Chameleon with multiple possible problems..

KylieCham

Member
Hello this is my first time posting about my Cham Zenji. He is usually a very friendly outgoing guy but recently I have noticed he hasn’t been feeling like himself. The first thing I noticed was what looks like bloating to me. He’s also acting lethargic sometimes even just kind of laying on a branch with one leg completely dangling. He hasn’t moved much and is usually really active. I haven’t noticed a bowel movement in maybe 3-4 days. He’s been keeping his head and body almost vertical for the past 3 days as well and I thought it was because I fed him too large of a meal. But he’s also been keeping his eyes closed unless I tap on his glass or touch his side. I do see him moving around sometimes but he always goes back into the same position. Just today while he was sleeping I went in to check on him and he was ‘sleep walking’ up to a higher spot and proceeded to open his mouth and made what sounded like a strained pain grunting. Like he was blowing air out and it sounded strained with breaks in the sound, it was really sad!:( I went in a little later to check again and he was opening and closing his mouth. I got a good look inside his mouth the first time to check for maybe a mouth infection but didn’t see anything but I did notice strings of saliva in the corners of his mouth when he would open. I think he is dehydrated as well because his eyes are sunken. I’ve been keeping his dripper running constantly for the past 3 days because the possible bloating and dehydration are what I first noticed. I haven’t seen him drink yet though. Due to the bloating I haven’t fed him for the past 3 days because I fed him 2 very large hornworms which he loves. He could have drank a little when I wasn’t looking. He also acts like his eyes are bothering him. I thought that might be the main problem at first because he keeps his eyes closed, but I think it might just be a secondary problem or even a symptom. But he bulged one of his eyes out today and proceeded to rub it on a log in his enclosure and I immediately tried to help him clean it with some misty/dripping water, it was just a reaction and I hope I didn’t hurt him by doing this. I’m starting to think it could possibly be more than one problem coming on all at once. I think he has an URI mainly and that’s why he’s staying in the position he’s in and made that weird noise with his mouth open. Also the pain or stress from the illness may be causing him to be lethargic and close his eyes. I’m not sure what to think about it but he does have a vet appointment tomorrow at 4 with an exotic animal vet. I’m mostly just posting this for advice for me and for education for other people who may be having any similar issues. I will of course report back on what ends up happening at the vet. Let me know what you guys think!
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hi. It sounds like you have quite an ill chameleon. A vet appointment ASAP is your best course of action. The bloating sounds like he may be impacted and stringy saliva and gaping are definite signs of an RI. Any time they have their eyes closed during the day is time to call and make a vet appointment without delay.
Looking at your enclosure pics posted previously, I see some fake plants which are always an impaction risk for veileds. You have a glass enclosure...what are your humidity levels?
Please let us know how it goes at the vet.
 

KylieCham

Member
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care? -my chameleon is a veiled male, at least 3.5 years old and has been in my care for 2.5 years.
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon? - I handle him quite often I feel like for a chameleon because every time I get ready to feed him he tries to climb out on my arm while I’m grabbing his ‘feeder cup’. I never forcefully handle him it’s always his decision.
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders? -I’m feeding him mostly crickets. 8-10 crickets every other day and sometimes every 2 days. Along with an occasional hornworm or two. I use cricket food with calcium in it. Grainy
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule? - I’ve been using zoomed repticalcium without d3 on feeding every other time and zoo med reptivite once a month
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking? -I use a dripper and drip a whole container at least once a day. I don’t mist because the humidity stays around 50-55 percent
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites? -Usually white and solid with brown.
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you. -none

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions? I have a combination glass/screen reptile vivarium 24x24x48 currently in the process of getting a full screen because I think he’s wary of his reflection.
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule? - I use a 12-12 cycle and I have about a two month old uvb that is an exo terra reptile UVB200 and a 75 watt repti basking spot lamp.
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps? -I measure temps with a digital thermometer. Cool is 75 degrees basking is 95 degrees. Nighttime is no lower than 67 ever.
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity? -digital hygrometer. His humidity is 50-55 percent
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? -I have a live golden potthos planted in his bio active substrate.
  • 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? -the enclosure is about 2 feet off the floor and the top is 6 feet high. Not near any fans or high traffic areas.
  • Location - Where are you geographically located? -Utah (currently snowing and cold)
 

KylieCham

Member
Hi. It sounds like you have quite an ill chameleon. A vet appointment ASAP is your best course of action. The bloating sounds like he may be impacted and stringy saliva and gaping are definite signs of an RI. Any time they have their eyes closed during the day is time to call and make a vet appointment without delay.
Looking at your enclosure pics posted previously, I see some fake plants which are always an impaction risk for veileds. You have a glass enclosure...what are your humidity levels?
Please let us know how it goes at the vet.
Yes I’m will definitely let you know! Unfortunately there is only one vet by us that is an exotic animal vet and they are currently not taking new clients and covid hit me hard so I don’t have the money to pay an emergency fee. But luckily 30 minutes away there is another exotic vet that I got into only 3 days after I started noticing a problem, which isn’t ideal but it’s way better than waiting until January. I’m currently in the process of switching to a screen in closure. I haven’t noticed any missing leaves but I’ll keep that in mind! My humidity levels are 50-55 percent
 

Ambilobe123

Established Member
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care? -my chameleon is a veiled male, at least 3.5 years old and has been in my care for 2.5 years.
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon? - I handle him quite often I feel like for a chameleon because every time I get ready to feed him he tries to climb out on my arm while I’m grabbing his ‘feeder cup’. I never forcefully handle him it’s always his decision.
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders? -I’m feeding him mostly crickets. 8-10 crickets every other day and sometimes every 2 days. Along with an occasional hornworm or two. I use cricket food with calcium in it. Grainy 8-10 sounds high, 5-6 every other day is probably better
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule? - I’ve been using zoomed repticalcium without d3 on feeding every other time and zoo med reptivite once a month reptivite WITH D3 every two weeks. 1x/month is not enough.
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking? -I use a dripper and drip a whole container at least once a day. I don’t mist because the humidity stays around 50-55 percent
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites? -Usually white and solid with brown.
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you. -none

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions? I have a combination glass/screen reptile vivarium 24x24x48 currently in the process of getting a full screen because I think he’s wary of his reflection.
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule? - I use a 12-12 cycle and I have about a two month old uvb that is an exo terra reptile UVB200 and a 75 watt repti basking spot lamp. is it linear or compact? You will need a t5 or T8 fixture for uvb
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps? -I measure temps with a digital thermometer. Cool is 75 degrees basking is 95 degrees. Nighttime is no lower than 67 ever. 95 is too high. 80-85 is ideal- at 95 he could burn himself
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity? -digital hygrometer. His humidity is 50-55 percent t
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? -I have a live golden potthos planted in his bio active substrate.
  • 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? -the enclosure is about 2 feet off the floor and the top is 6 feet high. Not near any fans or high traffic areas.
  • Location - Where are you geographically located? -Utah (currently snowing and cold)
    can you post pics of your chameleon and vivarium from the lights down? This is not to replace vet care, but correcting husbandry is sooner the better.
 

CBee7726

Avid Member
can you post some photos?

I'm sorry that you're dealing with this, but it definitely sounds like he needs to visit the vet ASAP. Pointing the head upwards, gaping, and stringy saliva are all textbook indicators of an RI, and is life threatening if left untreated. Closed eyes during the day is never a good sign and is cause for concern. Lethargy in this case is not surprising if it is in fact an RI, but I'm not sure the dangling legs would be related- this could be another issue such as gout or MBD. It sounds like you have a compact UVB, which is unfortunately insufficient for chameleons, the usual recommendation is a linear T5HO 5.0 UVB to ensure the cham gets the proper amount. Please note that I am not a vet, and these are mere guesses based on your description based on what I have learned. All of these health issues require a visit to the vet ASAP, and cannot be fixed with changes in husbandry alone.
 

KylieCham

Member
can you post some photos?

I'm sorry that you're dealing with this, but it definitely sounds like he needs to visit the vet ASAP. Pointing the head upwards, gaping, and stringy saliva are all textbook indicators of an RI, and is life threatening if left untreated. Closed eyes during the day is never a good sign and is cause for concern. Lethargy in this case is not surprising if it is in fact an RI, but I'm not sure the dangling legs would be related- this could be another issue such as gout or MBD. It sounds like you have a compact UVB, which is unfortunately insufficient for chameleons, the usual recommendation is a linear T5HO 5.0 UVB to ensure the cham gets the proper amount. Please note that I am not a vet, and these are mere guesses based on your description based on what I have learned. All of these health issues require a visit to the vet ASAP, and cannot be fixed with changes in husbandry alone.
I will post some photos of his enclosure and him tomorrow. He is not impacted like I thought his was which is what the vet said, and it was confirmed when he defecated today. The vet also said because of the mouth opening/closing it was probably a uri and prescribed antibiotics for the uri as well as a possibly infection in the tip of his tail. He seems to be getting better, eyes open for longer(except for his right eye which seems to be bothering him and this could be related to my compact uvb bulb which I am set to replace ASAP. Until then, I have actually turned it off to see if he started opening his eyes more. He is still lethargic and staying in his usual same spot most of the day but his grip is now strong. The only thing I’m really concerned about still is his eyes being closed a lot and his hydration levels. When I went to they vet they gave him SQ fluids but his eyes still look sunken(maybe from stress?) and I haven’t seen him drink since (maybe because of the fluids so he’s not thirsty? I’ve misted him a lot to give him a chance to clean his eye but the vet didn’t see anything wrong with his eyes when he was examined. I’ve always had a constant dripper running to keep him hydrated and mist his plants 3x a day at least. I would also like some advice on the fact that my vet told me to bathe my chameleon. I have heard people say that cloacal drinking in chameleons is a myth but my vet said that they know some turtles and chameleons can do cloacal drinking. Should I try this tomorrow if I don’t see him drink in the morning? I’m nervous to try giving him a ‘shower’ because I’ve seen water droplets get stuck on his nostrils and it freaks me out. Should I try hornworms instead because he is still eating but won’t drink? I just want him to stay hydrated throughout the course of the antibiotics. I have to give him an injection of antibiotic tomorrow. Let me know your advice! Thanks.
 

KylieCham

Member
Chameleon Info:
  • Your Chameleon - The species, sex, and age of your chameleon. How long has it been in your care? -my chameleon is a veiled male, at least 3.5 years old and has been in my care for 2.5 years.
  • Handling - How often do you handle your chameleon? - I handle him quite often I feel like for a chameleon because every time I get ready to feed him he tries to climb out on my arm while I’m grabbing his ‘feeder cup’. I never forcefully handle him it’s always his decision.
  • Feeding - What are you feeding your cham? What amount? What is the schedule? How are you gut-loading your feeders? -I’m feeding him mostly crickets. 8-10 crickets every other day and sometimes every 2 days. Along with an occasional hornworm or two. I use cricket food with calcium in it. Grainy 8-10 sounds high, 5-6 every other day is probably better
  • Supplements - What brand and type of calcium and vitamin products are you dusting your feeders with and what is the schedule? - I’ve been using zoomed repticalcium without d3 on feeding every other time and zoo med reptivite once a month reptivite WITH D3 every two weeks. 1x/month is not enough.
  • Watering - What kind of watering technique do you use? How often and how long to you mist? Do you see your chameleon drinking? -I use a dripper and drip a whole container at least once a day. I don’t mist because the humidity stays around 50-55 percent
  • Fecal Description - Briefly note colors and consistency from recent droppings. Has this chameleon ever been tested for parasites? -Usually white and solid with brown.
  • History - Any previous information about your cham that might be useful to others when trying to help you. -none

Cage Info:
  • Cage Type - Describe your cage (Glass, Screen, Combo?) What are the dimensions? I have a combination glass/screen reptile vivarium 24x24x48 currently in the process of getting a full screen because I think he’s wary of his reflection.
  • Lighting - What brand, model, and types of lighting are you using? What is your daily lighting schedule? - I use a 12-12 cycle and I have about a two month old uvb that is an exo terra reptile UVB200 and a 75 watt repti basking spot lamp. is it linear or compact? You will need a t5 or T8 fixture for uvb
  • Temperature - What temp range have you created (cage floor to basking spot)? Lowest overnight temp? How do you measure these temps? -I measure temps with a digital thermometer. Cool is 75 degrees basking is 95 degrees. Nighttime is no lower than 67 ever. 95 is too high. 80-85 is ideal- at 95 he could burn himself
  • Humidity - What are your humidity levels? How are you creating and maintaining these levels? What do you use to measure humidity? -digital hygrometer. His humidity is 50-55 percent t
  • Plants - Are you using live plants? If so, what kind? -I have a live golden potthos planted in his bio active substrate.
  • 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? -the enclosure is about 2 feet off the floor and the top is 6 feet high. Not near any fans or high traffic areas.
  • Location - Where are you geographically located? -Utah (currently snowing and cold)
    can you post pics of your chameleon and vivarium from the lights down? This is not to replace vet care, but correcting husbandry is sooner the better.
I am replacing the compact uvb ASAP and have turned it off today to see if it’s the cause of him keeping his eyes closed and mostly having his one eye irritated. I will up the vitamins and the reason his food intake is higher than normal is because he is underweight and I am trying to gradual help him put on some grams :)
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
I will post some photos of his enclosure and him tomorrow. He is not impacted like I thought his was which is what the vet said, and it was confirmed when he defecated today. The vet also said because of the mouth opening/closing it was probably a uri and prescribed antibiotics for the uri as well as a possibly infection in the tip of his tail. He seems to be getting better, eyes open for longer(except for his right eye which seems to be bothering him and this could be related to my compact uvb bulb which I am set to replace ASAP. Until then, I have actually turned it off to see if he started opening his eyes more. He is still lethargic and staying in his usual same spot most of the day but his grip is now strong. The only thing I’m really concerned about still is his eyes being closed a lot and his hydration levels. When I went to they vet they gave him SQ fluids but his eyes still look sunken(maybe from stress?) and I haven’t seen him drink since (maybe because of the fluids so he’s not thirsty? I’ve misted him a lot to give him a chance to clean his eye but the vet didn’t see anything wrong with his eyes when he was examined. I’ve always had a constant dripper running to keep him hydrated and mist his plants 3x a day at least. I would also like some advice on the fact that my vet told me to bathe my chameleon. I have heard people say that cloacal drinking in chameleons is a myth but my vet said that they know some turtles and chameleons can do cloacal drinking. Should I try this tomorrow if I don’t see him drink in the morning? I’m nervous to try giving him a ‘shower’ because I’ve seen water droplets get stuck on his nostrils and it freaks me out. Should I try hornworms instead because he is still eating but won’t drink? I just want him to stay hydrated throughout the course of the antibiotics. I have to give him an injection of antibiotic tomorrow. Let me know your advice! Thanks.
Chameleons do not ‘drink’ from their cloaca. I’m not a fan of showers as even though the water may feel cool to us, it can be scalding to a cham. Hornworms and silkworms are better options for hydrating. Without pics of your cham’s eye, it’s hard to comment. It is always a possibility that he hasn’t been getting enough vitamin A and once you correct your supplement schedule and lighting, the eye will resolve.
 

KylieCham

Member
Chameleons do not ‘drink’ from their cloaca. I’m not a fan of showers as even though the water may feel cool to us, it can be scalding to a cham. Hornworms and silkworms are better options for hydrating. Without pics of your cham’s eye, it’s hard to comment. It is always a possibility that he hasn’t been getting enough vitamin A and once you correct your supplement schedule and lighting, the eye will resolve.
I was under the impression that you are supposed to use room temperature water. But is there a reason my vet said that they do rehydrate through their cloaca? Is there any beneficial hydration due to bathing?
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
I was under the impression that you are supposed to use room temperature water. But is there a reason my vet said that they do rehydrate through their cloaca? Is there any beneficial hydration due to bathing?
IMO, there is little benefit to bathing a chameleon. No idea why your vet believes they can absorb water from their cloaca. While I’m not positive, I do believe there are some animals that can...chameleons however are not one of them to what I’ve read.
 

KylieCham

Member
IMO, there is little benefit to bathing a chameleon. No idea why your vet believes they can absorb water from their cloaca. While I’m not positive, I do believe there are some animals that can...chameleons however are not one of them to what I’ve read.
Are there any chameleon specific vets on this forum that could chime in on this issue? While I want to believe the vet I went to, I’m having a hard time with all the conflicting information from people who aren’t vets. I’d love to get another opinion from an actual veterinarian?
 

KylieCham

Member
Just so everyone knows, I gave him his second injection of antibiotics myself as instructed and I think I did it right. It was harder than I thought it would be and he ripped it out the first time but the second time I got it in, hopefully deep enough. I also have a t5 linear 5.0 now. While he was eating crickets today I squirted a little water into his mouth to help with his dehydration.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Have you tried using a dripper to get him to drink. It's important to keep him well hydrated when on antibiotics.
What antibiotic is he on?

The dripper can be a deli cup with a tiny hole in the bottom so it drips at the rate on one or two drops per second. Make it drip on the very end of his nose or on a nearby leaf.

Please post some photos of him.

Where are you giving him the needle? Arm?
 

KylieCham

Member
I use a dripper regularly. I’ve been keeping it going at least 5 hours out of the daylight every day. I’ve dripped it on his nose but he just sits there and stares. I’ve dropped it near him but haven’t seen him drink from it but he might have. And yes his arm. I am working on getting photos but I just did a complete overhaul of his enclosure to make it more acceptable so I haven’t taken the time to get some photos.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
I guess the vet forum member isn’t around, but Google showed me this.
https://www.reptilesmagazine.com/the-vet-report-fluid-therapy-in-reptiles/
From https://chameleonacademy.com/ep-30-introduction-to-chameleons/
Baths will help hydrate your sick chameleon. Some lizards are bathed with the idea that they absorb moisture through their cloaca or that it will help with a shed. This is done with bearded dragons and some other terrestrial lizards. Although there seems to be no conclusive proof that this is useful for hydration in those lizards, some people, and even vets, have extended this to chameleons and have decided what is good for bearded dragons is good for chameleons. If your vet tells you to do this then you have to follow his or her instructions over some guy with a podcast. But if you are deciding this on your own then know that putting a chameleon in puddle of water is not their natural comfort zone and the stress you cause by doing this is hardly worth any amount of hydration they may, but probably will not, get from splashing about. Chameleons should be hydrated the way chameleons are hydrated. Misting or gentle showers. If your chameleon has their eyes closed and will not drink then this requires vet care. At no point along the way, healthy or in rehabilitation, is a bath a good husbandry practice for a chameleon.
 

KylieCham

Member
I use a dripper regularly. I’ve been keeping it going at least 5 hours out of the daylight every day. I’ve dripped it on his nose but he just sits there and stares. I’ve dropped it near him but haven’t seen him drink from it but he might have. And yes his arm. I am working on getting photos but I just did a complete overhaul of his enclosure to make it more acceptable so I haven’t taken the time to get some photos.
@kinyonga
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
This might help with the injections...you need to pin the arm down so it can't move...and if you have more injections to give...alternate arms. Make sure that the needle goes in shallow enough that it doesn't hit the bone...
 
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