Dexter's in trouble?


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Dexter is a 6 month old male veiled. Up to 4 weeks ago, he ate and drank like a horse, (or a very healthy chameleon!). Then one day he appeared very weak and not in control of his functions, he couldnt walk very well, and his limbs twitched and moved strangely. He stopped eating and drinking. I resorted to force feeding and hydrating after a couple of days of this. A week into this routine, while being hydrated, he threw up what was in his stomach, some undigested crickets and some plant matter. I thought that plants in his cage could possibly be toxic, so out they came and I continued to force hydrate him, now with pedialite, hoping to dilute the toxin, if that was the case. He has seemed near death 3 times, but has pulled out of it, but without any increase in appetite or drinking. Status now is that he seems active, color looks good, but still not drinking or eating, not that I can determine. But there is feces in the cage, albeit very small. Nothing like before. His eyes are not shrunken, he is just very, very thin, but presently seems ok.

He is in a 2X2X4 screened cage, lots of branches, vines, and foliage, with a 15W 5.0 reptisun, and a 75W basking light. Dripper running most of the day. Mist 2 to 3 times per day. Feed crickets and mealworms (worms lately, trying to stimulate his appetite).

How do I kick start his appetite???

I was forced to handle him often to force feed, which I know surely stressed him alot, but the last couple of days I have not touched him, to see if it would make a difference...

Hello Dexter'sDad,

First, you should try and take dexter to an experienced herp vet asap. From what you describe, a visit to the vet might be his only chance.

Then one day he appeared very weak and not in control of his functions, he couldnt walk very well, and his limbs twitched and moved strangely.
A picture would really help in trying to diagnose the problem. Have you been dusting your feeders? Could be MBD (metablolic bone disease), which is caused by a lack of calcium. You stop the problem from geting worse by giving your cham the proper amount of calcium. However, dexter could very well be too weak to recover on his own. He needs to see a vet asap.

A week into this routine, while being hydrated, he threw up what was in his stomach, some undigested crickets and some plant matter.
What kind of plant are you using? He could have thrown up from being force fed too much.
I had been dusting the crickets every day while he was eating them, but the last two or three weeks, since he is being fed only 3 or 4 crickets (hard to get the little buggers mouth open!), I have not been dusting them. I dont know what kind of plant was in the cage, but I did remove it when I became suspicious of it being toxic. I of course realize I should have researched what I was putting in his cage...

I looked into taking him to a herp vet, havent found one close yet, still hoping he will suddenly regain his appetite if I keep him in a calm environment, with food and water available. I recently introduced some meal worms, how should they be offered to him?

thanks for your suggestions
I would suggest silkworms. I got a female veiled from a pet shop 6 weeks ago today and she was half starved. She was only 2 inches and 21 grams when I brought her home ... she is now up to 55 grams and is 7 inches long!!! (See threads posted by myself for pics and story.)

MBD is a very serious condition. If that is the case, a vet is your only hope at this point. Once it sets in far enough where the limbs are shaking and what not, it's progressed to a later stage. Eventually, the legs will bow out and buckle under and he will lose use of his limbs. It progresses VERY fast, so please act fast.

As for the silkworms, you can get an order from sent out with free shipping. It won't go out until Monday, so for the weekend and the few days until it arrives you may have to cont. to force feed.

I have noticed that my cham (as well as my leos and beardie) LOVE the silkies. Silkes are thee best food source there is. They have the highest level of nutrients of any prey researched thus far. I wouldn't feed mealworms. The chitin shell is hard for chams to digest, so I was told. I used to feed mealies to my leos as a staple and thought they did great on them ... but when I switched to silkies, OMG, did they blossom and change all around. One silkie is equal to feeding 3-5 crickets!!!

As for calcium, you still need to get in into his system. You can mix powder calcium with the mixture you are force feeding, you can get liquid calcium and feed with a syringe ... either way will work. Force feeding is hard on any reptile, but chams stress very easily and stress is very damaging, and can be fatal.

I want to end with saying that I am not a vet, not an expert and by no means a vetern to chameleons. I have done exstensive research though, and had been through a lot with my baby at first. I have had leos (and I have also owned ball pythons, croc. geckos, a day gecko, and an iguana) for over 10 years though, so I do have some experince with reptiles.
slr has a lot of good advice here. I would follow it if you can. Even if he does not have MBD, from your description he needs to see a vet asap. I needed some smaller silkworms than I normally use for my new cham Ezhno. I gave a try; hard to beat that free shipping. They arrived in time, and there was not one dead silk. I plan to use them again. Ezhno loves his silkworms. It is very obvious he prefers them over crickets and maybe even over flies.
Hey Dexter's Dad:
I was just wondering if you have ever had Dexter tested for parasites?
Some vets put a lot of stock in it others don't. The ones that do say a heavy infestation can cause nerve damage and could definitely cause up set stomach and loss of appetite. you can also get them tested for salmonella.
Any vet that was willing to see Dex could run those tests, even if they aren't the best herp vet
thanks everyone for the advice, I appreciate it. I will get some silkworms and give that a try (expensive buggers!). I havent had him tested for parasites yet, and yes, I did consider that the plant matter in his expungement was toxic, that's why I force hydrated him extra, hoping to dilute it.

Dexter is actually getting a little better. I stopped force feeding and hydrating 4 days ago, figuring that he was so stressed from all that handling. I havent seen him drink yet, but I did obsereve him taking a few crickets in the last couple of days. He must be getting some hydration because his eyes are not shrunken, he is pretty active, though still thin. And I dont think MBD is a problem in this case, because his movements are pretty graceful and sure now. I will continue to dust also...

I appreciate all the feedback I received, this is a great sight. I will keep you appraised of his (hopeful) recovery
I must say, you did wonderfull job following up on this and also the steps you took were perfect. To me your chameleon sounds like he will be fine. I would see about that plant and possibly change it. After reading this from start to finish, I think it was the plant and would remove it. Great job and good luck with dexter.
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