Advice on strange behavior

New chameleon owner. I did months of research before getting my chameleon, i read everything i could find, but I'm still very new to this. Renfield is a panther, about 5 months old according to Chameleon Paradise where i got him. I've had him for almost 1 month.

His first week was a struggle, wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink, never pooped. I was also having a hard time keeping the humidity up and finally put plastic on the sides which helped. He finally pooped and there seemed to be something strange in his poop, possibly skin from a previous shed or some paper towel or something (he had no access to paper towels from me) regardless, after finally pooping he began eating and drinking just fine.

His last several poops have been normal. He then went through a shed that seemed to go really smoothly. He did really well for the next couple weeks but has more started acting a bit strange.

It started with him going to bed early. He's started roosting in his favorite plant around 5pm. Lights are on 8am - 8pm. Normally he's crawling around or basking the whole time the lights are on, always sleeping in random spots. Now he goes to bed around 5pm every night. Now, more recently, he stays in bed quite late. It's 2pm right now and he hasn't come out of hiding in his plant yet. Several times I've been worried and gently removed him from his bed to check on him. He was sooooooo angry yesterday when I took him out and just put him on his basking branch. I decided today I would just wait and see if he would come out in his own eventually.

Should I be concerned? He seems fine otherwise. I was going to take him to the vet but thought I'd post here first in case I'm over reacting.

I've got the cage setup as described in the new owners pinned posting:

24x24x48 mesh cage (plastic on sides to retain humidity in my dry house)

Grow lights

ProT 5, 6% UVB (sitting on top of cage. Since it's the 6% that is the right height above basking spot. When he climbs around on the top mesh he's right underneath but he's not usually directly under it for too long)

100W bulb for basking (i have struggled dialing this in. He likes to climb around on the top screen, so I moved the heat lamp up higher so he wouldn't get burned, but now his basking spot is only 83-84 degrees)
-I keep the room he's in at 74 f, hopefully that provides enough temp gradient in the cage.
-I use a laser temp gun

Water glass with dripper. (I've never seen him use the glass but I have seen him licking leaves etc.)

Mister and fogger for humidity (averaging 70%)
-RO water for everything

Live plants, lots of hiding places

Lots of branches for climbing

Feeding mainly roaches with fruit and veggie gut load (I've been feeding him every day, giving him about 5 med sized cockroaches. Some days he'll eat all of them, other days only 1 or 2)
-earth pro A for every feeding
-Reptivite with D3 2x per month

I was also feeding silkworms but they all went gooey and died so I threw them all out.

I rarely handle him.

I'm not sure that my humidity and temp gauges are super accurate.

Photo descriptions:
1. This morning, not happy about the intrusion.
2. Cage setup 1
3. Cage setup 2
4. Lighting view from above
5. Cage setup 3
6. The day i got him
7. Yesterday after i removed him from his bed to check on him. Angry at me all day long.
8. A recent cute picture
 

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So, most stuff looks right but... I have to wonder if that toucan is scaring the crap out of him. I would definitely take that out... A quick google search says that hornbills in particular prey on chams, and a toucan doesn't look too far off. Also it has constantly staring eyes.
Honestly I have to say that is the very first thing I thought when I was looking at your set up is he thinking he's going to be eaten my cham goes out daily and she is definately scared when birds fly over to close so he very well could be scared
 
He’s a gorgeous and healthy looking young man cham. It should be fine to use the Earth Pro A at every feeding as that is how it’s supposed to be given. Just make sure with your supplements that you are dusting lightly. Your feeders shouldn’t look like powdered donuts. I agree with everyone about the toucan. Also make sure he isn’t able to see his own reflection anywhere.
Regarding his activity level, I can think of a few different potential reasons but they are either anecdotal or just my personal ideas and observations. Just continue to monitor him and if you see any other changes such as closing eyes during the day, not eating, not basking at all, staying on the bottom of the enclosure, etc, take him to a vet with chameleon experience. For peace of mind, you could take him anyhow for a wellness visit and have a fecal check for parasites.
 
Hey there so this is everything that stands out to me... And I agree with removing the bird. Birds are their predators. So while you may think it is not affecting him it is something in his home resembling something that will eat him.

Also with the cage. Did you seal the wood? If not it could be releasing VOC into the air he is breathing.


-I use a laser temp gun
Your temps may not be right. Temp guns can be ok to use to get an idea but they are not accurate as they measure surface temp rather. Get a temp gauge with a probe to hook in at the basking site below the heat. THen I would get govee temp/humidity gauges they work with an app on your phone. We use these to determine ambient levels. They just can not be in the direct path of water. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R586J37/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Mister and fogger for humidity (averaging 70%)
So this is high for daytime. Panthers your looking at an average of 50% daytime levels. Make sure you are not fogging during the day this can lead to an RI.
Feeding mainly roaches with fruit and veggie gut load (I've been feeding him every day, giving him about 5 med sized cockroaches. Some days he'll eat all of them, other days only 1 or 2)
This is not enough food intake for a cham of his age. I am wondering if the breeder was using crickets, they are a more common base feeder because they are less expensive. At 5 months old this boy should be taking down 1-2 dozen feeders a day. I would consider adding crickets back in rather than just providing roaches. Also your saying medium size. Everyone has different ideas of this. But I would not be feeding anything larger than 1/2 inch size. This makes it easier for them to chew and less chance of damage to the gum line.
ProT 5, 6% UVB (sitting on top of cage. Since it's the 6% that is the right height above basking spot. When he climbs around on the top mesh he's right underneath but he's not usually directly under it for too long)
This is where there may be an issue. You are using a much larger gauge screen on your top panel. So less reduction of UVI will happen with this material. Essentially what you are using is like not having anything blocking in between. You would need a 11-12 inch distance between the bottom of the fixture and the closest branch to be in the right 3 UVI level. Max level is 6 UVI I am willing to bet he is getting much higher than 6. Where that ring is this would be in levels that are not even natural exposure on earth from the sun.
 
For my peace of mind i took Renfield to an exotic animal vet to do a wellness check and he has pin worms and coccidia :( they gave me ponazuril and strongid-T medications. I'll admit I'm feeling very overwhelmed at the moment.

I've read several other comment threads regarding coccidia and how hard it is to get rid of. I spent so much time hand building a beautiful cage for him out of wood and now I feel like i need to just throw everything away and start over... Is there any way to save a wooden cage? Could I use a polyurethane sealer on all the wood? Would high strength bleach or hydrogen peroxide be enough to ensure sanitization? I read something about boiling water or stream, do you think that would do anything on the wood? Could I leave the cage outside or in the garage for any length of time in which the parasites would die on their own?

Part of the problem is that I don't have the money to get a new cage so I'm looking for any solutions. It seems like I'm going to have to get a new cage as a temporary housing anyway, but isn't that new cage then also going to be infected?

Also with the plants, i realize sanitizing them is going to be impossible. Do they have to be thrown out? Are they dangerous to just set in the window? They're beautiful plants, i recognize they can no longer be used for Renfield, but is it a bad idea keep them at all? Any way to make them safe enough to hold onto?

And with the medication, is there any point starting treatment while he's still in the same cage? Or is it ok to delay treatment a few days until i can figure out temporary housing for him?

Do i need to worry about his food? I can only assume he either came with the parasites or he got them from the silkworms or roaches. Do i need to get rid of all the food and start over?

Obviously very glad to know what's wrong and how to help him. I'm just feeling very discouraged and overwhelmed. Any advice, tips, suggestions, or encouragement would be greatly appreciated.
 
Slow down and take a deep breath. It’s not the end ,Sure coccidia definitely is not something to take lightly. You do not have to toss your cage. I’ve known several people that have gone through it and were able to come out of it fine . I’m sure others will chime in here soon. Just wanted to get you an immediate answer .
 
Slow down and take a deep breath. It’s not the end ,Sure coccidia definitely is not something to take lightly. You do not have to toss your cage. I’ve known several people that have gone through it and were able to come out of it fine . I’m sure others will chime in here soon. Just wanted to get you an immediate answer .
Thank you 🙏🏻🙏🏻
 
You got this. I am going through a similar experience with a parasite called Entomiba Invatin. It appears the treatment and cleaning for these parasites are VERY similar. Hold on and I'll send you some resources to help you through this. And, if you have ANY questions please reach out! I'm a little further along in this process so I might have some helpful information for you.
 
Ok, this is going to be a lot of information so prepare yourself.

Both Coccidia and Entamoeba Invaden parasites infect their host through the fecal-oral route. What I am doing with my boy is cup feeding only, I will hold the cup up for him to eat the bugs and I watch while he eats, once he is done the cup is immediately removed and any leftover bugs or any bugs that get out of the cup are destroyed right away. You have to stop the infection cycle. If there is an infected area of the enclosure and a bug comes across it and the bug is then eaten by the chameleon, it's now re-infected.

Both Coccidia and Entamoeba Invaden produce eggs that are passed through the poop. These eggs are technically called cysts. They have a protective outer shell that is made out of materials that are impenetrable to chemicals and temperatures. These cysts have evolved to survive extreme weather/temperatures etc in the wild. There is actually a study of a scientist that stored Coccidia cysts in Formalin for several months, took it out to study it and the cysts activated once out of Formalin. (Very unfortunate for us, but also fascinating)

Unfortunately, the most effective way to get rid of these cysts is by means of mechanically removing them. I.E. soap, hot water, and scraping the cysts off of the surface. Because organic materials (soil, plants, and wood) are porous, these cysts can get still be on them even after cleaning them with soap, and water and soaking them in chemicals. I will be completely honest with you, I really struggled to throw everything away in my enclosure. I had JUST redone my boy's enclosure and spent $200 on all of these beautiful, colorful plants. His branches were all set up super awesome and he had a favorite perching branch. It was just hard to gut everything. I defiantly had to mourn the loss of all of my beautiful plants but the reality for me was, most likely these plants were not safe for him. I could keep them in my house, but if they have cysts on them (which most likely they do) what is to stop me from caring for my plants, getting some cysts on my hands, and then re-infecting my cham? So then, is keeping my plants better for me? Or for him? It was really really hard to throw everything away, and I am still sad about it. But in the end, I needed to make sure my whole home environment was safe for my boy. Both of these parasites are very nasty and they can kill our chameleons, so its expensive but better to be safe I feel. You will just have to do what feels right to you in your situation.

When you set up your new cham's enclosure make sure you have a 'curtain' of plants in front of the enclosure with all the branches behind, that way when he poops there is less chance of the poop getting on any leaves. You want the poop to fall straight to the floor and not touch anything on its way down.

I am following the quarantine protocol taught in the Chameleon Academy podcast. If you haven't listened to it yet, please do. Listen to it, take notes, and listen to it again and again. It's Episode 19 Chameleon Quarantine. I am following this to a T with my guy and have listened to it at least 4 times since my boy was diagnosed with Entamoeba. I purchased several Flukers Bend-a-Branch branches and fake silk plants for his enclosure. Because these are made out of plastic, I am able to clean them if they get infected because they are not porous materials. It makes me VERY sad to use fake stuff in my boy's enclosure but I also am not in a place where I can afford to throw away $100 worth of plants each time my boy poops. Once he is cleared from the parasites (which would be 3 consistent fecal checks), I will re-do his enclosure with real plants and branches again.

Another episode that I found specifically helpful in learning about Coccidia and Entamoeba is Episode 71 Chameleon Parasites. This episode talks about how hard it is to kill those cysts.

I track my chameleon's information regularly so I know what days they usually poop. When it gets close to his 'poop day' I watch him closely, the second he has pooped I remove the bottom panel and sanitize like episode 19 teaches.

Be mindful of your hands, you can pick up cysts easily and be a great carrier for these guys! I use LOTS of gloves and Clorox wipes to touch anything dealing with my cham. Especially the door latches. We never think of the door latches. I sanitize these every time after just in case.

Again, I have not dealt with Coccidia, but the clean-up process is very very similar. I know the medication for Coccidia is pretty hard on our chameleon's bodies, so I am not sure what all you will need to do to help him get through this... @Beman can you give more guidance on this?

If you need any help at all please reach out! You are not alone in this, yes it sucks but if you stay vigilant with your cleaning and stop that fecal-oral route of re-infection hopefully both of our boys will be ok.
 
1: I never use gloves or hand sainitizer, sometimes i wash my hands, and me and my chameleon are perfectly good health wise.

2:My chameleon is really active in her cage and is also kind of agressive even though see is usually agressive she has gotten way better but is just longing at my hand with ferocious attacks
 
Ok, this is going to be a lot of information so prepare yourself.

Both Coccidia and Entamoeba Invaden parasites infect their host through the fecal-oral route. What I am doing with my boy is cup feeding only, I will hold the cup up for him to eat the bugs and I watch while he eats, once he is done the cup is immediately removed and any leftover bugs or any bugs that get out of the cup are destroyed right away. You have to stop the infection cycle. If there is an infected area of the enclosure and a bug comes across it and the bug is then eaten by the chameleon, it's now re-infected.

Both Coccidia and Entamoeba Invaden produce eggs that are passed through the poop. These eggs are technically called cysts. They have a protective outer shell that is made out of materials that are impenetrable to chemicals and temperatures. These cysts have evolved to survive extreme weather/temperatures etc in the wild. There is actually a study of a scientist that stored Coccidia cysts in Formalin for several months, took it out to study it and the cysts activated once out of Formalin. (Very unfortunate for us, but also fascinating)

Unfortunately, the most effective way to get rid of these cysts is by means of mechanically removing them. I.E. soap, hot water, and scraping the cysts off of the surface. Because organic materials (soil, plants, and wood) are porous, these cysts can get still be on them even after cleaning them with soap, and water and soaking them in chemicals. I will be completely honest with you, I really struggled to throw everything away in my enclosure. I had JUST redone my boy's enclosure and spent $200 on all of these beautiful, colorful plants. His branches were all set up super awesome and he had a favorite perching branch. It was just hard to gut everything. I defiantly had to mourn the loss of all of my beautiful plants but the reality for me was, most likely these plants were not safe for him. I could keep them in my house, but if they have cysts on them (which most likely they do) what is to stop me from caring for my plants, getting some cysts on my hands, and then re-infecting my cham? So then, is keeping my plants better for me? Or for him? It was really really hard to throw everything away, and I am still sad about it. But in the end, I needed to make sure my whole home environment was safe for my boy. Both of these parasites are very nasty and they can kill our chameleons, so its expensive but better to be safe I feel. You will just have to do what feels right to you in your situation.

When you set up your new cham's enclosure make sure you have a 'curtain' of plants in front of the enclosure with all the branches behind, that way when he poops there is less chance of the poop getting on any leaves. You want the poop to fall straight to the floor and not touch anything on its way down.

I am following the quarantine protocol taught in the Chameleon Academy podcast. If you haven't listened to it yet, please do. Listen to it, take notes, and listen to it again and again. It's Episode 19 Chameleon Quarantine. I am following this to a T with my guy and have listened to it at least 4 times since my boy was diagnosed with Entamoeba. I purchased several Flukers Bend-a-Branch branches and fake silk plants for his enclosure. Because these are made out of plastic, I am able to clean them if they get infected because they are not porous materials. It makes me VERY sad to use fake stuff in my boy's enclosure but I also am not in a place where I can afford to throw away $100 worth of plants each time my boy poops. Once he is cleared from the parasites (which would be 3 consistent fecal checks), I will re-do his enclosure with real plants and branches again.

Another episode that I found specifically helpful in learning about Coccidia and Entamoeba is Episode 71 Chameleon Parasites. This episode talks about how hard it is to kill those cysts.

I track my chameleon's information regularly so I know what days they usually poop. When it gets close to his 'poop day' I watch him closely, the second he has pooped I remove the bottom panel and sanitize like episode 19 teaches.

Be mindful of your hands, you can pick up cysts easily and be a great carrier for these guys! I use LOTS of gloves and Clorox wipes to touch anything dealing with my cham. Especially the door latches. We never think of the door latches. I sanitize these every time after just in case.

Again, I have not dealt with Coccidia, but the clean-up process is very very similar. I know the medication for Coccidia is pretty hard on our chameleon's bodies, so I am not sure what all you will need to do to help him get through this... @Beman can you give more guidance on this?

If you need any help at all please reach out! You are not alone in this, yes it sucks but if you stay vigilant with your cleaning and stop that fecal-oral route of re-infection hopefully both of our boys will be ok.
Thank you so much for all the information and especially the podcast recommendations!! I'll go listen to them right now.

And thank you for sympathizing about the loving set up and plants. It is heart breaking but I do of course want to do what is best for my chameleon.
 
Thank you so much for all the information and especially the podcast recommendations!! I'll go listen to them right now.

And thank you for sympathizing about the loving set up and plants. It is heart breaking but I do of course want to do what is best for my chameleon.
Oh for sure! You have a very beautiful set up now. But I’ll be honest, I’m excited to see what you will come up with next. Who knows you might like it better than this one.

I’m not sure on the wood enclosure though, I’d leave it to someone who knows more about coccidia to recommend.

And your bugs I think you can keep them. Who knows where your boy got it. He could have come to you with it. I kept all my bugs for now but if that changes for some reason I’ll let you know in case it’s helpful info for you too.

Good luck and keep us all posted! You can do this!
 
Curious if i need to bathe my chameleon to make sure he doesn't have any of eggs/oocysts on him? I'm everything I've read nothing mentions anything about cleaning the chameleon off.
 
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