Dehydration or...?

Discussion in 'Health Clinic' started by Faith_fill, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. Faith_fill

    Faith_fill New Member

    Hello All, first time user and poster here:
    • Your Chameleon - Veiled Male, adult, approx 18 months old, in our care for about 16 months.
    • Handling - Almost never, except to move during cage cleanings if necessary
    • Feeding - ~10 med/large crickets daily, hornworms and wax worms every other month as a treat. Crickets housed here and fed on dark leafy greens and citrus.
    • Supplements - Herpetivite multi1x/month dusted just before feeding off, another multivitamin given 2-3x/week (away from bottle right now)
    • Watering - Waterfall. Mist 1-2x daily for a few minutes each time. I don’t often see him drinking but I also don’t spend a lot of time observing, that’s more for my husband and kiddos. We had a dripper to begin with and switched to waterfall for convenience and appearance. i added the dripper back in this week when dehydration was considered the problem. Waterfall water was changed 1-2x/week.
    • Fecal Description - Brown semi-soft with white/yellow urates yesterday. No, never tested for parasites. Very large diarrhea tonight but still with good color after warm shower.
    • History - No previous problems, healthy the entire time we’ve had him

    Cage Info:
    • Cage Type - All screen, Reptibteeze 48x24x24 was looking to upgrade size before he became sick.
    • Lighting - Daylight and Basking lights on from 7a-7p, nighttime heat purple lamp on from 7p-7a.
    • Temperature - Ambient: 75-80, basking: 90, overnight low 65, digital cage thermometer.
    • Humidity - Don’t have a method of measuring this, just misting and dripping as often as possible.
    • Plants - No, only synthetic
    • Placement - In our at-home school room, not much traffic in front of cage, but some noise. No fans/vents. On a high shelf, top of cage is about 6-7 feet from room floor. He does not seem stressed based on color and behavior.
    • Location - Southern California

    Current Problem - Sunday evening he seemed a little slow and lethargic, but still eating, drinking, and climbing. He happened to be having a rare treat of hornworms (see above) and ate 2. Monday morning was hanging over his branch like he didn’t have any energy and couldn’t climb. Took him to vet same day and best guess was dehydration based on lethargy, sunken eyes and stringy saliva so he received a shot of fluids directly into his abdomen with the hopes he would perk up by Wednesday.

    (Of note, his daytime and nighttime heat lamps both burned out the week prior and as we were without backups he was without for a few hours before a replacement could be purchased. Weather here was in the high 80’s and we don’t have A/C so he was still fairly warm) After the vet visit we had an errand to run so he enjoyed the sun and heat in the car, monitored by me. The sunshine, warmth, and fluids really seemed to perk him up (for about 2-3 hours, then back to sleepy)

    Also noted, Vet commented on good size, good structure, and color for his age. She reviewed his vitamin regimen and deemed it appropriate. She conducted a physical exam which didn’t reveal any other apparent abnormalities (like mBD) She did feel that perhaps he was chilled (although it was freezing in her office and he was away from his heat lamp!) Other than seeming sleepy with sunken eyes, he didn’t (and still doesn’t) appear sickly, thin, brown/gray, etc. During the vet visit he was his usual self (mad and hissing because of being handled), but since then he has been so lethargic he won’t even hiss at me when I come near to offer water.

    Tuesday was still lethargic, unable to climb, so I created a soft flat perch for him to rest on so he could be near the heat without falling off of his branch. I began force feeding him water (through the method suggested with a baby medicine dropper away from trachea) I also had to offer one cricket right in front of his nose and he munched it down reluctantly without protracting his tongue.

    Wednesday much the same, I continued to monitor heat, offer lots of water and mist. By early afternoon he was so out of it I thought he was on his last few hours but by early evening he had a (fairly normal looking) bowel movement and seemed to perk up (making an effort to look around, climb, albeit mostly unsuccessful)

    Thursday morning (today) I offered water which he accepted in the morning but he was very lethargic and refused to allow me to give him water for the rest of the day. I purchased wax worms with the intention of grinding them up but was unable to get him to allow me to open his mouth. This evening, assuming we were still dealing with dehydration, I put him in the warm shower, out of the stream, for a good 20 minutes to steam and hydrate. As soon as I turned the water off, he made a great effort and had a massive bowel movement (think 2-3x size of normal) which was runny but not Yellow,orange, or translucent).

    Based on this very hydrated bowel movement and his lack of improvement, I just don’t think this is the problem any more. Any other suggestions as to his cause of lethargy? The vet won’t be back in until Monday if we elect to do bloodwork, and I’m not even sure my husband will go for that $200 expense.

    Photo 1: Monday morning, lethargic, hanging over branch
    Photo 2: Monday after visit to vet and fluids, in transport box enjoying some sun
    Photo 3: Tuesday, very lethargic, can’t grip his branch
    Photo 4: Wednesday bowel movement
    Photo 5: Today, in the shower, mouth open (not usual for him)
    Photo 6: Massive BM after shower

    I can post pics of his enclosure in the morning once the daylights come back on.

    Attached Files:

  2. Faith_fill

    Faith_fill New Member

    It’s about 3 hours past bedtime and I just went to check on him. Now his tongue is sticking straight out of his mouth and seems swollen and not moving. This is the first time since he’s been sick that I’ve noticed any problem with his tongue. His jaws are clamped tight so I can’t help him tuck it back in. I moistened it with a q-tip bit can’t do much else until the vet opens in the morning.
  3. ldarmo

    ldarmo New Member

    I’m really new here, but I see no one has replied yet. I’m sorry your chameleon is having problems.

    Your vet will need to do a fecal to check for bacterial or parasitic infection.

    Two thoughts:

    1. Metabolic bone disease - not sure your lighting and supplementation is providing sufficient UVB/calcium. You also probably don’t need the heating bulb at night.

    2. Bacterial or parasitic infection - possibly from recirculated water in waterfall or other source.

    I’m not the most experienced with chameleons. I hope your vet can help. Good luck.

    ERKleRose likes this.
  4. ERKleRose

    ERKleRose Chameleon Enthusiast

    Okay, so take out the waterfall, mist more often. Phosphorus free calcium without D3 should be given every feeding (feed every other day), phosphorus free calcium with D3 and a multivitamin are both to be given twice monthly. You MUST have a uvb source! I’m about to hit the road, so I can’t answer anymore, maybe someone else will help, but take him to the vet (if you haven’t already). Read the veiled care sheet here if you haven’t already!
  5. ERKleRose

    ERKleRose Chameleon Enthusiast

    Saw pictures, take to an exotic emergency vet ASAP!!! He’ll probably die if you don’t spend the money at any vet!
  6. Brodybreaux25

    Brodybreaux25 Chameleon Enthusiast

    The waterfall killed your Cham, showing all the classic symptoms, went down hill fast.

    You need a exotic vet with chameleon experience, I know there are a lot in SoCal. He will die in a few days without medical intervention, if not sooner.

    Where do you live?
    ERKleRose likes this.
  7. Faith_fill

    Faith_fill New Member


    Cricket didn’t make it through the night. I’m guessing he had an undiagnosed infection, possibly from the waterfall. The vet he saw on Monday was a Herp specialist but I think at the time he was perked up enough to not cause her too much concern. I’m grateful he passed in his sleep and that he was so well loved by the kiddos who are taking it hard this morning.

    Thanks to all for your help and comments!
  8. Brodybreaux25

    Brodybreaux25 Chameleon Enthusiast

    Sorry to hear that. I don’t know if there are any chams in your future but if there is just know that those waterfalls are biological time bombs. Will kill your Cham about as fast as a real bomb once they go off. Please don’t use one in the future, use an automatic mister. If you have friends using waterfalls please let them know as well.
    Olindias and ERKleRose like this.
  9. Syreptyon

    Syreptyon Chameleon Enthusiast

    In addition to the waterfall comments above, I'd like to add one more thing: the word "calcium" didn't come up once in your entire husbandry. I didn't see "UVB" come up either. In addition to the possibility of the waterfall leading to his downfall. he probably developed MBD - which would explain the inability to hold onto branches and his tongue coming out like that. Calcium is absolutely critical to chameleons' health
    Olindias and Brodybreaux25 like this.
  10. Mawtyplant

    Mawtyplant Avid Member

    outch, acording too the picture, the situation is really bad :/ there no way you can save him alone, he need a vet (probably got an infection because a major break down of immunitary system) too me he dont look dehydrated but sick, probably for an infection

    As you said its not possible to bring him to the vet now, you must know i might be dead monday. If you are ready to take this risk, my advices is too dust your feeder with bee pollen and too try too find reptaid (google search close to your town, make phone call) this can help a bit.. but no miracle here.. Also can help too feed him with silk worm (they contain an anti-inflamatory substances) and too feed him with black soldier larvea (black pupate are the best, crush then and put the mixture inside the mouth.. bsfl contain a natural antibiotic substance and also can help.. but here again no miracle.. it can just sustain him)

    some advices on your husbandry you must do asap :

    1)remove the waterfall, can only lead to a bacteria party and your chameleon can't fight theses bacteria
    2)Add UVB bulb.. this is vital he can't survive without this
    3)multivitamins must be dusted less than that, max 1 time a week i think but still need to confirm because i dont use any multi vitamins myself)
    4)no heat lamp during the night, he need a cold down
    5)no warm shower : this only can be painfull if the water is too different from body temp, normal color during warm shower mean he is stressed not well.. also if he keep mouth open can mean he got RI, swallowed water in the lungs or its too hot for him and he dont like it :/
    6)add calcium dusting too the vitamin schedule (he need more calcium because all the feeder got a poor calcium/phosphorus ratio so you need too artificially provide tha balance by adding calcium
    7) raise your day temps (he need to fight this infection asap

    good luck
    ERKleRose likes this.
  11. Mawtyplant

    Mawtyplant Avid Member

    Ho :/ sorry :( i let my previous comment in case someone need it is the futur
  12. Faith_fill

    Faith_fill New Member

    You’re right, I wasn’t specific about his vitamins (it was past bedtime and I just can’t keep that kind of stuff in my memory!)

    I checked this morning, He was getting Herpitivite dusted on feeders once a month and Repashy dusted for calcium 2-3x/week.

    He also had a UVB light source - again sorry I was vague on brand and type specifics - I just can’t keep it memorized once the package is tossed.

    The waterfall is mea culpa. If we ever get another Cham, I will know better.
    Olindias and ERKleRose like this.
  13. JacksJill

    JacksJill Chameleon Enthusiast

    I'm sorry for your loss.
    Stringy saliva can be a sign of respiratory (lungs, trachea, nasal passages or sinuses, etc) infection. Antibiotics might have made the difference but wouldn't have guaranteed his recovery. It can be hard to bring them back from the brink. If infection is suspected then bumping their temperature up a couple degrees can help them fight infection. Sorry this information is too little too late.
    Jesspete likes this.
  14. Jesspete

    Jesspete Established Member

    It sucks buying something with a chameleon on the package, only to find out it can be fatal to them. I have two of those waterfalls. I only had them in for one day, before finding the info on these forums and getting them out. That's $80 sitting around, that I can't recoup, because I won't sell them to someone else to use.

    Sorry this has happened. Many people don't bother taking their cham to the vet, so I'm glad you did. Wish it had turned out differently.
    ldarmo, Olindias, Faith_fill and 3 others like this.

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