A Quick Guide to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)


It’s the ailment that scares nearly all reptile keepers the most. It worries us and sends us online to do hours of research on proper lights, hoods, and vitamin supplements. And we hear about it continuously in online groups or forums. MBD, MBD, MBD, over and over again. Unfortunately, it is one of the leading causes of unnecessary (and easily preventable) death in captive reptiles, and it hits young, growing animals particularly hard. What is it, how do we prevent it from happening to our pets, and how do we recognize if an animal has it?

What is MBD?

MBD is the acronym for Metabolic Bone Disease, which is a catch-all term for a condition in which (in summary) the body cannot metabolize calcium properly and in severe cases leads to the bones of the body becoming brittle and rubbery, and problems with muscles and the nervous system. If it sounds painful it’s because it is; untreated, chameleons and other reptiles with severe MBD will develop brittle bones that can break, bend out of shape, and cannot support their movements. Chameleons can develop tremors (hypocalcemic tetany), problems moving, lethargy, digestive issues, and eventually death.

The good news is that is is preventable, early all cases of MBD could have been easily avoided. It is like heartworm in dogs; extremely easy to prevent but serious once the infestation has set in. Thankfully, MBD is also treatable and although broken or misshaped bones may never heal and look completely normal, the bone density can be corrected and the body brought back into balance. 

How to Order a Chameleon Online

People are often off-put by the idea of ordering a chameleon online. The idea of ordering an animal online and having it shipped to your front door in a box like a pair of new shoes seems a little unsettling. Dangerous or unethical, even. However it's actually an incredibly popular way for people in the Herp world to buy and sell animals that they wouldn't otherwise have access to. And as long as the person doing the shipping takes all the necessary responsible steps for a safe ship and the buyer takes all the necessary steps to ensure a safe delivery, it's something that carries little risk of going wrong.

That said, even for a veteran like me it is still a nail-biting experience! Between the excitement of waiting for a new pet and the nerves of making sure it all goes right, I'll admit it can be a sleepless night. But it is also an extremely easy and normally smooth experience, and I'm going to show you how.

Keeping the Cuban Knight Anole

The last few weeks have featured a lot of little Mojito, my Cuban knight anole (Anolis equestris.) To be perfectly frank, when I attended the Miami Repticon at the University of Miami campus earlier this Fall I was not planning on coming home with anything alive besides feeder insects. But when I saw cups with baby lime-green anoles I stopped and admired them for a brief moment, and then meandered onward to buy some cork bark for the leachies. But then I circled back. How cute they are, I thought. And then kept going so I could buy the crickets and hornworms I needed for my pets. And then I looped back around a third time, and looked at them again over the shoulders of other show-goers.

You get the idea, I’m sure.  

Long story short, by the time I made it home that afternoon I had a new pet. 

Yes, Mojito may have been an impulse purchase (do as I say, not as I do, anyone?) but as an underrated species that could make a very rewarding pet, I decided that I would try my hand at raising one and use him as another ambassador for the blog. So this week’s post will feature him exclusively, and we’ll take a look at how easy it is to care for these beautiful large anoles when you already have some experience with chameleons.
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