Abnormal or Normal? Sincerely, Very Concerned Owner. (Tons of pics and stories)

Queen Yarbo

New Member
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - Jackson Chameleon, Female, 2 years old, 1 week in my care
  • Handling - Twice, when moving her cage.
  • Feeding - Dubia Roaches, Crickets, Super Worms. Would like to add more, but the local pet store is out. I've had her to eat 1-3 of the feeders in a day. Today she only ate 1 super worm, yesterday two and two crickets. Does not want the roaches. Yes, with orange cube and fresh fruit/veggies (only ones found on a chameleon approved list.)
  • Supplements - Her former owner gave us Zoo Med's Reptivite, I've dusted feeders twice thus far.
  • Watering - We were given a Monsoon RS400. I would like to upgrade in a couple months to a mistking, but we just bought this beautiful lady and I don't want to pay more for a mister that I did for her, her supplies, cage, and the roach colony a week ago. I'm in my mid 20s and do have loans, rent, and bills. Big purchases can be done occasionally. Its cycle is set to 6 times 10 minutes, I'm not sure if it's working and plan on buying a timer. I set it off independently for 20-30 minutes a day. Maintaining humidity is an issue.
  • Fecal Description - It looked brown and whitish/yellow. I actually haven't noticed any fecal in the past few days. I don't think she's compacted, I've only fed small roaches, crickets, and average sized superworms,
  • History - Apparently she was bought gravid and had 3 clutches. Her previous owner had her in a cage with a male, and they seemed friendly but he did not see if anything happened. The owner was a very smart teenage. We are a bit older, my S/O is well educated and I work in the animal care industry. Her previous owner said that she is shy, I'm hoping that I'm just over analyzin, worrying too much, and being an absolute idiot.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Combo, glass and mesh. 12"W x 36"L x 52"High I added 12" yesterday with a drainage system.
  • Lighting - No idea, it was included with the purchase. I added an additional lamp with a Repti Basking spot lamp to a lamp I already owned. That lamp seems to be her preferred basking spot. I want to buy another UVB fixture, since I think her cage is too big for just one.
  • Temperature I have two gages for humidity and two for therm. I try to keep it at 73F-80F and humidity at 80. It has been a struggle. The past two days I came home from work either her humidity or heat were severely off. At night I try to cool it down between 50F-65F
  • Humidity - See above. Aside from the auto system, She gets a misting in the morning after the cage has warmed up and another after I get home from work.
  • Plants - I currently have four live plants in the habitat. A hibiscus tree, schefflera, pothos, and peace lily. There's a 2nd pothos attempting to be grown and I intend on purchasing a lot more that are on the safe list. I love gardening along with Chams :)
  • Placement - She is in an attic with me. It's a shared housing situation so there is no where else she can go. The room is very large and contains my living room, office and bedroom. She has absolutely no problem sleeping with lights. I have two rat dogs (chihuahuas), that she hasn't acknowledge and my boyfriend lives with me as well. That's the traffic. She isn't fond of me, as I've violated her space few times since her arrival. I set it up, had to clean it, ended up making a hole for drainage and moving it, and added more plants and vines. Sometimes her mister gets wonky and I'll reach in to fix it. She starts to turn black but doesn't attempt to hide and has never hissed. I have a fan on a very low setting next to her. I read that air flow is important, and Jacksons prefer cool nights so this is to aid in that process. Currently, with the stands the cage is on, it is taller than me (5'4")
  • Location - Minneapolis, MN. I don't know why the humidity was so off today. It was humid as all hell when I came home today.

So, new cham owner, older cham. Yada yada. I know she'll be stressed for at least a fortnight. I work in the pet industry and have been researching obsessively, but I can't seem to make this girl happy. It's the same habitat she's always been in. I have severely changed the interior, only in ways to improve her life! I hope I haven't stressed her out to the point of no return.

View media item 45228Her old owner's set up, pic via Craigslist ad.

View media item 45231When we initially moved her in, it was right under the sun roof. As you can see, I have vaulted ceilings. So when I added the drainage system I had to move her.

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View media item 45248Drainage system added at least 12" in height. I have a window on each end of my rectangle shaped studio. Clearly, I'd prefer the sun light above her, but I didn't want to keep harrassing her, cleaning her cage, and using multiple rolls of paper towels. The drainage system was necessary for all of us.

View media item 45247I came home at 6 pm a couple days ago, to find her sleeping with daylight, heat lamp, and uvb lamp on. I had a lamp that already got hot quickly and replaced the bulb with the Repti Basking light, that my beloved bought instead of a UVB light as requested. After adding the 2nd heat source and misting her for 20 min, she perked up significantly. I was able to feed her with 3 feeders for the first time.

I think I need to not only replace the UVB bulb, but buy another fixture all together. My alterations provided a lot more roaming room to her habitat, I think a 2nd UVB would be necessary.

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This is her yesterday morning. After making humidity/temp alterations, she was eager to eat. I was sure the worst of the transition was behind us.

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Today, I came home to find her in this state. The humidity was incredibly low, the monsoon was empty - so maybe the cycling is working. I harassed the poor girl again, and after refilling the Monsoon, I adjusted a jet to hit right above her and the other to actually mist. In hopes she would actually drink some water. I left it on for 10 minutes, offered her the 2nd live super worm that was still in her dish (with refusal), and later turned it on very briefly. She hasn't moved from her location. She's moved around a little bit, mainly with her angling.

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This is where she is currently. I don't know if this is normal behavior, especially when she's been here just shy of a week. I expected her to hide more and to be more black instead of occasional black spots. The slightly curled tail and closed eyes is my concern.

Or it could be that I've just worry too much, a thing I am known to do. If the former is the case, any suggestions on improvement and how long I should wait before changing her habitat? Is Farore just basking? Is this normal? If so, suggest a good book so I may be a smarter cham keeper. If not, what can I do? If there isn't anything, so or... vet visit?


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My S/O just came home. He attempted to feed Farore with the tongs we were given. She grabbed the worm and threw it to the ground. What is going on?! Google/search history is NOT helping.
What I am more worried about is why your temps keep fluctuating so severely... o_O Your humidity shouldn't stay at 80 all the time. With a montane let it drop around 65-70% and then climb again during mistings. She likely needs her UVB bulb replaced as they need to be replaced every 6 months if you are using a simple one and not an arcadia one. She is going to be uncomfortable for a long time since you keep messing with things, she could be stressing majorly and she looks relatively old, do you know how long she's been in captivity? She actually looks like she still maybe pregnant/gravid. She will give live birth, not clutches. She is relatively chubby, so I would stop trying to force her to eat and just focus on getting everything correct and making sure she has plenty to drink.

You need to get plain calcium. She should only have her reptivite (get one with d3) once a month, plain calcium 3 times a week. She likely really needs to rinse out her eyes, and it sounds like she may be dehydrated a bit. You should look into either a climist mister, or a mistking. It would be well worth the investment. Monsoons are crap in the long run.
I emailed the old owner asking for the time of the last replacement, no matter what I am buying a new one along with a 2nd UVB to ensure she's getting the light from both the lower end and top part of the enclosure.

The humidity isn't staying the same, I came home to it in a very low level (Around 50/60) I actually thought that it was an issue if it wasn't staying the same. Thank you for that information.

I am under the assumption that she was bred under captivity. With my research on gravid Jacksons, she does appear to be exhibiting the common behavior. I will be clear, I don't want to be a breeder and I did not intentionally purchase a gravid female. I felt horrendous messing with her habitat so shortly after her move, but without adding the drainage system I would have had to do so daily and after setting up the habitat I realized small issues with her set up. Aside from the added lights, a couple cleanings, and feeding, Farore will be left alone for the next month or so. Happily, we have noticed in this short time her moving around basking in the UVB light that I moved. Even though it may be low/need replacement.

Plain Calcium, is there a brand you recommend? I have an Amazon shopping cart loaded up for this little lady and hope to only bring home the best improvements for her. I know the mistking is the best, I am seriously considering purchasing it even so shortly after the craigslist purchase. I just must.... adult first. I thought at the very least the including Monsoon would be good for the next month, especially with the improvement of a timer.

I really really appreciate your advice, Andee. You seem very knowledgeable, we thank you for responding so quickily. Do you have any suggestions on resources/books I should look into? I have only the best intentions and I am up for the hard work.
The extra UVB light might cause more issues than you realize. She is a species that does not need excessive exposure to uvb, and it would actually do more harm than good.

She likely wasn't bred in captivity unless you person can provide a hatch date and some specifics of her parents I wouldn't believe it. Most jacksons are collected from the wild in Hawaii (where they are an invasive species). And she will not likely live passed 4 years if she is having so many births. I had a female I was lucky to get to live as long as she did (my estimation when I got her and since she was stunted and jacksons' growing habits as babies placed her at two when she became in my care) she had severe MBD and no one expected her to live as long as a month let along two extra years. She is now on my mantle in a beautiful box. She was amazing. And very happy until the last week when she got sick.

But I want you to be aware, she is a female and chameleons in general a short lived species, especially jacksons, and since she has already had some births and quickly I would be worried about her current health situation. But taking her to the vet right now honestly will likely do no good and will likely instead cause more harm and cause her to crash. Just make sure she is well hydrated and don't focus on food right now. If she is close to birthing she likely won't eat. She will drop the live neonates or possibly slugs. She may not have live babies in her system and instead infertile slugs.

Plain calcium just needs to be without d3 and phosphrous-free. Otherwise it's whatever works honestly.

@kinyonga, which eye are you talking about? The one in the picture where she is eating? Or the one where she has it closed?
I replacement would be necessary, I think. I may buy an additionsl fixture for back up at least.

In the original enclosure photo you can clearly see that it is a terrarium/aquarium as a base. The top being cusom built to fit perfectly on top of that 29 gallon tank. We brought her home on Saturday and I do have blue prints on remaking a functional bottom/drainage system. This entire time I've been incredibly concerned having that as a base. Without the drainage, I feared that Farore would climb down and get into the excess water. So I made the leap and did the alteration. With the drainage and without a mesh covering I fear Farore would just climb down into an bacteria feeding ground. It's still hard to clean, and there isn't a mesh barrier. I refuse to do any alterations, such as adding the mesh barrier, for at least a month though.

Before "putting her to bed", we found her on the side of a metal grid. The lowest I have ever seen her. I am concerned, with the age, major transition, probable pregnancy, and general stress on her physical state. My intention is to leave her alone - however - if I see her get any lower I will move her upward with gentle leaf nudges. I'm fairly certain the stress is better than being in the area, It's not an ideal set up, but a pretty decent starter set up for the price. We're going to do everything we can for her. Vitamins and new bulbs have been ordered. This weekend a trip to the nearest reptile store. I realize she's middled aged, we are prepared for the worst. No matter what, that won't stop us from doing all that we can. Chameleons will be a staple in my life moving forward, I just hope there's something I can do to keep her alive, comfortable and happy for now.
@kinyonga could be right, I don't quite see swelling as indicative of like something trapped and it becoming infected. Idk, does anyone have the ability to do the weird circle graphic thing on the picture to point it out XD.

I definitely don't recommend not caring for her. She should be fine at the moment, just make sure she gets plenty to drink. If she does have an eye infection a vet visit would have to be sooner rather than later. Otherwise she might lose the eye. But she's still got at least a year or two ahead of her, if not more if your lucky. I have seen it happen, it's just not the average. At the moment she needs lots of supportive care as she gets used to things. If you notice her moving down more, just use a branch or something, nudge her onto it and move her back up. It will be less stressful than moving her with your hand, but quicker than the leaf stuff, and honestly the shortest and least amount of stress you can provide is what you want. <3
I don't know what would be making the eye swollen. There are several things that could and I'm not a vet so I can't tell you which one it is at this point....I can only say that it looks swollen to me.
I would start by taking away any light that isn´t coming from above. it is hard to not have the light on your Eyes all the time and those irritating the Eye. I had this problem keeping nonates Jacksons in all White containers with too litle foliage. I saw the same result with somone who keep Yemen hatchlings in a similar matter.

We initially moved the lights lower because there's been issues maintaining temp/humitidy. The lights are back on the top. I ordered a new 18" fixture with a tropical 5.0 bulb.

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I emailed her previous owner who said that she was definitely gravid, and claimed he told us that. We're a little peeved, considering there was a mention that she could be when I asked about a laying bin. He also mentioned that her bulb was over 7 months old. SO, I couldn't wait for the order to be delivered at the end of this month, picked up a small over priced one at Petsmart and she's been basking like a mofo.

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Last Saturday we got her, enclosure, lighting, cricket keeper, monsoon, colony, and accessories for $150. That's the price with shipping for a Mistking Starter set, we intend on buying one next month. But, for now. I am hoping the digital timer I ordered along with regular mistings (on top of monsoon showers) will help with the humitidy. She IS drinking water! Loves her dripper.

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She's been moderately active. Mostly hanging out on the bamboo stick under her UVB bulb. I'm glad to see this and I've been trying to feed her calcium dusted super, meal, and horned worms along with dubia roaches and crickets. The roaches and crickets drop to the bottom pretty quickly and I think she might have eaten 1 worm in the past couple days.

Any suggestions on where to place the roaches and crickets? I want this lady to EAT.

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She needs more vines. Watching her today, I realized there's a lot of dead ends for her. When's the soonest you would recommend to clean and alter her cage again? It was last Monday we added the tree and a few more vines. I want to remove the aquarium bottom and have her moved over to underneath our sun light again. I also just want to leave Farore alone in a "perfect" enclosure.
Chameleons need total dark to sleep properly...this might be part of her problem
She falls asleep by 8 pm no matter what. It sucks because both my s/o and I get home around 7 pm daily, I am a dog groomer and my schedule fluctuates often so I'm sometime home earlier. We turn off heat first and we wait 30 minutes before UVB. Even though she's asleep we do put a blanket around her enclosure before we go to sleep just because of the TV.
You can turn off both lights at once without an issue especially if she is trying to sleep. I see you have a feeding cup? Feed her crickets and roaches in it. To stop the crickets from climbing out mutilate their back legs ^^
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