Chameleon tail kinked and dark?! Scared it could be necrosis

carljr

Member
Hello!

I just got my first chameleon (who's a juvenile - 4 month old, male panther chameleon) and have only had him for a week. I noticed yesterday that his tail is bent, and it's dark where the bend is, as well as the tip. My first thought was it could be a fracture, as he always wants to come out of the cage and be handled, so he'll often support himself on a branch with his tail and kind of 'paw' at the glass, and he fell a couple of times because of this! (the tank is 3 feet tall). He can still move his tail but he can't curl it up anymore..

I don't think it's a problem with the husbandry (I mean, maybe as we're brand new at this!) as we've done extensive research which we actually got through this forum, he has a uvb and heating lamp, mist him 2 times a day as well as have a dripper running for an hour, check the humidity and temperature levels daily, and feed him gut loaded locusts dusted with calcium. We've put so much time to make sure everything is perfect, that it's extremely upsetting that we're already having problems with him this early on. I'm going to take him to the vets on monday, but thought I'd double check with you guys if anyone knows what this might be!
 

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Jack135

Member
It doesn’t look like necrosis is setting in yet but it is probably a fracture or a break. However if he does not get this cleared up a bit then necrosis might start to set in and amputation may be needed. Any ideas how a break may have been cause? Have you accidentally shut the door on it?
 

carljr

Member
It doesn’t look like necrosis is setting in yet but it is probably a fracture or a break. However if he does not get this cleared up a bit then necrosis might start to set in and amputation may be needed. Any ideas how a break may have been cause? Have you accidentally shut the door on it?
Hi Jack,
Thanks for your quick reply! No I haven't, my only guess is that it was from when he fell. He caught himself with his tail once, and the other two times I saw him fall he hit the ground quite hard.. It makes me worried because he constantly goes to the side of the tank when we come into the room and starts pawing on the glass to come out - and he often loses his balance as a result.

Do you think the vet would be able to do anything for a fractured bone or is it something he has to heal himself?
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hi Jack,
Thanks for your quick reply! No I haven't, my only guess is that it was from when he fell. He caught himself with his tail once, and the other two times I saw him fall he hit the ground quite hard.. It makes me worried because he constantly goes to the side of the tank when we come into the room and starts pawing on the glass to come out - and he often loses his balance as a result.

Do you think the vet would be able to do anything for a fractured bone or is it something he has to heal himself?

If he's constantly pawing, it could be due to something off with his husbandry. If you'd like, you can fill out the following form and experienced members can chime in. I agree that he should see a vet, though!

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care?
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon?
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders?
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule?
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking?
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites?
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions?
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule?
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps?
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity?
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind?
  • Placement - Where is your cage located? Is it near any fans, air vents, or high traffic areas? At what height is the top of the cage relative to your room floor?
  • Location - Where are you geographically located?
A picture of the cage lights down would also be beneficial. :) Welcome to the forum!
 

carljr

Member
Thanks for your reply!

And he only paws at the cage when we're close to the tank. I'll fill out all the information and post a picture though so you guys can get a better idea of what we may be doing wrong!

Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - 4 month old panther chameleon - we've had him for one week.
  • Handling - The past two days we held him for 15-20 minutes each time. We didn't want to handle him this early (to let him settle and everything) but when we were feeding him he really wanted to come out!
  • Feeding - We feed him locusts, about 6 per day and I feed him in the morning. I will put an extra few in the evening if he's eaten them all by the end of the day, whereas other days he will only eat 3 of the 6. I shake calcium on them before putting them in the tank, and we've been gutloading the locusts watercress. The lady at the pet store who breeds the chameleons also gave us calcium with D3 to use twice a month (which we haven't used yet) as well as gutload powder to give to the locusts once per week.
  • Supplements - Repashy Superfoods Calcium Plus, Repashy Superfoods Superload (Insect Gutload Formula), and Advanced Nutrical (D3). We give the Superload to the locuts once per week, and feed the locusts watercress every 2 days.
  • Watering - We use the zoo med dripper for an hour, plus we mist him in the morning and evening. We mist for about 2-3 minutes and I've only seen him drink once the whole time we've had him.
  • Fecal Description - During the week we've had him he's only pooped 3 times, with the colours ranging from brown white orange, and brown white yellow. I'm planning on getting him fecal tested next week just to make sure he doesn't have any parasites and such.
  • History - Unfortunately I don't know anything about his history, all I know is that the pet store we bought him from has been breeding panther chameleons for years.

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - An exo terra glass tank with mesh on top. The dimensions are 61x46x90 cm
  • Lighting - We use Arcadia T5 UVB 14% (which we were told to get from the store - they said that the UVB cuts in half with the mesh?) and arcadia basking lamp 150W with a habistat dimming thermostat. We put them on for 12 hours, and turn them off for 12 hours. Also make sure at night the room is pitch black as not to disturb him.
  • Temperature - The bottom of the tank is 65, the medium of the tank is between 73-76 and the highest is 85-88. We use a temperature gun I bought off Amazon. I've never measured the temperature at night, but I just did it now (the lights have been off for about an hour - and the lowest temperature was still 65)
  • Humidity - Our humidity levels range between 65-85 (it's 85 first thing in the morning, and throughout the day it stays around 70-75), we do this by misting him twice a day, as well as using a drip system
  • Plants - Yes we use live plants, I'm not sure what they're called though.
  • Placement - Our cage is in our bedroom and unfortunately on the floor at the moment because there's been a delay in the cabinet we bought, but we should be getting it by Monday. The cabinet is 70 cm high. The cage is right beside a heater, and the window so he can get natural light during the day.
  • Location - We live in the UK
 

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carljr

Member
Why are you putting plants in there that you don’t A) know the name of and B) don’t know if they are toxic to your Cham?
I bought them from the store - who also uses those same plants in their terrariums. I’m pretty sure that would mean they’re not toxic.
 

Jack135

Member
Hi Jack,
Thanks for your quick reply! No I haven't, my only guess is that it was from when he fell. He caught himself with his tail once, and the other two times I saw him fall he hit the ground quite hard.. It makes me worried because he constantly goes to the side of the tank when we come into the room and starts pawing on the glass to come out - and he often loses his balance as a result.

Do you think the vet would be able to do anything for a fractured bone or is it something he has to heal himself?
I think that it will probably be something he has to heal himself, however if you see the right vet, possibly an orthopaedic reptile vet he may be able to speed up the healing process or depending on what has happened/ what the problem is fix it. My father is a vet and I am studying to be an exotics vet and I did work experience at his practice and saw one of the vets there replacing a damaged cruciate ligament in a dogs knee. However if it is a severe break or fracture it will probably have to check it out. Take him to the vets they will x ray him and give a diagnosis and go down a certain treatment route for this. Good luck and I hope it’s not too severe. For now make sure his environment is clean and don’t leave too many feeders in his cage. How long has he had it for as it may be a birth defect? It also could be mbd, do you dust with calcium? Please share full body pics just in case. He also may have torn or damaged one of the ligaments in the tail that hold the vertebrae together causing a kink like affect as the vertebrae separate. For now what you can do is book a session with the best reptile vet in your area and keep the tail clean. Good luck and I hope he gets well soon.
 

Jack135

Member
Hi Jack,
Thanks for your quick reply! No I haven't, my only guess is that it was from when he fell. He caught himself with his tail once, and the other two times I saw him fall he hit the ground quite hard.. It makes me worried because he constantly goes to the side of the tank when we come into the room and starts pawing on the glass to come out - and he often loses his balance as a result.

Do you think the vet would be able to do anything for a fractured bone or is it something he has to heal himself?
Also him falling and catching himself with his tail could have caused the ligament to tear or snap or it could have cause a fracture or break. Good luck
 
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