Chameleon tail turning black and scabbing

ChamCham69

Member
Chameleon Info:
Your Chameleon - Veiled Chameleon. He has been in my care since he was about 2 months old. He is over 6 years old now.
Handling - I do not handle him often. Maybe once a week.
Feeding - I feed him crickets that have been both calcium and multivitamin dusted/gut loaded with veggies. I do not have a set schedule in which i feed him. I leave the cage open for him to crawl down and eat.
Supplements - The brand of calcium I use is ZOOMED and I dust them about three times a week. I also have a multivitamin (includes A) that I dust about once a week, same brand.
Watering - I mist water over him about everyday. I also tilt a water bottle and let him drink from it.
Fecal Description - Solid white (sometimes yellow) and dark brown stool.

Cage Info:
Cage Type - My cage is coarser screened and measures about 4ft tall by 2ft wide and about a foot deep. I have a vine plant with a dowel rod in the center of the cage. Along with ladders. He has tree cover and he has basking spots.
Lighting - I have a ZooMed 18in UVB bulb and a PetSmart 60W blue heat bulb hanging overhead.
Temperature - The bottom of the cage is about 73 degree and increases upward to about 90 degrees.
Humidity - I do not measure humidity.. I know shame on me.
Plants - I have real vine, and fake one. He never eats either, probably because he’s free to go grab a cricket or two.
Placement - My cage is located in a sunroom facing due East.
Location - I am located in Southern, US.

Current Problem - I have taken Cam to the vet 3 times since January 2021 for his tail. His tail is turning black and appears to be migrating up towards his back. First they told me nothing was wrong with him and to make sure he can’t reach his lights. (Which he cannot). Second time they gave me a fungal cream, used it all and nothing worked. Third time I took him to another vet and she gave me antibiotics which do not appear to work. She checked all his vitals and other than the black tail, he is healthy (muscle enzymes and vitamin levels). She did say he had some traces of white blood cells in his system, which warranted the antibiotics.

sadly, Cam’s tail does not appear any better. Actually it looks worse. I was holding on to hope that it would just take awhile to shed off because of his age. I am planning on scheduling another vet appointment where the vet said they will have to take a biopsy. I am worried he has some kind of cancer considering the antibiotics did not make his tail better..

I am looking for advice on what I should do. I know I should not be worried about the money when caring for an animal but my worry is to pay $500 for a biopsy, do whatever the vet recommends, then ultimately prolong his suffering and have to put him to sleep which would be more money. Basically I am looking for a shed of light saying “get him checked out he will be fine” or “put him to sleep”. I know that is a big ask but I’m at a loss.
 

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Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
This would be a vet issue... Which you have already tried. But sounds like options for a better vet with Chameleon experience would be helpful.

Can you tell us what city and state you are in so we can provide Vet recommendations?
 

ChamCham69

Member
This would be a vet issue... Which you have already tried. But sounds like options for a better vet with Chameleon experience would be helpful.

Can you tell us what city and state you are in so we can provide Vet recommendations?
I am located near Jackson MS. I was going to “Northside Pet Clinic” and the latest visit was to Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana in Metairie LA. I feel like the latter place did a much better job but there was still no resolution. Recommendations welcome.
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
@jannb do you know of good vets near Metairie LA? See above from the OP. They have tried two in the area with no resolution.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
Looks like a burn based on the shape. On the bright side, past the "thing" is healthy color changing skin, so its not a dying tail.

Tails take a looooooong time to heal. Ive seen beardy bites to the tail take a full year to heal and have the scab fall off.
 

ChamCham69

Member
Looks like a burn based on the shape. On the bright side, past the "thing" is healthy color changing skin, so its not a dying tail.
I have a photo attached of his cage which shows the distance between his lights and his basking spot (without a scale). The distance from bulb to base of his latter is roughly 16 inches (just measured). He has plenty of places to escape the heat so I’m not sure if it’s a burn. (Confused emoji).

glad to know his tail isn’t dying!
 

MzLaurie11

Member
Chameleon Info:
Your Chameleon - Veiled Chameleon. He has been in my care since he was about 2 months old. He is over 6 years old now.
Handling - I do not handle him often. Maybe once a week.
Feeding - I feed him crickets that have been both calcium and multivitamin dusted/gut loaded with veggies. I do not have a set schedule in which i feed him. I leave the cage open for him to crawl down and eat.
Supplements - The brand of calcium I use is ZOOMED and I dust them about three times a week. I also have a multivitamin (includes A) that I dust about once a week, same brand.
Watering - I mist water over him about everyday. I also tilt a water bottle and let him drink from it.
Fecal Description - Solid white (sometimes yellow) and dark brown stool.

Cage Info:
Cage Type - My cage is coarser screened and measures about 4ft tall by 2ft wide and about a foot deep. I have a vine plant with a dowel rod in the center of the cage. Along with ladders. He has tree cover and he has basking spots.
Lighting - I have a ZooMed 18in UVB bulb and a PetSmart 60W blue heat bulb hanging overhead.
Temperature - The bottom of the cage is about 73 degree and increases upward to about 90 degrees.
Humidity - I do not measure humidity.. I know shame on me.
Plants - I have real vine, and fake one. He never eats either, probably because he’s free to go grab a cricket or two.
Placement - My cage is located in a sunroom facing due East.
Location - I am located in Southern, US.

Current Problem - I have taken Cam to the vet 3 times since January 2021 for his tail. His tail is turning black and appears to be migrating up towards his back. First they told me nothing was wrong with him and to make sure he can’t reach his lights. (Which he cannot). Second time they gave me a fungal cream, used it all and nothing worked. Third time I took him to another vet and she gave me antibiotics which do not appear to work. She checked all his vitals and other than the black tail, he is healthy (muscle enzymes and vitamin levels). She did say he had some traces of white blood cells in his system, which warranted the antibiotics.

sadly, Cam’s tail does not appear any better. Actually it looks worse. I was holding on to hope that it would just take awhile to shed off because of his age. I am planning on scheduling another vet appointment where the vet said they will have to take a biopsy. I am worried he has some kind of cancer considering the antibiotics did not make his tail better..

I am looking for advice on what I should do. I know I should not be worried about the money when caring for an animal but my worry is to pay $500 for a biopsy, do whatever the vet recommends, then ultimately prolong his suffering and have to put him to sleep which would be more money. Basically I am looking for a shed of light saying “get him checked out he will be fine” or “put him to sleep”. I know that is a big ask but I’m at a loss.
It looks to me like a burn. I know finding info on cham burns is hard and I will be doing a piece soon on my experience. Did it look scraped at first? If it did then you are most likely looking at a burn. The medicine for burns is prescription only Silver Sulfadiazine Cream 1% from vet or doctor. It is the same thing humans use. The horns on the back will turn black and hard and come off on thier own they can grow back. My vet said unlikely as the burn was so deep but he was wrong, they are growing back. The skin will keep pealing away until its white. With each molt healing will occur and the color may return. Burns heal very SLOWLY. Do not touch area with ungloved hands! As long as your boy is eating and getting enough fluid he will survive the injury. I suggest hornworms hand feed one large a day and get collard greens in a dish where he can easily access and change everyday. (Vitsmin A will help with skin issuqes) Keep the collard greens in a vase with 2/3 water in the frig. Cut from the top about 4-5 pieces various sizes. you will tell if eating as they will be disturbed. He may not have the energy to hunt. Also try grabbing cricket with tong and putting it near face. He may eat from the tong. The most important thing is that he gets food and water. After my cham got injured he wont eat for two weeks and was totaly dehydrated. So i gave him his favorites, but hornworms will take care of water and calcium. You are in nurse mode which requires patience. I also cleaned area with bottled water and cottonball. Very gently. Please keep me posted. i will try and get some pics to you from my phone.
Chameleon Info:
Your Chameleon - Veiled Chameleon. He has been in my care since he was about 2 months old. He is over 6 years old now.
Handling - I do not handle him often. Maybe once a week.
Feeding - I feed him crickets that have been both calcium and multivitamin dusted/gut loaded with veggies. I do not have a set schedule in which i feed him. I leave the cage open for him to crawl down and eat.
Supplements - The brand of calcium I use is ZOOMED and I dust them about three times a week. I also have a multivitamin (includes A) that I dust about once a week, same brand.
Watering - I mist water over him about everyday. I also tilt a water bottle and let him drink from it.
Fecal Description - Solid white (sometimes yellow) and dark brown stool.

Cage Info:
Cage Type - My cage is coarser screened and measures about 4ft tall by 2ft wide and about a foot deep. I have a vine plant with a dowel rod in the center of the cage. Along with ladders. He has tree cover and he has basking spots.
Lighting - I have a ZooMed 18in UVB bulb and a PetSmart 60W blue heat bulb hanging overhead.
Temperature - The bottom of the cage is about 73 degree and increases upward to about 90 degrees.
Humidity - I do not measure humidity.. I know shame on me.
Plants - I have real vine, and fake one. He never eats either, probably because he’s free to go grab a cricket or two.
Placement - My cage is located in a sunroom facing due East.
Location - I am located in Southern, US.

Current Problem - I have taken Cam to the vet 3 times since January 2021 for his tail. His tail is turning black and appears to be migrating up towards his back. First they told me nothing was wrong with him and to make sure he can’t reach his lights. (Which he cannot). Second time they gave me a fungal cream, used it all and nothing worked. Third time I took him to another vet and she gave me antibiotics which do not appear to work. She checked all his vitals and other than the black tail, he is healthy (muscle enzymes and vitamin levels). She did say he had some traces of white blood cells in his system, which warranted the antibiotics.

sadly, Cam’s tail does not appear any better. Actually it looks worse. I was holding on to hope that it would just take awhile to shed off because of his age. I am planning on scheduling another vet appointment where the vet said they will have to take a biopsy. I am worried he has some kind of cancer considering the antibiotics did not make his tail better..

I am looking for advice on what I should do. I know I should not be worried about the money when caring for an animal but my worry is to pay $500 for a biopsy, do whatever the vet recommends, then ultimately prolong his suffering and have to put him to sleep which would be more money. Basically I am looking for a shed of light saying “get him checked out he will be fine” or “put him to sleep”. I know that is a big ask but I’m at a loss.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
I have a photo attached of his cage which shows the distance between his lights and his basking spot (without a scale). The distance from bulb to base of his latter is roughly 16 inches (just measured). He has plenty of places to escape the heat so I’m not sure if it’s a burn. (Confused emoji).

glad to know his tail isn’t dying!

Its a wide arc in shape. its possible just the tail could have got looped enough to get too close to the bulb. Its possible He sat the tail near something very very warm for an extended period.

But it not puffy along the edges. I see no sign of any progression. its "dry".

If its fugal or bacteria normally its puffy, and looks like a nasty shed. Some times its "clear" or fluffy or crispy.

To me it looks like a nasty slow healing burn. Since its a tail, it will take months for it to heal over and sloff off. Even bad direct burns to the head, it takes 90 days for the "veil" to fall off.
 

MzLaurie11

Member
It looks to me like a burn. I know finding info on cham burns is hard and I will be doing a piece soon on my experience. Did it look scraped at first? If it did then you are most likely looking at a burn. The medicine for burns is prescription only Silver Sulfadiazine Cream 1% from vet or doctor. It is the same thing humans use. The horns on the back will turn black and hard and come off on thier own they can grow back. My vet said unlikely as the burn was so deep but he was wrong, they are growing back. The skin will keep pealing away until its white. With each molt healing will occur and the color may return. Burns heal very SLOWLY. Do not touch area with ungloved hands! As long as your boy is eating and getting enough fluid he will survive the injury. I suggest hornworms hand feed one large a day and get collard greens in a dish where he can easily access and change everyday. (Vitsmin A will help with skin issuqes) Keep the collard greens in a vase with 2/3 water in the frig. Cut from the top about 4-5 pieces various sizes. you will tell if eating as they will be disturbed. He may not have the energy to hunt. Also try grabbing cricket with tong and putting it near face. He may eat from the tong. The most important thing is that he gets food and water. After my cham got injured he wont eat for two weeks and was totaly dehydrated. So i gave him his favorites, but hornworms will take care of water and calcium. You are in nurse mode which requires patience. I also cleaned area with bottled water and cottonball. Very gently. Please keep me posted. i will try and get some pics to you from my phone.
Oh btw when you buy hornworms also buy dry food for them that you can make yourself. All they do is eat and will die after food runs out. I tried making my own nothing worked so just buy. All of this is cheaper then a vet visit.
 

ChamCham69

Member
It looks to me like a burn. I know finding info on cham burns is hard and I will be doing a piece soon on my experience. Did it look scraped at first? If it did then you are most likely looking at a burn. The medicine for burns is prescription only Silver Sulfadiazine Cream 1% from vet or doctor. It is the same thing humans use. The horns on the back will turn black and hard and come off on thier own they can grow back. My vet said unlikely as the burn was so deep but he was wrong, they are growing back. The skin will keep pealing away until its white. With each molt healing will occur and the color may return. Burns heal very SLOWLY. Do not touch area with ungloved hands! As long as your boy is eating and getting enough fluid he will survive the injury. I suggest hornworms hand feed one large a day and get collard greens in a dish where he can easily access and change everyday. (Vitsmin A will help with skin issuqes) Keep the collard greens in a vase with 2/3 water in the frig. Cut from the top about 4-5 pieces various sizes. you will tell if eating as they will be disturbed. He may not have the energy to hunt. Also try grabbing cricket with tong and putting it near face. He may eat from the tong. The most important thing is that he gets food and water. After my cham got injured he wont eat for two weeks and was totaly dehydrated. So i gave him his favorites, but hornworms will take care of water and calcium. You are in nurse mode which requires patience. I also cleaned area with bottled water and cottonball. Very gently. Please keep me posted. i will try and get some pics to you from my phone.
Yeah, when this first started it looked like he had been scraped or something of that nature. I hate that my little dude may have burned himself but I’m glad no one has yet to comment something worse. How far do you all recommend his lights be from his basking spot? Maybe where he’s older he’s a little lazier and just getting burnt? Not sure. He’s still a tough little dude. Climbs around all day and still loves to eat. I’ll definitely get him some greens today and I’ll also ask the vet about some burn ointment. Thanks for your feed back! I will definitely keep the forum updated.
 

ChamCham69

Member
Its a wide arc in shape. its possible just the tail could have got looped enough to get too close to the bulb. Its possible He sat the tail near something very very warm for an extended period.

But it not puffy along the edges. I see no sign of any progression. its "dry".

If its fugal or bacteria normally its puffy, and looks like a nasty shed. Some times its "clear" or fluffy or crispy.

To me it looks like a nasty slow healing burn. Since its a tail, it will take months for it to heal over and sloff off. Even bad direct burns to the head, it takes 90 days for the "veil" to fall off.
I see, I see. Yeah no swelling. Just nasty black scab. Okay well this has lightened my mood considering I really didn’t know what the future was going to hold for my Cammy. Thank you all for your feedback!
 

ChamCham69

Member
Oh btw when you buy hornworms also buy dry food for them that you can make yourself. All they do is eat and will die after food runs out. I tried making my own nothing worked so just buy. All of this is cheaper then a vet visit.
Speaking of different insects… I moved to Mississippi about a year ago, and I have yet to find a good pet store that supplies anything other than crickets. Do you know of any online sources for insects?
 

redhorse

Chameleon Enthusiast
JMHO- Looks as if it was a pinch injury. Their tails can get into places and we are totally clueless. I witnessed something like that a pet-shop. Employee was showing the chameleon and closed the door on the tail. Not the full portion of the tail, just pinched it. The chameleon pulled its tail out of the jam and it looked perfect.

I went back 4 days later and it was discolored like yours. It made a full recovery and the tail kept its prehensile ability.
 

ChamCham69

Member
JMHO- Looks as if it was a pinch injury. Their tails can get into places and we are totally clueless. I witnessed something like that a pet-shop. Employee was showing the chameleon and closed the door on the tail. Not the full portion of the tail, just pinched it. The chameleon pulled its tail out of the jam and it looked perfect.

I went back 4 days later and it was discolored like yours. It made a full recovery and the tail kept its prehensile ability.
Nope his agility has not changed. He thankfully roams around often.
 

CasqueAbove

Chameleon Enthusiast
So this is how to approach the vet. First let them know money is a issue. Ask what is the corse of action based on results. Often the corse of action is the same. A biopsy is not needed if the corse of action is the same. So say amputation is the answer for infection or cancer. Then a biopsy is not needed. If it were to be a cancer and it spread , there is nothing to do anyway. Ask about the antibiotic, should it have cleared up the infection? If so then infection is less likely.
The vet will help steer you in the right direction.
 

ChamCham69

Member
So this is how to approach the vet. First let them know money is a issue. Ask what is the corse of action based on results. Often the corse of action is the same. A biopsy is not needed if the corse of action is the same. So say amputation is the answer for infection or cancer. Then a biopsy is not needed. If it were to be a cancer and it spread , there is nothing to do anyway. Ask about the antibiotic, should it have cleared up the infection? If so then infection is less likely.
The vet will help steer you in the right direction.
Good advice. Thank you!
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
You said it's migrating up his tail....that makes me think possibly gangrene or a fungal infection. I'm not a vet so it's only a guess....I might be way off. Just doesn't make sense to me that it's migrating if it's a burn or injury....but I've been wrong before.
 

ChamCham69

Member
You said it's migrating up his tail....that makes me think possibly gangrene or a fungal infection. I'm not a vet so it's only a guess....I might be way off. Just doesn't make sense to me that it's migrating if it's a burn or injury....but I've been wrong before.
By migrating I mean that I’ve noticed a few spikes that have also turned black but as for the entire scabbed area, it’s stayed there. But you could be onto something.
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
I’m looking for a vet now and ask my friend with a chameleon north of you, where she goes. Most likely if that is spreading up his tail toward the base of his tail, it’s going to need amputating. If it needs amputating, the sooner the better. If you wait until is gets to close to the tail base it could cause him other problems, such as prolapse. Right now it should be an easy surgery.
 
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