I think my Chameleon has MBD, vet says no?

90green

New Member
Well it feels like crap to have to come on here under these circumstances. I just got back from vacation of 5 days and my 1year+ chameleon looks to be in bad shape. I felt sick to my stomach when I saw her. I told my 5 year old son and my girlfriend to leave the room so they couldnt see her. She was acting like she had no control of her front limbs, just wobbeling on her vines. I picked her up and we called our vet. Of course they dont do exotics so we called around and were able to find one. We took her in and the doctor said she sees no sign of mbd but that she looks way under weight at 11grams. I am confused about this because she eats 6-8 crickets a day and this condition came came so sudden. Before our trip she was acting normal, as far as eating, sleeping, drinking, and mobility. OK so she gives me some nutri-cal to feed her through a suringe and says to give it to her a 4-5 times a day, all this happend yesterday. I have been giving the nutri-cal to her and getting her to drink liquids but nothing on her own. The more I read online and the more pictures I see, the more I am convinced she has to have MBD. The rubber like lower jaw I noticed this morning, its like her mouth is open just a hairline crack but I know that its not normal behavior for her. She has been sleeping all day except when I wake her to feed her.
At this point im ticked because I am sure the vet was wrong. I just want to get to the bottom of this and do whatever it is I have to do to get this poor thing feeling better. If it is MBD I dont know why I have been using the esu reptile desert 7% uvb light for the first 6 months and then got a repti glo 5.0 uvb light. I was also dusting the crickets on an occational basis with rep-cal.
OK, I now have located another vet who has a reptile specialist that will be in tomorrow morning so we are going first thing in the morning. Any questions comments or concerns would be greatly apreciated. Is it possible this type of behavior is something other that MBD, I just have a gut feeling after all I have read.

pics soon to follow
 

jenfur427

New Member
Looks to me (and I'm far from an expert) is a break right below the elbow. Do you have pics from the other side?
 
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Yes indeed, the chameleon in question appears to be quite underfed. Most of the symptoms you noted are common signs of Metabolic Bone Disease in chameleons. First thing you must understand is that Metabolic Bone Disease is a very serious problem that develops over long term incorrect care, with factors such as lighting, heating, diet, supplementing and more. It is great that you are attempting to rectify the situation, however, with chameleons being the difficult and fragile creatures they are, it is often too late to cure them once signs are apparent. Many sicknesses and health dilemmas can only stopped or prevented, but not cured or reversed.

As for the vets opinion of your chameleon not having Metabolic Bone Disease, forget it. The vet, not having expertise in exotics and more specifically reptiles, could have no idea what a healthy veiled chameleon should even appear to be. However, this will not halt them from asking you to make an appointment just for them to give you their opinion for a bit of financial gain. Now, I don't mean to judge all vets this way, but it has happened often enough to warrant a flag of caution and warning to anyone keeping exotics.

You did well to provide detailed photos. Though there are several lacking key details that are essential to the users of this forum being able to give input. Be sure to include as much information as possible. COPY & PASTE this text below, and answer each of the questions in as detailed a manner as you possibly can. Honest and truthful answers can only help us, and at this late point ant time of the occurring problem, there is little shame to admitting that items in the care have been overlooked.

Off the top of my head, looking at the photos, I can safely say that the enclosure is very barren, and should have been filled with much more vegetation. In my experience, different Veiled Chameleons tend to have a few sets personality traits, which may include shy, aggressive, calm, etc. Because some show clear evidence of skittish nature and strong shyness, it is essential to provide plant cover for them to hide in. Certain live plants should be used to help maintain humidity and offer an alternative food source should they decide to consume vegetation in addition to animal (Insect) protein. Secondly, I have often seen that veileds with a calm demeanor, easy to handle, non aggressive, etc, are often victim to sicknesses. It seems to me that sometimes they appear to be calm natured because they just lack the energy to show displeasure or literally run away and hide.

While you are waiting for a second vet visit, I suggest browsing the articles at The Chameleon Online E-zine. Make sure to visit the Q&A's section to look for similar problems to your own, that others have experienced.


1. Cage type: What size and type of cage (screen, glass, etc.)?

2. Temperatures: What is the basking temperature? How do you measure the temperature in your setup? What is the temperature in the warmest spot? The coolest spot? At night? During the day? You should measure the temperature of the chameleons' skin or the surface of its current branch to get a more accurate reading. Do you leave any heat on at night? What is the temperature in the room at night?

3. Lighting: What brand is your UVB light? How long have you been using it? How long are your lights on each day? Do you leave any lights on at night? Where are the lights? on top?

4. Humidity: Do you have a humidity gauge? What is the range of relative humidity (RH) from lowest to highest? How long does it take to go from high to low? Do you use a humidifier? Do you live in the north or south (or other)?

5. Water:
Have you observed your chameleon drinking? How often do you mist? Do you have a dripper?

6. Food: Have you observed your chameleon eating? What is the chameleon's diet? Where do you get your live feeder prey? What are you feeding the feeders? Fresh veggies? Gut load? If you use a commercial gut load what is the brand? If you make your own what are the ingredients?

7. Supplements: What type of supplement(s) do you use? Brand name(s)? How often do you use supplements?

8. Plants & branches: What plants do you have? Are your plants alive or fake? Do the plants provide lots of coverage where the chameleon will feel safe? Can you see your chameleon most of the time or can it hide from your view?

9. Chameleon facts: How old is the chameleon? Do you know if it is wild caught or captive born? Did you get the chameleon at a show? Breeder?

10. Handling: Do you handle your chameleon? How often and how long? What is its reaction to you? Is the cage in a quiet part of the house or is it in a busy or noisy area? Any big stereo speakers near the cage? Is your chameleon alone in the cage? Can your chameleon see any other herps or pets from the cage?

11. Veterinarians: Do you have a veterinarian who KNOWS chameleons?

One last thing: As great as everyone is here (and they are), if there is a medical problem there is no substitute for a trip to the veterinarian.
 

Fate X

New Member
im very far from a expert but it looks very thin and bony from the pics, did someone take care of it while you were on vacation for the 5 days? because if no-one took cake of it thats probably why it looks ill. you might want to think about adding some more foliage because mine likes to perch in the foliage alot ,i think it releives stress cause they feel safe and unseen. you have lots of ground cover but its not high enough to where they live.
flukers sells these vines that are 6ft and if you added 2 of them to that cage it would cover it .
 

MWheelock

Veterinarian
Just curious,

Did the vet take x-rays to make a diagnosis or did they just look at the chameleon and say no to MBD?

I agree with Will that there is most probably a break on the forearm due to MBD but can't be sure with just a picture.
If xrays were taken to assess the bone as well as looking for fractures and they didn't see them, another possible diagnosis vet see that may cause lethargy and unwillingness to raise up is hypovitaminosis A.

Certainly it sounds like you dust your food. Some people forget that crickets are particularly good groomers, and if left in the cage too long will remove the supplement before your cham will get them.

It is good your going to an exotic vet next time. Sounds like the vet you went to doesn't actually see exotics on a regular basis. If he/she was willing to see you and can back up why they don't think it was MBD that may be one thing. If the 2nd doctor you see confirms this diagnosis of MBD and a secondary fracture, you would not be wrong in expecting your money back since the vet misrepresented him/herself in seeing a species he/she was not familiar with.

I am a veterinarian that sees exotics and have a decent background for most reptiles, small mammals and avian patients. That being said, if I assess a patient and think it would be better assessed by another exotic specialist I pass the patient on without charge.

I think the only exception to this is if the patient was critical and would not benefit waiting to see that particular specialist in which case I do what I can to stabilize in order for them to make it... and, yes, I will charge for my time in this case even if this is a species I don't see a lot off.

As in any field there are a few bad eggs. The veterinary field is no exception. Just like human medicine you have to interview the doctors to know if they are going to help you or not.

Matthew
 

lilj0e

New Member
i also see the same break in the elbow. it was the first thing i noticed. are u using repcal with d3??
 

ucsdmolpath

New Member
yes, the elbow looks abnormally bent...

also, our recent heatwave in san diego triggered a thought in my head....how much sunlight gets through that window in the back of your cage? also, what was the weather like in your home area when you went on vacation? in san diego, i recently have my south-facing window blinds completely shut in the room with my chameleon cages so that the hot noon and afternoon sun doesn't roast them to death during this abnormally hot part of the summer.....particularly since the vegetation in your cage is so sparce, and quite a bit lower than where your chameleon might normally like to dwell, i'm wondering if it might be possible that your chameleon may have suffered some kind of heat exhaustion in addition to the elbow break...while the great space you've provided does allow for a lot of movement, it doesn't seem like your chameleon has anywhere to hide if there is a ton of hot sunlight streaming from the top 2/3 of the enclosure...finally, i'm not sure how you provide humidity, but perhaps lack of ample humidity, plus overheat plus a physically traumatizing fall has caused this lapse in health? i could be totally off, but just some ideas to bounce around. i would definitely add some bigger leafed plants in the enclosure, both in the middle and up top....and maybe even cover the window (or at least part of it, so your cham can get some shade if necessary). i hope your chameleon feels better soon!!!!!
 
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90green

New Member
1. Cage type: What size and type of cage (screen, glass, etc.)?

Cage is made of a cloth screen on all sides. H-45.5" W-45.5" D-11.5"

2. Temperatures: What is the basking temperature? How do you measure the temperature in your setup? What is the temperature in the warmest spot? The coolest spot? At night? During the day? You should measure the temperature of the chameleons' skin or the surface of its current branch to get a more accurate reading. Do you leave any heat on at night? What is the temperature in the room at night?

The temperature I check with the one from Fluker's, I have only one. The highest spot nearest to the light reads 85-88F, at night the same spot reads 78F. I do not have any heat source at night. The window that is loated 5 inches from backside of the cage is to my garage so no sunlight comes through there.

3. Lighting: What brand is your UVB light? How long have you been using it? How long are your lights on each day? Do you leave any lights on at night? Where are the lights? on top?

Lights are on top I have owned her for a year now and when I got her I had a bought a new ESU reptile desert 7%uvb bulb. I waited 6 months and got her a Exoterra repti glo 5.0. I leave no light on at night. I keep the lights on 12hrs on 12hrs off. After doing some reading last night I hope I didnt make a mistake by leaving the clear plastic lens on the fixture. I bought this at a petstore and all the warning I got was that the uvb bulbs will discolor the plastic. I have removed it as of last night.

4. Humidity: Do you have a humidity gauge? What is the range of relative humidity (RH) from lowest to highest? How long does it take to go from high to low? Do you use a humidifier? Do you live in the north or south (or other)?

I have a humidity gauge, also from Fluker's. It ranges from 40-75. I could not tell you how long it takes to go from high to low. I do not have a humidifier. I live in florida.

5. Water: Have you observed your chameleon drinking? How often do you mist? Do you have a dripper?

I see her drink at every misting 3-4 times a day for 3-5 mins. I also give her showers as recomended by the petstore a couple times a week. She seems to really enjoy that. I do not have a dripper.

6. Food: Have you observed your chameleon eating? What is the chameleon's diet? Where do you get your live feeder prey? What are you feeding the feeders? Fresh veggies? Gut load? If you use a commercial gut load what is the brand? If you make your own what are the ingredients?

The place where we got her fed her crickets so we have continued to do the same. I only buy a couple dozen or so at a time because the petstore is right down the street. We will throw in some veggies for them while they are in the cage but they get eaten fast most of the time. So I guess you could say they are not eating much here.

7. Supplements: What type of supplement(s) do you use? Brand name(s)? How often do you use supplements?

As far as supliments I only have been dusting the crickets every few feedings with Rep-Cal, with calcium and vit.D3

8. Plants & branches: What plants do you have? Are your plants alive or fake? Do the plants provide lots of coverage where the chameleon will feel safe? Can you see your chameleon most of the time or can it hide from your view?

All my plants are fake. There is coverage at the bottom of the cage but she spends most of her time walking across the vines. I can see her most of the time except when she hides in the top corners of the cage. The pictures dont really show all the vines to well, I will try to get better pics.

9. Chameleon facts: How old is the chameleon? Do you know if it is wild caught or captive born? Did you get the chameleon at a show? Breeder?

I believe she is a month or two over a year. When i got her she was about finger length including tail. I bought her at a petstore so I have no idea about her background.

10. Handling: Do you handle your chameleon? How often and how long? What is its reaction to you? Is the cage in a quiet part of the house or is it in a busy or noisy area? Any big stereo speakers near the cage? Is your chameleon alone in the cage? Can your chameleon see any other herps or pets from the cage?

When she was little we would get her out. The guy at the petstore said you should handle them while they are young if you want to ever handle them once they get older. I have since read otherwise and we stopped getting her out as much. She always is very calm when out, slowly climbs on your hand and then up your arm or shirt and just perches there. She is in the living room however its not a busy location as we dont have guests and only my girlfriend lives with me. She is alone in the cage and cannot see any other pets.

11. Veterinarians: Do you have a veterinarian who KNOWS chameleons?

I hope so, she is at the second vet now...
 

90green

New Member
Did the vet take x-rays to make a diagnosis or did they just look at the chameleon and say no to MBD?

We went in there saying we think she has MBD, she just looked at her and said that it wasnt MBD, I dont understand. I spent 10 mins online and was convinced it had to be MBD..
 

90green

New Member
lilj0e said:
i also see the same break in the elbow. it was the first thing i noticed. are u using repcal with d3??
Yes I am, this is so upsetting to see her like this her limbs we not like this a few days ago.
 

90green

New Member
ucsdmolpath said:
yes, the elbow looks abnormally bent...

also, our recent heatwave in san diego triggered a thought in my head....how much sunlight gets through that window in the back of your cage? also, what was the weather like in your home area when you went on vacation? in san diego, i recently have my south-facing window blinds completely shut in the room with my chameleon cages so that the hot noon and afternoon sun doesn't roast them to death during this abnormally hot part of the summer.....particularly since the vegetation in your cage is so sparce, and quite a bit lower than where your chameleon might normally like to dwell, i'm wondering if it might be possible that your chameleon may have suffered some kind of heat exhaustion in addition to the elbow break...while the great space you've provided does allow for a lot of movement, it doesn't seem like your chameleon has anywhere to hide if there is a ton of hot sunlight streaming from the top 2/3 of the enclosure...finally, i'm not sure how you provide humidity, but perhaps lack of ample humidity, plus overheat plus a physically traumatizing fall has caused this lapse in health? i could be totally off, but just some ideas to bounce around. i would definitely add some bigger leafed plants in the enclosure, both in the middle and up top....and maybe even cover the window (or at least part of it, so your cham can get some shade if necessary). i hope your chameleon feels better soon!!!!!
Not to worry about the window in the back it goes to my garage. The garage was added by the previous people so no sunlight reaches that window. I kept the a/c the same in the house while I was away. Even though it doesnt look like it from the picture there is plenty of circulation the cage acually sits 5" from the back wall and there is space on all sides for air to move. the top is open air also. What would be best to add humidity?
 

ucsdmolpath

New Member
hey there,
just wanted to say, i wish i had an alcove like that for my cham in my apt. great way to incorporate your enclosure into regular house display...

for more humidity, i recently added flats of live sphagnum moss to the bottom of my cages. i can't really tell what you have on the bottom of your enclosure....but i can tell you that a few square feet of live, moist sphagnum moss really does wonders. not only can you sense the increased humidity if you stick your head in the cage (at least here in san diego)....but it has a natural deodorizing "fresh" scent to it....you can find it from various online sources...i got mine from ebay. and it doesn't have to be sphagnum either...there are many types of moss....just happens that sphagnum moss can harbor tons and tons of water compared to its bulk volume...i keep the moss in trays of gravel that i keep filled halfway with water (to the top of the gravel...then the other half is moss...the trays are about 3" high...) the only thing else i have is a dripper bottle, and twice daily mistings by hand....and when i do, i drench the heck out of the cages!

good luck!
 
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90green

New Member
Ok, shes back from the vet. They gave her 2 shots and some supliments oraly. The vet says that she has no fractures and that we need to feed her foods high in vitamins mixed with repta-cal and nutra-cal through an eyedropper till she gets her strength back. The vet says she has seen worse and would expect a nice recovery as long as we take care of all the pre existing problems with her and her habitat, I hope this works for her. As far as her living arangements the vet also stated the importance or humidity and suggested a humifier. My girlfriend dropped our baby off and is now is off to purchase a humidifier. While she is out of her cage today I am going to try and modify it to better suit her needs. Any more advice would greatly be apreciated, thank you for all the help thus far.
 

90green

New Member
]
ucsdmolpath said:
hey there,
just wanted to say, i wish i had an alcove like that for my cham in my apt. great way to incorporate your enclosure into regular house display...

for more humidity, i recently added flats of live sphagnum moss to the bottom of my cages. i can't really tell what you have on the bottom of your enclosure....but i can tell you that a few square feet of live, moist sphagnum moss really does wonders. not only can you sense the increased humidity if you stick your head in the cage (at least here in san diego)....but it has a natural deodorizing "fresh" scent to it....you can find it from various online sources...i got mine from ebay. and it doesn't have to be sphagnum either...there are many types of moss....just happens that sphagnum moss can harbor tons and tons of water compared to its bulk volume...i keep the moss in trays of gravel that i keep filled halfway with water (to the top of the gravel...then the other half is moss...the trays are about 3" high...) the only thing else i have is a dripper bottle, and twice daily mistings by hand....and when i do, i drench the heck out of the cages!

good luck!
Ok thanks, i will look into that moss localy and see what I can find. My biggest concern about live plants is parasites. The bottom of her cage is river rock with casting resin poured over the top. Makes it look like its wet but seals the base and rocks in one so it makes clean up very easy and germs cant penetrate the resin.



 

90green

New Member
lilj0e said:
im glad to hear that your cham will be okay!!! hope everything works out!!!!!best of wishes
Thank you, Im trying to get her to eat this stuff but she just acts so ill and uniterested in eating even after i squirt it in her mouth. Im gonna keep at it and hope for the best.
 
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