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Old 08-27-2009, 08:12 AM
HairyScaryMark's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
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Vieled Cham skin peeling? -thought it was shedding but after 20 hours i'm doubtful

Cage Info:

* Cage Type - 38 Gallon Flexarium 42 x 42 x 76cm (16.5 x 16.5 x 30inches) - plan to upgrade to 100 gallon flexarium when chameleon is bigger and older.
* Lighting - 60W screw in spot attached to a Habistat dimming thermostat and a Reptiglow 5.0 UV strip 20W.
* Temperature - about 32-36C (90-97 F) at basking spot and 22C (72 F) ambient
* Humidity - I tend to aim between 55-80%. I use the drip system (2 plastic cups with holes in the bottom, in the morning) and mist twice daily.
* Plants - I have a Bonsai Mondo Verde - Ficus Gingseng and about 4 artificial 'jungle plants' and a 'jungle vine'.
* Placement - It is in the corner of my upstairs bedroom. I open the window slightly wherever possible. The top of the cage is around 2 metres from the floor.
* Location - Aberdeen, Scotland.

Chameleon Info:

* Your Chameleon - Male Yemen Chameleon. I've had him since May of this year and led to believe he was around 2-3 months old (probably 3 as he was held back due to being a 'lazy feeder') when I got him, which would make him around 6 months old.
* Handling - Every couple of days on average. I try to get him to walk onto my hand but he usually isn't very keen to although will happily use it to help him manoeuvre round his cage.
* Feeding - Daily - 5 medium crickets, 2 small locusts, 2 wax worms and occasionally a moth or a cricket larvi. I also leave in some grapes and strawberries and he has taken this from my hand when presented to him when eating other insects but I am unaware of him ever eating this of his own accord.... I gut load the crickets and locusts with a mixture of grapes, strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes (all chopped finely) and a small quantity of basil, mint and lettuce (particularly for the locusts)
* Supplements - I dust all the food in a tub using pure calcium powder prior to feeding.
* Watering - As with humidity, daily dripping, twice daily misting. He often drinks from the drip system but only occasionally from the residue on the leaves.
* Fecal Description - Never been tested for parasites but they are almost solid and medium/dark brown. No notably change in consistency since I first got him. He also sprays a white liquid.
* History - apparently the breeder I got him from is very good and knowledgeable and the quality of her stock is very high. I've had absolutely no problems so far with keeping him. He's remained what i've thought to be healthy colours.
* Current Problem - I thought skin shedding has started on his head, usually this only takes a few hours and will take place over his entire body, leaving only the occasional bit of skin here and there. The skin would also be seen lying around his cage but I have seen none. About 20 hours later he has still not shed more than a small quantity of the skin on his head. This has caused me to think it may not be shedding and the skin could be peeling for another reason.

He also has had an apparent loss of appetite. Yesterday he didn't eat any crickets or wax worms I presented him with. The crickets have been in the cage for at least 3 days without any notable reduction in population. He did however eat 2 locusts and a couple of worms 2 days a go and I spotted him eat a cricket today. I heard they get bored of their food easily but i've also fed him locusts and wax worms in an attempt to prevent this happening. He has only been slightly more enthusiastic about eating these, the wax worms I put in yesterday were still in there at the end of the day. I wouldn't think too much of his loss of appetite but combined with the apparent peeling (maybe shedding) of skin, it worries me that it could be something else.

I was also away for a couple of days 2 weekends a go and gave other family members with the job of looking after him. I left around 30-40 pupating moths in his cage and also divided crickets into 4 tubs (one for each day), gut-loaded with strawberries and grapes. It was reported that he wasn't eating but I dismissed this as I had left in moths and additional crickets were given, despite my instructions just to feed him what I left.

I wondered if he was losing his skin due to dehydration or a burn and if the cage temperature was too great, this might explain it. Considering he regularly drinks the water I give him, it seemed a little bit unlikely that he would get dehydrated but perhaps he doesn't drink enough. (i notice him drink maybe every other day)

All these things may just be a coincidence or explainable within normal parameters of how chameleons operate but I thought it best to get advice. I'm still quite new to all this stuff but i've never heard of a chameleon just shedding the skin on their head before (not saying it doesn't happen, I just haven't heard of it). Or does this slow down and take a lot longer as they get older?

I took these pictures of him to demonstrate how his skin has been peeling off his head. It's not as dark as it looks in picture.

Here is a picture of his cage taken a couple of months a go but it hasn't changed at all. I apologise for it being quite blurry.

Also check out this link for a wider range of pictures of him.

Thank you very much in advance for your help. I did a google search on reptile vets and found a few in my area. I can take him to the vet tommorow if that appears to be a wise thing to do. It is also possible the old skin will disappear or someone will identify the problem on here.

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Old 08-27-2009, 11:21 AM
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Dehydration is what I think is most likely.

The symptoms don't really fully match his condition but as he has been drinking water it's unlikely to be a particualrly bad case of dehydration. It's more that he hasn't been drinking enough water, if my thoughts are correct.

"Symptoms to watch out for:

1. Sunken eyes (Be aware, the chameleon in the case study is already in advanced stage of dehydration. When your chameleon exhibits the same symptom in the picture, you need a vet to treat and hydrate your chameleon).
2. A yellow or orange urate
3. Loss of appetite and chameleon appeared lethargic
4. When pulled GENTLY with 2 fingers, the skin is too slow to return back to its position (or, even worse, does not go back at all)."

In my book, i think it says something about peeling skin being a symptom of dehyration also.

It may also explain why he has gone off crickets to some extent. I don't know for sure but I think the chameleon would feel the wax worms were more moist than the crickets.

I also haven't seen him poop for a while although have been cleaning up a small number of them daily.

I have no way of verifying this. If things aren't back to normal tommorow, I will concider taking him to the vet but if it is just a mild form of dehydration, he should recover by himself..
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Old 08-27-2009, 11:37 AM
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That looks like a normal shedding veiled to me.
There are no visual sighns of dehydration, but you might want to help the shed along by misting a bit more when in shedding.

Dont leave crickets with the chameleon around the clock, take rthem out if he doesnt feed on them in a few hours. Put them in again the next day to try again.

I would also advice you to get much more light. Just light, not UVb or heat, just light. A daylight tube and/or som low energy bulbs with reflectors would do the trick. I cut beer cans in half to get cheap reflectors for the smaller low energy bulbs.
We often forget regular light for the chameleons, yet it can have a huge impact on them. They get much more active, it releases certain hormones, and they can get a better appetite from it.

A well lit cage indoors are most often much darker than a shady day outside, we just preceive it as well lit due to the dark indoors.
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Old 08-27-2009, 11:55 AM
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20 hours seems fine to me. My veiled recently shed for the first time and it took around 24 hours. Even yesterday he still had one tiny bit of skin left but that's gone now as well.
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:23 PM
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that is him shedding.
I do not think your chameleon is dehydrated.
You can help him shed faster by raising the humidity of his cage (misting more etc).

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Old 08-27-2009, 12:24 PM
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Mist with very warm water and for a long period of time. As veileds get older they shed in sections and seem to have some part of their body sheding almost all the time.
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:24 PM
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My cham takes several days... One day it her belly, tomorrow its her feet etc.
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:27 PM
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I found that when my male veiled got to about the 6 month mark his appetite started decreasing. Some days he would eat 8-10 crickets or locusts, other days one or two, or none at all. He now gets fed every other day, and maybe 6 locusts or crickets (I alternate).
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:31 PM
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Young chameleons shed much faster as staded above, its quite humorous some times as it look liks they just exploded in a cloud of shedded skin. Like cotton candy.

About the "not eating" part, you really should stop handling him. No reptiles have any bennefit from it, its actually harmful in different degrees for them. The stress for chameleons seem to be quite high up on that scale.
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:52 PM
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Thanks for the responses and the advice. It is quite a relief that people think he isn't dehydrated.

I've already been misting and used the drip system 3 times today, in an attempt to get him to drink more. This will also raise the humidity so has that effect.

I'm thiking of attaching the light to a bracket to get a small distance between the cage and the light, decreasing the chances of him getting burnt, although I was told my current sollution is fine.

I might see about getting a second buld or some low watt 'natural light' bulbs or simlar.

I've heard much of the handling discussion. There are probably no real benefits other than I can take him outside to get some real sunlight, every now and again (obviously, not often in Scotland but i've done it a few times on warm days). It may however stress him out more if I handled him only ocasionally and he wasn't used to it. He does seem to interact with me at some level. He often just stairs at me when I go beside his cage and sometimes even moves towards me (although this could be my imagination). I tend to get a few quiet hisses when I handle him but he settles down after a minute or two then gets more tense if I don't sit down somewhere soon afterwards and let him sit on my shoulder. Overall, I don't think he minds being handled all that much as he tends to keep the same colouring and there haven't been any major hissing episodes when handling.
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