Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Metabolic bone disease is not just one disease, but rather a general term for a collection of medical disorders that affect the bones.

  • Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (NSHP, most common)
  • Renal Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (RSHP)
  • Hypertrophic Osteopathy (HO)
  • Osteopetrosis

In most cases, MBD is a highly preventable disease. A properly-kept blue tongue skink should never develop MBD.


  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle spasms/twitching
  • Curved limbs
  • Swollen limbs
  • Soft jaw


  • Not enough UVB
  • Lack of dietary calcium
  • Lack of dietary vitamin D
  • Imbalanced nutrition


If you suspect that your blue tongue skink may have MBD, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with a certified reptile veterinarian. This is not something you can treat on your own, especially not once the disease has progressed. The damage can’t be undone, but you can stop it from progressing further with the right treatment.

Although many blue tongue skinks have been successfully raised without UVB, a blue tongue skink with MBD will need exposure to appropriate levels of UVB for optimal recovery. In an 18-24″ tall enclosure, you will need to install a strong, high-quality 24″ UVB bulb like the Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 T5 HO or the Arcadia Desert 12%, mounted inside of a reflective T5 HO fixture. This promotes natural vitamin D3 synthesis and encourages healing.

If you already have a UVB bulb installed, the problem may be the brand, the age of the bulb, the fixture that you’re using, something covering the bulb, or that you’re using a coil bulb rather than a tube. (Read more about how to use UVB here.) The bulbs mentioned above should be replaced every 12 months.

A blue tongue skink with MBD should also receive supplementary pure calcium powder with added vitamin D3 like Miner-ALL Indoor or Repashy Supercal MeD to restore vitamin D reserves, dusted on all insects. Feeder insects should be properly gut-loaded for maximum benefit.

Further treatment will be prescribed by your vet based on the specific kind of MBD that your blue tongue skink has and the severity of the symptoms.

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