. :)
  3. Thanks for your reply, I appreciate it. I only suspected MBD because I saw a list of symptoms and my Chameleon seems to have them all.

    Rubbery jaw, tongue dysfunction, shaky movements, inability to stand up, swelling of soft tissue(Gums), soft casque, and inability to eat on her own.

    The UVB light had been turned off... I didn't even notice that it was off until the other day. It may have been off for quite a long time. The supplement we use is called Repti-Cal. We've lost the container so I can't say what vitamins/minerals are in the supplement. Also, our local petshop is still closed and I can't ask them where to find a good reptile vet.

    The food we give our feeder insects is mostly carrots, potatoes, mustard greens, bread, and a few apple slices on occasion. The mealworms are medium sized, maybe 1/2 inch-3/4 inch. She was eating them very well, until her jaw started looking strange. She has begun trying to swallow the insects that I place in her mouth... but she sometimes vomits them back out.

    She is showing signs of recovery though. She is starting to move her tongue better, and she pulls it back inside her mouth fairly quickly. She now claws(Grasps) at a piece of paper we have her laying on(So she doesn't get substrate on her tongue). She also can "Push up" off the ground more than before.

    A major question I have is: Will her tongue dysfunction recover? Her mouth doesn't close all the way, and her tongue dries out the end sometimes. I just want her to be healthy again.
    Thanks for the help.
  4. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    Where are you located ?
  5. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Does the Chameleon now have access to UV lighting? I am still not clear on this. If the Cham does have UV lighting available, what kind of lighting is it? Also, how close to the lighting can the Cham get? How old is the lighting?
    MBD is reversible when it has been caught early enough.
  6. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

    And how old is she? Typically it takes a while for MBD to develope.
  7. I am located in Rural Retreat Virginia.
    There is UV lighting on top of her pen. Maybe 2 1/2 feet-3 feet from the bottom(Where she stays now). I have no clue what kind of light it is, it came with her pen when I bought it, along with lots of other things too. I was told by the petshop owner that it should be changed once a year or so, we've only had her for about 6-7 months.

    I am pretty unclear on her age too... the petshop owner never mentioned her age. She was still very small when we got her(Maybe 4-6 inches from head to tail) and now she is about 8-9 inches from head to the tip of her tail. She did however display gravid behavior once and had her gravid colors on display one day. I'm guessing this was her first "Mating Period" this happened about 3 months ago.

    Current situation: She continues to hang her tongue out when given water. She sometimes pulls it back in quickly and sometimes lets it stay out all night. She regularly vomits up her food... unless its carrots, I can bet it'll come back the next time I water/feed her. She won't stand up anymore and just lays on the paper and occasionally crawls around. She did however poop 2 times(Once last night, and once this morning).

    Thats about all. I hope this sheds more light on the situation.
  8. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    This does not sound good! This animal needs to see a good herpvet as soon as possible!
    Check out
    and to see if there is one near you.
    Some pet shops will sell you anything! Look at the labeling on the bulb to see what kind it is. Is it a flourescent? One of those spiral bulbs? What type of cage? If its a reptarium or a cage with a glass top and the light is outside then the uvb is not getting thru.
    I'm confused. You say you are running the lights constantly because its very cold and then you say the lights have been off and you have no idea how long they have been off. Do you not check on the cham daily? Do you know what the temperature in the cage is? These animals are quite demanding in regard to their environmental needs.
  9. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Well said merlin. I was going to ask the same questions regarding the lighting. That was my initial reasoning. I too want to know if we are talking bulb,tube,MV,etc.
  10. eper-ani

    eper-ani Elite Member

    OK like what everyone has mentioned, find out what UV lighting you are using. If you are unsure go to a petstore and buy the right kind that will supply you cham with what it needs. Take out the substrate and use paper towels, the last thing we need is for your cham to get some substrate into its body. If you think it's MBD there is something called "Bone Aid" by T-Rex. When my Gargoyle developed MBD from lack of calcium I dropped some of the Bone Aid into his mouth 2 times a day for 3 days, then once a day after that until he started to recover.

    Mealworms can be hard to digest for many animals, especially with a lack of the correct lighting. Try what Bitis said, with the greens. Also don't feed your cham large crickets due to the harder shell they will have. When my Gargoyle had MBD his bones were weak and he could have broken his jaw if he tried to eat crickets so I had to feed him strictly mashed fruit/baby food.

    So what i would recommend is change substrate to paper towell, small crickets that are dusted and gut-loaded, greens, bone aid (be CAREFUL, too much will be harmful, just 1 drop only), go and get the correct lighting that will provide your cham with what it needs, and find a vet ASAP. On the good news, veilds are known as the hardy species of chams.
  11. I'm glad to hear they are hardy. I was told by the petshop I got her from that they can and will EXTREMELY quickly... They said that if something went wrong it would be dead within 48 hours.

    About the lighting: I didn't mean to be confusing. I always think while I type and sometimes get ahead of myself and type confusing information. The heat light has been on 24 hours a day since winter started. We did eventually start turning the lights(Both types) off so she could sleep well. We turned the heat light back on, but must've forgotten the UV light. We only recently noticed the UV light was off, so we turned it on again.

    Current Situation: At first I was 90% sure it was MBD, since the symptons were so similar. But now I think she may have injured her jaw. Its very flexible, and has now begun opening wider and farther back(all the way below her eye). She can't/won't close her mouth. She usually vomits when I drop water into her mouth... her tongue has begun hanging out pretty far, far enough that I can see the bone that helps propel her tongue(The tongue hangs limp at a 90 degrre angle from the bone). Also, her jaw sort of folds down when she tries to swallow. Its rather disgusting... and no one else in my family will feed her.

    Thanks for the links! I'll look now.
  12. eper-ani

    eper-ani Elite Member

    MBD causes weak bones. On my previous thread i said i would not feed my gargoyle crickets, only baby food and mashed fruit. The reason being because his bones were weak and his jaw might have broken if he tried to eat a cricket. Your chams jaw might be broken due to MBD BUT I am not sure. Please find a vet asap.
  13. She seems to be doing better now. She is crawling around a lot more. She hasn't hung her tongue out today(Except once and she pulled it right back in). She didn't vomit and one time her mouth was almost closed with her tongue inside her mouth. She did develop a rough dry patch on the end of her tongue where shere she hangs it out.

    I think she was sick and fell and broke her jaw... Would having a broken jaw cause her to be weak? Inability to climb/crawl? And cause her to regurgitate her food?

    Also, her jaw has been this way for a while, is it possible for a regular Vet to fix her jaw? There are no Herp vets within 8 hours of my home. So I am pretty much stuck with normal vets.

    Description of her jaw: I first noticed it was opening to her left side(When open, it would be pointing to her left). Then she grew weaker, now her mouth is always open. It seems to bend downward(Folding) completely under her head. Her gums have either swollen up, or she has some type of buildup on her gums. I tried to peel off the build-up but it looks very attached to her, I think it may be part of her gums.

    Hopefully I'll have the answer soon. She seems to be regaining strength, so its looking good(Except her jaw).
  14. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Sorry I missed the rest of this thread until now - like others, I'm a bit confused as to how you didn't realise the UV light wasn't on. All lighting should be turned off at night to allow the animal a proper photo-period. Your chams health has been seriously compromised.

    I would recommend replacing the UV bulb with a new one - diff ones need replacing after diff amounts of time, usually 6-12 months. You need one that emits UVB, and it can be situated outside of a mesh cage, since chams require less UVB than other lizards.

    I would also strongly recommend a vet visit immediately - you need a qualified check-up, you are not able to tell for certain what injury the cham has, and it sounds like you need to re-research care, so that you are able to bring your baby back to full health.

    Let us know how you get on, and good luck. I am praying for your cham, I hope it returns to full health.

    P.S. Chams are not such a hardy reptile. Yemens are more hardy than others, but can still be easily distressed, and need the absolute right conditions and care in order to be healthy and happy.
  15. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Where do you live?
  16. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Rich -
  17. I hope I can get her to a vet soon.

    I have a book on caring for Chameleons, although the section on Veileds is only 2 pages long... I was also getting good advice from our local petshop, until it closed. The new petshop is horrible, I had to teach them how to care for Chameleons. According to various sites and books I was taking good care of her. Then the new petshop closed for renovations, we had no access to crickets, she didn't have insects in her pen for weeks, she was only being hand-fed. Then, the day we got crickets(From a fish-bait shop) her jaw looked funny, and thus it was propeled into the current situation. Today I found her laying in her water dish(Don't worry, its very shallow and contains little water) with her tongue laying in the water.

    Thank you so much for your prayers! I really appreciate it!
    I'm gonna see if I can't get her to the vet soon, and see what the doctor says. I'm kinda scared that they won't be able to do anything for her(Already said they had no experience with Chameleons).

    About the UVB light: I don't know how long it had been off, it could've only been off for a few hours or even a month... I honestly don't remember. I'm sure it wasn't very long, but I'm not sure. I'm gonna get a new UVB light when the petshop re-opens... but its been closed for over a month now.
  18. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    If you can't get one from a shop then I would order a UV light offline asap - it is detrimental to your cham's health.

    Also, she sounds like she's getting worse. You could try your vet, even if they are not experts in reptiles, it is better than none at all, and they can do tests that you can't.
  19. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    They can also confer by phone with a vet that is more knowledgable about reptiles. You REALLY need to get this Cham treated or you are probably going to lose it!
  20. steel rip

    steel rip Elite Member

    IMO, this cham has been forgot about for a while especially if you dont know whether UV light was off for 2 hours or a few months, and also the reference to no food makes me wonder too, I would of traveled to get my cham food if there was none locally, I check lights on my vivs every day and I have 20 vivs, and I know if a bulb has blown or not, it sounds like you are now too late, chams can hide sickness very well, and continue to eat, yours sounds too sick to do anything, if your chameleon is not even climbing its time to let the vet decide, I really hope and pray he does get better for you, but that isnt going to happen unless you get him to a vet...
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