suspected broken arm/maybe nerve damage?


New Member
heres the story...

Nemo, a female veiled i got last xmas who was 1 month old. she is now around 5 months old.
i got her a ficus tree 3 weeks ago and washed off any chems/pesticides and trimmed to fit the enclosure. She was cautious for the first day but soon got on with exploring her new gift.

about a week ago she mistook the strength of a branch and fell to the bottom (which is sort of like peat/compost kinda thing, i know its advised not to have it but on this occasion it probably saved her from worse injuries)
she fell a few mor times the same day and showed no signs of injury.
about a week ago i noticed she had mistook her fron left leg for a branch and held onto it for a long time (dont know how long exactly) but she has lost the ability to move this arm now but can still grip with it as good as any other hand (very strong grip BTW)
she is still mobile and still eating, exploring and drinking but she shimmies around using her head/neck for support.

also found her on several occasions hanging from branches appearing to be unable to sort herself out so i help her.

the arm affected has some black spots on it which i think was caused from gripping it.

taking her to vets on tue, and have been told its £24 for examination and £80 if they have to amputate.

opinions welcome

...about a week ago she mistook the strength of a branch and fell to the bottom...

she fell a few more times the same day and showed no signs of injury.
about a week ago i noticed she had mistook her front left leg for a branch and held onto it for a long time...

also found her on several occasions hanging from branches appearing to be unable to sort herself out so i help her.

the arm affected has some black spots on it which i think was caused from gripping it.

taking her to vets on tue, and have been told its £24 for examination and £80 if they have to amputate.

opinions welcome

All may be just as you described but there is another possibility based on the symptoms that you've described.

1) Chameleons almost never fall and when they do it is often a symptom of an underlying issue.

2) Falling almost never ends-up with a broken limb unless there is an underlying issue.

3) Grabbing one leg with another almost never happens (in a normal exploring situation) unless there is an underlying issue.

Put falling, broken leg, and leg grabbing together at the same time may be a sign of MBD (metabolic bone disease).

Describe your UVB light setup including what's between the lamp's surface and your critter.

What Ca/D3 products and schedule are you using?

Don't hesitate to post the answers in the "How to ask for help" sticky at the top of this column and toss-up photos of your setup too :).

Oh, the necessity for amputation is highly unlikely. His leg can be splinted if necessary. If they want to amputate, be prepared to go for a 2nd opinion elsewhere while you are already on the road.
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its got a zoomed retisun 10.0 on the top of the tank and closest spot it the tree is 2-3in. wire mesh is what the top is made of. i dust every feed with this calcium dust, the vits are used once every week-2weeks.


im getting really concerned now, tuesday cant come quick enough!!!
its got a zoomed Reptisun 10.0 on the top of the tank and closest spot it the tree is 2-3in. wire mesh is what the top is made of. I dust every feed with this calcium dust, the vits are used once every week - 2 weeks...

The smoking gun... Calypso calcium is listed as a "pure calcium" with no added vitamins. I'll have to interpret that to mean that there is no vitamin D3 in this product. They make another product that has a liquid Ca with D3 but you'll want to find a powdered Ca/D3 product for general use.

Here's your Nutrobal vitamin product and it also doesn't list any D3: shows some info on the product that you are using.

I'm also really concerned that your wonderful Zoomed Reptisun 10.0 tube is housed in a fixture that has plastic (or ordinary glass) between the tube's surface and your critter. Almost ALL plastic or glass will filter-out 99% of all useable UVB. This is a somewhat common mistake so if you have this situation, just remove the material and your tube will begin to do its job :).

In summary:

Buy a Ca/D3 product like Rep-Cal or Miner-All(I) for a source of D3. IF those are not available, ask a local chameleon expert what your town has to offer. If nothing then shop online.
Remove the plastic or glass between the Reptisun tube and your critter.
Your vet may offer a specific liquid calcium and injected D3 to counter the present situation more rapidly - take it.
Have your vet splint the leg if it is broken. It will take time to replace the calcium and rebuild the broken bone when the general calcium level is already depleted. the leg-grabbing is a classic symptom associated with the neurological effects of MBD so they should go away fairly quickly. Your big risk is falling again and breaking more bones.

General online info: especially
its only mesh between the bulb and my critter, so no loss of the rays. to help her out a bit more i have used a lid from an old cricket container which is wedged in the tree directly under the bulb, so far so good.

Just been searching round all the local pet stores and none had rep cal or miner all, but they did have the t-rex 2:0 calcium dust with d3 included, they also had this paste which i got as nemo would have to eat all the crix and mealies for the dose.


Please tell me its ok to give to her, i just gave her 1ml (instructions say 1 dose per week)
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To correct the calcium problem more quickly (if indeed your vet determines that your chameleon is deficient), the vet can give your chameleon injections of calcium over a period of weeks and when the blood levels are high enough a shot of calcitonin will draw the calcium back into the bones. This has to be done properly because if there is not enough calcium in the blood when the calcitonin is given the resulting low blood calcium will put the chameleon into a state of shock.

If your chameleon has MBD then you need to determine why and correct what ever is causing it.

You said that the light produces UVB and has no glass or plastic between it and the it should be able to produce vitamin D3.

You are giving it calcium (Calypso...pure calcium) and you are giving it Nutrobal (see link below for content...assuming this is the right one..says it has D3 and vitamin A and calcium).

I would also recommend that you look into what you gutload your insects with to see if there are any excesses/lack of vitamins A and D or excess phos. there.

Too much preformed vitamin A can interfere with the metabolism of vitamin D and result in MBD. If the vitamin A is from a beta carotene source, its safe. I don't know what the source of the vitamin A is in the Nutrobal.

Vitamin D and (preformed) vitamin A can be stored (build up) in the reptile's system when they come from supplements. If the vitamin D results from exposure to sunlight or UVB or is made by the reptile, it is usually self-regulating. If the vitamin A comes from a beta carotene source, it won't build up in the reptile's system.

Here's a site that lists the vitamin A content of Nubtrobal with the following comment..."High? Excess Vit A can interfere with D3 metabolism"...

Hope this information helps!
Just luck, Dave. There were quite a few sites that listed nutobal but didn't list the ingredients....just happened to click on the right one!
When my male panther chameleon was about 6 months of age, he had a bad fall to. I made the mistake of just thinking it was a broken leg, little did i know it wasnt(MBD). It had gotten progressivley worse, he had 2 legs that where basically bent and looked like he had an extra joint in his to front legs. He made a recovery since then, and is very happy. But he is still "deformed".
When my chameleon had broken bones due to MBD he would continually grab a front leg with his hind leg, and then refuse to let go. We were worried that he would never be able to "be a chameleon again" because he would literally topple himself over before letting go -- I honestly don't think that he knew he was holding onto his own leg. It was at its worst when he had his splints on.
After about three weeks of "rehabbing" him -- letting him climb supervised so that we were there to catch him if he fell, and pry his hind leg off of his front leg and guide it to a spot to hold onto he got it figured out.
Now he's a cranky, lazy, spoiled chameleon who lives out a relatively normal life in his enclosure.
The real key to Hermie's full recovery was adding Vitamin D injections every week for a month -- holy cow. He gained more bone density in that month than he had gained in the 6 months prior to that of high dose calcium supplementation only.
I would HIGHLY doubt that an amputation is necessary -- poor Hermie had FOUR broken legs (one in two spots) and was able to make a full recovery thanks to a very diligent and creative veterinarian who rigged up splints and a sling for him (he broke his shoulder on one leg). It was a hard 4-5 months of recovery (he wasn't allowed to do any climbing during that time) but a year later he's doing great and is pretty much normal -- except for his refusal to eat crickets and anything else that he thinks "moves too fast" for him ... what can I say, he's a worm guy. :)
thanks for the replies, i really, REALLY appreciate it. she fell again today (from when i got home) and found her hanging by her back legs upside down. I have taken the ficus out now as i think that was causing more harm than good.

i hope the visit to the vets tomorrow has a good outcome *fingers crossed*

thanks again


during my routine clean a short while ago, i removed all the substrate and re-arranged the walkways/branches to make it a bit easier for her...but what if she falls now???

answer - MANY, MANY SHEETS OF BUBBLE WRAP! same benefit of paper towels but cleanable and also providing a safe ish landing.
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Well...just got back from the vets and i didnt come back alone!
he did say it was mbd - very early stage, and as she is still a youngster he couldnt take blood. What he did do is mix a little cal with some water. should be good in a week. as an extra precaution i bought a new repti-glo 10.0 as i bought her 5 months ago and cant be sure the bulb was new from purchase. il update in a week with progress. not out the woods yet!
Are you only giving the calcium for a week? I have to say that even if it's only a mild case I doubt that she'll be all better in one week. It takes time to first raise their circulating calcium levels enough so that they start putting it back to bone building and then to actually build (and rebuild) bone.

But that is good news ... congrats!
the vet gave her liquid cal with some water to re-hydate her, im still having to force feed her and i cake the crix and worms with calcium dust and vits every other day and every 3 days im giving her the paste in the photo on page 1 (only 3-4 a day as force feeding her is stressing her v bad) so hopefully the extra vits and calcium is allowing the lack of her full course meal, what i mean is that she was eating 10+ a day. she is improving with the new reptiglo 10.0 i got a few days ago, she is moving and using the bad arm now but is still falling every now and then (once every 2 days) i am picking up some solar drops today and will be giving her the recommended dose.

So... things are really looking up at the mo, although she hasnt passed a stool in a week, i think this is because her food intake is down.

should i be force feeding her the 10 crix as before she fell ill?
When I have had a chameleon that can't climb well (usually old age), I put a piece or pieces of bark (rough, like maple) on smaller slopes than the regular branches (like ramps). This way the chameleon can walk up easier but doesn't really have to grip. You need to ensure that they can still sit close enough to the UVB and the basking I have even moved them to horizontal cages.

Calcium plays a part in muscle contractions...
" About 99% of a chameleon's calcium is found in its bones and teeth. In these structures, calcium forms a hard matrix with phosphorus and certain proteins, providing a rigid framework (endoskeleton). Bone also serves as a storehouse for extra calcium."
"When thinking of calcium, we tend to think of bone. But the 1% of body calcium found outside of bone is essential for the life of your chameleon. This 1% controls heartbeat, nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood clotting, and enzyme activation."
"Early signs of hypocalcemia can be seen as defects in nerve transmission and muscle contractions."

You said you are giving the chameleon "extra vits and calcium"....what vitamins? Calcium, vitamin D3, vitamin A and phosphorous all play a part in bone health...and they need to be in balance. Here are some articles that might be of interest to you....
thanks for the links, thats good info!

ive gave her as much cal + vits as she would normally eat when dusted on 10-15 crix. i dont give her loads. i got some solar drops today and put one drop on a cricket which i still had to force feed and gave her another cricket and a meal worm.

Another update.

this morning she is looking much better, really stretching her limbs but still had a fall. gave her a drink through my home made dripper and she went straight for it. the instructions for the drops said it would be thirsty and she def was!
hope she gets through this

news flash! :another update

she has just taken the biggest poop ever, i mean really huge and i can imagine it hurt passing this one! something i have not seen her do in a week+

i need to keep it for the vet on sunday,is it best kept in fridge? im quite sure i can see some of the substrate in it that used to line the floor so thats another possible cause to this i think.
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keep it in the fridge in a sealed container... a marked container if it's old food container ... :rolleyes: you'd hate to have it get mixed up...
did that, took it to the vets yesterday. it was HUUUGE! i mean really, really big. it must have hurt passing that one i tell ya! also with the poop was some of the substrate so good job it was removed and replaced with bubble wrap.
still not using her bad arm...well she has but not very often. her colour is improving but you know the little white stripes that veileds have behind thier front arms? nemos has been dark brown and is the only thing apart from the arm obviously that hasnt improved so im not sure on that one. i still have to force feed her, which is now up to 5 crix a day powdered with calcium.
had a call from the vet today.
he was quite surprised at the size of the poop, but understood that if she hadn't curled one out in 2 weeks then it was gonna be big!
results came back fine, had a little plant matter but nutrition wise it was good.

she is drinking like a fish at the moment and flicking out her tongue so its not too serious (a mbd condition?) but i still have to force feed her so im a bit stumped as to why its taking so long for the front arm to function properly, the vet suggested a week to recover... i know its not gonna happen overnight but when i come home to find her helpless hanging by her back legs or wedged between some branches it gets to me.

any suggestions???
Hey Mike, my cham when it was very young had a similar issue regarding weak bone structure - some of her ribs were damaged, they seemed to be broken, only not completly, just twisted so tehy wouldnt expand normally. While they were not broken, this is how they apeared. When she was brought into the vet, she too had MBD. Because i had just bought her, the pet store offered to take care of her until she regained her health. I allowed the pet store to re-assume responsibility for a few weeks, and they fed her full of every type of bug they had, in addition to feeding hre a calcium paste orally, using a syrange. if you ever are going to feed your chameleon using a syrange be very very careful, there are members on this forum who have accidentally choked their baby by injecting to much liquid into the chams mouth too quickly. If you do this the cham can not gag it back up, and they suffocate, so beware, and only feed small ammount very slowly! Now she is more healthy than ever, The liquid calcium worked like a charm!!!
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