Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Metabolic bone disease is not actually 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 tegu should never develop MBD.


  • Lethargy
  • Limping
  • Muscle spasms/twitching
  • Rubbery and/or curved limbs
  • Soft jaw
  • Swollen limbs


  • Prolonged lack of dietary vitamin D3
  • Inadequate UVB lighting
  • Temperatures too high
  • Kidney disease/failure
  • Genetic disorder


If you suspect MBD, schedule an appointment with the vet immediately. Early-stage MBD is much easier to treat and has fewer permanent consequences than later on.

UVB is a requirement for both Colombian and Argentine tegus. Strong, high-quality UVB like the Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 T5 HO or the Arcadia 12% can help a sick tegu heal by prompting vitamin D3 synthesis. If you already have a UVB bulb installed, it may be a bad brand or too old. The bulbs mentioned here should be replaced every 12 months.

A tegu with MBD should also receive supplementary calcium powder with added vitamin D3, like Miner-ALL Indoor. All tegus should receive whole prey items (skin, organs, bones, and all) regularly.

Further treatment prescribed by your vet will vary based on what form of MBD your tegu has.


Source: Mader, D.; et al. (2005). Renal disease in green iguanas and other reptiles (kidney disorder). In S.J. Divers & D. Mader (Eds.) Reptile medicine and surgery. Elservier. Retrieved from–metibolic-bone-disease.html


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