Is it metabolic bone disease?

Doodleh

New Member
Hi, I've joined this forum because I'm desperately seeking help for my 5 month old female veiled chameleon.
When I first bought her she used to fall quite regularly but I thought she was just getting used to our vivarium, but recently she has stopped moving around as much, and doesn't seem to lift herself up very high on her front legs, she seems to prefer to stay still, her front legs have a small amount of swelling but her bones do not feel at all soft.
I've read causes on the internet and if it is metabolic bone disease I assume she developped it before I bought her, I always feed her live food for a few days before putting it in the tank, I feed the crickets and locus on sweet potato, carrot and lettuce, same with meal worms. I spray her vivarium daily and she has a small water fountain to drink from, which runs constantly during the day (I see her drink daily). She still has a very strong appetite and doesn't seem to have problems digesting or using her tongue.
I have recently started dusting her food with calcium supplements but this doesn't seem to make any difference. There are very few vets in my area and they don't seem to have anyone specialising in reptiles.
I'm very worried about her, and would be extremely upset if I lost her. Has anyone any advice on what I could do for her her if it is MBD?
 

chrisandpugs

New Member
Hi!
Where did you purchase her from? Pet store or directly from a breeder?

Unfortunately, if it came from a pet store, it could have easily developed the MBD in that type of enviroment.(if that is the correct diagnosis) because stores are so ill-equiped to the correct housing, lighting, and feeding of such a young Chameleon.

I suggest taking your baby to a knowledgable exotic vet. If you wait too long to get her proper medical treatment, she may get real sick fast and die due to her young age!

Christine
 

Doodleh

New Member
I bought her from a pet store.. I have bought from the same store a few times, I have a male veiled chameleon I bought from the same place.. Everything else I bought from there was fine. You're right though, conditions in pet stores are generally not great.
Thanks for the advice..
 

Doodleh

New Member
Thanks for the replies, I have started to load my chameleons food with food high in calcium and have managed to find a vet that does specialize in reptiles, which is quite far away but worth the travel.
Does anyone know whether this disease develops quickly? and how fast does it progress? I will not be able to afford her vet bills for around 2 weeks, could it get much worse in that time?
 

chrisandpugs

New Member
Is your Chameleon able to get any natural sunlight?

Hi!
Thanks for your honesty regarding that it is not feasible at the moment to bring her to the Vet right away but you will once you have the money available.
Does your Chameleon get any natural sun at all?. I know that in most places, it's still too cold to take your Chameleon outside in a protective portable cage and have it bask in real sunlight.(Getting natural sunlight is so much more superior than the best UVA lights) which can help reduce the MBD effects.
Usually, depending upon the Vet, he may give her a calcium shot to try and help reverse the MBD effects.
I know that you love your Chameleon and I am crossing my fingers that she will remain stable until you are able to take her to the Vet.

Christine
 

Cherron

New Member
I always feed her live food for a few days before putting it in the tank
I am assuming by "vivarium" and "tank" that you have a glass enclosure. These do not allow enough of an air exchange for your chameleon, who dwells in tree tops where fresh air is abundant. This can lead to upper respiratory infections and fungal infections among many other things. You need to get a screened cage as soon as possible.

I feed the crickets and locus on sweet potato, carrot and lettuce, same with meal worms.
Gutloading your feeder insects one of the most important things that you can do to ensure good health in your chameleons. Search this forum. There are many threads on gutloading that will help you improve the nutritional value. Sweet potato is a good choice. Using carrots as a gutload is debated a lot and I tend to shy away from things that a whole lot isn't really known about. Virtually all lettuces have no nutritional value and will cause diarrhea in your feeders, dehydrating them and making them poor food choices. I personally use mixed grain infant cereal, alfalfa, mustard greens, collard greens, dandelion greens, sweet potato, squash and egg yolk to gut load my crickets. I am not saying this is the best method, but my chameleons are all very healthy guys.

I spray her vivarium daily and she has a small water fountain to drink from, which runs constantly during the day (I see her drink daily).
A fountain in a chameleon cage is a great place for bacteria to flourish. I would recommend removing the fountain now. You need a dripper in your enclosure. You can buy these at a pet store or you can easily make one out of a cup or i often use the "Gladware" bowls and just prick a hole in one corner with a pen. Let the water drip onto a leaf and place a bucket underneath to catch the excess water. Misting should also be done several times a day.

I have recently started dusting her food with calcium supplements but this doesn't seem to make any difference.
Dusting is a very important part of your chameleon's diet as well. Just like above, search this forum and the web. This really shouldn't be something that you just recently started. This should be something that should have been started when you got your chameleon.

The main thing that you didn't mention was lighting. A UVB light is ABSOLUTELY necessary for your chameleon. Without exposure to UVB rays they can not absorb the calcium that we so painstakingly strive to provide in their diet.

You chameleon needs to see the vet as soon as possible. I would also recommend taking your male veiled with you as well because living in the same conditions may have taken its toll on him as well.

Do a lot of research on chameleon husbandry. There are thousands of websites and books dedicated to this. This forum has a vast amount of information as well. Once your chameleon starts showing symptoms, then often, there isn't a lot of time left.

Does anyone know whether this disease develops quickly? and how fast does it progress? I will not be able to afford her vet bills for around 2 weeks, could it get much worse in that time?
This is not a disease that develops quickly. It takes about a year (give or take) to kill a chameleon with poor husbandry and diet. Again, once your cham shows signs of illness, things are usually already pretty bad. Try calling your vet and see if you can work out a payment plan. Two weeks is a long time to let an illness go.

Anyway, good luck. Research. A lot.
 

Doodleh

New Member
I am assuming by "vivarium" and "tank" that you have a glass enclosure. These do not allow enough of an air exchange for your chameleon, who dwells in tree tops where fresh air is abundant. This can lead to upper respiratory infections and fungal infections among many other things. You need to get a screened cage as soon as possible.

The enclosure is made from wood with glass doors, but has ventilation all along the top of it, is this not sufficient?

Thanks for your advice.
 

MWheelock

Veterinarian
The only thing I'll add is the distance the uvb needs to be from your cham. Tubes should be 6-8 inches from the basking area to achieve appropriate UVB levels. If you have a big cage and a mercury vapor bulb, more like 8-14" is the optimal basking range. UVB bulbs have different burn out rates, so the bulb, even if it looks okay, should be changed every 6months- 12months (I'd say closer to 6 months on the safe side.) If the bulbs are too far away from the branches, the cham will not allow intestinal absorption of Ca++.

Also UVB is filtered by glass, so make sure there is no glass between the bulb and the animal. If the cham is by a window, it is NOT getting UVB from the sunlight.
 

Doodleh

New Member
The only thing I'll add is the distance the uvb needs to be from your cham. Tubes should be 6-8 inches from the basking area to achieve appropriate UVB levels. If you have a big cage and a mercury vapor bulb, more like 8-14" is the optimal basking range. UVB bulbs have different burn out rates, so the bulb, even if it looks okay, should be changed every 6months- 12months (I'd say closer to 6 months on the safe side.) If the bulbs are too far away from the branches, the cham will not allow intestinal absorption of Ca++.

Also UVB is filtered by glass, so make sure there is no glass between the bulb and the animal. If the cham is by a window, it is NOT getting UVB from the sunlight.

Thanks for the advice, her basking spot sounds (by what you say) to be in the correct range of the light, I have a UVB light, even though the cage is opposite a window.
 

Dave Weldon

Avid Member
Thanks for the advice, her basking spot sounds (by what you say) to be in the correct range of the light, I have a UVB light, even though the cage is opposite a window.
Howdy,

As was mentioned, sunlight's UVB spectrum won't go through a window unless it's open :eek:. Please post exactly what make and model UVB tube/lamp you are using along with its age. If you are dusting with calcium containing D3 (on a proper schedule) and your are using a good UVB source (not overly aged) at the correct distance then MBD doesn't happen. It's as simple as that. Something in the husbandry equation is out of whack. It can be as simple as having a clear plastic cover left on between the tube and the chameleon. It can be that you are not use Ca w/D3. What brand are you using? Or did I read that you just started using Ca/D3 :(. If so then there is your smoking gun. You're not the first and certainly not the last to run into MBD but at least there is a good chance to halt the damage soon enough to return her back to a reasonable level of health.

What part of the world are you located?
 

Doodleh

New Member
I'm not sure of the make of the tube I'm using, my mum bought and fitted it a few months ago. I could get in touch and ask her to let you know.
I am in the UK so it's a little cold still, can't take her outside yet, though I do intend to in summer (If she is okay :( )
I am currently designing a new screen cage for her, and another for my male. What model lights and wattage would you suggest? If you could check my thread in the enclosures section and let me know what you think of my ideas so far, this would be much appreciated!!
 

Dave Weldon

Avid Member
I'm not sure of the make of the tube I'm using, my mum bought and fitted it a few months ago. I could get in touch and ask her to let you know... What model lights and wattage would you suggest?...
Howdy,

You should be able to read the printing on the tube glass. There should be a mfgrs name and model on there. If you can't see it then take the tube out of the fixture to see it.

Many of us like the Zoomed Reptisun 5.0 product. Repti-Glo 5.0 will work but usually not as long or as well. Pick the wattage by the length that you can use. You will find tubes ranging from about 18" through 48" in length. There are a few other ones out there that are usable too. It is easy to end-up with a tube that is useless for UVB and that's why I'm continuing to ask about which one you are currently using. It can sometimes mean life or death depending on which one...
 

Doodleh

New Member
Hi again everyone!
My cham (Della) seems to be getting better! turns out it was metabolic bone disease. Already after such a short period she is eating better (catching big crickets and even following them instead of waiting for them!) She's also able to now lift her stomach off the floor! I've not seen her drag her chin for days now, I'm so amazed how quickly she seems to be improving. There is still some deformity in her legs but I'm guessing that won't go? It's started to get warm enough to take her outside now so I've been taking her in my garden, she seems to enjoy it. How long should I leave her outside?
 
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