Abandoned Cham in bad shape

Yellowseahorse2

New Member
Hello!
I was recently given a veiled chameleon that someone found dumped on the side of the road in a plastic bug box. He started out in poor health (see list below), started to get better in my care, and has recently taken a turn for the worse. I have taken him to the only vet in my area who sees chameleons AND is accepting new patients, but they are a bit stumped at this point. You all seem very knowledgeable about chameleon care, so I'm really hoping you might have some ideas of care I can provide in supplement of what the vet has recommended.

Here is a list of Walter's health issues and what we've done to address them so far. All health issues listed below were his state when he was brought to me, except for the very last issue.
Health issueCare provided
Severely dehydrated
  • Injections of fluid on both sides of his body (7/24 & 7/30)
  • Several mistings throughout the day, ensuring water drips on his face so he will want to lick his lips)
Malnourished/starving
  • Oral vitamins administered by vet on two different dates (7/24 & 7/30)
  • Hand-feeding meal worms (have since acquired wax worms & super worms - these were sold out at the pet stores, but now he can't see well enough to eat them)
  • Hand-feeding critical care (carnivore & herbivore) multiple times per day (prescribed by vet)
  • Coating his bugs in multivitamin (but he was eating them so slowly that the multivitamin would often be long gone by the time he ate a cricket)
Skin issues (black spots on either side of back, what appear to be healed wounds, scales on back gone)
35605.jpeg

(this photo was taken shortly before he was given to me in the container that he was in - he did not stay in these conditions for long after coming to me)
20200731_114033.jpg

(Notice how the spikes on his tail do not continue up his back, that area is flat and pink)
  • Vet says these appear to just be his markings and no action is required (I'm not so sure?)
Stuck shed
  • Sustained mistings on his body to keep skin moist
Note: I have not tried to remove any of the shed manually as I have been told this can do damage.
Swollen eyes (NEW - appeared 10 days after he was found)
Other symptoms that appeared at this time: weakened state, lethargy, occasional sneeze/wheeze sound, total loss of appetite OR inability to eat)
20200730_085506.jpg

(Comparison photo taken a few days apart)
  • Anti-inflammatory being prescribed (order should be filled today; not sure what the meds are)
Note: The vet is unsure of how to proceed with treating his eyes given that we do not know what kind of care he had before. He recommended blood tests and x-rays to learn more about his condition, but we are both worried about the stress this will cause him in his weakened state).

I know that husbandry is very important for chameleon health, so I will proactively share that information as well (current state):
  • Housing - 2'x2'x4' Reptibreeze XL (largest chameleon enclosure I could find), loads of branches, fake pothos leaves for him to hide in
  • Water - Big dripper (on at all times) & misting (about 4x per day - we had an automatic mister but it broke so having to do it manually)
  • Food - Crickets & meal worms (I have since read on these forums that meal worms can create digestive issues and will not continue to offer those). I have wax worms & super worms for him but he can't really see them well enough to eat them with his bulging eyes.
  • Temps - 85 basking / 76 ambient temp in cage / 73 night time
  • Basking light - ceramic basking light with basking branch about 11" below, 12 hour cycle (I read in the forums that chams like a temp drop at night)
  • UVB - Zoo Med Reptisun 5.0 on a 12 hour on/off cycle

I know that chameleons are very complicated creatures that need very specific care and I am extremely worried that there is something more that I should be doing for him. I have never owned a chameleon before, so any feedback is welcome. The vet says that they think he might be very old, but it is hard to tell given his current state.

Walter was moving around quite a bit for the first 9 days, but now sits very still on one branch and is very weak. I had to move his basking light to him and it looks like he is sagging off of his branch. At his last visit, the vet suggested humane euthanasia, but something about that just feels wrong.

Does anyone here have any ideas of what we can do to help him out?

Thank you.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Basically i think hes got a vitamin/mineral imbalance. I dont think i would do xrays and blood work. But i would look into some vit-A , and figure out his phosphorus/calcium issue. Other than that, the cham is showing a lot of healed thermal burns, but the MBD doesnt look bad and is very salvageable.

If i was going to "save" him, id set him up outside if its above 65 and sunny out, and start getting ANY dusted feeders in him that he will eat. I assume you have some calcium without D3 and reptile vitamins...
 

Yellowseahorse2

New Member
Basically i think hes got a vitamin/mineral imbalance. I dont think i would do xrays and blood work. But i would look into some vit-A , and figure out his phosphorus/calcium issue. Other than that, the cham is showing a lot of healed thermal burns, but the MBD doesnt look bad and is very salvageable.

If i was going to "save" him, id set him up outside if its above 65 and sunny out, and start getting ANY dusted feeders in him that he will eat. I assume you have some calcium without D3 and reptile vitamins...
Thank you for your help!

When I put him outside, should he go in direct sun? Just morning sun? I have heard of chams getting sunburns.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thank you for your help!

When I put him outside, should he go in direct sun? Just morning sun? I have heard of chams getting sunburns.
Chams dont get sun burns. They can get thermal burns from getting their heads/back too close to the bulb.

For the outside cage, it should look like a "pet tree". You should not be able to see the cham until you get up close to the cage. With that setup it can be a full sun cage, since it will be up to the cham to stay in the shade of the foliage.

If you can not provide that, you can cover half the cage(and im assuming its an all screen cage) with a white sheet.


Mind you, somewhere between 75 and 80f with full sun, they need full shade to get to, you cant just leave them in a bare cage with a bunch of sticks. Mine only last 20-45min in full sun with a bunch of sticks when its above 75f, before they want back in. Above 85f and im lucky if i can wash my car before they want back in.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
You said..."Oral vitamins administered by vet on two different dates (7/24 & 7/30)"...what did the vitamins contain in the way of D3, vitamin A? What form of vitamin A....beta carotene, retinol, retinal, etc.

You said..."Hand-feeding critical care (carnivore & herbivore) multiple times per day (prescribed by vet)"...does it contain vitamin A (what form?) or D3?

You said..."Coating his bugs in multivitamin (but he was eating them so slowly that the multivitamin would often be long gone by the time he ate a cricket)"...multivitamin???
Should be lightly dusting the insects at all feedings but one a week with a phos free calcium powder and on the remaining feeding alternate between phos free calcium/D3 powder and a vitamin powder.

The area of the back with the missing spikes looks like an old burn from a basking light.

For lights...I use a regular household incandescent bulb (the old fashioned type) of a wattage that produces the appropriate basking temperature. And for UVB I use the long linear tube UVB reptisun 5.0.
No lights on at night.

As for the eyes...I'm no good with figuring them out...too many possibilities and they need a vet who can figure out what is going on with them. Sorry.

I hope you can figure out what's going on with him and if possible fix it.....but if there's no solution, proper euthanasia may be the only alternative sadly. Good luck!
 

Yellowseahorse2

New Member
You said..."Oral vitamins administered by vet on two different dates (7/24 & 7/30)"...what did the vitamins contain in the way of D3, vitamin A? What form of vitamin A....beta carotene, retinol, retinal, etc.

You said..."Hand-feeding critical care (carnivore & herbivore) multiple times per day (prescribed by vet)"...does it contain vitamin A (what form?) or D3?

You said..."Coating his bugs in multivitamin (but he was eating them so slowly that the multivitamin would often be long gone by the time he ate a cricket)"...multivitamin???
Should be lightly dusting the insects at all feedings but one a week with a phos free calcium powder and on the remaining feeding alternate between phos free calcium/D3 powder and a vitamin powder.

The area of the back with the missing spikes looks like an old burn from a basking light.

For lights...I use a regular household incandescent bulb (the old fashioned type) of a wattage that produces the appropriate basking temperature. And for UVB I use the long linear tube UVB reptisun 5.0.
No lights on at night.

As for the eyes...I'm no good with figuring them out...too many possibilities and they need a vet who can figure out what is going on with them. Sorry.

I hope you can figure out what's going on with him and if possible fix it.....but if there's no solution, proper euthanasia may be the only alternative sadly. Good luck!
Thank you! To answer your questions...
  • Vitamins A, D, & E were injected into his mouth. We called the vet to ask what type of vitamin A was provided and they did not have an answer for us.
  • The critical care has both vitamin A and vitamin D3, but does not specify what form (ingredients say "vitamin A supplement" and "vitamin D3 supplement")
  • The multivitamin is Zoo Med's Repivite Reptile vitamins with D3. Does he need calcium without D3 and also calcium with D3? Sorry, a bit confused there. Lots of powders. :)

I appreciate the info on his back. I couldn't believe that was just "how his back is" as I was being told.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
I just hope they didn't overdo the D3 and the prEformed vitamin A.

Normally I dust at every feeding but 4 amonth lightly with a phos free calcium powder alternating on the remaining 4 days between a phos free calcium/D3 powder and a vitamin powder with a beta carotene source of vitamin A. This way it leaves you in control of the prEformed vitamin A which can be overdosed/ build up in the chameleon's system. This also only provides part of the D3 the chameleon needs and leaves it to produce the rest of the D3 from its UVB exposure.
 
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