Choking chameleon?

morg

New Member
Hello all! I just got a 6 month old Jackson Chameleon. About an hour ago I was trying to feed him small roaches (smaller than the space between his head), he missed the roach but then began to choke. He stuck his tongue out a few times, hung upside down, dry heaved, then stuck his tongue completely out for 20 seconds, thrashing his head around. I was watching him the whole time and did not see anything come out. I took the only roach that I put in his enclosure out and made sure it wasn't what he swallowed/got stuck. It looked like he had a bulge in his neck afterwords. His colors stayed mostly the same through the whole thing.

Called 6 different vets in 20 minutes and none handled exotics. During this time the thrashing stopped and he seemed to be fine (minus the bulge). One assistant tried to walk me through how to help him, but he is new to me, young and small, and still stressed from getting to his new home, so he fought me the whole time and could not hold him or try to aid with getting whatever it was out. I attempted to try and take him to the closest vet in near me (1 hour away) but as soon as he was placed in a smaller travel carrier, he shut his eyes, went practically white, and gave up. Vet said that the stress alone might kill him so return him to his enclosure and hope he is ok.

He's currently in his 'spot'. No more thrashing, gaging, heaving, or bulge. He is showing stress colors (very dark) But I am worried tomorrow I might wake up and find he has passed.

My question is, if he was truly choking, would he still be breathing an hour later? If something is lodged, what do I look for in his behavior? Any feedback is helpful at this point. I am so sad and feel like I let him down by letting something happen like this.

TIA.
 

TayloredExotics

Established Member
Do you have a picture of the throat now? Is the bulge still there? He may have partly swallowed his tongue, though it sound like it's out now at least. Or the hyoid bone could be stuck in an odd position or retracted improperly, which would be extremely uncomfortable, but something you could likely correct. Or he may have strained his tongue a bit when he missed, and the pain caused him to panic (though this wouldn't necessarily explain the throat bulge)
 

morg

New Member
these were just taken of him, his light is off so he's getting into his pajamas, and i don't i can see a bulge currently. i just got him on tuesday, so i don't have many pictures of what he normally looks like. and truthfully - i don't even know his normal. i've tried to handle him as little as possible to give him time to acclimate and let him know i am not here to eat him.

is there anything i can do for either of those things? he does not enjoy being handled but i will try if it will help him at all.
Do you have a picture of the throat now? Is the bulge still there? He may have partly swallowed his tongue, though it sound like it's out now at least. Or the hyoid bone could be stuck in an odd position or retracted improperly, which would be extremely uncomfortable, but something you could likely correct. Or he may have strained his tongue a bit when he missed, and the pain caused him to panic (though this wouldn't necessarily explain the throat bulge)
 

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TayloredExotics

Established Member
Ah, I missed that he was a Jackson's. I'm not familiar with them at all, so can't tell you if he looks normal (@JacksJill ?). If he's alright now (alive, breathing, not super pale or super dark), it's pretty safe to assume his airway is not blocked.

In the morning you could try to red him again; if he shoots his tongue with no issues then congrats, he fixed himself! If he doesn't, he may be reluctant due to pain or other complications, at which point I'd strongly recommend trying (again) to bring him to a vet. Good luck and good night!
 

morg

New Member
They tend to bulge out their throat when they swallow. Don't know what happened but breathing normally now is good. Hope he can eat normally tomorrow.
he ate a few crickets this morning, seemed a bit hesitant to fully extend his tongue. just thought his confidence was down. but when he just went for the last one it started to happen again, pictures are of his tongue after he went for it (unsuccessfully) and during the gagging. is this normal? does this just happen sometimes?
 

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Thatwizard420

Avid Member
I had a veiled that did that with a hornworm.
He got it with his tongue, when he chewed it, he let his tongue stick out, like if he was drooling, then he started shaking head sideways violently with his tongue still out.

He was good in a few minutes and devoured that worm.
Im thinking maybe they dont like the taste
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Queen
I've seen a chameleon rip a hole in the long tube like tongue so that the hyoid bone sticks out through the hole and injuries to the tongue and even poorly done amputations that make it either impossible or uncomfortable for them to put/keep the tongue back where it belongs. In these cases they go through motions that look like gagging and may even be gagging and head shaking, sticking thr tongue out w bit or even all out. In some cases they will actually swallow it. I can't tell you if any of these things are what's happening or not...I'm not a vet. Only a vet will likely be able to check all of that out.

In the meantime, it might be wise to hand feed him so he doesn't have to shoot the tongue out far and also to use smaller insects like crickets, BSFL, etc as food in the meantime too.
 

morg

New Member
I've seen a chameleon rip a hole in the long tube like tongue so that the hyoid bone sticks out through the hole and injuries to the tongue and even poorly done amputations that make it either impossible or uncomfortable for them to put/keep the tongue back where it belongs. In these cases they go through motions that look like gagging and may even be gagging and head shaking, sticking thr tongue out w bit or even all out. In some cases they will actually swallow it. I can't tell you if any of these things are what's happening or not...I'm not a vet. Only a vet will likely be able to check all of that out.

In the meantime, it might be wise to hand feed him so he doesn't have to shoot the tongue out far and also to use smaller insects like crickets, BSFL, etc as food in the meantime too.
did their throat look something like this after the fact? all the vets i got in touch with today either didn’t care for chameleons or we’re booked until monday.

the most advice i have gotten so far is to fog, water, and leave food in a dish for him.
 

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