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
Aside from dehydration, metabolic bone disease is the most common problem reported in chameleons. In most cases, MBD is a highly preventable disease. A properly-kept chameleon should never develop MBD.


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


  • no UVB
  • lack of dietary calcium
  • imbalanced nutrition


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 Jackson’s chameleons. Strong, high-quality UVB like the Zoo Med Reptisun 5.0 T5 HO or the Arcadia Forest 6% can help a sick chameleon 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 chameleon with MBD should also receive supplementary calcium powder with added vitamin D3, like Miner-ALL Indoor, to restore vitamin D3 reserves. Feeder insects should be properly gut-loaded for maximum benefit. Further treatment prescribed by your vet will vary based on what form of MBD your chameleon has.

Other chameleon health topics: