Advice needed on force watering

hilizanne

Member
I have a sick chameleon. He has had his eyes closed for months. We have been to 4 vets. I have been on here and I have fixed all my feeding and cage problems. He has had a course of Baytril and has had his eyes irrigated (a piece of hard dirt actually came out of his right eye). He has most recently with the last vet had bloodwork and the vet says his kidney function is normal and he has not been overdosed on vitamin D. (The vet was actually surprised.) He also had some oral vitamin A. This final vet thinks he might have a respiratory infection and now he is ceftazidime injections every 72 hours.

One of the visits 3 weeks ago a different vet gave him subcutaneous fluids because he thought he was dehydrated. He was drinking on his own, even with his eyes closed before that. Since then however, I have not witnessed him drinking. Because I didn’t want him to become dehydrated, especially since he was on baytril at that time, I started force watering him. I have watched videos and understand the anatomy and he tolerates it well. Based on weight the Vet said he should drink about 6 ml of water a day. I have been giving him 4-5, hoping he would drink some on his own. I have also been force feeding him hornworms every other day and have given some Dubia recently. He eats those once I put one in his mouth. (The bloodwork was done about 10 days after he stopped drinking so I was already force watering him at that point.)

Anyway, now he is moving around more and his eyes are open. He can see, although one eye may not be normal. He can navigate branches without reaching out into the air like before. He is following movements outside of his enclosure. We are in week 3 out of 6 of the antibiotics.

My question finally: How do I know if he is drinking on his own and I can stop force watering him? Will he start drinking on his own at all while I am force watering him?

He is pooping and it’s normal and he has about 1/4-1/3 of the poop bright white Urate. He has gained back the initial 10 grams that he lost and now is at his baseline weight.

The feeding I think I can handle, as far as holding worms with tongs or putting crickets in a cup and start trying to see if he can track one and eat it. But with the water I am at a loss. I don’t know if he won’t drink because he isn’t thirsty because of me giving him water!

I won’t give up or reassess his situation/quality of life until he has completed the course of antibiotics. I can keep on with this care for awhile.
 

DeremensisBlue

Avid Member
Site Sponsor
You can reduce water loss by fogging at night and then use the moisture in his poop as a sign of how hydrated he is. The poop should be moist when it first is dispelled. Chameleons get moisture from their food so you do not have to necessarily be worried if there is no drinking. You can always stack the odds in his favor by feeding silkworms or hornworms as treats. Since there is no vitamin deficiency you could consider dusting the first feeder to make sure he gets some supplementation and then give some feeders without supplementation so his body does not have all that powder to rehydrate. Black soldier flies are balanced as far as calcium and phosphorus so they are a good candidate to feed without powder.

But if his poop is regular and is moisture he is getting some hydration.
 

hilizanne

Member
You can help hydration with fogging at night. Along with misting during the day it offers more opportunity for hydration without actual drinking.

https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/truth-is-the-torch-that-gleams-through-the-fog-without-dispelling-it.2400/

Do you have a current picture of your chameleon?
I do mist him 4-5 times a day. He goes outside on a very wet ficus tree everyday. He has plenty of opportunity for drinking. I turn the fogger on from about 12a-6a. Humidity gets up to 80-99%.

C871AF85-F9BA-41D2-81E3-729EB543E821.jpeg


This is his bad eye—the one that started the problem and that had the foreign body. It has been closed longer. I think his extraocular muscles have atrophied. Maybe
A0A9AE12-3E8F-438B-8523-57A15C008A2C.jpeg


Better side. Still a little eye swelling.
 

hilizanne

Member
You can reduce water loss by fogging at night and then use the moisture in his poop as a sign of how hydrated he is. The poop should be moist when it first is dispelled. Chameleons get moisture from their food so you do not have to necessarily be worried if there is no drinking. You can always stack the odds in his favor by feeding silkworms or hornworms as treats. Since there is no vitamin deficiency you could consider dusting the first feeder to make sure he gets some supplementation and then give some feeders without supplementation so his body does not have all that powder to rehydrate. Black soldier flies are balanced as far as calcium and phosphorus so they are a good candidate to feed without powder.

But if his poop is regular and is moisture he is getting some hydration.
Ok thank you. I will watch him closely and quit force watering him I guess. I should have silk worms by tomorrow. He has had a whole bunch of hornworms.
 

hilizanne

Member
I do mist him 4-5 times a day. He goes outside on a very wet ficus tree everyday. He has plenty of opportunity for drinking. I turn the fogger on from about 12a-6a. Humidity gets up to 80-99%.

View attachment 243136

This is his bad eye—the one that started the problem and that had the foreign body. It has been closed longer. I think his extraocular muscles have atrophied. MaybeView attachment 243137

Better side. Still a little eye swelling.
He has had that Gular edema for over a year—a lot longer than he has been sick. Just FYI.
 

Lennoncham

Chameleon Enthusiast
I am still hoping he will recover. It took months for him to get this sick and I guess it will take patience to give him a chance to recover.

Thanks for the encouragement. Very much appreciated.
I’m glad he is getting better. His eyes do look better then your last thread. Sorry if I added to the stress and confusion on that thread.
 

hilizanne

Member
I’m glad he is getting better. His eyes do look better then your last thread. Sorry if I added to the stress and confusion on that thread.
No confusion. Stress was pretty much at max capacity before I even posted.
The only thing that upset me was the suggestion that I needed to surrender him made by another member. I’m sure that was meant to be helpful as well.

Thanks for all of your help. I will keep working with him. He is still pretty inactive and sleeps a lot. He is better when he is outside and at least has moments when he acts almost normal. So he is definitely a little better.
 

JacksJill

Chameleon Enthusiast
In my experience chameleons are fairly lazy if they are being force fed it takes a while for them to begin eating on their own. They have to get hungry again and give up on you coming along with an easy meal. I don't think drinking is going to be much different. If he is on any medication that is hard on the kidneys or your vet recommends it continue to administer oral fluids. Once the antibiotics are completed and your vet agrees begin to back off the oral fluids by skipping days extending the period between fluids until he drinks on his own. Monitor his droppings for excessive amounts of orange in the urates. Some never drink infront of people/predators but if he used to drink during misting he will probably go back to that behavior eventually.
This is all a lot easier to monitor if you have daily weighings as well
 

Decadancin

Moderatoris Americanus
Staff member
Thanks for understanding the intentions of advice given. It probably seemed insensitive for them to suggest surrendering your chameleon, but we mean well and care for these animals and their keepers. We can’t assess the skill level or capabilities of keepers from just a few posts.

I hope he recovers quickly and I salute your efforts...
 

hilizanne

Member
In my experience chameleons are fairly lazy if they are being force fed it takes a while for them to begin eating on their own. They have to get hungry again and give up on you coming along with an easy meal. I don't think drinking is going to be much different. If he is on any medication that is hard on the kidneys or your vet recommends it continue to administer oral fluids. Once the antibiotics are completed and your vet agrees begin to back off the oral fluids by skipping days extending the period between fluids until he drinks on his own. Monitor his droppings for excessive amounts of orange in the urates. Some never drink infront of people/predators but if he used to drink during misting he will probably go back to that behavior eventually.
This is all a lot easier to monitor if you have daily weighings as well
In the past he did drink during mistings and even wanted water from the hand mister. I have yet to see him drinking now, though.
I showed him food for awhile today. He actually turned his head and opened his mouth like he was thinking about eating a silkworm, but then he looked at me and decided against it. He is shy about eating and always has been. I have been feeding him every other day.

He was on Baytril and finished that. That is when I started the force watering. Now with Ceftazidime which is safer on the kidneys. At least for humans. I guess I will double check with the vet.

I seriously want a veterinary level chameleon or reptile book. Amazon? We have no vet school nearby. I have found some things online that are helpful but I need a subscription to the journal to read it or print.

I have only seen white urate. But I skipped yesterday with water so I will continue to watch and reweigh him. Thank you.
 

Lennoncham

Chameleon Enthusiast
I seriously want a veterinary level chameleon or reptile book. Amazon?
If you find one please let us all know. I have looked at many books and a lot of them are old info reprinted , stuff you need to be a scientist to understand or as you said scientific journals that you have to pay crazy money for a subscription for maybe 1 article about chameleons.
 

hilizanne

Member
He tried to eat a worm! But his tongue only made it out about 2 inches. Then he acted like he was just going to bite the worm. I kind of stuck the worm on his tongue tip when he stuck it out. He ate 4 this way. His eye movements seem normal although his right eye is so recessed. I am not sure why his tongue didn’t go far enough. Maybe he is just out of practice. I don’t know if chameleons need both eyes for depth perception. That also could be why he couldn’t reach the worm.

I still haven’t seen him drink but he is licking dry leaves. When I sprayed them he stopped. Surely he is able to drink if he can lick...
 
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