Dehydrated Rescue Won't Open Eyes

Discussion in 'Health Clinic' started by blondebrowncoat, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. Hi - first time posting.

    I received a 5 month old veiled cham 7 hours ago. He underwent a 3 hour drive and was incredibly stressed when we got him (snapping etc.) He is severely dehydrated and skinny. I've had a constant mist running since we got him and he drank a LOT. He's drank for about an hour total. However since we've gotten him he hasn't opened his eyes. The person who sent him sent a vitamin formula as well. I guess she's been force feeding him.

    Current status:
    Eyes not opening
    Can move and hold onto branches without too much issue
    Not agitated or hissing when handled
    Defecating yellow.
    Zero interest in food (again, won't open eyes.)

    Cage 30 in x 16 in x 16 in
    Lighting: Unknown (getting new bulbs tomorrow - he came with what looks like a UVB and red spectrum head lamp).
    Humidity: 65%
    Diet: Unknown
    Vitamins: Unknown
    Cage Temps: 85 non-basking and 95-100 basking

    I have read that if they get too dehydrated it can ruin their eyes. I have the following questions for you cham pros:

    1. How long does it typically take to re-hydrate?
    2. What should my regimen be for tonight?
    3. When should I start trying to feed him again? I don't want to re-stress him and do him more harm.
    4. how long do they have to go as dehydrated before their eyes are ruined?

    I've attached pics. You can see a video of him drinking here:
    Maybe y'all will be able to help shed light on the level of dehydration he's at.

    Please help - I can't get him to a vet until late tomorrow and I want to make sure I'm doing everything right until then. I'll be "working" from home so it can be as attention-intensive as necessary.

    Attached Files:

    #1 blondebrowncoat, Apr 22, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  2. More concise and updated info:
    • Your Chameleon - Veiled, male, 5 months old, Have had for less than 12 hours
    • Handling - has only been handled by placing in cage/moving to water source
    • Feeding - Unknown. Person who gave him to me gave me a package of beige powder that seems to be a vitamin blend for dropper feeding but contents are unknown
    • Supplements - I'm betting this guy has had no supplementation at all. no signs of MBD which is a miracle.
    • Watering - I've had a mist going along with direct watering. He's drank for about an hour total since I got him
    • Fecal Description - Yellow/Beige (same as the powder she gave me)
    • History - Was kept in a really bad setup more suited for a bearded dragon. Probably misted with a spray bottle..sometimes. Had a small bowl that looked like she may have been giving him a bowl of water to drink from :( She said sometimes he wouldn't eat so she was hand feeding him.

    Cage Info:
    • Cage Type - 30 in x 16 in x 16 in screen
    • Lighting - Unknown (getting new bulbs tomorrow - he came with what looks like a UVB and red spectrum head bulb).
    • Temperature - 85 basking/70 at the bottom of the cage. I've got a ceramic bulb that I had sitting around and he came with a red-spectrum heat bulb. Having to use both to maintain temp.
    • Humidity - 65% measured with digital
    • Plants - He had one plastic stump thing when I got him. I've added a large fern (chameleon safe) and a ton of branches for climbing. He had NO climbing items in his previous setup
    • Placement - On a table in the corner of a secluded office, away from vents with indirect natural light.
    • Location - Central Texas (nice and humid here)
  3. Andee

    Andee Chameleon Enthusiast

    Is the last pic him currently? He's not too too skinny we can work with eating later. He needs calcium mostly, and could use a liquid calcium on board from a vet. He will need long mistings the next week to reverse the damage done as much as possible. Every hour mist him for 10-15 minutes. And mist him for a long 30 minutes in the middle of the day. Half way through the week taper down to every hour 5 minute mistings and a long 30 minute misting in the middle of the day. The next week taper to 5 minutes every 3 hours, and a 30 minute misting in the middle of the day. He will need a 15 minute misting in the day for the rest of his life likely which is more than I usually recommend. But it isn't harmful. He just may be a special needs boy. Let him sleep tonight after he finishes drinking. And don't try to feed until tomorrow morning after he warms up a bit.
  4. The last pic was him when I opened the box yesterday around 3PM. The one where you can see his ribs is of him about four hours later after being watered. I have leopard geckos and a dumpy frog - both of which are pretty easy to tell when they're a healthy weight. I have no clue if this guy is a good weight or not. When I saw his ribs I freaked out a little.

    Morning update:
    He was like a limp little leaf this morning when I came to check on him. Very pale. I warmed him up and then took him to the kitchen sink and ran a warm mist around him for about five minutes. Then I went ahead and made a paste from that mix that came with him and fed him a full serving (very slowly, paranoid about aspiration.) After that he seemed to become a little more solid and he wasn't pale green/white anymore.

    Current state:
    • Your Chameleon - Veiled, male, 5 months old, Have had almost 24 hours
    • Handling - removed for hand feeding, hissed weakly twice
    • Feeding - Vitamin mix powder of unknown contents. Trying to get ahold of the prescribing vet for more info.
    • Supplements - I'm betting this guy has had no supplementation at all. Now that I've been able to examine him closer he's got one ankle joint that looks like possible MBD. Don't want to harass him any more to take pics.
    • Watering - Refused water this morning. water was provided via liquid vitamin blend. Following Andee's misting regimen. I've also got a drip line running near him. No drinking at all so far.
    • Fecal Description - None today (yellow/beige yesterday)
    • History - Was kept in a really bad setup more suited for a bearded dragon. Probably misted with a spray bottle..sometimes. Zero UVB. Had a small bowl that looked like she may have been giving him a bowl of water to drink from :(She said sometimes he wouldn't eat so she was hand feeding him.

    Cage Info:
    • Cage Type - 30 in x 16 in x 16 in screen
    • Lighting - Confirmed today - He has never had a UVB bulb. She thought the sunlight from the window would work...I've got him in my front yard right now so he can get natural sunlight. He LOVES this.
    • Temperature - 85 basking/70 at the bottom of the cage. He won't move from his basking spot. I've got a ceramic bulb hooked up to augment the sunlight because it's pretty breezy today and temps won't maintain otherwise.
    • Humidity - 65% measured with digital
    • Plants - Large Boston Fern
    • Placement - Front porch with natural sunlight and shade provided. I'm sitting out here working on the porch with him
    • Location - Central Texas (nice and humid here)
    I've attached a pic from today shortly after I got him out in the sunlight. Please let me know what you think. Andee, thank you so much for the advice. I am happy to build this guy a mist palace if that's what he needs. I just want him to be ok.

    Attached Files:

  5. Lennoncham

    Lennoncham Avid Member

    Welcome to the forums.

    I have no experience rescuing chams. And very limited experience with dehydrated chams (have 1 wild caught that wasn't to bad when I got her). But I would like to say that I wouldn't give him to much of that vitamin powder stuff especially since you not sure what's in it what it's for and what schedule to use wth it. To much vitamins can cause even more problems. Also you said that he has 1 ankle joint that looks like possible mbd. Since it's the joint it leads me to guess it maybe the beginning of gout.

    I would get him to a good Vet with experience with chameleons and follow what the vet tells you. I would bring that vitamin stuff with me as well and ask the vet about it.

    I'm glad he is in good hands now with someone trying to get him good help.
    Brad likes this.
  6. Lennoncham thank you for the reply. I hadn't even thought of gout but I bet that's exactly what it is. Once he's more stable I'll start going about getting that fixed. Reading up on it now.

    I was able to contact the vet who prescribed the mixture. It's carnivore care. So basically lots of protein and calcium. Yay!

    Background of vet visit:
    He was seen two weeks ago because he wasn't eating. He was impacted (evidently she had dirt in the bottom of the cage. *stabby eyes*). They ran an enema on him and cleared the obstruction. They gave him a B12 shot and prescribed carnivore care until he was back on his feet. If I had been through that, I would be pretty frickin shut down too.

    I spoke with the vet (they're four hours away from me) about next steps. They confirmed that keeping him hydrated and getting a bit of the mixture in his system each morning is the best I can do. He is SO much better today. His tail looks like a normal tail and his legs have puffed back up. But his eyes are still closed. Poor guy. I swear he did crack one at me earlier but maybe it's wishful thinking.

    He's still outside getting that sweet, sweet sunshine. Temps are perfect in our area (digital thermometer, and a digital temp gun confirmed) and he moves to shade when he's had enough, albeit slowly. He hasn't been drinking but he got some water this morning from feeding. If he doesn't drink on his own by this evening I'll dropper some water in and then get him to his nighttime setup. He's trying so hard. As long as I don't mess him up I think he has a chance.

    Thank you for reading, please keep commenting with thoughts - they are greatly appreciated especially for this novice chameleon rescuer.
    Goose502 likes this.
  7. Lennoncham

    Lennoncham Avid Member

    I'm glad you were able to get ahold of the vet and get more info.

    Just remember I was just guessing it could be gout. I'm not a vet and only a vet can tell you if it's really gout or something else. It could also possibly be an injury or infection.
    blondebrowncoat likes this.
  8. Just as an update, he was still stable this morning. Got some more carnivore care in him. He's not drinking so I'm having to dropper him water - but he is more willing to move around the enclosure and find comfortable spots. Also, he did crack his eye open at me during feeding - barely. He reacted to finger movement tests!

    I called a local reptile shop (awesome place) and they recommended a cham vet in my area. Now that he's stable I'm less worried about the stress of driving him there. So we go tomorrow morning. Hopefully it's the right decision and they help me get him over the hump.

    Glad I found this forum to dump all this in. It helps keep me encouraged. Hopefully it could help someone in the future who finds themselves in the same situation as us. Regardless of how it turns out, at least I know he had some nice days in the sunshine.

    Attached Files:

    Fiona's Mom likes this.

    JOSHWAH Member

    I would suggest giving her about 10-20cc per hour.
    blondebrowncoat likes this.
  10. Andee

    Andee Chameleon Enthusiast

    Drinking without you watching is usually what happens. Sorry I didn't see this sooner, I sometimes don't get to my alerts in time and they get removed. Natural sunlight is a wonder for these guys. It's a must for all my rescues so anytime you can absolutely use it to it's fullest that is safe. Misting is good, they can't aspirate the food if you put it down to the beginning on the throat and a little passed. It should look like the little one is gagging a bit but they won't be just trying to remove it. Immediately depress the plunger, shouldn't feed more than .8 at once and only probably 3 cc to 4 cc (not sure how much your baby weighs so I am guessing) a day, and then once you feed back off completely for a whole 30 minutes to an hour to let him chill out. It's stressful but gets the job done quickly and the stress is at a high point only for 30 seconds-1 minute once you get the hang of it.
    blondebrowncoat likes this.
  11. Thank you Joshwah and Andee. I tried your plunger method this morning and I did it! I've hand-fed baby birds before so it's not quite as intimidating - but still pretty tense! I also smushed up a tiny roach and stuck it in his mouth. He got that down.

    Update from Wednesday:
    Vet visit -

    We went to the vet yesterday. In his words "You're doing one hell of a job." When I called they told me the prognosis was probably not good - but after looking at him the vet was actually fairly positive. He said to continue with the carnivore care. Also, he recommended soaking him for about 15 minutes up to four times a day. He also recommended artificial tears since his eyes are still not open. He said that at this point if he dies it's from kidney issues but that at the rate he's improving it looks like they may be ok. He also confirmed it looked like he may have gout. He said the blood draw would be incredibly stressful and recommended we just continue supportive care and let him get his strength back up. We'll do blood tests when and if he's stronger.

    Physical Summary-
    Yesterday his grip was much better and he hissed at me! He also barely cracked his eyes open while I was feeding him. I soaked him and within 15 minutes he pooped - which is good because he hadn't pooped since Sunday and I was getting concerned. He did not drink on his own, but between the soaks and dripping pedialite into his mouth I kept him hydrated. After I fed him he smacked his mouth around a lot and swallowed, another sign that he's feeling stronger. Temps were great yesterday along with humidity until the late afternoon when a cold front rolled in. He received a ton of great morning sun. Augmented temps with heat lamp when needed. During soaks, had heat lamp to keep temps in the high 70's low 80's. Same with feeding. Feed - hold under lamp. Heat + Water = Life.

    As a note - if you're doing this and the full soak is too stressful, place them on a comfortable branch that is slightly tilted with their head on the high side. Run a drip down the branch. This will allow water to wick up their skin into their mouth and also up their butt :)

    Update from Thursday:
    Physical Summary-

    The vet recommended artificial tears with no preservatives for his eyes. When I dripped the tears on his eyes it stimulated him to drink! Weird, because he's been misted and had a dripper on consistently. Guess the artificial tears just were special. He drank on his own and allowed me to dripper food into his mouth while he smacked. Towards the end of the day he started to fade a bit. I'm not sure why but it was discouraging. I did a couple of more soaks but he was so stressed I didn't want to make things worse. It's a struggle to balance stress and hydration.

    Update from Today:
    Physical Summary-

    Eyes still not open. When he gets very stressed his eyes bulge in their sockets (not extreme but still super gross). It's incredibly freaky and disheartening. I don't know what it is - I'm not familiar enough with chameleons to know if it's normal. I'll call the vet later today and see if he knows. I'm guessing it has something to do with blood pressure. Any knowledge here from cham veterans is highly appreciated.
    I did the artificial tears this morning and he had no reaction. I tried lightly rubbing a q-tip on his eyes to loosen any possible debris but I don't think there's anything on the outside of the eye that's wrong.
    I fed him about .04 Ml of very diluted carnivore care/pedialite as recommended by Andee. Then I crumbled up a tiny roach and stuck it in his mouth. He swallowed it eventually. It seems like a tiny, insignificant step. Not a win. Not a fail.
    He was very lethargic this morning, not like Wednesday and Thursday. IDK what I messed up yesterday. He was doing really well and then suddenly wasn't.
    I got him back out in the sun and that seemed to bolster his demeanor. I've got a dripper hose (like what you use in your yard) strung around the top of the cage to keep it moist and give him chances to drink. He doesn't seem too badly dehydrated today. I so hope his eyes open.
    I don't know what to do from here but keep giving him water, heat, sun, and food. It's in his tiny hands and I hope there is no damage to the eyes. I have no way of knowing.

    Thank you for reading and your responses. It's helping a lot.
  12. Andee

    Andee Chameleon Enthusiast

    Bulging eyes is likely him cleaning them. Which is a good sign. He may have bad days and good days. You may not be feeding him enough. I said .8 cc and 3 cc in total minimum likely. A cc is a whole ml and .8 is 8 full marks on it.
    blondebrowncoat likes this.
  13. For anyone still following along...

    Weekend Update:

    Upped the food on Friday per Andee's recommendation. This was what he needed, for sure. His colors were incredible yesterday and today. He is getting more sassy. He hisses at the mister and has been exploring his cage even though he's keeping his eyes closed. Still spends most of the day hugging a warm branch. It's been cooler here the past few days so I've had him inside under artificial UVB. What it lacks in natural sunlight it makes up for in stability. If I was to do this again, I would start him in the morning sunshine and then move him inside at about 11:00 am. Like everything else, it's a balancing act and hindsight is 20/20.

    So worried about his eyes. I really hope they are ok. He cleans them after each feeding, which is a good sign I guess. Also forgot to mention, once I started "gullet feeding" or whatever and actually had his mouth open, it looks like he has a few broken teeth. I guess the previous owner tried prying open his mouth to feed him and broke them out? It looks like three or four are broken. I need to ask the vet about this - it's probably pretty painful for him and may be contributing to his problems. I don't think chameleons regrow teeth, either.

    At this point it's just a maintenance and waiting game. I've started feeding a few gut loaded crickets along with the carnivore care. This is incredibly difficult because his mouth is so small it's hard to get it open wide enough without hurting him, but when I do get one in there I can see a massive improvement in his demeanor almost immediately. He still refuses to eat them on his own.

    Schedule goes as follows:
    8 AM - Lights on, warm up, eye drops
    9 AM - Mist enclosure. Feed .8cc, eye drops with light qtip wiping.
    10:30 AM - Mist, eye drops
    11:30 AM - Mist, dripper on his branch for 20 minutes (less stressful than soaking),
    12:30 PM - Feed .8cc, 1 or 2 gutloaded crickets depending on stress level
    1:30 PM - light mist, not too much to stress him
    3:00 PM - Eyedrops, .4cc of water, dripper on branch for 20 minutes
    4:00 PM - Feed .8cc, 1 cricket. soak in water for 10 minutes or until he tries to escape. He usually tolerates 10 minutes.
    5:00 PM - Mist or dripper
    7:00 PM - .4cc of water
    8:00 PM - eyedrops, mist, lights out, heat lamp off

    *Any point where I'm feeding him via the syringe, I don't always put the full amount in. Sometimes his stomach fills up. You can tell because you can see liquid in the back of his throat. It's gross and scary, but important to note if you're doing the same thing. Any experienced hand feeders, please correct me if this is wrong. I just don't want to drown him or anything.

    Attached are a pics of him Saturday (he was NOT happy to be woken up) and last night. Also, his enclosure for inside. As always, any comments are appreciated.

    Attached Files:

  14. Andee

    Andee Chameleon Enthusiast

    His colors look massively better if his stomach is filling up at .8cc not sure if it's doing it at .4cc you may need to back off a bit and just do .4 cc wait 30 minutes inbetween to an hour and then do another .4 then wait another 2-3 hours. Is he pooping regularly yet? He may need an eye flushing done directly by a vet. I know my chameleons who had eye issues felt better after that, also may need a vitamin A shot with some liquid calcium. Sometimes regular eye closing is a sign of early deficiency I have seen it happen a lot and then after vitamin increase and calcium increase for a while plus force feeding and supportive care etc. They are able to open their eyes and turn around. Eye flushing shouldn't cost anything extra, at least it doesn't at mine. It's a bit stressful but they don't put the cham under and is incredibly useful for rinsing their eyes.
  15. Andee

    Andee Chameleon Enthusiast

    Sadly I can't say for sure on anything, every rescue is individualistic and it's a guessing game for a while even for someone experienced like me. <3 he looks like he is doing great compared to before though
  16. Of course! All of the insight you've provided has been very reassuring but I understand there are no absolutes. I kind of knew from the beginning it was going to be more of an art than a science. The cool thing about chameleons is they can tell you how they feel through their colors. It's been a pretty great experience to watch him and figure him out. Even if I lose him, I'm glad to have been there.
  17. Quick update - eyes are still not open but he's now eating crickets when I place them on his mouth. I've been gutloading with collard greens and oranges. He's been cleaning his eyes very fervently and has been scratching them on his perches. There is no pus or crispies on the outside of his eyes. If they are not open by Tuesday I will be taking him back to the vet for an eye wash. Now that he is back on bugs and is getting stronger I don't worry about stressing him as badly. He is much more stable so I think he would be able to handle the stress. There is still the chance that maybe they are just ruined :( I so hope that they aren't.
  18. He opened his eyes today! He was scratching them so hard on the branches that it was pulling the lid open. I figured me barely cracking them open and rinsing with artificial tears wouldn't be worse. After a day and a half of that, he's opened them a couple of times for a few brief moments.
  19. Andee

    Andee Chameleon Enthusiast

    Yay! Progress!!!
  20. absolutbill

    absolutbill Chameleon Enthusiast

    You are headed in the right direction - keep up the great work and keep posting these positive updates!

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